Saturday, February 11, 2012

Big Dumb Bully

I just finished reading a post on BlogHer about adult bullies, and clicked over to Facebook where a different person was talking about the same issue. In the past week, I've had my own run in with an adult bully, and the people who live a few doors down continue to be the terror of the neighborhood. Through church and the PTA, volunteer organizations and social groups, I keep encountering these unpleasant people and always walk away thinking the same thing -

What the fuck is wrong with people?

In Rosalind Wiseman's very good Queen Bee Moms and Kingpen Dads (her follow up to Queen Bees and Wannabes), she rightly pegs the majority of these people as the schoolyard bully, all grown up. They consider their ideas to be the best ones, their experiences to be the most valid, their opinions to be the right ones. So insistent are they, that they often end up in positions of leadership, perpetuating the cycle of bullying. Only now with authority.

If a person is very skilled, very diplomatic and very patient, they can turn the bully into an ally, maybe even harness their powers for the greater good.

Most of us want to skip the diplomacy and punch them in the face. But because we're NOT bullies, we smile and roll over and vent privately to family and friends. Or blogs.

So what would happen if we stood up to these people and said, 'Hey, jerk. Stop being such a jerk.' Would they? Would it make a difference at all? Are we too nice to say anything to begin with?


  1. Good essay. Tips on how the non-bully (me) gets even with these meanies:

    You know the lady that always cuts you off in the grocery store and then proceeds to take up an entire aisle, blocking off all grocery traffic? When she's not looking, I take her cart. And I push it all the way to the other side of the store. I put it with the dog food and toliet paper. Point: Mariane

    How about the school volunteer bully with all the great ideas who shoots down everybody else's thoughts? Put her in charge of follow-through and execution. Throw in a "why don't you just run with that, Mrs. Horrible?" It's never as easy as it looks. Point: Marianne

    Friends. Nobody wants their kids playing with the bully mom's children. Her kids will invariably end up living up mom's arse for all perpetuity. Match: Marianne

    And if you don't feel like involving yourself, I don't blame you. Wait it out. The universe always finds a way to right these kinds of injustices.

    xoxo Super Marianne, Fighting Bullies Wherever She Flies

  2. I try to run with one of the following:
    1.) Is everything ok? You just seem really unhappy alot. (And open flood gates, become bully's personal therapist)
    2.)Last time I checked, I've never treated you the way you're treating me... (Free ticket to the guilt trip!)
    3.)Hey thanks for being a hateful bitch. (Self explanatory, but I use it when I need to.)

    1. You are Marianne need to get together and become a superhero bully fighting team.

  3. I almost died when I read that article on BlogHer. I'm not sure if wanted to say kudos for being so kind regardless of how he treats you or virtually slap her in the face and tell her to stop being such a patty and tell him to back the hell down.

    I do not tolerate that kind of behavior in a child so I'm sure as hell not going to tolerate it in an adult. I'm the crazy lady who will tell you that you just jumped me in line, tell you to stop treating the cashier at the Teeter like your own personal whipping post and LOVE when I get the chance to tell one of the PTA mean moms that them throwing their yoga-draped weight around is neither welcome or necessary.

    And I will cut a bitch who offends one of my friends or children.

  4. stuck a nerve with this post, kelly. too many stories to tell here.


  5. For ten years, I worked with a bully (Cranky Boss Lady). For a long time, I just let her be her--with her constant unfounded criticism and negativity--until one day I snapped. I did not punch her in the face, but she did throw a mug at my head (she missed) and there was a lot of yelling and screaming and eventually some tears. The balance of power changed forever that day--and though there were definitely other tense moments and neither of us was perfect in our treatment of the other, she did reach a level of self-awareness I never thought would happen and I learned a hell of lot about myself as well.

    I no longer work for her, still don't like her much, but I care about her a lot and she is still in my life. I guess what I'm saying is bullies are people too. Annoying, assholish, ignorant people. But people. And standing up to them sometimes can make a difference--even if it's only in our perception of ourselves.

    1. You're right, MM. I do think a lot of times adults are bullies because they can be, and because it works. When it stops working, they lose their power.

  6. Would you teach your child to stand up to a bully or to stick up for someone who was being bullied? A bully can be a bully because we let him/her do it to us - even as an adult. And the only way to shut a bully down is to say stop it.

    1. Absolutely. Although I have a much easier time standing up to 10 year old bullies. ;)