Monday, April 8, 2013

Bullies, of the Male and Female Kind

Seinfeld, "The Library"

Elaine: Why do they call it a wedgie? 

George: Because the underwear is pulled up from the back until it . . . wedges in. 

Jerry: They also have the atomic wedgie. Now the goal there is to actually get the waistband on top of the head. It's very rare. 

Elaine: Boys are sick. 

Jerry: What do girls do? 

Elaine: We just tease someone until they develop an eating disorder.
Perhaps the path of mean girls may seem more civilized, but verbal abuse can pack the same punch as a fist to the solar plexus.     

Bullies execute their torture, and move on, whereas their victims can be held hostage by it for years following. One day one bumps into a former tormentor by a wedding, on a train, in a store, and those childlike feelings of helplessness rise again, competing with the flood of anger. 

This Seinfeld episode was recounting George's and Jerry's high school days, when the bully ringleader was not a student, but a gym coach, Mr. Heyman. Heyman made a point of "accidentally" mispronouncing George's last name of "Costanza" as "Can't-stand-ya." 

After George reports a Heyman-encouraged bully session of wedgie proportions, Heyman is fired. Years later, George sees him on a sidewalk, homeless. George, for some reason, decides to make himself known to his former torturer, who, while muttering crazily, still manages to get hold of George's underwear and execute an atomic wedgie. 

Can bullies reform? They may be older, sure, but they are still out there. Boys simply become more like the girls, using verbal insults to shoot others down.

Another problem is that bullies don't seem to be aware of their own behavior. "Oh, we're just having some fun." "She knows we're joking, right?" There can be no progress without self-awareness.   

There are times when I seriously consider the possibility of home schooling any future children. For the sensitive, even witnessing bullying (as opposed to being a victim) is enough to keep them up at night. 

Thanks to  In My Roots for linking it. 

Hurt people hurt people, it is said. But that's not good enough.  


Mystery Woman said...

Not good enough at all. And hard to feel sorry for them when it's your kid being bullied.

FrumGeek said...

As a former bullied teen male, I can tell you that not only do male bullies punch or throw balls at or beat up thier victims (my glasses broke constantly during ninth grade), but they bully them verbally as well. Heck, once a group of bullies in my yeshiva took a picture of me, pasted it onto a fake perverted singles ad, made tons of copies, and posted it all over the neighborhood of the yeshiva. Id also like to add, that years later, most of them eventually found me and apologized.

Princess Lea said...

MW: When this girl in school was giving me a hard time, my mother complained to the teacher who said, "Oh, you don't know what sort of home she comes from," and did nothing. I never bothered her, only she knew she could harass me. So yeah, no sympathy here. It just ain't good enough.

FG: Considering what they did to you, they sure as hell better have apologized. But what gets me is what were they thinking when they did it in the first place? What sort of cruelty and callousness would make them think that torturing another human being is "OK"?

Judaism is supposed to be the faith of Hillel, he who said all of Torah is do not do unto others that which you find hurtful, and all the rest is commentary. What is getting lost in shuffle?

Lost and Found said...

There are times when I seriously consider the possibility of home schooling any future children.

I feel the same way. It's frightening to read and see what goes on in schools and wonder, if when I have kids, what will they be like? God forbid bullied, or God forbid bullies. Scary. And inescapable.

Koyczan is a genius. All of his poetry is amazing.

Princess Lea said...

Unless teachers are really on top of it, there is always a hierarchy. It's terrible.