Recently I went out drinking with a couple of friends of mine – a group of women all in their mid to late twenties – and we started reminiscing about our high school years. As soon as the topic came up, I expressed how much I missed my younger years. I was prettier, my boobs looked better, men liked me more, and my days were filled with carefree adventures into the woods to hook up with boys while drinking Night Train.
High school was great for me, and I assumed that my adulthood friends would feel the same. This quickly proved to be the opposite of the truth. As I went on about losing my virginity and being extremely popular, my friends grew quiet, and they looked on, nauseated and withdrawn. Finally, Clarabeth spoke:
“Uh. I hated high school.”
“Yeah, me too,” added MacKenzaline.
I was halted – stopped dead in my tracks. Clarabeth went on.
“I was bullied incessantly, and I honestly thought I wouldn’t make it out alive. I was overweight and nerdy and I really didn’t have a good time at all.”
“But Clarabeth,” I said. “You’re so beautiful now! There’s no way you were ever fat!”
A part of me couldn’t even believe that this successful and attractive woman was ever anything but. I’ll be honest, I was partially annoyed that I had been hanging out with someone that hadn’t always been cool. Sure, for her, things got better, but what does that say about me? What does it say about the company I keep? In a way, I was also sort of a victim of Clarabeth’s torment in High School, because she had such a rough go of it that it forced her to improve herself, and now she’s sort of tricking cool people like me into hanging out with her. In a way, I was sort of being bullied by how unbullyable Clarabeth had become.
As my friends went on about their troublesome formative years, I began to notice a consistent theme. They were all bullied. They were all bullied by young girls that sounded a lot like a younger version of myself. And as I listened to what they had to say, I was struck with a sense of shame. Not guilt, mind you, I didn’t feel bad about the way I had treated other girls in high school – but shame. I felt shame that my so called friends would have hated me when I was much younger. The fact that they now don’t understand how much fun bullying was, and how good it makes you feel, is sort of unnerving.
There’s a huge problem with the way the media portrays bullies. We paint them as these emotionless monsters that only exist as characters in the lives of the bullied. That’s really unfair to the bullies – sure, they’re mean spirited and they’re hurting the unpopular kids, but they’re still people. They’re still fucking children, and you shouldn’t judge them so harshly.
The entire anti-bullying set forgets that bullies have the same emotions as their “victims.” A lot of people recognize that bullies deride and humiliate others from a place of pain. They bully to correct some sort of self-esteem issue in themselves, and if you look at the way society is constructed, we don’t coexist on a lateral plane. There’s a pecking order, and if you’re not shitting on the person directly below you, you’re taking shit from the person directly above. A bully isn’t a perpetrator so much as they’re just someone that’s powerless to change the system they were born into. And beyond that, bullying is kind of fun and it makes you feel better about yourself. Bullying is empowering.
I tried to explain to my friends that bullying isn’t something that women should shy away from. When men do it, it’s just considered healthy competition, but when women like myself do it, we’re seen as bitchy and cruel. That’s not the case at all. In fact, as a feminist, I feel like it’s important to do just a little bit of bullying. I know – it sounds like it’s just putting other women down for no reason, and you’re not actually empowering yourself – but, you are empowering yourself. You feel good, it makes you popular with the boys and the girls that are prettier than you, and again, it’s really funny sometimes.
Women have to constantly fight to be seen as funny, and to take bullying away from us is just another attempt the silence the female sense of humor. Don’t think girl-on-girl bullying is funny? Guess what, you need to analyze your feelings towards women. You’re actually a misogynist.
Let’s also not ignore the fact that all of my friends, who were sitting at that table and who now looked like they fit in with someone like me, have better lives now. I’m the one that ended up lamenting the passing of time and the decline of my social status. Do you really think those women would have improved themselves, lost the weight, got contacts, breast implants, and learned how to drink and get fucked up if it weren’t for girls like me guiding them with criticism and physical intimidation? Do you think Clarabeth would be hot now if her “tormenter” hadn’t put dog shit in her locker and threw a cup of piss at her at homecoming? Of course not. She would have stayed fat. She would have stayed unsocial. Bullying is a corrective action and it works to empower both the bully and the bullied. Bullying is just a form of social bonding.
My friends, of course, weren’t hearing it.
“Nicole that’s really fucked up and wrong. We shouldn’t teach girls to bully each other. We should teach them to be more supportive and accepting,” said the former cow, Clarabeth.
“Clarabeth, I think you’ve had a little bit too much to eat. Your blood sugar must be off.”
“This is all I’ve had today!” she contested, gesturing at her salad.
“Well, let’s not forget that you were fat at one point. I was never fat. I’m not the one who needs to question her eating habits.”
With that, Clarabeth pushed aside her plate and scowled. She was about to further her argument when I stopped her. I placed my hand on her arm, looked into her eyes, and showed her just how easily I proved my point.
“Girl, look what you just did!”
“What?” stammered the recovering nerd.
“You just stopped yourself from overeating… because I bullied you. What I just did, right there, was bullying, and it helped you to make a decision that affects your life in a positive way. You can say whatever you want, but I think my point here has been thoroughly made. Ladies?”
I looked around the table. My friends held their heads low, probably in shame. The thing about being me is that not only am I the prettiest of my group of friends, but in times like this, I prove that I’m also the smartest. Yeah, I bully. But I bully because I care about my girls. I bully because I care about empowering them as much as myself.
“I don’t know why we hang out with you, Nicole,” said MacKenzaline.
“Because I’m better than you, MacKenzaline,” I explained to the blubbering idiot. “Because I’m better than you.”