Bullies want to fight victims, not adversaries. –Bruce Tegner
When I was a kid, instructions for dealing with a bully were clear and unambiguous: fight him. Bullies deal in the currency of fear and intimidation, and what they told us is true: if you come at them, they will typically back down. My favorite Navy fight stories are not about fights–they’re about fights that didn’t happen, because I didn’t back down from a bully, and then he backed down from me. (This probably makes me sound like a badass. I’m not–I’m a total wimp. But, at some point, the possibility of being beaten shitless is a lot less painful than continuing to be bullied by some asshole.)
At this point in our bizarre election cycle, all of the talk is about confrontation. Last night was what the French press called the first passe d’armes between Clinton and Trump. I would guess that most of us turned on the TV to watch the debate with a fair amount of trepidation. What would Trump do? Would he literally beat his chest like a fucking gorilla? Would he lash out from the git-go? (This expression explained below in the English notes.) As it turned out, Clinton did what they told us to do when I was a kid: she got right in his face. She took the fight to him. Trump did what he’s done in the past when confronted with a woman who wouldn’t back down: he folded. (I’m thinking here of Carly Fiorina and the Rev. Faith Timmons.)
When I was a kid, everyone advised fighting bullies–parents, teachers, the world. In American schools today, kids who are involved in anything remotely resembling a fight are suspended from school, whether they initiated it, or they were attacked–see here, or here, or here for news stories about kids being thrown out of school for standing up to a bully.
How kids are supposed to deal with bullies under those conditions, I have no clue. I mean, I can read, so I know what the current advice is:
- Reframe the problem of bullying. By changing your attitude towards bullying you can help regain a sense of control. Try to view bullying from a different perspective. (That’s Tip #2 from this page.)
- Feel good about you. Nobody’s perfect, but what can you do to look and feel your best? Maybe you’d like to be more fit. If so, maybe you’ll decide to get more exercise, watch less TV, and eat healthier snacks. Or maybe you feel you look best when you shower in the morning before school. If so, you could decide to get up a little earlier so you can be clean and refreshed for the school day. (I think that’s what you call “blaming the victim.” I found that gem of anti-bullying here.)
- It is incredibly important that you go through the appropriate reporting channels by firstly telling a teacher/parent/guardian/learning mentor or another responsible adult. (Anyone in the reading audience have success with this as a child? Found that one at the Ditch The Label site–they describe themselves as “one of the largest anti-bullying charities in the world.”)
…so, yes, I know what kids are told to do. But, what are kids supposed to do that might actually work? ‘Cause I’m pretty sure that “reframing the problem of bullying” would not have done much for the girl I was in the Navy with who our bully decided to go after one day by hanging up the sheets that she’d been sleeping on for her 24-hour stretch of ambulance duty so that it would be clear to the world that she was on her period.
Anyone know how kids are taught to deal with bullies in France? Surely it’s nothing this stupid…
- un affrontement: confrontation, battle, clash. Premier affrontement musclé entre Hillary Clinton et Donald Trump (headline, RFI, https://goo.gl/2nLOUO) Affrontement Clinton-Trump: un débat qui devrait fracasser des records (headline, Huffington Post Québec, https://goo.gl/HTZMTX) L’affrontement entre les deux prétendants à la Maison-Blanche a été rude, avec dans le rôle du chœur les internautes et les médias (Le Temps, https://goo.gl/jRveH4)
- une passe d’armes: échange énergique; sparring.
#Trump2016 #Clinton Premières passe d’armes entre les deux candidats (TV5MONDE tweet) Vive passe d’armes. “Je ferai revenir nos emplois, vous ne pouvez pas le faire” – Trump. “Donald, vous vivez dans un monde à part” – Clinton (AFP USA, tweet) Première passe d’armes entre Clinton et Trump sur l’économie (headline, Libération)
- la brute, le tyran: bully.
- la brimade: bullying, baiting, vexation, aggravation. This is the title of the French Wikipedia page on bullying.
- from the git-go: from the beginning. Here‘s a post about the expression from the Grammarphobia blog.
The English word bully can have other meanings besides brute or tyran. Here are some: