Friday, 11 March 2016

Bully beef

It seems to me that bullying has never been more prevalent. It also seems to me that people are falling over themselves to deny it's bullying and make out it's something quite normal - or even desirable.

No no, it's not bullying; no no, X is not a victim, X is not being unfairly treated. You're looking at it the wrong way, you're over-reacting.

Your boss is piling on the pressure, loading you with extra work? He's simply trying to get the job done, trying to improve productivity. The other boys are picking on you in the playground? Well, you're such an easy target, you won't make any effort to fit in.

And of course, the old chestnut - women get harassed and attacked by men not because men are uncivilised louts but because women ask for it. They dress provocatively, they're on their own, they're in a dodgy neighbourhood etc.

People are afraid of the bullies, reluctant to challenge them. Or they want to curry favour with them, because they're in a position of power. Or they really believe that toughness and arrogance get better results than kindness and sympathy.

But the more the bullying is justified, the worse it gets. The bullies get cocky, assuming they'll always get away with it. You only have to look at the British government, which gets more ruthless by the day.

All sorts of everyday phrases condone bullying. Constant talk of "tough decisions", "the age of austerity", "deterring scroungers and skivers", "the workshy". All excusing casual cruelty and victimisation.

"Do as you would be done by" has become a quaint old notion seldom heard outside the pulpit.


  1. Bullying and ragging are the banes of educational institutions in India too and we keep reading about very tragic stories on and off. It is something that needs to eradicated completely but quite how has been keeping educationalists and legislatures busy without any sensible solutionscoming up.

  2. Ramana: There are regular stories here too of young kids who've killed themselves because of bullying. But most politicians and teachers never take it seriously, and the bullying just goes on.

  3. I think schools in the U.S. are trying to stop bullying, I'm guessing with mixed results.

  4. There is an increase in female bullying which I think is manifested in a more subtle manner as it is not based on physical but more on verbal confrontation, and just as damaging. Greetings Maria x

  5. Jean: I wonder if the school staff there are as ambivalent about it as school staff over here. The "turning a blind eye" syndrome is all too common.

    Maria: Yes, I've read about female bullying. Emotional and verbal attacks can be just as nasty. And easier to hide if there's no physical injury.

  6. our schools are supposedly cracking down. but there will always be a bully.
    it's said that you can't legislate morality. and bullying is a moral issue I think.
    what we seem to be lacking is a sense of 'being in the other fellow's shoes.' nobody seems to feel that anymore.
    and we have a real bully type running for president right now.
    good grief!
    I hope he's all bluff and there might be something of SOME depth to him because he's getting dangerously close to winning the primary.

  7. Bullying is learned behaviour. Often seen in the home. My father bullied us even as adults. I've seen the male members of my family take that aggression out on others.

    Bullies are made. It is not instinctual behaviour.


  8. Tammy: Yes, there's a lack of putting yourself in the other person's shoes. People are treated simply as objects to be manipulated or targeted.

    A lot of Brits are worried about Trump as well. Goodness knows what a mess he'd make of the country if he actually became President.

    www: Agreed, it's learned behaviour. No one is born a vicious bully. Unfortunately people see that bullies often get their way and start copying them.

  9. nothing good ever comes from a pulpit

  10. Kylie: Eh? Surely as a woman of faith, you can't believe that?

  11. I got through school by learning to be invisible.... it's a useful trick to learn!

  12. i was amazed you would say anything even remotely positive about the church. i was taking the piss

  13. Scarlet: I tried to be invisible at school but it didn't work. Somehow I drew people's attention. Probably by being such a total misfit.

    Kylie: I have plenty of positive things to say about religious teachings. I have plenty of time for people like the Dalai Lama and the Buddha and for that matter Jesus. But I have no time for the organised church and all its rituals, which has been responsible for so much human suffering. In particular all the sexual abuse scandals.

  14. These days I start to feel that members of our government are bullies. Not that they are bullying me personally, but there is a kind of hardness about the way they are dealing with people who are helpless and can't look after themselves.

  15. Jenny: Absolutely. It gets clearer and clearer that this government is a bunch of heartless thugs and bullies who just want to give those at the bottom of the heap a good kicking, while helping their rich pals to get even richer.

  16. They make quite a big deal about public schools being Bully-free Zones here. It seems as though kids now just use the Internet to bully each other.

  17. Bijoux: True. The amount of bullying that now goes on via social media is scary. And it's often on a scale way beyond a few nasty remarks in the playground.