Welcome to week eleven of sharing excerpts from the book, Fierce: A New Generation of Female Empowerment. This book is for those who have a desire to get the most out of life. Those who want to make positive change, but are not sure how to make it happen. It is for any age female who needs a reminder of how fierce they can be. It is for young women who will soon be out of high school and on their way to college or some other adventure. Share these posts with all the girls and women in your life. Let them know the book can be read for free online or that a soft cover book is available for sale at Bookemon.com. Enjoy!
Drama, Gossip, and Bullies
To put it bluntly if you want to be happy don’t be a bully, don’t gossip about others and don’t let drama consume your life. It is easy to get caught up in drama at school, home, or work. There are as many reasons that enforce this behavior as there are to not participate in it. School can be boring so drama gives you something to look forward too. It also can make you popular by keeping you in the eyes and ears of the school. Gossiping about drama is also an easy way to make friends wherever you are. The downside is drama adds stress and usually involves someone getting hurt.
You don’t have to be big to become a bully. Anyone, even someone with a low IQ can do it, so there is nothing special about being one. Bullies are not better than us, they are emotionally spent with anger, sadness, or fear and bullying is how they learned to make others feel the same as them or to feel a sense of control and order.
A long time ago those who were bullied had a respite at home, but with the rise of technology, cyber bullying allows us to go home and still be bullied via our phones or computers. It is so simple to bully someone without being aware that it is what you are doing. Forward a gossipy or mean text or a tacky photo to a friend who in turn sends it on to another friend and suddenly it spreads like fire. It is also just as simple to stop a bully. If your friends send you a sexy or mocking photo of someone whether a peer or adult, refuse to send it on.
If you took the photo or wrote the text and sent it then own up to it and apologize. What goes around comes around, and you could be the next target. Gossip becomes more hurtful or spiteful as it goes from one person to the next. If you have problems with someone tell them. Remember that your words change depending on whose mouth they exit.
Do you want to put an end to bullying? Take action. The “It Gets Better” project was started by two men who wanted to put an end to teens who were bullied based on their sexuality. They are both gay and were tormented in school. You can visit ItGetsBetter.org to find support, hear stories and inspirational advice from those that have survived bullying, and to sign their pledge to never be a bully. IGB “…wants to remind teenagers in the LGBT community that they are not alone and it will get better.” *(12)
You can also encourage your school to become a bully free zone with The Bully Project. This campaign goal is to send 1 million students to see a filming of the movie “Bully” and than facilitate a discussion about the bully problem and what can be done to end it at their school. Learn more at TheBullyProject.com and get involved by writing a letter to the project leaders on advice for stopping bullies, getting adults to sign the anti bully pledge, posting a video about your bully experience, planning a bully awareness event and getting your school involved.
As an individual, you can also speak up and stand up to bullies. If you see someone get bullied than help them. If you do not want to face the bully alone, gather your friends and lead them to confront the bully as a group.. Explain to the bully that they are no longer allowed to bully anyone at your school or in your neighborhood. Do NOT use violence when confronting the bully because that could get you into a lot of trouble if they get hurt. Many bullies are abused at home so it is important to never physically attack a bully or to act like them. Lead by example and be one of millions who will no longer stand by and watch a bully hurt someone. If possible try to make friends with the bully. It may be that they are mean because that is all they know to get attention. Even if you don’t become best friends by not being enemies you can create a more peaceful and safe environment.
Are you a mean girl? Have you ever been negatively attacked by a mean girl or group of mean girls? You can take action against the cruel act of gossip and drama. For a long time popular culture has encouraged the idea that it is natural for girls to be catty and mean towards each other when they go through puberty. It feels great to fit in, be popular and have everyone think that you are the coolest and prettiest. But why do we like someone who puts others down and why in the world do we put up with it?
- Is it natural to be mean?
- Is it natural to hurt others?
- Does being feminine mean that you must go through a “mean girl” phase?
- Is it natural to feel good because you made someone else feel bad?
In 2009 two college women Molly Thompson and Laura Parsekian traveled the country and created a documentary about the problem with girl versus girl bullying. That documentary turned into The Kind Campaign with the goal of ending the “mean girl” type of bullying. They now travel the country hosting assemblies and starting discussions with girls to address this problem. According to the website, FindkingKind.IndieFlix.com, “…the root of so many of our problems is a lack of human connection and respect for others…. Although we have all been victims, we also share responsibility. None of us can say that we never said or did something wrong to another female. It’s important to recognize that we all need to change our habits.”
Change is up to you and you have the power to make it happen. Rally your friends together and discuss how you can stop mean girl behavior.
Use your words to stop bullying before it gets out of hand. Some people are ignorant or do not understand how hurtful teasing is because that person thinks they are just goofing around. Oftentimes confronting a harasser causes them to go on the defensive. Be aware of these responses to your complaint. The following is a sample of what a bully will say when you tell them they are being a jerk and need to stop. Below that are sample responses you can use in return.
- I was only joking.
- Why can’t “you people” ever take a joke?
- Just because you don’t like to have fun doesn’t mean the rest of us have to suffer.
- You are being overly sensitive.
- You can’t tell me what to do.
- You are such a prude.
- Oh you are one of those “feminist” women.
- What are you like a (fill in the ignorant term)? Do you hate (the bully’s gender, race or orientation)?
- You’re a loser and should get lost.
Retorts like the ones listed above are aggravating and are said with the intent to embarrass you or make you second guess yourself. They are not valid, but rather immature and mean spirited. You can reply with the following responses.
- It’s not a joke if it makes other people feel bad.
- Jokes are funny; it is not funny to “tease” somebody about their race, gender, or beliefs.
- I do not appreciate that you are trying to make me into the bad guy here. I am simply expressing my discomfort at your negative attitude towards my skin color/religion/ nation of birth/ gender/ homosexuals.
- Just because you have a limited sense of humor doesn’t mean I can’t take a joke.
- I am not being sensitive. You are being rude.
- I am not telling you what to do. I am asking you to be respectful at school/work. You can say whatever you like on your own time.
- Being a prude has nothing to do with it. I do not like what you are saying/doing and I am asking you to stop because it makes me feel uncomfortable. Would you like it if I made jokes about the size of your penis or intelligence?
- Feminism is simply a movement that says women are equal to men. Why do you feel so insecure towards that idea?
- Calling someone a lesbian or man hater is not a good comeback. We are not in elementary school anymore. You have the choice to act like an adult.
- We all have a right to be here and be safe. Your bully attitude is making people feel unsafe.
Anti-Harassment Bill of Rights
I have a right to not be harassed at work or school.
I have a right to fight back against harassment.
My gender, race, and culture are not a joke.
No other person has a right to harass, threaten or abuse me.
It is not okay for my teacher, other students, supervisor, or coworkers to harass me.
I respect myself and will respect others despite our differences.
I will not gossip about other students or coworkers.
I will not gang up on anyone else for fun, to feel like a part of a group, or to protect myself.
I will stand up for anyone who is harassed at school or work.
I will report any harassment to a teacher or supervisor.
If nobody at school stops my harassment, I will contact the OCR Office of Civil Rights) firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-877-521-2172