Laurie and Debbie say:
We were struck by this post from Angry Black Bitch, which started when she read a mainstream article about a trend in which parents get cosmetic surgery for their children to protect the children from bullies.
Samantha is having cosmetic surgery because she gets teased about her protruding ears.
“The kids at school always ask her about her ears, and sometimes adults can be worse,” said Cami Roselles, Samantha’s mother. “One lady walked up to her and said, ‘Oh my God, what happened to your ears?'”
When we read the article, it’s clear that it’s not about bullying. It’s about questions and some teasing about “deformities,” the kind of behavior that, as the article says, “can take a turn for the worse and turn into bullying.”
Angry Black Bitch knows something about bullying:
When I was a wee bitch I was bullied mercilessly for all things related to my blackness. When they made fun of my hair, I cut it off in an attempt to make it look more like the bob that was the trend at the time. When they made fun of my ashy knees, I meticulously rubbed lotion into my skin before school. When they made fun of my lips I tried to fold them inward…that didn’t last long.
Ultimately my bullies focused on my blackness as a whole – I was different and I could not change, so I thought that the best I could hope for was to conform as much as possible and get rewarded for not being as black as some of the other students who came to school through the desegregation program.
By the time I hit Junior High I realized that I had accepted the unacceptable – that these assholes set the agenda and had the rest of us scrambling to meet their standards so we could make the constant taunts, physical abuse, and harassment stop.
… bullying hurts more than just the person being bullied. Bullying distracts from class work…it creates a climate of fear and intimidation…and, if left unchecked, it creates grown ass people who bully because they were young people who bullied.
As a society, we don’t push back much against bullies: we don’t do it on the schoolyard because of the persistent abuse-culture myth that says “Kids have to learn how rough it is out there.” It’s that rough at least partially because of the bullies, and they’re still bullying because it still works. Fortunately, most kids survive being bullied and grow up to learn that life, though it has bullies in it, is not high school, and “it gets better.”
The parents in the article that Angry Black Bitch is quoting are trying to protect their kids from bullying (or potential bullying) but not by pushing back. And, as she points out, it won’t work: bullying is not about a particular characteristic, it’s about power: “Eventually the bully will move on to something that isn’t changeable…to something that isn’t fixable through an expensive surgery and painful recovery.”
She says: “bullies bully until bullies are taught not to bully.”
Bullies bully until (and unless) it becomes a losing strategy–and for many people, it never does. Grown ass people bully not just because they were young people who bullied, but because bullying works. Bullying is one of the most reliable ways for a schoolkid, who by definition has no real power, and probably at least an average dose of insecurities and self-doubts to build him or her self up, to gain followers, to be a success. As kids get older, bullying works less for girls becoming women (because bullying is not a tactic that works for adult women) and more for boys becoming men (because men can bully in the workplace, at home, and on the street, and it often still works to make themselves successful).
Right now, a cadre of bullies calling themselves the Republican Party is trying to shut down the U.S. government if everyone else doesn’t give in and agree to stop funding Planned Parenthood. Why are they doing it? In large part, because they feel big when they threaten and we give in.