Friday, July 07, 2006

A Friday Pondering...

Why does it feel as if this has been the longest week ever when a bitch had two days off?

Mercy!

Update #1…
The cake is fantabulous, if a bitch can be so bold as to flatter myself. It’s the perfect cake for tea time…yummy and butter-based…lemon-esque joy! Give it a try and let me know your thoughts.

Update #2…
A bitch slept five straight hours last night, which is pretty damned good for me. Looks like the no-lozenge after 12 noon non-smoking technique works.

Sigh.

The cravings are getting less desperate, but a bitch is going to miss those lozenges…really, really miss them.

Sob.

Pulling it all together to move forward…

A bitch has been pondering bullying. Lawd knows my happy ass experienced my share of asshole inspired bullying back in the day. Since starting this blog folks have attempted all manner of comment based bullying, but years of bully interactions have hardened a bitch to that shit.

Shit, a bitch has made a study of bullying as part of my ongoing inner work (wink).

Bullying is a sickness too many of us are exposed to. It can be crippling…it can result in self destructive behavior…but it sure as shit is not a disease without origin or treatment.

A bitch was bullied throughout Grade School and Junior High. My tormentors were clever little shits who chose the bathroom or the playground to do their damage. Usually it was verbal, but every now and then they beat on me for a change. As a result, this bitch used to go the whole day without going to the bathroom…drama...and hover near the door rather than play at recess. My reaction was exactly what they wanted…they thrived on my tears and sought power through my pain.

Years later, the wee tormented bitch of my youth had grown into the angry defiant woman of my teens. I sat in a class in High School with one of my childhood tormentors and she looked almost normal to me. She didn’t even recognize me as the child she had dedicated herself to making miserable every fucking day, Monday through Friday, like a devout Catholic attending daily mass. The memory of seeing her sitting there is beyond fresh in my mind…the blond hair, the vivid blue eyes, the tinkling laugh and the absolute confidence that the crimes of her youth would never dare to visit her later in life.

A bitch, being a true bitch, waited. We were studying biographies and she was an active participant in class. Every time she opened her mouth I wanted to jump up and slap the shit out of her. Honest! And a bitch is not a violent person…my ass is not naturally non-violent in a peace loving all the time never even thinking about swatting someone in the back of the head kind of way, but slapping a classmate across the face has never been typical behavior for me. It was disturbing.

Anyway, we arrived at the Autobiography of Malcolm X in our course work.

ABB’s Childhood Bully…"I just don’t understand racism in any form and I found Malcolm X to be racist! Just because someone treats you wrong don’t mean that you should respond that way. ”

This bitch leaned back in my chair and cocked my head…picked up my pencil and coughed politely…"I’m amazed that you are unable to bring a strong understanding of racism to this discussion. As I recall, your feet were firmly planted on the racist path when we were in Grade School together. Perhaps you could enlighten us all on the nuance of your beliefs at the time…you know the ones that inspired you to call me a black piece of shit and tar baby daily?”

The teacher, having what looked to be a convulsion…"I don’t think that is relevant!”

ABB in response…"I disagree! I really don’t see how y’all can expect me to sit here and discuss whether Malcolm X was or was not a racist with a person who, less than 6 years ago, comfortably rolled the 'N word 'out towards me on a daily basis. I find this angle highly relevant.”

All hell broke out…that stank heifer ran out of the class in tears…my teacher demanded an apology…this bitch demanded one for the years of verbal torment and a guidance counselor had to be called in to mediate.

Fuck it.

A bitch felt better having addressed it...and why the hell should I be the only one uncomfortable in the room. My ass never signed a forgive and let live waiver on that shit.

This brings me back to the present and the issue of bullying in schools. For our actions there are reactions…that’s one of the most important lessons adults can teach the young. The how, what, when and where of that reaction is out of our control…which is why we should treat each other as we would be treated.

Of all the lessons we should strive to teach at school this one is so vital that it boggles the mind that anti-bullying policies are still lacking structure...if they exist at all.

This bitch is reminded of a story that hit the news several years ago. A mother pulled her child from school and began home schooling him because he was manifesting violent behavior towards his peers. She wanted to give him some distance with his therapy…and to show him that there was no limit to what she was willing to do to help her son heal and thrive.

A bitch has always wondered about the reaction to that action.

34 comments:

It's Me, Maven... said...

It's been my experience, that those who bully, do so for one of three reasons:

1. They are pure evil.
2. They, themselves, have been victimized, and their own bullying evolves from that example.
3. For whatever reason, they are jealous or covet a characteristic of the victim.

I believe people can change... if they truly want to. And changing one's opinion/POV is a sign of maturing, and separating one's self from the bullshit/emotional garbage of their parents.

Perhaps your former schoolmate's flipping the script on racism is sincere, and a sign of her maturing. But without knowing the person, personally, I don't know. I'm just hypothesizing:)

Akasha said...

It is amazing the forms that bullying and harrassment take. What is equally amazing is that how sometimes those being bullied are asked to apologize to their tormentors when they do try to strike back. Your case is a prime example. Why should you have been asked to apologize for comments that were truth? I am so glad you so eloquently checked both blonde
"Becky" and the teacher.
Have a fantastic weekend!

Maureen O'Danu said...

The more I know about you, the more I like you.

Shark-fu said...

Maven...too true! The sad thing is that the thought of change never crossed my mind, so deep and dedicated was her hate. Another consequence of unchecked badness, perhaps. To this day, I think she was full of shit and saying what she thought everyone wanted to hear. She never answered my question...

Akasha...how'd you know her name was Beckey (wink)?

Maureen...and that was years ago! A bitch has aged like a fine bourbon...

Anonymous said...

Y'know, *FUCK* that chicken-shit teacher for demanding that you apologize. So often those who speak up get punished for "disturbing the peace." I'm glad you addressed Miss 'Becky' so eloquently, though I'm sure it was all lost on her.

-- M. in Boston (who also hails from STL County ... I know those Beckies all too well)

Tenn said...

Fuck yes.

Long Live fine bourbon-ly-aged bitches.

CP said...

I am a former bully. I used to pick on some of the kids in my school. Maven is right on. I was picked on in elementary school for being fat. Then, when I thinned out in Junior High, I was absolutely rotten to OTHER fat girls. I should have been shitty to the skinny girls who tortured me, but instead, I wanted to fit in with them. I bullied the weaker, big girls. I hate the fact that I did that. And many years later, I tracked down two people that I was especially hard on and apologized to them.

One told me "fine"...and ended the conversation there. She wasn't going to make ME feel better and I understood that.

The other one told me that SHE was sorry, for not being a better friend to me when "I" was being picked on. She said she understood why I was so mean to her and that she forgave me long before I made that apology.

Now that I am a fat chick again, I handle others with compassion, with caution and with acceptance and tolerance. It's amazing how the person that I hurt the most hated me the least.

People do change.

CP.

Sara said...

I have a question. Let's say -- strictly hypothetically, because we both know this would never happen in the setting you described -- let's say that Blonde Bully, instead of freaking out and being protected by the class Authority Figure, had turned around and said to you, "I remember. Wasn't I horrible? I am so sorry for that. I have no idea why I behaved that way. Please forgive me." Do you think that would have changed things? If so, how?

I ask partly because I wonder about all the apologizing that goes on for racism (not all that much, really, but we do hear about it happening from time to time), whether it actually makes anybody who has been the victim of racism feel better, or if it just helps the apologizer feel better. I also ask because I got bullied pretty badly in school, too -- for being smart, blonde, outlandishly pale, not a Christian, bad at team sports, name it -- and I have always wondered what I would want from any of those people if I ever saw them again. I do think I would want them, even thirty-plus years later, to acknowledge what they did and apologize. And I also think I would forgive them. I think I have forgiven them already, even if they haven't actually managed to become better people since then, 'cause I now know a lot of them learned it all at home, as Maven said.

What about you? Just curious.

(P. S. -- I absolutely adore your blog. I lurk here a lot. Thanks for everything.)

Christopher said...

I was abused every day in public school for being a funny-looking big sissy. I say abused rather than bullied because the administration knew it happened and did nothing because a faggot has to expect to get that reaction, right? Had I seen someone react to the abuse back then the way you did, I no doubt would have formed a cult dedicated to your worship! You grew your balls way earlier than I grew mine!

Shark-fu said...

CP...too true and yes, people do change. I hope she did change for her sake.

The thing is damage is hard to undo...which brings me to Sara's intersting question. Do apologies matter?

Yes! But they don't change the past or undo damage. You simply can not apologize away some shit...and part of healing from the hurt we do each other is coming to terms with the limits of repair.

Do I want an apology? No, not really not anymore. Do I deserve one? Maybe. Do I wish we were talking about bullying in the past tense and that this same horrific shit didn't go down today?

Yeah...because it takes something from both the bully and the bullied that an apology just can't give back.

Anonymous said...

Good for YOU!!!!!

I was bullied throughout elementary and high school, and I was already messed up enough with stuff going on at home without having to deal with THAT!!!

White people want desperately for their victims and their ancestral victims to forgive and forget, so that they can feel safe, instead of being responsible, being brave, dealing with things.

They remind me of this episode of the Simpsons. Homer forgot to pick up Bart after soccer practice, and finally he showed up hours later as Bart was soaking in the rain. Bart wouldn`t talk to him and was busy glaring at him with fire eyes. Homer turned to him and said,

"I know you`re mad. And I`m kind of mad too. We could sit here and try to figure out who forgot to pick up who `till the cows come home. So let`s just say we`re BOTH wrong and leave it at that. Now how about a hug?"

You go woman. You be one sly bitch! I salute you , wolf sister!

Frances said...

I'm glad you posted this about bullying. I was always picked on throughout high school and middle school because I was "high yellow", had "good hair" and spoke "proper." I learned to hate myself and sit far back in the classroom so that hopefully, everyone would forget that I was there, but someone always remembered me and I'd go home in tears. It was never physical abuse but always verbal as I had to constantly defend or meet some mysterious quota of blackness because I was lighter-skinned. I can't tell you how many times I was called "white girl."

Some times it was the boys that picked on me, but moreso it was other girls. And girl bullies are the worst. Boys often would forget or lose interest, but girls remember and would be vicious and unrelenting. They not only push you down but shut you out completely, making socialization impossible. I spent a lot of time alone or would ask to spend the rest of the day in the library. It wasn't until I got into college did I stop running away and hiding. I became stronger and not the shy crybaby I used to be. If any of my friends now ever heard that I was like that before, they'd not believe it because I don't put up with that shit anymore.

Still, I never did forget those people who hurt me and made 7 years of my life miserable. Guess who won't be attending her high school reunion in 2007.

EverydaySuperGoddess said...

I love it that you confronted her.

Amazing how those childhood torments haunt us. I still hold major-league grudges against a few individuals who made my pre-teen years a horror.

To be perfectly honest, I don't think I do want an apology. I think what I REALLY want is for them to feel as humiliated as they made me feel.

So, probably I have some work to do in the "moving on" arena...

Tendaironi said...

I love your blog! I found that sorry hasn't meant much to me or wasn't what I really wanted. I thought I wanted it, but when I received the apology, it really sucked!

As a teenager I confronted a guy who hacked spit (went in my mouth)at me and called me a nigger when we were 9. He didn't even remember that he had done it but said he was sorry. It was so nasty, I can't even stand to hear someone spit today and he doesn't remember doing it but he is sorry.

indianabob said...

Brilliant post!

Your story about the Malcom X biography was awesome. Well, awesome in your ability to expose a hypocrite, not awseome because it had to happen in the first place.

indianabob said...

This is a consistently good blog. Folks need to read shark-fu like they would read dailykos, huff post, etc.
If anyone loves this blog as much as I do and have a blog of their own then the best way to promote visibility is to link from your blog to hers. That positively affects a pages google ranks (I sat through what I thought was going to be a boring presentation by a Linear Algebra professor, but it was actually fascinating discussion of how google's algorithm works).

Get ready shark-fu, we're going to get you a gig with Lazry King, Tavis Smiley, or Charlie Rose some day :)

Hammer said...

This is why I love you and your blog!

Hooray!

Fuck those bullies. I mean really. I cannot even count the number of times I was called 'fag' in school. God damned white bread mother fucking assholes.

Waste of time. Really.

It's a good thing we understand now that those things we were bullied over make us the wonderful and interesting people we are today!

Hammer Che

Dustwitch said...

Bitch, I just can't stop laughin' about what you did in that classroom. I love you for that, I really do.

Ginger Winchester said...

God, it feels incredibly empowering and wonderful reading your blog.

I've got... goosebumps... grins... flickering eyelids... happy fingers.

Thanks for the fantastic writing - and the comments ROCK, too. You've obviously got a "cool" and loyal following.

El Güero said...

Oh I love what you did in that classroom.
Bullying has very serious consequences for the victim. The damage to self-esteem can be lifelong and even deadly.
I don't understand how teachers and other authority figures can ignore signs, symptoms and even evidence of it right in their faces and not intervene. Every teacher KNOWS it is happening, and they have a responsibility to keep their eyes and ears open to it, especially towards the more vulnerable kids. Not only would I like to kick the asses of my childhood tormenters, but I'd like to kick the asses of all the teachers who ignored or never noticed it.

El Güero said...

Hey, am I allowed another comment? Cause I just went back and read all these comments and I have tears of anger in my eyes.
I remember elementary school and we had one black girl in our class. I remember her name so well: Cleta. Cleta always sat in the back, her name was always on the bottom of that fucking cruel list of the "best to worst" students that racist bitch teacher kept on the wall, and she was invisible except when the bitch teacher would make fun of her in front of the class. Yes, the bully was the teacher. Cleta, I hope you're out there, fighting back and living well, which is the best revenge. Because that witch of a teacher is long gone and I don't remember her name, but I remember yours.

Justice said...

ABB, how great for you, then and now! I became the wallflower during those years. Now, I have to deal with it as a mom. I have one who consistently responds with intellect and has so far outmatched would-be bullies. I have one who gets her feelings hurt and then shrugs it off. I have another who has taken to hitting back (literally). I have been working hard on the last two. The reaction depends on the situation precisely, I think.

Anonymous wrote: "White people want desperately for their victims and their ancestral victims to forgive and forget, so that they can feel safe, instead of being responsible, being brave, dealing with things."

As far as I know, I am total Euro-mutt. Rumor has it I am also just a bit Native, but let us work with the Euro-mutt perspective. I was raised by a racist dad and sister, but some of my closest friends were not white. In fact, my best friend was black, and her grandmother (who was raising her) was a racist. I had been beat up because one of her male friend's called me, and my sister said he "talked black," so she knew he was. My best friend got extra slaps, punches, and kicks, from her grandmother because she hung out with that "little white girl." Looking at each other, we understood the racist views we were exposed to were not accurate. She and I went to a nearly all white school together, and later, by myself, I went to a nearly all black school where white girls did *not* go into the restroom alone. Later in life, I had my red-skinned, black-haired newborn with me as I sat, staring, heart pounding, near a covered bridge with "KKK" spray painted on the underside of the roof. By then, I fully understood the ignorance of racism, but feeling absolute fear that, at any moment, some hooded somebody could jump out from any one of those bushes and hurt us --her-- just because she looked the way she did was... it was indescribable, but I'll never forget it. (Those are just some of the experiences which stand out in my head.)

I write all that background to say I have been on many different sides of the issue. I don't want to forget, and I don't want you to forget, because racism is alive and still thriving. We need to remember how bad it gets. We need to remember because not one skin color is "safe" from racism. Forgiveness? I don't know. I understand the dynamics now, and I really don't think about it anymore --being surrounded and threatened by black girls, grabbed by that black guy, all of whom used racial slurs -- I just don't project that on groups of black girls walking toward me in the mall, and so on. I also speak up when I see racism.

I do think we need to reach a point where we can be absolutely honest about our thoughts, fears, and differences and similarities without screaming "racist!" and without our own racist presumptions, so we can reach the point where we can go from here.

MissPrism said...

Just wanted to join the chorus of rousing cheers for what you said to that bullying cow.

And with such panache!

Invisible Girl said...

Hi there,

...very interesting.

(I came here from Alas's link)

One reason I did not use my teaching certificate after I earned it was because I found myself unable to respond effectively to bullying. Also, I knew that a lot was going on that was invisible to me. Teachers--and this was discussed in my teacher training--actually often sympathize with the bullies. Not the really crude ones who are themselves messed up but the popular ones who have charm and charisma. They often see the bullies as clever and talented, and they don't want to bullies to turn on them. Also, teachers often become teachers because they have unresolved issues from school (my observation). I know that since I was spectacularly bullied as a child I wanted to get my teaching certificate as a way to rise above what had happened to me. I wanted students to...ahem...like me. Which was why I think I was missing so much bullying.

Of course, bullying is a political economy. Most kids collectively bully a few weak ones, some aggressively and some only by complicity; this is a way of maintaining their position in the class by showing that they accept the rules.

Although some kids bully because they have their own problems, I honestly believe a lot of kids bully because it's fun and it secures them social position. I never had anything other kids could have envied--I was fat and poor and weird in a very rich, conformist town.

Also, there's the urge to destroy the weak--I believe it's described in Nietzche. I had a big conversation with a grad student acquaintence of mine (when both of us were in our late 20s!) where he told me that he had been saying mean things to me (and a lot of them were surprisingly mean!) precisely because he hated me for my lack of self esteem and inability to stand up for myself. He referenced, then, both Nietzche and Deleuze--I believe it was "totally destroy the negative part of the dialectic", which was me.

To me the underlying problem is school itself. Schools in their current form will create bullying and support it by their very nature.

BaltimoreLenore said...

I'll never forget, nor forgive the bullies of my childhood. But the only importance they have for me now is to serve as a reminder that I will not tolerate that shit happening to my kids. Yes they need to learn how to handle their problems and such - but they also deserve a decent learning environment. Not a school that literally makes them sick at the thought of going to class.

Great post as usual. It's funny, my mind was already on bullies and I posted a news clipping about it. Thanks for a great post!

Ihatebullies said...

I hate bullies. Yup, I'm another one who was picked on as a kid. Alot. But I wonder who should bear the responsibility ? The bully themselves, a child - should they expect the same consequences as they would if it were a grown adult behaving as a bully ? The people I really blame are the adults involved, the bully's parents, the teachers, the school system, even in some cases (true for me) the victim's parents. Horrible. So important that decent responsible adults speak out about it and dont let it continue unchallenged.

emily2 said...

ahh, revenge is sweet. when some 8th grade bullies from summer camp ended up becoming debutantes, i had become features editor of the school paper, and i sent two staff writers to interview them. little did the debs know that they were being set up to make the terpsichorian society look bad. when the paper came out, the story was all about how a diverse and progressive college town with affluent minorities still had debutante balls with no minorities in them. oh, the girls were begging the terpsichorean society not to kick them out when the story came out, and kept writing letters to us, begging for us to recant.

we did no such thing. ;)

W. Mitchell said...

I read your article about bullying with great interest, having been a victim of it throughout my school years. My problem is that it raised more questions in me than it answered, and I am hoping you can explain some things to me.

First, let me tell you that I am a lilly-white Canadian who is pushing sixty who will admit to being absolutely clueless when it comes to racism.

My bully-history is based on very poor eyesight which made me completely inept in the school yard, through a long list of learning difficulties that did the same for me in the classroom. In other words, I was a walking list of buttons that gave the bullies many options to push. Just to add to this information, the biggest bully in my life was my older sister.

The reason I list this history is to give some basis for the question I want to ask. I am asking you this question, not as a smart-ass, or, God-forbid, a racist, but in hopes you will pull back on your anger a bit to answer and educate me.

What makes the bullying you encountered in your youth racism, and that which I encountered just plain bullying?

From my perspective, bullies hit you with what they deem to be the most powerful at the time. In my case, it was often my thick glasses. With you, it was the colour of your skin. What is the difference? Isn’t both what we were and are? There was nothing I could do about my eyesight, just like there was nothing you could do about the colour of your skin. How can one be racism and the other not?

Please don’t write me off as a smart-assed paddy (something the black friends of my youth often called me), or as a racist. My question is asked in the quest of understanding. I want to know why similar experiences in life between blacks and whites get labeled differently. I hope you can understand, have patience with me, and educate me.

The Part Time Instructor

J said...

I have been thinking of bullying as well. My boss made a pass at me two years ago, and I told him to stop. He stopped, apologized, and hasn't done anything of the like since. So why does it still bother me so much? Because it was bullying, because it was humiliating, because I wondered what I had done that would make him think I might be interested in that kind of crap.

(I'm not talking harmless flirtation, btw, I'm talking a pass, and he's married and old, and I'm married too. If that makes a difference.)

Tina said...

I was privileged to hear Barbara Coloroso (author of The bully, the bullied, the bystander) speak this past October. She talked a lot about how to raise your kids so that they can break that bully cycle - especially kids who are bystanders. My kid's only 2 1/2, but I'm already trying to teach him about stsanding up for what's right by apologizing when I'm wrong and calling other folks on it when they are. My friend Laura says to her kids "Do we lead or do we follow?" to help them learn to stop bullies.

Shark-fu - your blog is required reading. Thank you for all you do and say!

Tina

moonrose said...

I don't think your bully had changed. If she had, she could have said she recognized racism in Malcom X because it takes one to know one. Instead, she condemned "reverse" racism, though I don't like that term because it suggests racism is a normal state.

rachel said...

My G-d, I love your writing. LOVE IT.

Anonymous said...

I love your writing as well. You must do a book. Or, better yet, a column for a newpaper or some type of newsletter. You have a voice that needs to be heard.

badgerbag said...

That story sums it up doesn't it? I just laughed my ass off at the thought of the chick running out of the room when called out in public on her own actions. Hahahah, right on, teenage ABB!!!!

And never mind the Becky - I wonder how many people around that incident remember it and learned something about outrage?