Bullying,Violence and Provoking it!November 27, 2012
‘It’s the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women – and the start of #16Days of Action to End Violence Against Women’. This is a tweet posted by Refuge http://refuge.org.uk/ , and it’s an indicator of how prevalent violence is in the world. We unfortunately live in a world where the weak are dominated by the powerful, in all countries and by and in all layers of society. The rich countries control the poor countries and the wealthy within control the poor and this filters down and through society. Every individual jostles for power of some description whether it’s to exert over others or the power to stop Peoples control over you, we all do it to some degree. Power can be exerted by individuals, organisations, governments and countries in many ways, for example such as persuasion, with debate and diplomacy, argument and demonstration. There is also manipulation, financial, emotional, moral and physical and of course there is violence and force.
We see power being exerted in everyday life for example children in the playground practicing their power over others both in acts of bullying and of friendship. One lesson children learn is power is used not only by other children but by adults and that somehow ‘unfairness’ is normal and natural and that any difference or so-called weaknesses will be discovered or searched for and if spotted used as an excuse for physical and/or mental bullying. How many of us remember complaining about being bullied to only hear the words ‘Don’t be such a tell-tale’ or ‘well you should stick up for yourself’? How many films have you watched where school bullying is shown as a good learning curve making you into a better person? ‘Never Been Kissed‘ is one just from the top of my head. How many films have you seen where violent retaliation from the victims is seen as positive? How many soaps where people retaliate with punches and slaps for insults and betrayals? Lets be honest this violent behaviour is seen as normal and the thought that violence can be provoked is common place and normalised. Violent crime especially if sexualised against women is seen as kinky, naughty and fun therefore normal, language being used to blur the lines between consensual sex and abuse.
Men generally are seen as stronger and more logical than women, they are regarded as leaders, you may disagree with this statement but look what happened at the recent vote for women Bishops, women lost again, huge importance is continually put on traditional gendered roles and these roles place men above women. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/nov/21/church-england-continue-arm-state
and when you look at lists of MPs and at the rich and powerful they are still predominantly men. This next link is a powerful Tory exerting his control over less powerful people, after all they are easy targets and make him sound very important to some.
These examples may seem to be unrelated yet they are manifestations of the same phenomena the powerful exerting power and control, not only that but demonstrating their power so as to maintain it.
When you look at partner violence and abuse it is predominantly women who are the victims. However whatever the gender of the victim and perpetrator it is the powerful picking on the weak to make themselves feel stronger and in consequence dis-empowering the weak more. At the core of this thinking is that the powerful have done something to earn their power and therefore the weak deserve to be weak, victim blaming goes beyond actual crime, meritocracy is seen to exist in everything and is another tool in the arsenal of the powerful. In the case of the death of Christine Henderson the perpetrator was found guilty of manslaughter it was said he was ‘provoked’ during an argument
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-tees-20143478 he was only found guilty of manslaughter even though she was stabbed 12 times, he ‘lost control’ . This could be seen as a warning to women and to the weak, this is what could happen if you resist someone stronger, not just someone but anything stronger. Retaliation is legitimised continuously especially by the powerful. Look at Gaza, regardless of history the retaliation by both sides is seen as legitimate by both sides. If you care to look at police reports of the ‘fights’ that O J Simpson had with his wife before her murder it is clear from photos that she was beaten there are no photos of O J with bruises and cuts obtained during these so-called fights, the word ‘fights’ the word ‘provoked’ are an attempt to lessen the impact of what happened to those women. Words are used daily to change perceptions as are media images. Bullying and retaliation seem normal, fear of the more powerful seems normal. That the weak should be more cautious seems normal, this only acts to remove the onus from the more powerful to behave better. For this to change we have to start reading past the headlines and start demanding that the powerful and the rich change their behaviour. Anti rape campaigns should be aimed at rapists, domestic violence campaigns at the perpetrators and the rich should try some austerity themselves. The rich countries need to sign up to the Armstreaty http://www.controlarms.org/ now and put lives before money by removing weapons and ammunition from unscrupulous bullies. Also education especially the arts and humanities
http://www.arts-emergency.org/donate.htm should once again be invested in, as it is through education, imagination, debate and discussion and the skills gained through studying these subjects that do and will eventually tackle bullying, violence, victim blaming and the normalisation of violent retaliation. I don’t know about you but I’m tired of hearing violence being justified and tired of societies seeming desire to have targets labelled as weak allowing the powerful to continually demonstrate physical, political and so-called moral strengths.