Friday, March 16, 2012

Women and Bullying

                When considering the topic of women and violence, I found that bullying is one real world connection.  It is something that affects all age groups and both genders, but can be characterized in specific ways that include both violence and verbal and psychological assaults.
                Recently, a friend of mine told me about a girl who beat her up when she was a child.  This is an obvious case of bullying, and a type that you do not necessarily hear about often.  While many people are bullied in their childhood, it does not always escalate to physical abuse.  If bullying is not violent, then it can be characterized as psychological.
                With a simple online search of “women and bullying,” I found an article in the New York Times by Mickey Meece called “Backlash: Women Bullying Women at Work”.  This article takes a specific look at bullying as it applies to women in the workplace and according to it, about 40% of bullies are women.  The type of bullying it focuses on is that which has a psychological effect and makes the point that most women bully other women instead of men, possibly because women are seen as easier targets.
                The article defines bullying as “verbal or psychological forms of aggressive (hostile) behavior that persists for six months or longer”(Meece).  While this is one form that bullying can take, it also can be violent.  By defining bullying this way, the author may be furthering stereotypes that women do not commit violence against each other, but instead only make comments that will be offensive and hurtful.  Only one example of physical aggression is given, when a woman was shoved in the office.  Instead, the article highlights the belief that women are “supposed” to be nurturing and caring, not aggressive.
                The article argues that women become bullies by a need to compete with each other in a male-dominated world.  The idea that women bully one another with scathing comments and insults is propagated by media the likes of which we have seen in class.  In Promethea, Sophie is called a “bitch” and other derogatory names by her friend Stacia.  If the article’s argument applies here, then would this mean that this comment comes from a need to compete?
                Overall, this article brings up many points about gender stereotypes and how they apply to bullying in the workplace.  The types of examples given seem to argue that women are not inherently aggressive, but become this way when in a competitive situation.  Do you agree with the research that most women are psychologically abusive instead of violent or is this just another example of stereotypical thinking?


  1. I don't think that women are psychologically abusive, but in a group situation, they tend to be more abusive. So would any men in those situations as well. We as human feel the need to be stronger than those around us, even if it means putting others down as a result. Whether it is beating people up or insulting them, we have a need to be superior. Why do some wars start? One country feels the need to be superior. It's human nature that can't really be limited to gender roles.

  2. I think when we say things like "women are more emotional than men" we start to get into iffy grounds. There are definitely some men out there (my boyfriend included) who cry out of happiness, sadness, and frustration. And there are also girls that I know (my roommate) who haven't cried since they were in elementary school. Now, I'm not saying that TYPICALLY women are more emotional than men, because I believe they are. I think testosterone makes men more violent and agressive, causing them to lash out physically rather than emotionally.

    Women, on the other hand, don't have this "problem" and therefore choose to get back at people in other ways. I'm not saying this is THE reason for why women are bullying in emotional ways and men are physical. But I think this could definitely be A reason. However, I am never cool with saying blanket statements about genders. There will always be exceptions.

  3. I think women are perceived as more psychologically abusive because that's just how society portrays it as the acceptable way for women to outlet their aggression. I don't however agree with you that women in the workplace target their aggression only on other women because they deem them weak. If anything, I think it would be harder to confront another female just because females are known to more likely be "catty".


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.