Tag Archives: bullying

Dude looks like a lady.

A couple of weeks ago (this has been sitting waiting to be published), a relative posted the following meme which I found pretty offensive, I am sharing it here only so you can understand this blog, and my motivation behind writing it.

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I immediately pointed out that this statement is erroneous, that advice often is to give the child the lead in decisions of gender, that enforcing gender stereotypes isn’t helpful, I finished by pointing out that little in life is truly skin deep. I figured… naively that it would be left at that. The OP is not someone that garners much in the way of debate. I am not sure exactly what prompted me to say anything, I do try and keep discussions and debates in forums I feel relatively safe.

Well, that was bloody silly of me. I was told by a stranger that ‘legitimately half the transgenders are not born into the wrong body’. I mean how are you supposed to respond to that? What is that even supposed to mean, where do these figures come from? And this is the reply ‘Look ‘guy’ there is a difference between being born of both sets of genitalia and wanting to dress up as another gender because your emotions and outlook on life make you feel that way’.

Now, the thread got deleted shortly after this exchange, by reply was to point out that I am in fact, a girl and the reply to this statement was… well it wasn’t polite and there was an implication that I am trans. Not the first time this has happened, probably won’t be the last. Now, a couple of paragraphs ago, I had stated that little in life is skin deep. The person replying to me would have done well to remember this. I use a different first name on Fb, one that could be considered masculine. Coupled with a female profile picture, I guess it is easy to become confused. If you are super lazy and don’t do a quick sweep of a person’s profile.

I have no issue with being called trans, it bemuses me more than anything else. What upsets me is that it is used to hurt, upset, to insult. There are wider issues here. The fact that laws being passed or being attempted to, at least, in America have called into question what gender means in wider society. When you are walking down the street, how often do you really look at a person walking toward you. How often do you really notice the person serving you in the corner shop. Why are people suddenly concerned about how is using the rest room with them.

It is one of those strange situations, where I don’t entirely know where I should fall. Should I be happy that these topics are being discussed and therefore making them less of a taboo subject. But on the other hand why are these things still needed to be debated. Why does it matter if one dressed like Saul during the week and Sally at the weekend. If Harry became Claudia by their 21st birthday. Does it matter who your co-worker shares their life with? I don’t think you can legitimately say that it does, it is genuinely not harming you. But MEME’s like the one I opened with are adding nothing to the debate. It is small minded attitudes, regurgitated in a way that makes it look legitimate, it validates a train of thought. That it isn’t okay, it isn’t normal and people that we are bought up to trust are in agreement.

Born to be … in a tribe?

So a couple of weeks ago, on the show, we looked at what it means to be different, what are our differences, are we really all that different.

When I was a kid, 7/8 years old, my mother asked me to explain what makes men and women different. Having a younger brother, I have some rudimentary idea of the difference in anatomy. However, every one of my suggestions were shot down. She attempted to explain that there are no real differences between us, and that the difference between the sexes is not so easy to quantify. This was an early lesson that never left me.

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But we are different, we have to find non verbal ways of communicating our differences to others, to show which tribe we belong to. This can be to open up lines of communication but to also warn people. To show what you care above, what you love, to show where you come from or where you intend to be.

There are many tribes that you can belong to – when I was growing up, I would say that music was the strongest influence on me, and how I dressed. I spent most of my free time working with horses, and animals which meant that I was dressed in old clothes, and not easily identifiable. But I found myself becoming more and more interested in music, it had always been a strong influence in the home, and I fell hard for rock, and later, goth music styles. There are pretty broad and I won’t dissect the sub cultures within. Let us just say that because I wanted to be ‘different’ I found myself dressing in a way that would help people easily identify me as part of a culture. Of course, at the time I didn’t think so, at the time I was being utterly ‘non conformist’ by refusing to wear the fashions of Miss Selfridge and River Island. And yet again  my mother pointed out that by dressing in a certain way (band t shirts, leggings etc) I was conforming to another group. You will generally speaking always be conforming to a group no matter how hard or little you try. It is human nature to try and fit you into a box so you can understand that person a little better.

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But it isn’t always so easy, like Johnny Ruckus who I interviewed recently – he has been fairly open about the problems he has when he is in costume, and alcohol is in the mix (although not always) and shared recently how he had been picked on by a bunch of guys while wearing a Star Trek sweater (irrc) and therefore being a Geek… while they were wearing football t shirts. Because some things are more socially acceptable. 

There are so many horror stories, we all remember Sophie Lancaster, literally killed for looking different. If you don’t remember or want to learn more, please head to the Sophie Lancaster Foundation Here. They work hard to help promote understanding of subcultures – the aim that people will not be targeted for their self expression. 

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Now, if it feels as if I am spinning in several different directions, it is because I am – being different is something extremely difficult to quantify, because what if different for one person, is normal for the next. What you might consider weird, is just average for the next person. That is more that what people wear, it is jobs, lifestyle, hobbies, pursuits, where you live, who you live with. 

We should all appreciate each others differences and instead of making fun of things that we don’t understand, learn, ask questions, show an interest and who knows where that will lead. There is nothing wrong with the path you chose, you are no less of a person because you outwardly show your individuality, or if you keep a little bit of you inside. Be yourself, because it is the only you there is. And you are beautiful 🙂

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Life on line

So this is something I am writing on the back of an incident I witnessed this week. I play MMORPG’s – as I have probably mentioned, and WOW is one of my favourites and I have been playing for over 10 years.

This week, in one of the groups that I am in on WOW, a kid started a thread about how upset he was that he had been banned from wow. It then transpired that he had been due to language he used, and sexual harassment toward other players in game. When people commenting on the thread were not sympathetic to his situation, he turned to racial slurs, death threads and wishing people would ‘die’ – and this was just what was being posted on the thread and not what was being privately messaged to people.

A member of the group messaged the kids uncle and explained what had happened, and updated us to say that the kids mother had contacted the police to have a chat with him.

And this is where it started unravelling. I had passively watched it all happen to this point (sometimes your voice does not need to be added to a situation) but felt motivated to speak when it was suggested that contacting the parents (or family members) was too much.

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Comments where made in the group that people over stepped the mark, that it was just ‘a kid’ being ‘a kid’ and ‘its just a game’.

Okay. Let us just stop RIGHT THERE. This is not a gender issue either – this is an issue of boundaries, manners and respect. The fact someone was so incensed by a situation on a game – and therefore something intangible – was not something to be dismissed. That he then lacked the social skills to deal with criticism, constructive or otherwise and the only way he could react was lashing out. But it was more than that – it was the language used, the threats.

If you are not going to say it to someone face, it shouldn’t be said on line. The anonymity that the internet offers, is both good and bad. It allows people freedom, you can avoid judgements, have another life, but on the other hand, people quickly find themselves either saying or doing things they would never normally do because the mask is in place, or they find themselves victims of bullying, sexual harassment, and stalking. Because it is in line and not so easily quantified, people don’t feel that it can be reported in the same way. 

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Another point made in the threads about the afore mentioned FB post is that if it is reported to the police it would ruin the kids life. I would suggest that if he is under 16, and this is a first offence, the only thing that is likely to happen is that he gets a visit and a chat about what consequences could be in the hope that it knocks some sense in him.

As an adult though, being aware of what you are putting on line is much more important – I don’t know about you, but when I was at school it was drilled into me that my actions while in uniform could and would be help up for inspection. This is the same in my working life, I can’t comment on things directly relating to my work, my job. I can’t share views, I can’t (and shouldn’t) make disparaging comments about co workers and employers. This may seem like common sense but the internet, and moreover social media blew up so quickly that employers were caught on the back foot but many employees now find themselves signing confidentiality agreements that include what and what is not acceptable to write online.

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This is another reason, many, like myself, hide behind made up names, and then you have people who because of work, known under different guises, models, actors, personalities who need and want to keep their work and their personal life separate. 

This doesn’t guarantee you won’t be tracked down. It doesn’t mean that you won’t have people putting two and two together to find your actual profile – although with facebook these days, you may find it suggesting your actual profile to people who are friends with your work profile. But I digress, putting yourself out there publicly means that you are likely to get complete strangers commenting on things you share… which is what happened here :

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Now, I happened to post this on my personal profile and have this morning had a conversation with a friend on how children act ‘these days’ and how there needs to be be more parental responsibility but I have to say, I don’t think that is entirely true. What I was trying to illustrate is that it is easy to hide on line, and so many different forums, pages, social media devices now that parents may genuinely struggle – especially those not so technically savvy. With life the way it is, working longer hours, often commuting, spending less real time with your children. I would suggest that children may not be worse, and parents are more lax, it is just that things are moving much faster now.

What I really want to say, after waffling on somewhat in this blog – is that we need to report things. Don’t just brush things off as ‘boys being boys’ or ‘its just a game’ … ‘they are just words’ … ‘stop being so sensitive’.

If you have comments directed at you publicly, or privately, or you see it happening, please don’t feel you shouldn’t report it. It doesn’t matter what age the poster is. It isn’t acceptable, and the longer people feel they are getting away with it, the more it legitimises their actions and make them become normalised. It then colours the entire environment and social interactions therein. It will have a knock on effect on other interactions that what people feel is acceptable. Not only that, everyone should feel safe, if you don’t feel safe, mention it to friend, report it, take it to the police. Don’t ever feel silly doing it.

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