Adult bullying shames victims, hinders gender equality

Entertainment value leads to mainstream acceptance of behavior  

by: Heidi Krick, Staff Writer, hrick@unca.edu

Adults might be bullying and not even know it.

Children are incredibly judgmental.  Children have a tendency to push away those who remind them of their many differences.  Harsh insults and offensive claims, though, are said by students on our own college campus.

The government website StopBullying.gov defines bullying as “unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involve a real or perceived power imbalance.”

Unfortunately, bullying in our society has taken on an entertainment value that started with the media and is now seen in adult behavior.  Movies and television shows like “The Real Housewives” and “The Jersey Shore” show women referring to their best and closest friends with insulting and derogatory phrases like “slut” or “bitch.”

This constant media persuasion influences everyday women to treat each other the very same way.  The Workplace Bullying Institute reported nearly 60 percent of adult bullies are women and 80 percent of these bullies target other females.

Cattiness is a behavior seen most often in females.  Cheap taunts and malicious gossip are incredibly damaging to both the victim and the bully.  According to the U.S. Health Resources and Services administration, catty behavior often leads to social exclusion of the victim and a lessened likeability of the person initiating the behavior.

While American women are still fighting for equal rights, opportunity and pay, women need to learn to support one another instead of putting each other down. The archaic belief that women are the weaker and lesser sex is far overdue for some re-thinking, and the general public will never accept women as equals unless they start treating each other as such.

With the growing acceptance of disdain and contempt for one another, more and more studies show bullying does not go away once students leave grade school.

A survey published in November 2011 by Indiana State University said 42 percent of college students witnessed a student bullied by another student, 15 percent of students were the victims of bullying and nearly 22 percent reported being cyber bullied.  The survey also reported 15 percent of students witnessed a professor bully another student.

Bullying is often overlooked once students enter the adult world.  Explained as a rite of passage, bullying is accepted in American culture as an inevitable fact.  Students starting in elementary school are told by parents, guardians, counselors and teachers the best way to deal with torment or gossip is to either ignore it or stand up for ourselves.  Unfortunately, these options tend to make the bullying even worse.

Ignoring inexplicable hatred only increases the aggravating remarks and standing up for yourself seems to make those bullied an even greater target for increased bullying because attention was drawn to the situation.

Humans are fundamentally insecure creatures.  Bullies shift attention away from their own insecurities by drawing upon the weaknesses of others.  Social networking has increased the number of bullying cases by allowing an element of anonymity.  Cyber bullies hide behind a screen name while tormenting others.

Perhaps the biggest lesson younger generations can learn is perspective.  There are a lot of different voices in this world and we will not always agree with the many different voices.  Something we can do is learn from each other.  We can learn from each other’s perspective and from each other’s experiences, even when we do not agree.

Bullies are missing out.  By excluding, criticizing and ostracizing those voices and people who are not understood, bullies are only limiting their own individual growth.  Competition is healthy and necessary in order to challenge one’s self to be a better person, athlete, writer, artist, teacher, actor, etc.  Putting down your competition as an adult only makes you look immature, unprofessional and incapable of learning.

Bullying by adults also needs to be described more accurately: harassment, assault and verbal abuse.  Accurately describing adult bullying will allow the younger generation to understand that as an adult, bullying is not only hurtful, but also illegal.

North Carolina is one of the many states with anti-bullying laws and policies.  Harassment in North Carolina, according to StopBullying.gov includes tormenting another based on, but not limited to, one’s race, color, religion, ancestry, gender, socioeconomic status, academic status, physical appearance, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.

There are a number of ways to judge a person.  Constantly acknowledging people for their differences and rejecting them because of their differences only sets us further apart from each other and a stable society.

Everyone wants a bright future for the next generation and that will never happen if we do not start treating each other better now.

One thought on “Adult bullying shames victims, hinders gender equality

  • July 31, 2013 at 5:27 pm
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    I agree with your major premise, but I think you are mistaken when you say: “Unfortunately, bullying in our society has taken on an entertainment value that started with the media and is now seen in adult behavior.”

    “Bullying” has been omnipresent within our species for thousands of years. Recent media demonstrations are simply taking very ordinary behavior and putting it out in the open for all to see. This is a good thing. Although TV shows, etc., are not the cause of bullying or female hatred of other women they do provoke the very conversation we need to have, the one you have picked up on in your discussion above.

    Reply

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