I've created this site to explore the why women seem to eat their own, starting from the romper room and ending at the nursing home. Why do some women feel the need to dominate others and what can the "others" do about it? How can we stop those feelings of animosity within our social circles, as well as our daughter's playgrounds?
I would like to start our discussions by sharing a story from my own childhood. There are many ways to bully others and a girl I'll call "Rachel" had a certain way of ruling our suburban midwestern neighborhood. No doubt you have encountered similar methods of female domination in your lifetime.
I invite you to share them! Here is my story.
Back when I was seven, Barry and I were the best of friends. My father didn't like it much, in fact he couldn't stand the sight of Barry. Or especially his sounds. Barry enjoyed shrieking down the street, his cuckoo-like utterances grated on my especially on my father's ears for he was a man who expected total silence out of my little brother and me on car rides to Florida. My father also was not impressed with Barry's adeptness at climbing on our coffee table and rocking chairs. Despite Barry's faults, he was my best friend, perhaps out of convenience (he lived across the street from me) but he and I got along pretty swell. That was until Rachel moved in next door to Barry's house.
Rachel was eight and to a seven-year-old that was next to being God. My first encounter with her should have alerted me to go search for new friends the next street over, but I was pretty dumb back then. I thought she would change.
Barry's mother sent me to the back porch, but he wasn't there. I looked to the right into the new neighbor's yard, and there he was, sitting on their porch, bent over looking at something intently. With the new girl. What they were playing escapes my memory, but I do remember they ignored my calls. At least at first. After my third call of "Can I play?" the new girl finally said loud and clearly, "No!" Barry didn't even look up. After several "no's" from the girl, I finally gave up and went home.
But the next day Rachel and I were friends. In fact, most days we were friends. Those days were glorious because Rachel was quite fun and owned a ton of cool stuff. She had the three-story Barbie house, a princess-inspired bedroom, and even a tiny room under the basement stairway that contained countless dolls, jewelry pieces, and other little girl doodads. I loved Rachel's house. I thought she was perfect. Tan, blonde, and athletic, she was what I aspired to be. While I remained friends with Barry, he was not nearly so glamorous. Rachel ruled my world. And everyone else's, as it turned out. She had an aura about her––if you were around her long you would feel your sense of self being sucked away. It was all about what Rachel wanted. And you were obliged to help her achieve her goals.
Rachel became the leader in our neighborhood, and everyone wanted to please her. Our neighborhood queen should have been quite satisfied, but she was always angry at someone. And boy did that kid pay. Rachel's punishment didn't consist of the typical kid bullying methods of beatings and insults. No, that would have been easy. Instead, you were blacklisted. No hide-and-seek. No swimming in Nancy Jansen's pool. No watching cartoons at anybody's house. You ceased to exist.
We all, fools that we were, backed her up. We never really knew what the offending party had done to Rachel to deserve such a dire punishment. These were the days before video games and hyped-up after-school activities: we were bored silly at home. Curiously, the punishment would extend to the culprit's siblings as well, as my brother and I found out when it was our turn. I remember swinging on the swing set with him on the longest day of my short life. No one would play with us. We had no idea how we had pissed her off, but somehow we did. We swung viciously, trying to think of our own cuss words for our vile neighbor.
But the next day we breathed a sigh of relief, when we were allowed to play again. Did we ever confront her? Nope. I was just happy to be in good graces again. However, a few days later a conversation snapped me out of Rachel's spell. Well, it wasn't a true conversation; all it took was one question Rachel asked me on a summer afternoon: "Who should we pick on today?"
My naive little mind could hardly comprehend her question. I'd assumed that she always had a good reason for excluding our playmates (even though I never figured out why she was mad at me). "YOU MEAN ALL THIS TIME SHE WAS PICKING ON US FOR THE FUN OF IT?" I screamed inside.
I would like to say that I gave her my good two cents and walked away, but I didn't. I cooled toward her, but I didn't totally cut her off. Shortly afterward, my family moved away to another neighborhood and Rachel was gone from my life for good. What lesson did I learn? Back then I would say that some people are just plain mean. And perhaps that's all that needs to be said now––my adult wordy babble won't really change that simple idea. There are mean people out there. The question is: how to we cope with them?
Feel free to share any of your childhood stories about bullies. We would love to hear them!
Keep kicking those bullies!