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View Diary: I'm so angry, I'm crying; I'm so sad, I want to scream. (185 comments)

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  •  It Doesn't Just Happen (11+ / 0-)

    Like far too many of us I've had my experiences on the receiving end of being bullied in school.  Looking back I used to think I was just unfortunate in being at the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people.   But on further reflection I can see that in my personal experience the constant bullying I and many others had to endure was a deliberate (but likely unconscious) policy decision on the part of the authority figures who were in charge.

    I grew up in a small lower-middle-class railroad town in the South and my first year of school was the 1959-60 school year.  Our entire elementary school had 7 classrooms and we were the only school in town for whites (we weren't aware a separate and very unequal school system even existed.  We only saw black people, and that rarely, as servants in 1959.  We didn't hate them, they just didn't seem to exist.)

    School time was divided into two types:  managed time where we were in class and strictly controlled by teachers (all female) who were quick with painful corporal punishments for any breach of discipline, and "free time" (before and after school and recess) which was basically a dog-eat-dog free-for-all with adult supervision seemingly absent where the strong dominated the weak and intimidation was your constant companion.

    I speak from a male perspective.  Teachers were not completely absent:  woe to any male who physically hurt a female student. (But girls had to suffer their own hell of emotional intimidation mostly from other girls that couldn't be seen because it was rarely physical.  I only learned this later from my daughter.)

    But boys were offered no protection at all except in extreme cases.  I believe this was a deliberate (albeit unstated) policy position that was based on the conservative worldview and was backed and indorsed (again silently) by parents.

    When I went to my parents, and any of my friends went to theirs, all we got was advice on how to fight back with violence.  My mother regaled me with stories of how she bested bullies with fists and implements.  My father (an otherwise kind and gentle man) offered fighting techniques.  No one questioned whether this horror show ought to be stopped -- the advice was to beat the bullies by being, basically, a more intimidating bully.

    I call this "schoolyard Darwinism".  The view of the adults (and this is still true of conservatives everywhere) is that the world and society is a dog-eat-dog dangerous place where the strong win and the weak lose.  That this is true between individuals, groups, races and nations.  Only the strong win and get access to resources.  To win, the nation (race, culture) must be strong.  The strength of "our" side is dependent on the toughness of the males.

    Male children must learn to be tough.  Toughness is built though winning conflicts.  The elementary schoolyard is one place where the strong learn how to intimidate and the weak grow strong or get crushed.  Sad that some don't make it but a least we know who the 'girly-men' are.

    Not many conservatives will state this aloud, mainly because it's buried so deep in their psyche they don't realize it's there, or because they aren't very articulate, or because it doesn't sound very good to hear in expressed in words.  But they believe it, in varying degrees.

    This is why many of them instinctively fight the anti-bullying campaign.  They see it as another step in the "sissifying" (I have heard this word from their lips) of America; weakening us, so that the stronger, tougher, meaner others out "there" will eventually conquer us and take our stuff.

    This is the source of a lot of male anti-Gay sentiment too.

    I wish I had a solution to this sickness.  We must fight it with facts, and compassion, and end the conspiracy of silence.

    I think understanding the deeply held beliefs where it comes from is a good starting point which is why I wrote this.

    Thank you for this diary.

    •  The Age of the Sensitive Skinhead (0+ / 0-)

      There, I said it.  We live in SkinheadWorld now, and all anyone can talk about is how "sissified" men are becoming.  Even the "sissies" think they need to show how traditionally "manly" they are.   Everybody's got this massive hangup about sissies/hippies/whatever--and on top of it we (well, not me, TYVM) wear our hangups like badges of freedom.  "I don't have to [insert non-traditionally gendered behavior or item here]".  Well, yes, but what if you want to?

      The '60s were simply an attempt to get the 21st Century started early....Well, what are we waiting for? There's no deadline on a dream!

      by Panurge on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 08:03:17 PM PDT

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