Friday, June 21, 2013

Of Bullies and Victims

I watched two 'old' movies recently, Carrie and Mean Girls. The 1970's Brian de Palma classic I have wanted to watch if only to see the prom night scene. I never watched it before. But I have some recollection of my sister telling me about the frightening prom scene and even the way the mother dies. But when I finally wanted to watch it then, it was hard to come by.

Mean Girls didn't interest me until c3 mentioned this to me. And he would include references to the movie which he found hilarious or memorable. So I became curious. Watching both of them in sequence made me see a common theme around adolescent bullying. And I recounted my own experience with being bullied.

In a typical all-boys school from elementary to high school, I felt the repercussions of growing up "not like the normal boys." I had asthma, which prevented me from being into basketball and football. I tried but I ended up wheezing. I was wearing glasses by 3rd grade so that was another reason not to be in "rough activities." So I went the geeky, sissy route. And that made me fodder for taunts and teasings. "Bakla! Shoke! Bading!" some of the boys would regularly shout. Or worse "Huy, chupain mo ako!" This would be followed by a chorus of laughter. Humiliating.

I always had that fantasy of getting back at them. And that calls to mind now the mega-horrific way Carrie got back at all of them who bullied her. With just her mind. Carrie is the poster girl of victims that struck back!

But how could I? I was small and weak. So I just had to be smarter than them. So I could shame them in their ignorance and stupidity. (Of course I resented the straight guys who were also smart. Thank God there were few of them in my batch. LOL)

All that changed in 3rd year high, when the teasings lessened considerably. And we sissies started sticking together. As a group, we were a lot. And we could counter-intimidate! "Magpapachupa ka ang liit-liit ng titi mo!" Wahaha. But that rarely happened as we started to peacefully coexist.

Then the unthinkable happened. They started courting us to have relationships with them. Suddenly, it was "ok" to have a thing with one of us girls. And this caught on. The jocks, the officers, the cool dudes were after us. Though there were still a few naughty ones left who teased us. But they didn't matter anymore. We moved up the hierarchy.

We didn't become Mean Girls. But for one time in the life of our little boys school, we were the It crowd.

That is how things ended for us in high school. We have had our share of suitors and boyfriends. And straight or gay, we were all friends as we parted ways.

But the scars of having been bullied are still here. They may not be from physical violence. But they still hurt like hell. And when I read or hear of stories of being bullied, or even just made fun of, I react. And I reacted even more when a friend told me that he overheard another friend, a mother, saying that being bullied is part of school life. And kids grow up to be tougher because of it. Hello?!? How can one just 'accept' bullying as a 'rite of passage'? I wouldn't want to be her son! I couldn't ever wish being bullied for any one.

When I go to comedy bars, I laugh at the way those comics make fun of the audience. But I laugh not without guilt. For I feel for those out there being humiliated, the common person just like me being teased in front of an audience. Which is why I never became a regular in any one of them, I guess. But when those comedians make fun of celebrities, I laugh and laugh loud. No guilt. Hey, it's all fair game. You are a celebrity. It comes with the territory. It's like thinking that you can't bully a celebrity. He or she is already so much more than you and me. They have it all. So yes, they are all fair game. So I laughed as I watched the YouTube of Vice Ganda make fun of Jessica Soho's weight. And of Kris Aquino's accent. Etc. Etc. Etc.

But the celebrities themselves are crying out, especially with online bullying. Suddenly, they are exposing themselves as human. And it is unfair for them to be victims. Hmmmm.

Allow me to digress. I also laughed at the rape part of the joke. And I have laughed at other similar jokes or skits. I felt no guilt. Until someone told me how disturbed he was by my attitude. He reminded me of the horror of rape as a criminal act. We tried to discuss this. I traced my attitude to the "macho" (for lack of a better term) viewpoints where (1) Hey, it's just sex. Everybody enjoys sex. (2) Being a rape victim is confirmation of extreme sexual attractiveness. Guys couldn't restrain themselves. So I thought rape is acceptable as a comedy theme.

But he insisted that it is not. Rape is a violent crime, utterly degrading and dehumanizing. Some victims would even wish death rather than that experience. A rape joke is at least tasteless. At worse, it is almost complicity.

Finally, I read an editorial recently on the Inquirer, reprinting the statement of CComedia. And that chastised me further. I consider this learning as part of my growing gender sensitivity.

So back to bullying. I have been bullied. And I hated it. And it is not something I would wish for on anyone.


joelmcvie said...

Rape can be the subject of humour; it all depends on CONTEXT.

I find CComedia's stand versus "rape and gender violence" laudable. But why just gender violence? Why not take on total violence? Then we go after all the action movies, dramas involving guns, kidnapping, all the CSIs and their spin-offs, even sci-fi movies. There's already a debate in America about violence in media in the light of numerous public shootings. It's interesting how the debate is going: again, the idea of putting violence in CONTEXT comes up.

Of course, it's clear what CComedia's agenda is, and it's understandable that they are singularly focused on it. But I bring up the wider issue of violence to bring home my point: that violence IS already pervasive in comedy, action, drama--and the oh so popular police reports shown in our evening news. It's the treatment (again, context) of violence, whether specific to one gender or in general, that spells the difference between mindless drivel or thoughtful storytelling.

And despite all this media hulabaloo, there's something most people never bring up: the audience itself, and how they take in such media stimuli. Will you, after watching "Carrie," hunt down the bullies of your past and spray them with blood (preferably their own)? There's a reason why there's classification of media.

Fifty shades of Queer said...

And it pains me that bullying can still happen even though you're an adult. Naka-relate lang. :|