Cry me a bully

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Jemy Gatdula

Being Right

Cry me a bully

Perhaps we had Nelson Muntz wrong all along. The kid who lost his father due to an allergic reaction to peanuts in a candy bar had always displayed leadership traits and a sense of ethics (he once punched Bart for taking credit of others’ work).

Perhaps the real bully is Lisa Simpson.

Am sure many of you had been in this tiresome scenario, which I first pointed out in 2015: “Have you ever had to deal with a female work colleague or family member who, just as the argument got interesting, turned on the tears? Immediately they win. It’s a not-too-subtle form of emotional blackmail. The tears shift the conversation away from reasoning and evidence and you have to stop and feel guilty and compassionate and find the Kleenex and ask if they’re okay and be caring. It’s a neat form of bullying. Most often it is not conscious or intentional, but it still works for all that.”

That was Fr. Dwight Longenecker (The Dictatorship of Sentimentality). Lest we get immediate shrieks of sexism, Longenecker immediately notes that “guys have their own emotional blackmail tricks,” usually in the form of rage.

Attended a good lecture by my friend, guidance counselor Floyd Batongbakal, last week on anti-bullying and there are indeed many facets to it. The lecture kept repeating the need to not belittle the victim of bullying, that rather than asking them to fight back and “be a man,” understanding should instead be given.

I get the “understanding” part.

But I also get this: that in our PC, very eager to emasculate men culture, we have (as the Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh points out) made “victimhood” as “the highest form of social currency in our culture.” We’ve “been so zealous and exaggerated in our fight to stop bullying that we’ve made it appear desirable to be bullied.”

And like it or not, Walsh is right: “Everything is flipped on its head now. Kids today want to be the submissive, the persecuted, the pitiful. They wield power by not having power. They put themselves over others by putting themselves under them. They dominate by being dominated. They want pity more than they want to be admired or liked by their peers. They’d much rather be the bullied than the bully. And not because they are selfless and humble — quite the opposite. They are as arrogant and self-obsessed as ever, but also calculated, conniving, and dishonest on top of it all.”

Which leads to what The Spectator’s Julie Burchill calls “the Cry-Bully, a hideous hybrid of victim and victor, weeper and walloper. They are everywhere, these duplicit Pushmi-Pullyus of the personal and the political, from Celebrity Big Brother to the frontline of Islamism.”

“The Cry-Bully always explains to the point of demanding that one agrees with them and always complains to the point of insisting that one is persecuting them. They really are the very worst sort of modern moaner.”

This isn’t really that surprising when one considers that very little, psychologically, differentiates the bully from the victim.

Scientific American reports that: “We might think that bullies are quite different from the victims of bullying. But those who become either a bully or a victim actually share similar outlooks and have similar difficulties dealing with their environments.”

Thus, “researchers reviewed and analyzed 153 studies and found that both victims and bullies have poor problem-solving skills within social situations.” Finally, “typical bullies have negative attitudes toward others, feel badly about themselves, and most likely grew up in a home with conflict. Victims share much of same, negative attitude, conflict in the family.”

All of this reinforced by social media’s idiocy: Unread? Sloppy thinker? No familiarity with grammar? No problem! Don’t judge. And remember: “if you can’t accept me at my worst, then you don’t deserve me at my best.”

How do you know if you’re a cry bully?

Blogger and professional counselor Ken Wert puts it this way (he uses the term “emotional bully”): You throw fits, you accuse and blame, cry, yell and scream, slam doors and throw stuff, seek passive revenge, exhibit preemptive anger, and constantly bring up the past.

And remember: these “cry bullies” are also operating within today’s #metoo witchhunt, where men’s careers (and lives) are destroyed by mere allegations.

In the workplace, they’re the “praning” ones or the ones so dumb or so drama/sensitive or priggishly self-righteous (ie., like those self-appointed student hall monitors) that even if you’re not a bully you suddenly want to beat (badly) this person up.

But precisely because you can’t (as you shouldn’t), you end up helplessly repressing your anger, leaving you confused, ill, and unhappy at work. And oftentimes, it can even affect the operations of one’s unit or organization.

The point here is: not every bully is that big boorish guy. Bullies can also be that whiny little kid. Or that prim and proper religious school teacher.

Treat them as such.


Jemy Gatdula is a Senior Fellow of the Philippine Council for Foreign Relations and a Philippine Judicial Academy law lecturer for constitutional philosophy and jurisprudence.

Twitter @jemygatdula