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.

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4 comments on “Siding with the bully is easier”

  1. Early Baby Boomer. says:

    Kids that are bullies grow up to be bullies. I was constantly bashed up in infant school while I waited for my older sister to walk me home because I could not see well enough to cross a road, much less defend myself. You didn’t complain to teachers because they saw you as tattle tales and at home you got bullied for being a retard or not pulling your weight, by very volatile and strict father. As a small child I wanted to go “back home”, but decided tp prove that I could do anything that anyone else could do – and I did it better. Unfortunately that upset other people who thought their good eyesight and university degree came with intelligence and common sense. Quite frankly, many of them were an embarrassment. Perhaps I just learned to see things that others didn’t. You people are full of bullshit, with no idea what you are talking about. You rarely see things objectively and always go with the minorities who can use their stance to intimidate and bully other people. The Discrimination Board is loaded against the White race, Christianity, and Anglo saxon Australians who built this country with their bare hands and gave many others opportunities, by using subjective words as “Offense” “Offense is taken not given”; You people have no idea what Racism means, and Fascism is in fact extreme left. It has become a lucrative business for some hypocrites who have been led to believe that only White people can be Racist.. You are living in a Blame the Victim and appease the Perpetrator world by destroying peoples freedom of speech. When that is gone, we have no rights and are slaves to the Communist World Order. Any logical person understands the difference between having an opinion, speaking the truth, fearing for our childrens future, loving our country – and bullying someone because of their colour, or defaming them. At least we were taught to have a mind of our own, our true history, and about the true law of the land. Grow up! Or are you a bully by nature?

    • Perhaps we agree that siding with the bully is a problem but disagree about the direction of the power relation in many situations, and what a logical person would understand by, for example, racism, fascism, and blaming the victim. I doubt we can resolve our differences in a comments section, but think it would be invaluable if there were face-to-face forums in which people could talk through such differences.
      Your treatment as a child sounds appalling and, as you describe yourself as an “Early Baby Boomer” I think it would be shared by too many children, at any time, but particularly in mid-twentieth-century decades, when children had much less ‘voice’ than many do now.

  2. 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.

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