Siding with the bully is easier

October 15th, 2015  |  Published in Bully power


“Siding with the bully is psychologically easier for your average self-serving person,” Megan Graham writes:

  • If you’re a victim of bullying, don’t expect sympathy, or even to be believed.
  • Being a victim will not win you friends and if you speak up about it you can expect further discrimination.
  • If people allow themselves to be aware of bullying and abuse they feel pressure to act, or ashamed for doing nothing. It’s easier to keep your head down.
  • Blaming the victim is a stock tactic. In response to thevic (9) (persistent) booing of Aboriginal footballer, Adam Goodes, for example, shock jock Alan Jones described him as “always a victim” as if the problem was Goodes’ mindset, rather than the treatment of him. People are expected to ‘suck it up’ no matter how often or how offensive the abuse.
  • “You deserve what you get” rolls easily off the tongue for people who enjoy privilege and therefore have the luxury to declare it doesn’t exist.
  • Similar themes are taken up by Chris Graham: “Our determined indifference to the suffering of other people, from refugees, Pacific Islanders, and First Nations people – pervades all levels of Australian society, from ministers and prime ministers, to footy fans and newspaper columnists.”
  • David Graeber argues that if we want to understand broad structures of human domination, including wars and oppression, we need to start with schoolyard bullying because that’s where the behaviors and attitudes begin.

So, the default is to blame the victim and side with the bully even if bullies are not popular either. This pattern starts early and becomes entrenched for such gains as…what exactly? Dominance for the sake of?

Changing these patterns and challenging power and its abuses means working against the status quo, but wouldn’t everybody be better off?…Joan Beckwith.

bully (5)

(Note: An earlier version of this post first appeared on the 2020socialjustice Facebook page.)

Get free monthly emails about new blog posts

2 comments on “Siding with the bully is easier”

  1. stephengb says:

    It would be interesting for us to understand the bullies of this world – how did it all start – when you consider that we came from apes is it that the bully comes from the ‘pecking order’?

    As a victim of bullying in my school days, it has never left me that feeling of shame at allowing myself to be bullied even though it was impossible to fight the school bully who was always supported by 4, 5 and more of supporters whilst other victims looked on, and then walked away, only too glad it was not their turn!
    It left me behind in my school work, behind in getting a fair education because in those days the teachers turned a blind eye and often the school bully became the prefect and often head boy/girl.

    I see this current government cabinet ministers as just a collection of those bullies

    • I think your point about bullies being rewarded (becoming prefects at school, getting ahead by trampling others at work) is crucial, Stephen, and that seems more important to me than throwbacks to apes and the ‘pecking order’. Kids and people learn to be bullies, and it would be possible to develop a culture in which they learnt to behave respectfully, but it would take determination and work and policy decisions by politicians which they are unlidely to make if they have got where they have themselves through bullying and abuse.
      Your other point, about blaming yourself, is also built in to the general culture of victim-blaming. It happens all the time as you probably notice, and one thing we can all do is refuse to buy into it when we see it happening to other people (it’s harder when it’s self-blame, especially hard when you can see, as you do, that you are not to blame but still find it hard to stop beating yourself up).
      From another comment you made on the post about social justice and neoliberalism, it seems you have done a pretty good job of self-education, although of course it’s still unfair that bullying interfered with your years at school.
      I hope that in time you will start to see the light at the end of the tunnel of the effects of bullying and enjoy some great times.

Leave your comment

Show the 'Share' buttons
Hide Buttons