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Friday, October 19, 2012

Hit The Bully Where It Hurts

My life as a teen: The photographs above and below are of my sister, 
Catherine and I during our teen years circa 1980's 
and also of a friend(Randy) and my dog McDuff 
(the most amazing brother a girl could ever hope for-I miss him, a lot)
Me (I made the flapper-inspired dress I'm wearing), Catherine and McDuff)

Bullies, and bullying--the media screams these words since the horrific suicide of young Amanda Todd, a fellow British Columbian. Because of the cyber-world, bullying can now exist within another dimension that seems impermeable.  We may never stop the bullies but we can educate our children on how to handle a bully.  #1. Tell.  Let the world know about this bully. You don't have to tell your parents, but tell your friends and tell people in authority positions. The bigger your army, the better your chance of bringing the bully to his/her knees. One thing I know for sure, ignoring a problem never makes it go away.

However, when all else fails, sometimes you have to take the bully down with his/her own poison:


McDuff, Me and Randy (the photographer didn't tell me the wind took my skirt!).
McDuff, Me and Catherine (yes, believe it or not, everyone loved our hair and we 
used to get stopped and asked who our hairdresser was :P).
I want to share an experience I had as a teen with bullying and how I conquered my bullies. I am not recommending that teens try this themselves, per say, I am only describing what happened to me and what I did about it. I was a teen in the 1980's. Sexual harassment was still pretty much unheard of. I was the fashionista teen. I made my own designer outfits--always avant-garde. For a few of my teen years, I attend a rural high school on the prairies. The students were not accustomed to high fashion. I stood out, in a big way, in my flared mini-skirts and high-fashion ensembles. My outfits were admired by most of the females in my school but some of the males...well, they couldn't handle a young woman confident enough to wear daring, outside-the-box fashions. A few of the boys (older than I was by a coupe of years) found my fashionista persona threatening to their country-boy masculinity. I was stopped in the hall by skirts lifted with rulers, sneers "sexy legs" "Do you shaves those sexy legs of yours?"

Me and Catherine, goofing around. (Yes, I know it should be Catherine and I, 
but I like to put the name under the person in the pic!)
If this happened today, I'd tell all girls to press sexual harassment charges and document the abuse. In those days, I was alone. I didn't have a big posse of friends who were interested in protecting me and my parents advice was: "Just ignore them, all they want is attention." My friends ignored the bullies and I tired to. But ignoring a problem is not my style, never was.

I fought back--alone--told no one of my plan. I decided to do to the bullies exactly what they did to me. I stopped them in the halls, first-before they had a chance to stop me, made fun of their "cool plaid shirts" and "manure stomping boots." Walking down the hall with my friends, I would stop in my tracks if one of the bullies walked past. I'd look him up and down, as though visually undressing him (as he always did to me). My friends had no idea what I was doing. They'd watch in confusion as I stopped, stared the guy down and asked him if he shaved those sexy legs of his.
Randy and I--the photo shoot was actually an assignment 
of his and he asked if we'd model for him.
The bullies didn't know what to make of me. At first they tried to be cool, keep up the abuse but when I beat them to all their lines, they got flustered. The bullying ended. The bullies still had contempt for me, but they became pouty little boys, disappointed I'd ruined their fun and limited their bullying to cowardly phrases under their breath.

I can't recommend this as a cure-all for bullying. But it worked for me. Though, for it to work, one must be determined to do it--no fear--throw the bully's poison right back at him/her. That was my style as a teen and it worked for me.

I've blogged about how I dealt with my daughter's bully in, Mall Bully Meets Modernista Mama. The blog caused a lot of controversy: How dare I bully the bully? How dare I crack a few jokes in the blog?
Well, to clear up that controversy, I will say, that it is a blog post, not intended as an essay or news' article and thus the post is casual and written with a little humor (at myself) in the fist paragraph. And I stand by everything I did to that bully. In a world of men and boys thinking they can dominate and abuse women--I will do what ever it takes to set the boy straight. The sooner he learns it's not okay to abuse women and girls-the better his chances of leading a good and happy life--this is the teacher in me. I actually do care what happens to the bully boy. Obviously, he needs a strong adult in his life to tell him what is and isn't okay. Tough love. But most importantly, I work for my girls. No one messes with my girls..

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