Amidst the worlds literary eviscerations of the “bully” character, the general descriptors for such a figure is a person intolerant of contrary opinion, a domineering and rather cowardly individual. Take J.K. Rowlings Draco Malfoy with his thuggish companions: that’s textbook.
If you look at the movies, they use a lot of those textbook characters: bullies like Draco, like the would-be pious figures in “A Knights Tale,” and many others. There can be honorable bullying; like John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, and Captain James T. Kirk. But when the word BULLY is tossed out, it is far easier to picture the thuggish, thick-headed jerk in the playground demanding lunch money from the smaller kids.
In my experience, the bullies were small, thin, and frankly, self-conscious. They considered themselves defective, therefore they made sure you thought YOU we defective too. Unlike the playful banter of friends and family making fun of facial features (like my too prominent Persian nose) the bully never said anything laughable. They made certain you knew you weren’t liked, they encouraged others to look down on you; humans are, after all, pack animals. They attack the weakest, they laugh, they jeer, they bite.
The bully in fiction is meant to be the comical figure that gets their comeuppance, but in real life, the bully is a difficult adversary. In todays age, you can’t throw a pencil without getting expelled, let alone a punch. The day and age of social networking has transformed bullying into a national past time of facebook reposts and photoblogs. We’ve all laughed at our fair share of FAILS. Pack animals (and not the carrying-things kind of Pack, I’m talkin’ vultures and wolves here, people.)
When you’re being bullied, that’s where TOUGHNESS comes into play. Toughness is having a backbone. Toughness is putting up with shit, moving on.
In the tenth grade I was destroyed by bullies. They convinced the whole school of 90 students (small catholic school) that I was the next Hitler. Which was funny, really, when I look back. But, my ‘friends’ did an about face on me; I wasn’t to sit with them at lunch. I found myself alone in the library.
But, believe it or not, I had more fun that way. Not everyone is like me. Not everyone measures their success by how much fun they can have by themselves; some people measure their self image by how many facebook friends they have.
That, to me, is a truly sad notion, because these socially awkward peckerheads can’t hold a decent conversation with their mother, let alone any of the peckerheaded kabobs trawling the depths of the worldwide sewage.
My sister was bullied, told she was stupid, and she succombed. I was built tough, she was built like lace. She caved, and she ended up spending most of eighth grade hiding in the bandroom closet. Older siblings are supposed to watch out for the younger ones; “you’re going to look out for the little guy” grandpa used to say, well, I tried, but I was in a seperate part of the school, and Kithia was a quiet type who never admitted her pain.
How does someone incapable of being bullied explain to someone else how to get over it? We’re not good at it, we just shrug and ask “why do you care?”
It’s an obvious self image problem for them. The bully and the bullied are linked in this regard. They feed off of each other. It’s disgraceful, it’s natural, and it drives me nuts. If I could box every bully, I would, but that wouldn’t keep these kids from being bullied; they’d still be the victims. They’re not comfortable in their own skin to begin with, what are they going to do? Magically become content with themselves because Little Johnny has been expelled?
It’s too bad you can’t throw down in the hall for three minutes with a pair of fists and a chanting crowd looking for blood. That’s grounds for a criminal record and time in juvie now. Back in the day, you could beat an asshole senseless with a riding crop and if the asshole deserved it, you were a hero.
The little guy can’t stand up for himself any more. And the bully can’t do anything but be a bigger bully. The systems broken, and Harry Potter can’t win against Slytherin without Mr. Malfoy saying he’s the new Hitler.