Signal Boost: Death Threats and Hate Crimes, Attacks on Women Bloggers Escalating
Read the full article at http://ittybiz.com/death-threats-online/ - if you get a 503 error, try reloading, because this one is getting a lot of different boosts here and there.
My position on the whole mess is simple: I don't know what the original argument is, was, or might have been about, and quite frankly, I don't give a damn, either. Death threats are bullying, pure and simple. Stalking is bullying. Threatening someone else with death, or grievous bodily harm, or mob action is bullying. And any form of bullying is abhorrent to me, as a bullying survivor.
I also think that the negative experiences described in this post: http://glutenfreegirl.com/warm-brown-rice-and-grilled-vegetable-salad/ are a form of bullying. I find them just as abhorrent. I find them just as disgusting.
I am not a "free speech" campaigner. I believe in the idea of responsible speech - that we are all responsible for our words, for the ideas we espouse, for the things we say. I believe words have power, and we are responsible for the words we choose to express our thoughts. We cannot say that "words will never hurt you" and expect laws to have meaning. We cannot use "but I didn't mean it" as an excuse and expect our religious texts to retain their power to convince. We cannot excuse hatred with "it was just a joke".
Words have power. Words that express the spirit of mean-mindedness, words that threaten, words that are meant to be harmful, words that are meant to break someone's spirit, to pain them, to hurt them; those words have just as much power as words which are meant to help, to build up, to elevate, to make things better. I don't feel the first type of words have a legitimate place in any discussion, and quite honestly, I don't care how damn politically or socially incorrect that makes me.
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Bullying: It's Not Just For Primary School
Parents welcome ruling on bullying victim's suicide
The article I link to above is about a determination by a coroner in Victoria that a young man who killed himself had done so as a result of being bullied. It's an interesting enough article, and it raises some interesting issues about bully culture as it surrounds people.
It ends with a note that "If you are experiencing difficulties with bullying contact Lifeline on 13 11 14."
And I started to weep, because I'm a bullying survivor.
I was bullied by my peers, socially and emotionally, for twelve years. I was taunted, teased, degraded, abused, stalked, and pushed constantly throughout primary school and high school. I survived it, but mainly because I grew up in a family which had a strong history of chronic depression, and thus had a strong intra-family cultural taboo on suicide, self-harm, or any other form of behaviour which might bring the family to the attention of the authorities. Keep your head down, suck it up, and see whether you can fly under their radar; that's the family mantra.
I grew up thinking there had to be something inherently wrong with me, something which made those other children pick on me, something which made me a target. I grew up learning from my age peers the "normal" response to my existence was either outright aggression, masked aggression, or just outright denial of my humanity. If I had any friends at all, they were mistakes, errors, only putting up with me because they were outcasts too. If someone was being friendly to me, it wasn't going to last. If someone had my back, it was only so they could stick a knife in it more effectively. I grew up knowing this had to be the case, because if it wasn't... well, if it wasn't this meant that people were getting away with being deliberately cruel to me, for no other reason than "because they could". Easier to believe in my own inappropriateness than to believe in generalised acceptance of malice.
Bullying broke me.
I don't trust people even now. I particularly don't trust other women (and if you're a "popular" woman, you're going to have a lot of trouble winning even the slightest particle of trust from me, because I spent too many years being the target of the malice of the popular girls in school), I don't trust good-looking men, I don't trust people who have any sort of power over me, and I don't trust people who say they're my peers. I live my life on the lookout for the next knife in my back, the next attack out of the dark. I shadowbox my way through relationships. The closer a person gets to me, the more danger I'm in.
I expect to be bullied as a default state these days. It was the cause of a near-breakdown in my second year of university study, because I was so strung-out waiting for the other shoe to drop... prior to starting uni I'd never been in any educational environment where I hadn't been subject to some form of bullying, where picking on me because I was there hadn't been just an accepted part of the day.
I still wear the target on my soul. I found that out when I got my first full-time job in the public service, and was put in the charge of a manager who proceeded to play mind games, most likely with the deliberate intent of breaking me down. That job brought me as close as I've ever been to actual suicide, and I can still recall the absolute despair I felt at the thought of having to endure something like that all day, every day, for the rest of my life. The only reason I'm still here now is because my instinct for self-preservation overrode my lower-middle class upbringing (and led me to quit the job with no idea at all what I was going to do next). What that experience did for me was reinforced the half-understood lesson of my university days - that what had happened to me for twelve years of schooling wasn't a result of "kids being kids".
This is important: children don't bully because they're children. Bullies bully because they're allowed to get away with it, and they don't "grow out of" their bullying behaviours. They keep at it for as long as they're able, and they'll leave a trail of victims behind them. Oh, and they generally don't see themselves as doing anything harmful, either. They were "just having a bit of a joke" or "taking care" of their victim, or carrying out their actions "in the interests" of their victim.
I've never actually called Lifeline. I don't think they'd be interested in what I have to say. I doubt calling them would change anything, and it won't make the pain I still carry go away. I'm broken, and I doubt I'll ever be able to be fixed. I can paper over the cracks, I can pretend I'm functional, but underneath, there's still the little girl who doesn't understand why people are being so nasty to her without any reason. She's crying, and she's probably going to keep crying for the rest of my life.
My name is Meg, and I'm a bullying survivor.
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Meg answers the "But Don't You Know You're Fat?" trolls
(Prompted by this thread on Shakesville)
Yes, I'm fat. Yes, I know I'm fat. No, I don't give a damn about it.
Yes, I've tried dieting. Yes, I've tried lifestyle changes. I tried for ten years or so, and all they got me was an extra fifty kilos; a thyroid condition; dodgy knees; an aversion to exercise and clothes shopping; and a major blow to my self-esteem that I'm still recovering from some fifteen years later.
Yes, I've given up dieting and lifestyle changes. I came to the conclusion they didn't work for me, after the gain of those fifty kilos and the thyroid condition. When should I have given up, in your opinion?
Yes, I know being fat is a health risk. I may lose years off my life. Given I've had three out of my four grandparents survive into their nineties, I have to admit I'm not overly worried. Yes, I realise I'm talking from a position of privilege here - feel free to complain about the genetics which give me a likelihood of an extensive lifespan, just so long as you realise they're also the ones which gave me a metabolism which was ideally adapted to surviving for a long time on low food levels. The same metabolism which was only optimised by ten years of dieting (oops, sorry, "lifestyle changes") so it now runs for ages on the metabolic equivalent of the smell of an oily rag. Can't have the one without the other.
Yeah, my body shape is a type the fashion industry isn't designing for (I'm short, big-busted, small-shouldered, big-hipped, short-waisted and small-waisted). The fashion industry hates me. Boo-fucking-hoo. I'm so upset. Given I'm a geek, all I tend to want out of clothing is a decent pair of jeans or trousers with enough pockets for the things I want to carry around with me; some shirts which don't gape at the cleavage; a bra which doesn't drive me bats or try to pierce my armpits (no underwires, in other words); and knickers which don't try to ride up my bum crack. Oh, and a decent comfortable pair of flat shoes which are built around the assumption humans have five toes rather than three or four. I've found all these, and often multiple examples thereof.
Yes, I'm sure I could find heaps of clothes which would make me look sexier if I was a smaller clothing size. But that's working from the assumption I want to look sexy in the first place, when, to be honest, I don't give a damn. I have a partner who thinks I look sexy no matter what I'm wearing - this is a man who thinks I look gorgeous when I've just woken up, can barely focus, and have bed-hair from hell. He's the one who matters. Please to explain why I should give a damn what Joe Monaro in the car park thinks?
Yes, I have aches and pains which are probably connected with being fat. My knees ache, I have a dodgy ankle, and I have chronic depression. But, given
diets Lifestyle Changes don't appear to work for me on the physical side, and have the lovely side effect of making the mental illness worse, there doesn't appear to be much I can do about it, does there?
Yes, I am aware a lot of people find fatness physically unattractive. That's their problem.
No, it's their problem. Not mine. I refuse to apologise for my existence. They think the world could be a better place without me, they can take it up with my parents. I certainly don't see it as my responsibility to change my physical self to fit their world view.
Nope, don't give a damn who else it is. I like me for me. My partner likes me for me. My family accepts me for me. The rest of the damn world can go tie itself in a knot.
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An Update - 1 week on from needing help
It's been about a week since I wrote the "I need help" post, and about a week since the breakdown which prompted it. Since then, I've had a few things happen. I've contacted the Silver Chain people about getting some assistance with ensuring I take my medication regularly. From what I've read on their website, they're probably the best people to provide the kind of help I need, which is someone dropping in on maybe an "every second day" basis, in order to ensure I'm taking my meds regularly and getting out of bed at a reasonable hour. They've returned my contact, and advised me to get a referral from a GP, which I did on Thursday last week. Now I have to wait for them to get back to me again, and let me know whether it's possible for this to happen or not.
I'm back to taking my medication, and I'm going to try and keep consistent with it, even though I know I have problems with this (see the above paragraph). So far I'm on day two, and I'm suffering the understandable side-effects of restarting psych medication after about two weeks without it. Or in other words, I'm dizzy, dopey, and a bit distracted at present. This too will pass, but at the moment I'm trying not to move too much too quickly.
( More under the fold )
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