There’ve been a few of these diversity bingo cards making the rounds on twitter and facebook lately. A few threads have brought up the concept of bullying in regards to marginalized authors.
This is going to be unpopular. I don’t care. I’ve been a victim of bullying my whole damned life, I know exactly what is looks, smells and sounds like. Here’s the unpopular part, especially ’cause I pass as straight, abled, white and I’m cis. (I’m not any of those things except for cis… that one is a bit fuzzy ’cause I do ID as genderqueer.)
Some of the most outspoken voices who are PoC, Trans, Gay, Bi, Pan, non-Christian, Mentally ill, Disabled, et cetera are ALSO bullies. Some of the most outspoken allies of PoC, Trans, Gay, Bi, Pan, non-Christian, Disabled, Mentally ill, et cetera are also bullies. This is within writer twitter, for the most part, but I’ve seen it on other social media platforms as well. Simply because someone is PoC, Trans, Gay, Bi, Pan, non-Christian, Mentally ill, Disabled, et cetera doesn’t give them a free pass on bullying behavior. If we’re all striving for equality, then it applies here too.
Here you go… wiki definition of bullying:
In case you don’t feel like reading a long definition on what is definitely a difficult topic, bullying is, in essence, use of force, threat, words or coercion to abuse, intimidate, or aggressively dominate others. The behavior is often repeated and habitual. The Rationalizations for such behavior sometimes include differences of social class, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, appearance, behavior, body language, personality, reputation, lineage, strength, size or ability. If bullying is done by a group, it is called mobbing.
It’s possible to be both an outspoken activist, social justice warrior AND a bully.
It’s also possible to speak out about your pain, your opinion, your experiences and to stand up for something that is right (like equality and the right to speak one’s pain, the right for accurate and thoughtful representation) without being a bully.
I’m going to break it down.
It is also:
Leaving someone out on purpose
Telling other people not to be friends with, follow, or do business with someone
Embarrassing someone in public
Making fun of someone
Threatening to cause harm, physical, emotional or to another person’s livelihood.
I’m not going to get into the physical representations of bullying, because I’m speaking about online bullying. Cyberbullying. (FWIW, not every twitterdrag or call out is a case of cyberbullying. It just isn’t, which is why it’s important that we understand the definition and which actions are/are not bullying.)
Bullying is NOT
Disagreeing with a person’s opinion or words.
Disagreeing with a person’s faith (really, it isn’t)
Speaking out about your own experienced pain, marginalization et cetera without attacking another person.
Speaking out from an educated standpoint on a book with bad representation.
Speaking out to say something along the lines of ‘XXX person/author did XXX, it hurt me. (I may not agree with doing this publicly, but it is not bullying)
You know, I’m extremely passionate about diversity. I’m marginalized in so many ways myself and I get it, when we’re in pain, it’s easier to lash out than to stop and sit with our pain long enough that we can act/react rationally.
I see many social justice advocates who manage it. Marginalized voices who succeed in their self-driven choice to provide educational threads, blogs or posts about their own experiences of being marginalized, of being PoC, of being one or more of the QUILTBAG/LGBTTQQIAA2sP acronym, of being mentally ill, of being ____, who manage to do it without bullying.
I also see the people who do bully in the name of a good cause.
Now… here’s the thing with that kind of behavior, it makes people not listen to you.
Even people interested in working for social justice. Even people who want to learn so they can do better.
I’ve followed people I hoped to learn from, because I am only passing PoC, I’m not Trans, I’m not Christian, I’m not a lot of things, and the only way I’m going to learn is to google, to listen with an open mind and heart to those willing to do the work to put their voices and their experiences out there. I don’t live the experience of having a darker skin in this world, I don’t live the experience of feeling like I’m born in the wrong body, I don’t understand wanting to be part of the Christian faith, I don’t understand or know a lot of things I need/want to know about. So I read and listen and follow because I want to know and learn from those willing to speak out on what those experiences are like, so I don’t hurt anyone like I’ve been hurt in other ways.
I’ve also unfollowed the ever living fuck out of people and put them on a ‘do not ever associate with them’ list when I witness them repeatedly bullying others. (No, I won’t name names because that would be bullying.)
I do that for my own mental health because, like I’ve said a million times already, I’ve been bullied and I won’t allow that to happen to me again. Even witnessing it hurts.
I just have to wonder how many other people (I know of a few, personally) who’ve had to do the same thing? Unfollow people who bully in the name of a cause?
I wonder how people I’ve seen who have been the victims of these bullies (even if it IS for a good cause, it is still bullying and still damaging) are coping with being cyberbullied? I wonder at the sheer amount of pain it takes to believe, deep down, that you are not guilty of bullying others?
The thing I’d ask, if you’ve gotten this far in my attempt at education is this, are you bullying in the name of a good cause? If you are, think about that?
You can read more about the topic simply by looking up the difference in the definitions of bullying vs conflict. One of them is healthy, one of them isn’t.
Growth is painful. It really is, if you read this and realize you’ve been the bully. You can choose not to do that again. Just like I can choose not to harm with my words/actions because I was raised a certain way.
You can still get your message across, honestly and more effectively, without bullying.
There are people who want to hear the message. I promise. You don’t have to be guilty of harming others because you’ve experienced harm.