We often link cyber bullying to the teen population. Cyber bullying is a public and terrible type of harassment. We must face the fact that cyber bullying is beyond a teen problem; there are plenty of adult bullies who resort to cyber bullying. Bullying in general is far more prevalent in the adult world than we like to admit. It pains us to see and try to grapple with bully teachers, bully bosses, bully dads (and/or moms), bully neighbors, bully coworkers, and bully partners. But there they are. Ignoring them doesn't change a bully (it's a way to control your own self though as a victim and can be helpful that way). When we as a culture ignore bullies we actually empower them. See, the bullies of the world know that we bystanders see them. And when we see them yet do nothing to stop them they become more empowered. Teen bullies grow up to be adult bullies. And in adulthood bullying becomes even more hateful and dangerous. Here are just two examples of recent bullying in the adult world:
- Olympic swimmer Rebecca Adlington is regularly criticized online for her looks. She refuses to read news articles about herself because of the hateful and rude comments that are posted about her body and her looks. REALLY? Why do people do that? What's in it for them to pick on the outward appearances of a star swimmer? Besides that, I think she's lovely! I think the haters need to get a life. Really, they need something better to do. If you ever hear someone spew hatred and nasty comments about a woman's looks or her body - please speak up. It's our responsibility to change this phenomenon. It's NOT OK to insult women about their appearances. Period. Yeah, I know - there are media outlets who thrive on this sort of labeling but we don't need to support those outlets.
- Video-game-critic Anita Sarkeesian is a "feminist pop culture media critic who produces an ongoing web series of video commentaries from a feminist/fangirl perspective." She earned a bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies and a Master’s degree in Social and Political Thought. So she's educated. She's articulate - and that's apparently her crime. The current hatred toward her (BULLYING) erupted when she sought funding for a video series that will take a look at the depiction of women in the video gaming industry. Her project is called Tropes vs. Women in Video Games. She reached her funding goal in less than 24 hours and continues to gain supporters and funds. The hatred that has surfaced since she announced her intention to make her video series is shocking. She was threatened, her Wikipedia page was trashed with pornography, and gaming trolls spewed threats of violence and racial slurs her way. Her YouTube video was targeted as well with over 1000 comments and an attempt to shut her down. Here's an article that chronicles the hatred. These are grown men who are attacking this woman who is speaking up and just beginning to take a look at the violent and demeaning depiction of women in the gaming industry. This is classic bullying and these bullies should not be allowed to win.
Here's my challenge to you adults out there: Become active bystanders. Speak up to protect the victims here. Shout down the violence, the hatred, and the pornographic attacks on women. How? Be vocal. Offer your support to the victims with positive comments. Then help root out the perpetrators and silence THEM. Here's a good example of a response of support by Jay Smooth. He made a video response to address the hateful attack on Anita Sarkeesian. Bravo to him as he addresses boys and men and urges them to become vocal against these types of attacks on women.
And Kudos to the UK for introducing a bill that will help root out and identify internet trolls. Trolls on the internet are most likely similar in the real world - that would make them a bully in the real world. When we identify the bad behavior, attach it to the person dishing it out, then call out the person on their bad behavior - we are being active bystanders. I contend this is the only way to reduce bullying at all levels. We need to name the ugly behavior then call out the perpetrator - make him/her visible.
Join me, won't you?