Monday, May 22, 2017

13 Reasons Why

[** names changed in this post, mostly]
[** I am going out of my comfort zone to share these details ... just trying to make a point]

Humiliation - When I was in junior college one day there appeared huge drawings of nude girls on the walls of my classroom. All walls were covered with them and more drawings were added each day.

Underneath each drawing it was written 'Rasika Mahabal'....

No need to tell you that this came as a shock for me, I felt extremely sad. At 17-18 years of age kids are generally very innocent (of course not the ones involved in such activities), they are just going about their business - happy to be over with school life and be a part of college. Cheap things like these are humiliating and terrifying, more so for the innocent minds.

Every time I entered the classroom many of the girls looked at me as if somehow I had called for it and deserved it. If boys are assholes, girls are no less. Many teachers took notice of the drawings - how come no one took an action on it I wondered.

At that time I didn't know what was happening is called Bullying. When it happens the victim feels depressed, humiliated and does not gather the strength to take action on it because they feel embarrassed, even though it is not their fault.

Rumor has it - a friend asked me if I was dating a boy named Aditya in college, my answer was no and then the friend said 'he is telling everyone that he is in a relationship with you'. I was shocked to hear this and thought what other lies is he telling about me? Not that I was against the idea of having a boyfriend but definitely had a problem with having a fake one! [I have never dated anyone by that name].

The guy was in my group, he was a quiet, shy soul, someone who didn't open his mouth unless spoken to. May be he was going through peer pressure and wanted to show off that he had a girlfriend. Whatever the reason - there is no justification for these kind of actions. Spreading rumors is also called Bullying, the victim does not get a chance to defend in such cases. (There is a difference between venting to a good friend and spreading rumors).

Gossip Girl - One of my good friend informed me that a girl called Prajakta is constantly saying bad things about me to everyone and gossips about why and how much she hates me. My first question was 'Who is Prajakta?'. Our class had more than 100 students and I had never interacted with anyone by that name. So even though I didn't know this person she was gossiping hateful things about me - this is also called bullying.

I agree that we all have tinges of jealousy - specially at that age. I almost always felt jealous when I saw good looking girls with great bodies (as superficial as it may sound) or when I saw someone dating handsome hunks. I too did not like some girls for whatever reasons - it does not mean I gossiped or went on saying hateful things about them, rather no one did that in my group at the time. I have a post on gossiping here - Gossip Girl.

The inappropriate touch - Touching anyone against their wish is also bullying. This happened a few times with me just like any other person commuting in Mumbai locals or Pune PMTs.

Cyber bullying -  With the advent of camera phones and social media I can only imagine the kind of bullying teenagers have to face today. When my emails were hacked (by someone I knew) I used to get nightmares that the person was in my room and was watching all my activities. I cut down all my ties with the can find that post at - Privacy Please
People posting comments/blogs anonymously are the worst kind, they are the bullies with no balls - hiding behind the cloaks of anonymity.

Other aspects of bullying are :
name calling - you are the most X person I have met in my life
excluding a person from the group without reason
Betraying a good friend
Male chauvinist pigs are always bullies - they compare, define and make women do things based on gender roles.
belittling a person

There are many more incidences big and small that happened in junior college but I think you get the gist.

How did I deal with bullying?

I felt shocked, hurt, sad, depressed, lost my confidence every time I was bullied - the drawings incident was quite traumatic for me, I did not go to college for a couple of weeks after that, it was the last month of junior college and if it wasn't I would have somehow mustered the courage to sit in that classroom, now to think of it I shouldn't have missed college even a single day because by not showing up I let the bullies know that I had given them the power.

To be honest with you I went through a phase when I thought everybody hates me, but then I did not get stuck in that train of thoughts.. Few people hating you does not mean everyone does. I did not keep worrying/over thinking about what kind of image I had, it really doesn't matter what people think - a bunch of weirdos doing the drawings, spreading rumors or gossiping does not define our character but it defines their character for sure. Revenge or humiliating the person in return does not work (that is my opinion).

On a lighter note - I had rejected a few boys in college, threw away their roses, cards, letters, proposals - so my guess is that the drawings were a retaliation from one of the rejected entities, I am glad I rejected them whoever it was ;-). Grapes are sour to the fox who could not reach them.

One feels scared and sad when they hear about acid attacks as a result of rejection.

Whenever I was touched inappropriately I immediately took another seat in the bus or screamed on the road and many times hit the person hard with my elbow. I am sure even boys are subjected to inappropriate touches.

Having hobbies helps - it is something you can draw joy from, I looked forward to spending every new day with enthusiasm just to be able to read, write, sing, dance and paint. I also had a couple of good friends - not just in college. Meaning - I had a life outside of college.

The atmosphere in the educational institutes makes a huge difference, the next college I got an admission in is a very well reputed college - where I met some amazing progressive people and the entire atmosphere in the college matched my sensibilities. The professors were a lot more involved in the classrooms and students than in my previous college, they were also very approachable, so if anything had to happen students had someone to talk to.

13 reasons why - I recently watched a TV show '13 reasons why' based on teen suicides as a result of bullying. The show has become an instant hit on Netflix. A girl commits suicide and makes cassettes to let people know how she was bullied and how her suicide is justified. I thought the show is very well written and very well executed, it maintains the mystery-suspense aspect till the end, but here is the problem -

A girl committing suicide for being slut shamed and betrayed by friends...??? She thinks she is impure because she was touched inappropriately - in that sense every woman commuting in locals and PMT is impure? What is the show promoting? That a suicide is justifiable by blaming it on bunch of idiots? The girl never ever takes any action on the things happening to her, a cry baby, a drama queen with intense victim consciousness, people around her (including boys) are actually going through more troubles and are bullied more (and yet surviving and fighting) than what she was.

I understand that at that age kids are extremely sensitive and small things can affect them big time (experienced it first hand), but that does not mean anything is worth committing suicide for. The truth is bullying does not stop at junior college - it goes on in every phase of life - I remember being bullied during masters, at work (by extremely controlling bosses and team mates) and many more places. I bet each one of you reading this post has experienced bullying, also there is a chance that each one of us has hurt people in some way (even if bullying was unintentional on our part). One needs to have the fighting spirit just to be able to survive through it, no one is born with it but has to work to get there.

Hopefully when teenagers watch '13 reasons why' they will realize the stupidity of it and not be convinced that suicide is the answer to problems. Or may be the show is trying to convey the same thing that it is all about the mindset with which we confront life. Do not get me wrong - bullying is wrong and so is not fighting against it.

13 reasons why the girl committed suicide are the ones (more or less) why I find myself a strong rebellious person with fighting spirit today, I have a thick skin now compared to those days. I am sure most of you will think the same if you watch the show.

As they say survival is always of the fittest...

People with intense victim consciousness are hard to live with too as I say it in this post - Vampires.

For all the parents:

Do not inculcate bullying behavior at home, if you see your children into things like name calling , controlling, teasing, excluding a person from the group without reason, betraying a good friend, comparing/ defining and making women do things based on gender roles or belittling people then stop them right away. And obviously parents have to lead by example, if parents themselves are into bullying then it will by default get instilled in kids.

There is an amazing book I read last month called 'mindset', it describes what kind of people become bullies, what kind of people get bullied, go in depression and become vampires and then the ones who become fighters - it is all about the mindset. It is very essential for all parents to be aware that kids go through bullying and might be too weak hearted to take it. Ask them how is it going... notice their mood changes... I know it would have made a difference for me if I had felt comfortable with at least one family member to express my issues without feeling embarrassed about it. Also, I feel every school/college needs to have a counselor who is accessible and approachable for all students to pour their heart out, someone who provides guidance.
Other related posts - w o r d s -

No comments: