Lads Mags and Legal Action

The BBC have published an article today stating that retailers could potentially face legal action in the UK, if they continue to sell magazines showing naked and semi-naked images of women. Pressure groups and lawyers are claiming that displaying the magazines, or requiring staff to handle them, could amount to sexual harassment or discrimination.

There are two defined forms of sexual harassment. The first is any treatment that is conducted with the purpose of, or have the effect of, violating your dignity or of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for you. This conduct does not have to be sexual in nature and the treatment has to be proven to be because the individual is a woman or man, therefore being treated that way because they are from a particular sex or gender. The second definition is treatment that is sexual in nature involving comments or physical touching or threats. Again  the conduct must be done with the purpose of, or have the effect of, violating your dignity, or of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the individual. The definition of discrimination that I have been taught consists of “unfavorable treatment based on a person’s sex, gender, race, ethnicity, culture, religion, language, class, sexual preference, age, physical disability or any other improper ground. It limits the economic, social and political opportunities of the individual or group discriminated against” (Bowling, 2006: 135).

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The argument behind this campaign is that lads mags dehumanise and objectify women, and promote harmful attitudes that underpin discrimination and violence against women and girls. It is further argued that such magazines reduce women to sexual objects and sends out the message that women are constantly sexually available. DI splaying such magazines in everyday spaces such as supermarkets and corner shops is thought to normalise the sexism bound within the magazines. While I can see where this argument has some foundation, I also question why similar campaigns are not created around the objectification of men in magazines and, more prevalent, in adverts. There are many women’s magazines that display half naked men on the front cover with the accompanying text of ‘torso of the week’. Similar objectification of men can be seen in the current diet coke advert, or even in barry m’s ‘giant of a hippo nail advert’. This objectification of men seems to be perfectly acceptable, yet objectification of women does not.

What seems to be ironic is the claim that selling these magazines is in breach of the Equality Act 2010. In my mind, if we are to remove all so called lads mags because they are offensive then we must also remove all women’s magazines that display pictures of half naked men on the cover if we are to maintain this equality. If we supposedly empower women by removing these ‘offensive’ lads mags an then oppress men by leaving the magazines and adverts aimed at women by objectifying men as sexual objects then how are we maintaining equality?

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To me this seems to be a wild step in the wrong direction, in order for women to gain true equality, they should be working to raise up to the men’s level rather than attempting to drag them down to, or even below, the level of women. Oppression is the exact thing that feminist groups and campaigners are working to combat, yet by removing lads mags and keeping womens mags that objectify men they are merely being hypocritical and perpetuating the exact thing that they want to stop.

While it is not pleasant to be faced with half naked images of women (a feeling that I presume is the same for men viewing half naked males on the front of women’s magazines), I do not think that threatening shopkeepers with legal action is the answer. The media have suggested that previous incidents of employees suing their employers for exposure to pornographic images. If these cases are similar to the current campaigns surrounding lads mags, I think that these cases are again a wild step in the wrong direction. At the end of the day, if seeing these magazines in a shop that someone works in is such a major issue – don’t work there! While I do not enjoy seeing these magazines I do not feel that they oppress me nor do they prevent me from leading nor succeeding in my life. I fear that the issue of equality is in the initial stages of being taken a step too far.

References

Bowling, B. (2006) ‘Discrimination’ in E. McLaughlin and J. Muncie (eds.) The Sage Dictionary of Criminology (2nd Edition), London: Sage Publications, 135-137. 

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Quiverfull – Who is Really in Charge?

An article on the BBC recently detailed how a Christian evangelical movement is becoming more popular in the UK (BBC News, 2013).

A core motivation of the Quiverfull movement is the desire to obey God’s commands as stated in the bible. The rationale of the Quiverfull religion is to have as large a family as possible. It advocates leaving family planning entirely up to God, whether that means many children, few children or no children. It also advocated refusal to use contraception, medical treatments or natural family planning to prevent or control pregnancy. The main basis of the Quiverfull stems from  a biblical quote, psalm 127: 4-5, which reads: “As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them,”. But the Quiverfull movement not only emphasises the creation of children, it also advocates the proper training of children. The Quiverfull psalm previously mentioned reflects an important aspect of the Quiverfull worldview, which sees the world as a battlefield between Good and Evil. The Quiverfull movement is a neo-fundametalist one, and thus consider those who oppose their viewpoint as being on the wrong side of the battlefield in the war between God and Satan along with ‘secular humanists’, religious liberals, corrupting elites in encroaching government, mass media and education.

Many feminist groups are expressing concern around the Quiverfull movement, the concern being around the patriarchal model that the religion follows, with the husband having full control of the entire family making every decision for the whole family and the promotion of female submission.

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But I question whether there is as much oppression of women in this movement as is suggested. On the BBC’s Heart and Soul programme ‘A Womb is a Weapon’, the presenter pointed out that many of the main fan base of the quiverfull movement are female. In the BBC article on the Quiverfull movement, it is put across in the cases mentioned that the women are generally being the leading partner in wanting to join the movement, with one case stipulating that “in common with other Quiverfull families Vicki had to wait for her husband to come round to her ideas”. Now to me, if you are having to wait for your husband to come round to an idea and potentially coerce and coax him towards it, does he really have leadership in the first place? If he is playing a part in a religion which he may not necessarily be comfortable with, particularly considering the prospect of having to provide for many potential children. This, in theory, could be taken as the man being oppressed rather than the woman.

While I do understand the concerns of the risk of men who ‘rule women with an iron fist’ being drawn to such religions, and also of the possible oppression of women being unable to go out and work due to having to stay at home producing more children and looking after the ones that she already has, to me it seems that many of the women involved WANT to be in that life. They WANT to have lots of children, they WANT to be stay at home mothers, and at the end of the day why should we stop them. Who are we, as a society, to stand there pointing a finger and claiming that they are oppressed women and are not being treated equally in a religion that they choose to be in while ignoring the potential for men to become oppressed and treated unequally. I doubt very much that it is allowed for any of the men to become stay at home dads if they wish. They may get to make many of the day to day decisions in family life, but at the end of the day this is undermined by the fact that in many cases it is the female who made the decision to join the religion, the man at the end of the day seems to be the sheep following.

References

BBC News (2013) The Quiverfull: The evangelical Christians opposed to contraception <http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-22526252> (accessed 21 May 2013)

For further reading on the Quiverfull movement I would recommend looking at Juliana Denson’s research on the Quiverful movement which I used to better inform myself for the writing of this blog post <http://scholarship.claremont.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1010&context=lux&seiredir=1&referer=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.co.uk%2Furl%3Fsa%3Dt%26rct%3Dj%26q%3Dfeminists%2520against%2520quiverfull%26source%3Dweb%26cd%3D8%26ved%3D0CGIQFjAH%26url%3Dhttp%253A%252F%252Fscholarship.claremont.edu%252Fcgi%252Fviewcontent.cgi%253Farticle%253D1010%2526context%253Dlux%26ei%3DYBKcUa7yN6KP7Aa0soGgAw%26usg%3DAFQjCNGgPUj5yY59DRvPHHDMtrxpRR4cbA#search=%22feminists%20against%20quiverfull%22>

Surveillance, Privacy And The Use Of Google Glass

A common concern that is raised in the public sphere is the issue of surveillance and privacy. This issue has raised its head again in relation to Google Glass, a wearable computing device created by google.

Google glass is essentially a portable device built into spectacle frames so that you can film, take pictures, translate and search on the go. It overlays data into a users vision without obstructing the users view. While some are hailing the technological revolution of said google glass, others are becoming increasingly concerned with the potential problems of surveillance privacy issues that are related to google glass.

The concerns around surveillance and privacy are not a new phenomenon. The same debate has been raged around the use of CCTV and police powers to monitor people’s online activity. Many are concerned with how other people’s rights to privacy will be protected through other’s use of google glass due to its potential to gather video, images and other data around almost anything that the user sees.

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A major concern with google glass is the intrusive nature of the technology and that it can record or photograph someone without their knowledge or consent. This concern has prompted many to call for those who use the google glass technology to seek people’s permission before filming or photographing. While I understand this concern, it seems that, to some degree that it has been blown a little out of proportion. For example, the main concern repeatedly cited in the media is that someone using google glass could record or photograph someone without their knowledge, and thus cannot provide permission. According to some experts testimonies, after using google glass, claim that this is a difficult thing to achieve. In order to photograph someone, or more specifically record someone, you have to have that individual in the wearers field of vision for a fair amount of time. Take a common concern, again commonly cited in the media, being recorded in a public bathroom by someone wearing google glasses. In order for this to be achieved, the wearer has to stand and stare at you and, for the time being, give a verbal command to begin recording or to take a picture. This, in my mind, would make it fairly obvious if you were being recorded or photographed in a public bathroom.

Other concerns relating to google glass have been captured in a comic sketch by Mashabl and is well worth a look for a more funny take on the issue – (Google Glass: Don’t Be A Glasshole).

But is it actually an invasion of privacy? If it is in the public space then possibly not. Most surveillance systems, such as CCTV, are simply collecting data that human investigators did in the past, but in a more efficient manner. At the end of the day, said surveillance systems do not invade our private homes unless we choose it too. I feel that this approach can also be adapted with social networking. Many claim that surveillance of social networking sites is an invasion of privacy, If an individual has not privatised the data of their page or site, then it is not an invasion of privacy.

I have two main concerns about the use of google glass – the breakdown of communication and the effect on young children.

A major concern for me is the breakdown of communication. I already think that in the modern world communication is at a low point. Yes we can communicate more easily and speedily but it is often through the aid of a computer whether that be via email, text or facebook message. Human verbal contact is vanishing fast. The younger members of my family have been hooked on technology from a young age – they were born into an era where technology is an ‘essential’ part of life. This has lead to some young people, those in my family included, being unable to communicate effectively face to face, not knowing what to say nor how to express it properly. Not only that but they avoid verbal communication on the phone. When one recently went abroad on holiday they telephoned me asking if I could help them with talking to a hotel owner who did not speak fluent English. I questioned why they needed my help, thinking that they would have a language book to help, the response I received was ‘my phone is broken so my translator is gone’…I wonder whether google glass will encourage this reliance on technology to facilitate communication. Personally I was always encouraged by my parents to learn at least the basics of a language, either to be polite in social settings or to help me get by whilst on holiday. Google glass will potentially discourage such behaviours, with the ability to translate your voice.

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The issue of technology being involved in communication becomes particularly salient with children. In the description of ‘what google glass does’ it has the caption ‘say take a picture to take a picture’ with the image above being of a child being swung round by (presumably) a parent, taken through point of view perspective. Considering this photo , I wonder how it will affect children communicating with the wider world if the parent spends most of the time with the child wearing google glass so that they can capture a special moment. While it can be beneficial, such as capturing a child’s first steps, I feel it would be a constraint. Not only that but does it not remove a child’s right to privacy if a parent is constantly taking photos without a moments notice removing the option to run away or duck and hide (as I often did). We have already headed that way with parents placing pictures of their children on social networking sites. Pictures of them opening birthday presents, of them playing at the park, sitting in the bath, all without the consent of the child. Now with google glass, if you are to demand the right for people to ask your permission before taking a a picture of you and potentially using it with google glass, then you must afford that same right to children, which will certainly prove problematic for those at the age where talking is not yet learnt.

In our current technological age privacy is not something that we can claim. With access to social networking 24/7 via our smart phones, having the workplace be able to send you emails to your Blackberry, even on your weekends off, privacy is no longer something that we can claim nor afford. People already take our photos and film us without asking and post them up online. If this already occurs, why is it now suddenly a problem with the advent of new technology that essentially does what a smartphone does with the only exception that it is hands-free?

‘Necessary’

I read with discomfort about a prominent Japanese politician who described the system during World War II in which women were forced to become prostitutes for troops as ‘necessary’. As reported in the BBC, Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto acknowledged that women were acting against their will in working as prostitutes for World War II Japanese troops. Hashimoto further claimed that it was necessary as it gave soldiers who put their lives at risk a chance to ‘rest’, stating that ‘it is the result of the tragedy of war that they became comfort women against their will’ (for more on the BBC news story, please follow this link – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-22519384).

During World War II it is estimated that between 80,000 to 200,000 women were forced into sexual slavery by Japanese military in what is often described as one of the world’s biggest cases of human trafficking (Amnesty International, n.d.). Many of the women came from Korea, Japan and the Dutch East Indies, obtained through abduction, deception or, in some cases, purchased. These women were taken to ‘comfort stations’ throughout the Pacific and were kept for months or years on end. Many of the women were under the age of twenty, with some being suggested in documents to have been as young as twelve. Women who were able to return home following the end of the war remained silent about their experience, through fear and shame of the horrific treatment that they had endured. Thus, in reading the comments of Toru Hashimoto, it seemed almost to sweep away the fact that the experiences that many women in these ‘comfort stations’ should never have happened. By saying that it was necessary to abduct, deceive and purchase women and treat them as though they were nothing more than objects to be used on a whim is nothing more than a trivial event of war.

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Yet do we in the West have a leg to stand on in this issue. In discussions on the occurrence of the comfort women many Western books on the matter label the stations as ‘rape camps’ (McDougall, 1998) and ‘military sexual slavery’ (Coomaraswamy, 1996), as well they should considering that it was women forced into prostitution. However, while it is right to acknowledge the atrocities Japan committed during the war in forcing women to become prostitutes  there seems to be a case of sweeping some events under the carpet. Namely the part that Western troops played in perpetuating the comfort women camps. When America arrived in Korea 18 days after the liberation from Japan they officially outlawed prostitution in response to the Japanese comfort women system. Unofficially however America transferred the comfort stations from Japanese to U.S. control. By 1953 there was an estimated 350,000 women working as prostitutes with 60% of these women working to help said soldiers relax and ‘rest’ (Cho, 2007: 163). Can we ourselves condemn what happened within the Japanese forces, as it seems many Western papers are doing, when we ourselves ‘unofficially’ perpetuated what they set up. The problem here is that, certainly in the sources I found, it is never made clear whether the women used for ‘comfort’ were there of their own free will or forced. The source simply leaves it up to the reader to assume for themselves.

While I cannot condone what happened in relation to the ‘comfort women’ in World War II, nor can I condone the comments made by Toru Hashimoto, I can at least praise Japan for acknowledging that the atrocities did happen within the Japanese forces. As Toru Hashimoto pointed out in his comments, the then Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama did apologise in 1995 for its war time actions, as did Shinzō Abe, the current Prime Minsiter of Japan, in 2007, which is more than the West have done for their part in indulging in and perpetuating the ‘comfort women’ systems.

References

Amnesty International (n.d.) Stop Violence Against Women: “Comfort Women” <http://www.amnesty.org.nz/files/Comfort-Women-factsheet.pdf> (accessed 14 May 2013)

Cho, G.M. (2007) ‘Voices from the Teum: Synesthetic Trauma and the Ghosts of the Korean Diaspora’ in P.T. Clough and J. Halley (eds.) The Affective Turn: Theorizing The Social, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 151-169.

Coomaraswamy, R. (1996) Report on the mission to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Republic of Korea and Japan on the issue of military sexual slavery in wartime <http://www.unhchr.ch/Huridocda/Huridoca.nsf/0/b6ad5f3990967f3e802566d600575fcb?Opendocument> (accessed 14 May 2013).

McDougall, G.J. (1998) Systematic ape, sexual slavery and slavery-like practices during armed conflict – final report <http://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/demo/ContemporaryformsofSlavery_McDougall.pdf> (accessed 14 May 2013).

The (False) Oppression of Women

I have been sat within several discussions that surround the oppression of women. While I do agree that there are some things within society that oppress women, a patriarchal society is no longer one of them.

A large factor in this debate is the opinion that everything in this world should be made equal for men and women. This is an aim that I feel can never be achieved. Women and men are not equal – this fact can be found in the very make up of the male and female body. One example of this is the structure of the brain – a structure which creates an inequality for both women AND men. A literature review by Cosgrove, Mazure and Staley (2007) found that: women have smaller brain volume than men; women have higher global cerebral blood flow compared with men during rest and cognitive activity (however this higher blood flow could be due to the smaller brain volume). Even hormones can affect men and women: in women oestrogen  no matter the levels, is supposed to be beneficial for cognitive abilities (Lacreuse, 2006), whereas in men different levels of testosterone can affect different cognitive abilities (Beauchet, 2006). But even characteristics for men and women are different. Marco Del Giudice (2012) found in his research on genetic variation in personality that there are significant differences in personality traits of males and females due to sex ratios, evolution and selection of mates. It was further suggested that these inherent personality characteristics affected a wide range of social behaviours and thus, again created differences in males and females behaviours.

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A point that is routinely raised in this debate is that women are not afforded the same opportunities as men – a point that is usually backed up using the workplace as evidence. While I think that there are some positions, roles or occupations that are more difficult for women to break into, in my opinion an example being politics, I do not think it is necessarily to do with oppression by men. I find it very frustrating when people stand and say, with an air of self righteousness, ‘women should be given more positions based on the fact that they are from  a gender that is oppressed by a white patriarchal society’. True equality, which I feel can never fully be achieved, will not occur if you provide a position to a woman based on her gender rather than her skills and merits. I think that women would be resented more by other males in an organisation if she was given the role on gender when they had to pass on their skills and experiences. This type of scenario would set the so called aim for equality back even further. I have never felt oppressed. In my volunteering posts during my undergrad I became Chair of a committee for a local charity and also a team leader of around 10 people at events during a summer – most of these people that I was leading being older than myself. If this oppression is true then surely one of the men who I was leading, or even one of the women who were older than myself should have gained that position instead!

I do not think that women who cannot achieve rising to the top is because of male patriarchy, if that was the case then many women would not have reached the positions that they did – Margaret Thatcher would not have become the first female Prime Minister, Karen Brady would not have risen up through the so called ‘mans world’ of football to turn an ailing football club into one that reached into the top league, had a healthy bank balance and a turnover of £50 million. If you need more examples please follow the links at the bottom of this blog. Now I’m sure that many would turn round and say ‘but these are the exception to the rule’, and maybe they are. Maybe these women are the select few that have overcome this so called oppression. If this is the case then the message to take from that is – IT IS NOT IMPOSSIBLE!

I personally hold the opinion that women are not oppressed by a patriarchal society. No, I think that they are more oppressed by other women! I myself am guilty of defining myself by what other girls or women have said about me. A sad fact, but a fact none the less. Though I try to avoid being affected by it, I am still confined by other women. I have had women make comments on the fact that I have an active interest in academics claiming I am a geek and thus making me feel that I cannot be proud of my interests and knowledge – instead be ashamed of it. I have had comments about my interest in hockey – having one female tell me that only butch women that look like men play it. I think that women also constrain within the workplace. I have known female family friends who have worked hard to reach the top of an organisation, only to be told by other women that they must have acted like a male to get there.

The main point, however, that really irritates me in any form of debate on women’s oppression is when men feel the need to stand up and say ‘women are oppressed by a patriarchal society’ and then proceed to smack down any man who dares try to counterpoint this and claim that they are the privileged male and cannot see the oppression. My issue here is that men feeling the need to stand up and speak for me, is oppression in itself. It is suggesting that I cannot speak up and have my voice heard, that I need a man to speak for me. This is far more worrying as it is harking back to the Victorian era where women were dependent on men. Then the argument often thrown back becomes ‘but you don’t realise / are not aware that you are being oppressed’. So this then suggests that I need a man to help me realise that I am part of an oppressed segment of the population, in effect creating a potential regression to a stage in time where women needed to be patronised as they were too simple and weak to fully accept and understand what is occurring in the world.

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A further point to follow from the previous is that, by standing up and informing the world that a patriarchal society is oppressing women, all that is happening is that the oppression is being displaced. It is no longer the women, gradually it is the men being oppressed. Men can no longer make jokes about women’s appearance or behaviours, which are rarely intended to be malicious or insulting. Women, meanwhile, can make as many jokes as they wish about the size of a man’s penis, how his fast car is compensating for things he lacks in other areas etc – jokes which often, especially relating to penis size, are a little malicious.

So, to summarise this blog, my main point is that oppression for women does not come from a patriarchal society. I do not think that the whole of society is patriarchal anymore, some sections yes, but the majority no. I do not need men to stand up for me and inform others, as well as myself, that I am oppressed because I am a female. I am not oppressed. I do not feel oppressed. For those of you who are now turning round claiming that I have never experienced oppression, I would recommend that you to go back and read through this blog entry again. I have experienced oppression, but it is not from men. Instead it is from other women. Equality will not come from oppressing men and pulling them down to meet women. Instead it will come from women working to place themselves on par with men, a route which will ensure equality by earning the respect not only of the males of our society and world, but from the females as well.

References

Beauchet, O. (2006) ‘Testosterone and cognitive function: current clinical evidence of a relationship’ European Journal of Endocrinology 155 (6), 773-781.

Cosgrove, K.P., Mazure, C.M. and Staley, J.K. (2007) ‘Evolving Knowledge of Sex Differences in Brain Structure, Function, and Chemistry’ Biological Psychiatry 62 (8): 847-855.

Lacreuse, A. (2006) ‘Effects Of Ovarian Hormones On Cognitive Function In Nonhuman Primates’ Neuroscience 138 (3): 859-867.

Del Giudice, M. (2012) ‘Sex ratio dynamics and fluctuating selection on personality’ Journal of Theoretical Biology 297 (1): 48-60.

Links to Lists of Women Who Have Succeeded In A So Called Oppressive Patriarchal Society

Bullying

Bullying is a topic that arises time and again in the media. Generally related to children, more recently the media has been looking at bullying in the workplace. Bullying is characterised in many ways. It can take the form of: name calling, hitting, spreading rumours, excluding people, turning someone’s friends against them and can occur either in person, or via abusive messages through text or online (BBC, 2013).

I was bullied growing up for six years during school. Throughout this time I was told over and over, it is OK, it will not last forever, once you leave school it will be over and you will never have to experience or see it again. This, however, is not true. Not only do the effects of being bullied follow you, but so do the bullies! Even now in postgraduate study I experience bullying from a group of individuals. While it is not outright physical or open verbal harm, it is the jibes and gossip that is maliciously spread that cause the harm. Even after I and another of my friends attempted to bury the hatchet and sort the whole mess out, it was viciously thrown back in our faces and twisted and turned to place not only myself, but also my friend in the worst possible light.

But what is my point here. My point is that while it is a select few doing the direct harms, those who stand by and watch, do nothing, or even spread the gossip and problems further are bullying as well. On this logic, I myself have become a bully. By not addressing the situation, and by taking the ‘ignore it and it will go away’ attitude they have only continued their behaviours and started using them against people that they don’t even know. One poor person who happened to interact with the group has been labelled as being a stalker and a running joke has been made out of them for, in all honesty, just attempting to be kind.

ImageBut what can be done when face with people like this. Action wise, it seems very little. I could actively go and address them in person, calling them out on their behaviour. But what  would that achieve? Nothing more than potentially justifying, in their minds at least, their reasons for behaving the way that they do and also opening myself up for more abuse in the long run. What surprises me the most is that in school and the workplace there are crafted safety nets that can help support when situations of bullying occur. Yet at the University level, there seems to be very little publicised support in place to protect any students that are a victim of bullying. There is written guidelines and advice for the working academics, but little or nothing for students. One argument could be ‘so why do the students not set up an anti-bullying scheme?’.. There is no definitive answer that I can provide to that question, however I can give many potential answers such as: difficulty in gaining funding, difficulty in gaining interest in the scheme, difficulty in having people report any potential bullying and, difficulty as a student gaining power to be able to do anything in order to prevent bullying.

So what is there to be done? In my opinion, there is little that can be done to change the way that the people in question behave, but there is plenty that I can do to change the way that I feel. Here are my pointers that, from my experience, feel help:

  1. Ignore what they say about you – if you rise to any bait that they provide you, that is giving them exactly what they want, a reaction. While I did say that my inaction was a problem in that it did not stop their behaviour, at the same time it did not escalate it either. People bully generally because they feel the need to put you down most likely because they are jealous of either who you are or what you have. I know it sounds clichéd, but from my experience it is true! 
  2. Do not waste energy worrying about the bullies – this is one of the mistakes that I have made, spending months worrying about why I am being targeted, why they were making up the gossip, why they felt the need to behave as they did. At the end of the day it was wasted energy. Chances are I will never find out the true reason for why they are doing what they do. In fact I know that I won’t as the ring leader of the group has provided a different answer to every person who has asked them why they have a problem and why they have behaved the way that they do towards me, and chances are, again, that none of these answers were true either. Ironically, even here, I am again wasting energy on events and things that will continue to happen until I finish this course of study.
  3. Do not abandon others who are being bullied – Everyone is guilty of this at some time or another, myself included. If you have been bullied, then you know that there is nothing that can be more humiliating and isolating that being bullied. I am not saying that you must go up and attack the bullies at the time, but even if you go to the person after the event, talk to them and tell them that you think what happened is wrong, then that is something rather than nothing. It is a feeling that you are not alone, standing on the edge of a parapet with no one there to stop you from falling.
  4. Feel sorry for the bullies – It may sound strange but it is true. I initially felt anger and sadness that I was being subjected to targeted malicious behaviours. But now I feel sympathy for them. Why is it that they have such low self-esteem that they feel the need to bully and vilify in order to make themselves feel better and good about themselves, which clearly does not seem to be working as they have continued to behave in the same manner!
  5. Take the positives out of the negatives – a hard one to do, but it is possible. In my circumstance I can take the positive that these individuals feel that I am worth the time and effort to pick on, therefore there must be some defining quality or feature that stands out or is unique to me.Furthermore, this experience has shown me who my true friends are. They are, in my mind, the ones who listened when I needed it and provided the support that I needed to keep from falling down.

Finally, the most important, and possibly the most routinely cited point:

YOU ARE NOT ALONE IN YOUR EXPERIENCES – IT CAN GET BETTER

For me, personally, I think the best way for the situation to get better is to start with those who are being bullied. I do not advocate changing yourself, but I do advocate changing your thinking. Do not blame yourself, do not let the bullies get to you (easier said than done I know, but it can be done!), do not become a bully yourself – dishing back out what they serve to you does make you a bully, and finally – do make sure that you try to find some positives within the negatives. Negatives are what bullies thrive on, so why allow them that satisfaction by focusing on the negatives yourself?

References

BBC (2013) Are You Being Bullied, <http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio1/advice/factfile_az/bullying_are_you_being_bullied> (03 May 2013)