Hello Snarklings! The first lesson at Gothic Charm School for 2011 is going to be about a very serious topic, one, sadly, that the Lady of the Manners has been receiving a distressing number of letters about: bullying. Here, read a small sample of the letters arriving seemingly daily in the Gothic Charm School mailbox:
From Addy Rose:
question: My Lady,
I am writting this letter becuase I am…well, having bully issues. Sad, but true. 🙁 I have been part of the gothic lifestyle for about 2 years now. I am 15 and in 10th grade. And I get picked on, a lot. It hasn’t come to physical problems..but I fear that it will. Rude and threating comments are always being thrown at me in the hallways, cafeteria, classrooms, etc. At first I ignored them, but I don’t know how much longer I can take this. I’ve even shot some remarks back at a girl bashing my black frilly high heels. (It’s not just because she did’nt like my shoes..I could care less. It’s because she’s been tormenting me for years now..I just can’t take it anymore, Lady. Please help. Thank you for taking time to read this.
Addy Rose XOXO
question: Dear Lady of the manners,
I was fully aware that when I became goth I would atract unwanted attteion but I became goth anyway but the harassment has gotten worse. So much. That it has become psyical. I did what you said. I turned to the teachers, but they did not do anything at all.
Thank you for reading this,
My other problem is a girl who actually is physically hurting me, for wearing “weird” clothes. When I was wearing a neon green and black, knee length skirt and black corset/vest a week ago, she took my binders from my hands and threw them in the air, and then pushed me down the stairs. I actually shed blood from my knees. How do I avoid her? By the way, I told an authority at school, but they didn’t believe me, because that girl is a little miss goody-two-shoes/teacher’s pet, who has the school staff wrapped around her little finger.
I’m so stuck. 🙁
Snarklings, the Lady of the Manners wishes she could give each and every one of you a hug, and then visit your schools and tell your tormentors to STOP. The Lady of the Manners has no idea if that would actually help, but that’s her immediate reaction to letters about bullying. Since she can’t do that, she’s going write about it and hope that helps.
Thing The First: No one, and the Lady of the Manners does mean no one, deserves to be bullied. It doesn’t matter what someone looks like, what religion they are, their sexual orientation, their gender, where they live, what books they read, what music they listen to ”¦ there is no reason for bullying. Ever. If you are being bullied and someone says things like “Well, that’s just how so-and-so is”, “You just have to accept it”, or “What did you expect, you look weird or different”, that person is wrong. In the experience of the Lady of the Manners, bullying, at its core, has nothing to do with the target, but is about the bully trying to make themselves feel like they have power over something. Does that make it excusable? No, never. But if you are being bullied, please, please, please try to remember that the bullying is not an accurate reflection of your worth. Cling to that idea, and don’t let the bullies rob you of your hope, your self-confidence, or your future.
Thing The Second: If you’re being bullied, what should you do? TELL SOMEONE. Find a sympathetic teacher, tell your parents or the parents of one of your friends, tell the guidance counsellor, but tell someone. Do not suffer in silence. Because the bullies are in the wrong, not you, and their actions need to be exposed. (If the adult you talk to responds with comments along the lines of the “What did you expect ”¦?” nonsense the Lady of the Manners mentioned in Thing The First, tell them that bullying is harassment and discrimination and that no one deserves it. Show them this article if you think it will help.) But do talk to an adult about the bullying, and try to enlist their aid in getting it to stop. Sadly, they may not be able to, or the reaction may be a Very Special Assembly or Meeting about how Bullying Is Not Tolerated (and we all know how effective those sorts of assemblies are, which is to say not very). But you still need to tell someone, because one of the things bullies count on is that no one will call them on their actions. Which leads to ”¦
Thing The Third: Reactions. Bullies want to make you upset. They are trying to hurt you, and want to see that sort of reaction so they can torment you even more. Which is why the usual advice about bullying is to ignore them, to not give them the response they’re looking for. The Lady of the Manners agrees with that advice, up to a point. The most important thing to remember is (as the Lady of the Manners said in Thing The First) you don’t deserve any of what the bullies are doing to you. So do your best not to get upset, lose your temper, or give the bullies a show. However, if you can manage it, comment on what they’re doing, in as calm a manner as possible. The Lady of the Manners realizes that doing this will be extremely difficult in many circumstances, because getting upset about being bullied and picked on is a completely reasonable reaction, and holding that reaction in is hard to do. But your goal is to make them understand that bullying you isn’t going to get the response they’re looking for, and getting angry and upset won’t do that.
If you don’t think you can pull off reacting calmly toward the bullies, then do your best to ignore them. As the Lady of the Manners said, they want to make you upset, they want a reaction. Do your very utmost not to give them what they want.
Thing The Fourth: Violence. Sometimes (and oh, how the Lady of the Manners wishes it was a rare exception), bullying becomes physically violent. Which is assault, Snarklings. No matter how “mild” it may seem. Pushing, hair-pulling, knocking books out of someone’s arms? That is all assault, and is not to be tolerated. If someone assaults you, go to an authority figure (multiple authority figures, if you have to), and report the incident as calmly and seriously as possible. If you are met with any sort of “Oh, you’re overreacting” response, repeat that what has happened is assault, and must be taken seriously. You may even need to go as far as reporting the assault to the police and pressing charges.
The Lady of the Manners is loath to advocate retaliatory violence toward the bullies. Partially because she doesn’t think it will actually help anything, but mostly because the chances of you getting hurt and blamed for the incident are high. But! If you are in physical danger, defend yourself. Do what you need to in order to get out of the situation, and go to someplace, anyplace, where there are people around, preferably adults and/or authority figures.
Which brings the Lady of the Manners to the thing she feels the most strongly about in all of this: it is everyone’s responsibility to help stop bullying. If people band together and call bullies out on what they’re doing, if people make it clear that bullying is not something to be tolerated and accepted, then it can be stopped. If you see someone being picked on or bullied, say something. Tell the aggressor to stop it, and get other people to help shame the bully into changing their ways. Yes, the Lady of the Manners said shame, because if you are bullying someone, you should be ashamed of what you’re doing.
So speak up. Say something, even if the person being bullied is someone you don’t like or don’t know. Again, no one deserves to be bullied. Ever.
For this particular post, the Lady of the Manners is going to do a very rare thing: she’s going to leave it open for moderated comments. If you have advice on how to deal with bullies, or if you want to share your experiences and tell people that it does, indeed, get better, please do!