People meeting me for the first time would be unlikely to see me as an obvious victim figure – and in my mind I am not! – yet, throughout my life, I have been susceptible to bullying and disrespect. It finally hit me, writing yesterday’s post, that the two are inextricably linked. Of course they are. If I did not see this, it was because, at some level, I did not want to. Who, after all, finds any pleasure in admitting that people they know – and, in some cases, like or even love – not only fail to return their feelings, but actually see them as second class citizens, people who in some weird way do not merit respect, equal status, equal rights?
Call them Trolls. Call them bullies. Call them Malignant Narcissists. Call them sociopaths. The label does not matter. It is the intent which makes the difference – metaphorically, the setting in the heart and mind to freezing. In many cases, bullying starts from an obdurate, if at times unconscious, sense of entitlement, of social hierarchy, of being a King or Queen (or, when younger, Prince and Princess) within the circle and of having certain rights conferred upon one as a result – rights (and this is the crucial part of it) which the lower orders (the serfs, villeins, slaves) do not have because they are inferior. Basically! They are there to do one’s bidding, whether it be emptying the Guzunder, paying out danger money, cleaning the mansion or accepting kicks and slaps when frustration reaches boiling point – and, of course, it goes without saying, being verbally reviled at the drop of a hat.
Bullies may well be festerous heaps of insecurity and childhood trauma underneath, but their way of coping with same is to blank it out where possible while at the same time taking it out, often viciously, upon those they do not respect, those who are insecure and vulnerable themselves (and do show it) – and those who, through their lowly status (financially, socially, emotionally), are not deemed worthy of kind or thoughtful treatment.
But there are, as everyone knows, two sides to this coin – and, as one bullied since early childhood, I must, in all conscience, present the other side: Very often, the bullied come to see themselves as inferior; they almost come to expect unpleasantness, or casual disregard, or neglect, as their inborn right precisely because they must, in their eyes, be majorly flawed in some fundamental way to have been bullied in the first place.
To put it very simply, the bullied often let bullies get away with it because their sense of their own rights, needs and entitlements is so flimsy as to be virtually non-existent. Used to being looked down upon, kicked, given orders, messed around and treated like shit, they cannot conceive of any other real alternative – and often grovel piteously, or slavishly agree with everything their lordly Trolls say, in order to receive that daily crumb of mouldy bread which, tossed contemptuously from Above the Salt, is all the sustenance they will get.
Because the bullied don’t believe that they deserve decent behaviour, guess what?! Yup! They are notorious for attracting whole colonies of Trolls into their lives. Respect for the ‘victims’ has become so far reduced to the lowest common denominator, that being noticed benevolently is cause for celebration; more they cannot hope for! They allow others to disrespect them – and, as we all know, there is an awfully thin line between casual and unthinking lack of respect and overt bullying.
I think it is a truism that bullies do not target those they see as equals. Why would they? Just as animals in the wild bring down the weak, the old and the very young, so the bully homes in on the fragile, the vulnerable, the child (or adult) who carries the unmistakable ‘scent’ of one who has been chased and caught and wounded before.
You see – and this should be obvious to all but the most insensitive – bullies are not as brave as they think. Otherwise they would take on the giants, the monsters, the dragons, the Green Knights of this world. But they don’t, do they? We see it globally. Big powerful countries picking fights with those not their equals in stored weapons or manpower or financial backing. We see it in schools. We see it on the street, in friendship groups, in the home. The ‘strong’ beat up the ‘weak’. Those with a modicum of power (whether it be a Headship, a Prime Ministerial role or a Presidential one) take out their frustrations, and sense of inflated entitlement, upon the metaphorical serving classes. Why? Because they know they will win. They know that the fight will be uneven. They know that they are, for all the rhetoric they use, unassailable when it comes to the lesser beings.
But, I would have to say this: Those in power can be toppled. The French Revolution is bloody testament to that. As ‘Lord of the Flies’ showed so graphically and memorably, nobody wins in a bullying scenario. All the savages on that desert island were shown, right at the end, to be nothing but wounded little boys. Jack and Roger wielded temporary power, but it was shown to be a destructive sham by the end, the latter’s sadism combining with the former’s sense of absolute entitlement to be Chief to the deadly detriment of all.
I do not believe that looking down on others, and bullying them, gives any genuine satisfaction in life. It is like a very dark craving, an addiction if you will – and increasingly nasty behaviours have to be adopted in order to get that all-important high. Just as those who smoke, as I once did, start with the occasional fag and end up on twenty or more a day, so the bully can never satisfy that almost sexual craving with simple name-calling for long. There is a link, in some people, between sex and violence. I know that because the man who sexually attacked me on a Weston street so long ago was fuelled by the need to bully, to overpower, to terrify, to assert his dominance and, although it was expressed in a sexual way, the urge was pure Troll and I, in his view, was a nothing.
What can I say? I cannot force anyone to see all other humans as equals. To do so would involve the kind of bullying against which I seem to have been fighting all my life. All I can do is to ensure that I, Alienora, am aware that we are all in this together, that there is no true division hierarchically between the peoples of our planet and that working together towards a common aim is far more likely to bring about true peace and equality than bullying others into seeing the world the way we do.