Every Wednesday at my job, a fairly sizable group of “business professionals” have a meeting (over half belong to multi-level marketing companies, but we will leave that alone for this post) at a set of tables behind my desk, so I can hear everything clearly. Most of the time I tune them out because they get rather loud and obnoxious, but I heard a man say:
Like when little boys push little girls down because they like them. Like pulling her pony tail and depantsing them to embarrass them because they like them.
For those of you who don’t know, “depantsing” is when someone literally creeps up behind an individual and pulls their pants down, usually in front of a group of people.
Following his statement, there was laughter, but my blood boiled. Not to mention, over half of that laughter belonged to other women. Let me be very clear: it was not funny in the least fucking bit. If a grown man or woman shouldn’t come up to me and push me down, pull my hair, and take my pants off (without my consent), it most definitely is not appropriate for children to do it to one another because if it were done to me and not a child, it’s fucking assault. I’m not saying there won’t be pretend marriages on the playground, or “boyfriends and girlfriends”, because it is completely innocent. Children mimic the adults around them, and as long as they have healthy role models, innocence is all that these “relationships” are.
I have a daughter, granted she is only 1, but if she is ever bullied mentally or physically by another child and an adult tells her “it’s because he likes you” I will lose my ever loving shit.
Stop romanticizing and sexualizing children and children’s friendships. If my daughter were bullied, I know she wouldn’t think “Oh, he likes me.” she would think “Why is he hurting me? He should be in trouble.”
Children need boundaries. My 1 year old already has them. Giving excuses to the bullies allows them to get away with abusive behavior and makes the victims feel like they deserve it, and when children are told “it’s because he/she likes you”, it plants a seed in that little mind that abuse is acceptable in a romantic relationship. Normalizing abuse of any kind is never okay. Maybe the bully has a bad home life and/or has control issues, and in that case I really feel for the child, but it is still not okay to bully my fucking kid. I don’t care if she is having a really bad day and is being annoying or whiny, no one asks to be a victim of bullying, regardless of behavior. Pushing, shoving, tripping, hitting is all violence, stop telling little kids that it is fucking normal because violence and love don’t belong in the same room.
Of course there is a solution to all of this being to stop telling children that being hit and bullied means that someone likes them, but that isn’t a very realistic solution, unfortunately. It isn’t realistic because of the dumb ass at the meeting at my job this morning and a group of “endowed, professional adults” accepting the statement with obnoxious, open mouthed laughter. It isn’t realistic because little girls and boys are told this every single day by teachers, parents, and other leadership figures.
I will never tell my daughter bullying equals love. She will know that if it ever happens and an adult responds with “it’s because he likes you”, she will know to respond with “that’s not what people do when they like people.”, and when I find out about it, that adult will catch all hell from me. She will also know that if it doesn’t stop after taking all correct steps to make it stop and the bullying persists, she is allowed to stand up for herself without repercussions from me or her father.
I can’t see into the future, I don’t know if my baby girl will ever fall victim to an abusive relationship, but I know that I will take all the steps I can to ensure that she knows she is valuable, important, and her well being matters and she deserves all of the respect that she puts out into the world and then some. Girls and women weren’t made to be obedient and sit in a corner and serve a man; my daughter will know she is equal, not better or worse than anyone else.
This happens to little girls and boys, but I am speaking in terms of having a daughter. If I had a son, my opinion would remain the same.
Quick side note: stop telling little boys that when they show any sort of emotion that they are “acting like a girl”. Don’t be that asshole.