Excerpts to the upcoming book, “A Mile in Charlotte’s Shoes” – Bullying, Social Politics, and the Power Dynamic. (Part 2)

Part 2

…Middle school and high school were periods of time during which- right, wrong, good, bad, ugly or indifferent everything, according to everyone in that awkward age group, was shameful and the definition of what was good or bad (or cool) became blurred and not so clear anymore.

It was a time when you were too weird, too straight-laced, too smart, or not smart enough. You were either an evil monster or a goodie-two-shoes, too stoic or too sensitive! Your nose was too crooked, too long, or too short. Your skin was either too clear, too blotchy, too pale, or not pale enough. Your hair was either too long, short, straight, or curly. You were either too skinny or too fat. Your clothes were either overly flashy or much too drab.

Charlotte would often think, “Lord! Can everyone just make up their minds, for crying out loud?” It was all so confusing!

There were things about Charlotte her peers could not wait to nitpick, things which were either beyond her control, chosen at random or completely fabricated. And she wondered why all this trivial crap even mattered.

The world had suddenly become one big and twisted soap opera. And it was obvious whom the biggest stars of this proverbial daytime drama were.

They were the best actors- the best liars and fakers!

Charlotte noticed that anytime she heard a member of the in-crowd tell a bad joke, the rest of the class would only laugh that fake laugh people always used whenever the corny joke was told by someone whose ass they wanted to kiss.

What those suck-ups never realized was that they only degraded themselves by replacing their true laugh with one that was counterfeit. Charlotte could only imagine how furious the so-called cool kids would be if they only knew the rest of the class were only patronizing them.

It was all akin to playing a card game with an opponent and ‘letting them win’- just another form of deception.

All that kindness and consideration shown to the so-called top dogs was only for purposes of vanity and due to their high positions in the school social hierarchy. The rest of the student body most certainly did not like them for them and most of those who were not in the in-crowd were wise enough to see it.

All this drove Charlotte nuts! At times, she would wonder, “How in the blue blazes am I the one who was always in the wrong?”

It was a system that was one big freak show and one Charlotte had no desire to be a part of. Sadly, this attitude would be to her detriment. She learned the hard way that if you want to get along in this thing- this maze called Life, you had to play along!

The thought of it was enough to make her shudder. No way did Charlotte want to be patronized or pacified! She detested liars and fakes and preferred to be told the truth. This kind of fakery was an insult to the recipient!

These were Charlotte’s thoughts:

“If you want a reaction out of me, then you damn well better deserve it!”

When she would hear some moron tell a corny joke, Charlotte would only roll her eyes instead of laughing and as a result, everyone else would take her silence and lack of interest as a direct insult and escalate the harassment.

Charlotte had nothing to say to any of them. Every day, she would pass them in the halls and look right through them instead of at them. Naturally, this was an even bigger insult because it seemed they expected her to bow-down and lick their boots like most of the other kids did.

And many of her classmates did believe they were better than Charlotte and that she owed them complete homage and submission to their will and every whim.

They saw themselves as an authority over her- higher than her and how dare she not acknowledge their superiority! Kids who were considered on the lower end endured those proverbial gut punches every single day!

With every misstep she took, Charlotte would feel the flaming hot coals of ridicule scorch the soles of her feet!

But as painful as it was, she would much rather have resisted her bullies rather than acknowledged them, much less make any effort to appease them or worse, seek their approval. Charlotte was way past crawling up behind anyone and she already knew where it would get her.

In the past, it had always seemed that the harder Charlotte tried not to be a target- the more effort she put into being “normal”, the worse she would fail. She was either being fake or being arrogant and uppity, and only certain kids could be uppity and get away with it.

At Beulah High School, you either knew your place or you were put in it. If you were on the lower ranks, daring to show any confidence or backbone could be dangerous. Because if you weren’t good enough, those in the upper echelons of the social order expected, even demanded that you kept your head down.

The bottom of the stack was like a raging torrent and the harder Charlotte struggled to reach the surface and get her head above water, the stronger the current, and the deeper it seemed to suck her down.

Therefore, Charlotte had long given up on trying to be like any of them because it was too much work and she had no time for it. She’d be damned if she was going to lie to herself just to win their approval! Forget that noise! She was through with false impressions! She just could not bring herself to do it.

Why? Because all of it was only wasted time, effort, and energy. If you were on the bottom floor, the reality was that the harder you tried to make friends, the harder and further people pushed you away. You were too desperate, too clingy, or too oblivious to how negatively you came across to people and the worst part was that there was no way to fix any of it without knowing what was broken.

And they would never tell her what it was because they didn’t know either. All they knew was that they hated her and couldn’t wait to pick her apart piece by piece.

Bullying and School Politics

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When there’s a culture of bullying at school, everything is all about appearances. And it isn’t about what’s being done; it’s about who’s doing it.

Sadly, people often hold victims of bullying to a double-standard. If someone makes a statement, it’s never about the comment itself, but who it came from. Unfortunately, politics, whether it be on a national, local, school, or office level, is rife with double-standards.

Here are a few scenarios for examples:

1. The student body and people in the community find out that a particular girl is in a monogamous romantic relationship and that she and her boyfriend are not only dating; they have sex every weekend.

If she’s a target of bullying, she’s a “whore” or “slut.” And her boyfriend must be with her for the sole purpose of getting in her pants. It’s only a matter of time until he gets tired of her and dumps her for something better. And everyone uses her lack of celibacy as a means to persecute her.

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On the other hand, what if she’s not a target of bullying (And she doesn’t have to be one of the popular crowd, she can be just an average Jane who blends in)?

As long as she’s any girl who doesn’t get bullied- she and her boyfriend are only in love, and they’re only experimenting and exploring the sexual terrain, which is only a normal part of being a young couple in love. And everyone either cuts her some slack and either doesn’t say anything, or  congratulates her for reaching the milestone of finding love and losing her virginity.

Here are a few more examples:

2. A boy in the school is going out and getting drunk or high on the weekends.

If he’s a target of bullying, he’s a worthless drunk or druggie.

If he’s any boy who isn’t a target of bullying, however, he’s “cool,” he’s a hellraiser! He’s only doing what most teenage boys will try at some point during their adolescent years. And others dismiss it as his being one of the crazy kids from high school.

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3. It’s discovered that a girl at school is pregnant.

If she’s a bullied girl, she’s a cheap little slut, and it’s no surprise she’s “knocked up.” People shun her like Hester Prynne in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter.” Everyone judges her harshly and has the attitudes that she and her baby will only live on welfare and leach from society while the non-bullied kids will move on to successful careers. And that they will be stuck paying taxes, which will support this sorry excuse for a human being and her little spawn.

But if she’s any girl who isn’t a target of bullying, then she’s just a good girl who made a bad mistake. And everyone reaches out to her and extends compassion.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

Realize that school politics and double-standards are firmly put in place to keep a select few down and oppressed.

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In a nutshell, if you aren’t a target of bullying, there’s margin for error and you’re allowed to explore many worlds. You’re allowed to make mistakes. You’re allowed to be a human being.

But if you’re a target of bullying, you’re not afforded any of it. You’re not allowed to be yourself. You’re not allowed to be human because in the minds of others, you aren’t human at all. In the minds of the student body, you aren’t even allowed to be- to exist.

But no matter how they judge you, do it anyway.

1. Allow yourself to make mistakes because that’s how you learn.

2. Be yourself because that’s how you weed out the people who aren’t supposed to be in your life and attract into your world the people who belong there.

3. Be human because being human is what exposes the people who are wrong for you and shows you the people who are right for you.

4. And don’t only exist, but live! Be alive! Live life to the fullest!

5. And know that happiness is a choice! And that you do have the power to choose.

 

The Double-Standard

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Bullies are the biggest hypocrites! And another unfortunate reality of bullying is that the target is held to a double-standard. The bullies, especially those in authority, will often condemn the target for statements and actions they allow others to get away with. They will also demonize the target for things that are harmless or innocent.

Also, ideas and creations, which are independent things and should stand on their own merits, are undermined or dismissed if they’re found to originate from the target. However, if the exact ideas or creations come from anyone other than the target, they’re accepted, even praised.

It’s not about the idea or creation itself. It’s about who it comes from.

The reality is that nothing- no action, statement, idea or creation ever stands on its own merit. Nothing is ever independent of the person who conceived it.

Double-standards aren’t only put in place to assign different roles to different people in different positions in a hierarchy, they have another purpose as well:

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1. To elevate, angelize and benefit the people we approve of and to degrade, demonize and harm the people we disapprove of.

Understand that people hold a target of bullying to double standards for one reason only, to stress, oppress and invalidate the person.

It doesn’t matter whether or not the person deserves it. What matters is how people feel about and perceive the person.

Remember that emotions and personal feelings always- always take priority over logic. Always has and always will. And the sooner you accept it, the quicker and more effectively you will be able to find your way around it.

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Here are a couple of ways you can get around a double-standard:

1. Go incognito if possible. If you write a paper or invent something, don’t use your real name in the beginning. Use a pen name or pseudonym before submitting it. If you have bullies around, they won’t know it was you who created it, so they will likely approve of it. Then, once it’s approved and recognized for its brilliance, everyone will want to know who the mystery person is. Once an award has been prepared and everything’s all said and done, you can reveal who you are. Think of the movie, “The Cinderella Pact.”

I’ve also heard of people doing similar things in real life.

But note that this only works in certain situations.

2. Meet strangers who don’t know and haven’t heard of you. Find and befriend strangers who don’t know of your damaged reputation. Then keep company with them. These people are least likely to judge you because there will be no history or biases. With them, you start with a clean slate. So, you can put your best foot forward and be your best you!

Reputations are hard to change, but with careful thought, inventiveness, and creativity, you can intelligently work your way around your circumstances.

10 Reasons Why People Make Excuses for Bullies

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Down through the ages, either at school, the workplace, or the community, people have made excuses for the behavior of bullies and it can be downright sickening to targets of such evil acts. Often, the bully has gotten away with it for so long that they get too comfortable and no longer try to hide it. It leaves targets feeling not only a sense of injustice and resentment but downright furious! Unfortunately, this happens all the time, and it’s nothing new.

If you’re a target of such brutality and find yourself wondering why people make excuses for bullies, here are your answers below:

1. They’re afraid of becoming the next target. Nobody wants a bully on their back, so they make excuses for the bullies to protect themselves from being ostracized and to keep from arousing the bullies’ anger. These people often “don’t want to make waves” or “rock the boat.”

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2. They’re loyal followers of the bullies. Many people are under the impression that being friends or followers of the bullies will give them status, popularity, favors, and most of all, protection. And in many cases, it does. But in others, the followers are only being used and will be quickly dismissed as soon as they’ve “served their purpose.”

3. They hate the target worse than they hate the bullies. They take the lesser of two evils route. If people hate the target worse than they do the bullies, they’re naturally going to side with the bullies and help demonize the target all for the satisfaction of seeing the victim suffer.

4. It’s expected of them. And people will often do what’s expected of them to do in an environment. Many times, the bullying of a particular individual has become the status quo in that specific environment, whether it be a school, workplace or community. And no one wants to challenge that for fear of being marginalized and forced to join the target at the bottom of the heap.

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5. They prefer to “cheer for the winning team.” Many people will side with the person who wields the most power. When people are on the side of the winners or ones with the most power, they get a share in being one of the big dogs. Many times, there’s a certain amount of social status and prestige that goes with rooting for a particular clique, team or group who seems to be in charge and run the school, place of employment, or community.

6. They want to be a part of the in-crowd. (See number 5)

7. They think it will keep down the drama and allow some peace in that particular environment. Let’s face it. Bullying is stressful for bystanders and witnesses too. You don’t have to be a target for it to suck the energy out of you. All it takes for bullying to take the oxygen out of the room is for you to see it. So, people make excuses for the bully, often in their presence, to appease them and calm them down.

8. They’re bullies themselves. Birds of a feather flock together. People have a nose for and take care of their own.

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9. For purposes of self-interest. The bullies benefit them somehow. If the bullies are stars on the school football team, star performers in a corporation, or successful business people in a community, they boost the image of that school, corporation, or district and often bring or attract money into the coffers of these entities.

The prevailing thought is this, “If someone makes me look good and is bringing in the money, I’d be a fool to do anything to jeopardize it!”

Also, in return for keeping their mouths shut or justifying their wrongdoings, bullies will often reward bystanders and witnesses with social status, perks, favors, and protection. Or the reward may be the feeling of importance in knowing that that they’re on the team that holds the most power and prestige.

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10. They want to impress the bullies and be admired by them. Many people have a desire to run with the “cool crowd.” Therefore, they make excuses for them to impress them and win favor. They feel that if the bullies, who already have an overinflated sense of their own importance, think well of them too, then they must be hot items themselves. And it’s a huge self-esteem boost.

However, these people are only letting the approval of these bullies define who they are, which is dangerous. Because once the bullies decide they don’t need them anymore, it’s going to be devastating for them.

You must understand that there is a payoff in it somewhere. Human Nature dictates that none of us do anything unless it somehow, someway, appeals to our self-interests, even a little bit. If people are making excuses for bullies, you can be sure that those people are somehow benefiting from it, whether it be psychological, social, or material gain.