Posted at 4:21 PM Sep 18, 2009
By Andrea Grimes
Most of the girl-on-girl bullying I experienced happened to me in dance class when I was in the 5th and 6th grades. At school, my silly, geeky friends and I could stick together and insulate ourselves from the already fashion-conscious and sex-conscious "popular" girls. But I was the only silly, geeky girl in my dance class. Add that I certainly wasn't the most talented in the group and you have a pretty good recipe for bullying. Of course, they never outright assaulted me, but the rolled eyes at my non-Danskin, non-Nike/Adidas gear, the blatant non-invites to parties and the giggle-fueled questions about my taste in music--you see, I was committing a grave sin by preferring the work of Lennon and McCartney to Bone Thugs-N-Harmony--let me know that I would never be "in."
So I certainly identify on some level with the bullying victims in this upcoming documentary, the "Kind Campaign." What I'm not sure about is whether "kind" is the answer:
So often, we are faced with world scale problems that seem impossible to solve. What we fail to realize is that at the root of so many of our problems is a lack of human connection and respect for others. If we all learned to consistently practice kindness, there would not be these problems in the first place.I would counter with this: perhaps if we stop telling girls to be nice, they won't bury their "bad" feelings and express them in stereotypically girl-specific bullying ways (rumor-spreading, gossip, etc.) More than being nice, I feel that girls should be encouraged to be honest about how things make them feel and told that it's okay not to be happy and smiley and accommodating all the time.
And hey, maybe we try something similar--or identical--with boys and try to get past imparting the rowdy boys/quiet girls gender roles starting in pre-K. From there, it seems like we might be able to create the empathy/compassion loop that would be necessary to stop or reduce bullying, because everyone can be empowered to share and express their feelings in a safe, productive way.