First of all, if it’s not clear by my name or by the facial hair on my face, I’m not a girl.
Now that we’ve got that cleared up, you might be wondering why I’m writing a post entitled, “When girls bully girls and women bully women.”
I’m doing so because it’s causing…
great pain and damage.
Bullying happens in many places and happens in both genders. By writing about girls and women, I’m not implying that it happens only among girls or women because that would simply not be true but what I’m discovered as a pastor is that more women than men (by far) are negatively impacted by the bullying they’ve encountered in their younger years as an adolescent, teenager, or even as a college student. In fact, you could also host a conversation about how this translates to how adult women treat other adult women. For example, there’s competition, envy, and jealousy among Career Women and of course, there’s the “Mommy Wars.”
But, let’s focus on young women for now:
- Did you know that a girl is bullied every 7 minutes in America?
- Almost 1/3 of girls are directly involved in bullying – and on a regular basis. About 77% of students have been verbally bullied in some way.
- 43% of girls fear harassment in school bathrooms.
And the numbers go on.
Recently, I had a long conversation with one of my daughters about how she was doing. I was stunned that she recalled – in such a graphic and precise manner – a very painful memory of some girls verbally “bullying” her and isolating her because she looked different (as an Asian). The incident took place over 4 years ago!
In my now 21 years of ministry, there’s been a consistent trend of pain and scars due to past and current forms of “bullying.” While I don’t want to make a sweeping generalization, this is one way how boys and girls and men and women can differ in how they go about ‘bullying’ –
Bullying as Emotional Violence
Girls bully by using emotional violence. They do things that make others feel alienated and alone. Some of the tactics used by girls who bully include:
- anonymous prank phone calls or harassing emails from dummy accounts
- playing jokes or tricks designed to embarrass and humiliate
- deliberate exclusion of other kids for no real reason
- whispering in front of other kids with the intent to make them feel left out
- name calling, rumor spreading and other malicious verbal interactions
- being friends one week and then turning against a peer the next week with no incident or reason for the alienation
- encouraging other kids to ignore or pick on a specific child
- inciting others to act out violently or aggressively (source)
What do you think?
Agree or disagree?
Is this over-hyped?
Do you have any personal stories?
Healing and Finding Kindness
One of the lines from the trailer that really stood out was this simple and beautiful truth. Oh, how this could change the world:
“We may not all be beautiful. We may not all be smart. We may not all be talented…but we can all be kind.”
“Jessica” – one of the women in this Quest Women’s C-Group volunteered to share her personal story of being bullied on my blog.
Girl bullying has been a part of my life since I can remember. My most vivid memories of times where I felt the emotional and psychological hurt of bullying and inflicted that upon others was during my middle school years.
At age 11 (sixth grade), I still had the luxury of recess but honestly I hated it with all my heart. This year I remember aching to be a part of a group of girls who hung out every recess but whose whole existence revolved around ostracizing other girls. I was new to the school and the summer before I had been what I considered “best friends” with the lead of this group of girls.
This group was all blonde-haired and blue-eyed girls, which obviously was the way you were supposed to look but I having long brown-black hair and brown eyes I was not going to fit. It would have been different (I am not going to say acceptable) if this group of girls had just told me to go away, make some fun of my hair, and not allow me to hang out with them. But that is not how this type of bullying works. The girls (including my best friend) would invite me to hang out with them at recess and maybe even pretend to be my friends for a few days before ditching me at a moments notice or making up some reason they could no longer hang out with me. Some of the reasons: my hair did not match theirs; my name has now been considered a bad word and they would get in trouble with the teachers for saying it, buying the wrong color Adidas jacket, and spreading to the entire school that I was a witch (in a predominantly white school, I was the only one with long black hair). The group would then literally run and hide from me anytime I went to go find them… a harsh reality, which resulted in me skipping recess. I remember coming home weekly and crying to my parents about how I didn’t have any friends. It never occurred to me to try and make other friends because the effect this type of bullying has puts the pedestal on the bullies, that they are the only ones worthy of being friends.
In 7th grade this same group finally accepted me and I came running in an instant (like I said the bullies are the only ones worthy of friendship). But things in this culture of girl bullying don’t change, and sad to say that I then engaged in bullying another girl the EXACT same way that I was during that year. I look back and feel disgusted with myself for being a part of this cycle. Before, the end of the year I realized what I was doing and made friends with the girl being bullied and still talk to her to this day. I am no longer friends’ with this group of girls but know they had a lasting effect on other parts of my life.
It would be a sad story to just hear about this type of bullying but the real effect is the hurt that girls carry with them in response. The effect for me resulted in extremely low confidence in my teenage years and an inability to trust many of the circles of friends that I made. I remember still having the idea of blonde-hair and blue eyes being engrained (for many reasons, but one I attribute to this group of girls) as the epitome of beauty and hating the way I look. I remember dying my hair blonde and researching colored eye contacts and saving my allowance for them.
There have been countless other times in my life where I have felt the effect of bullying in my life including today. I believe that this is an important topic to discuss because we are created to live in a community that builds each other up and I know the power of female friendship, now from experience, can overcome hurt that this broken world brings.