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Practical, Positive and Empowered Women Making A Difference

Bully This: The Trigger That Could Turn Anyone, Even You, Into A Bully!

If our own competitive, comparison driven culture is to blame then maybe we do have some positive ‘girl power’ that we can apply to change the situation.


Emotive new terms like ‘epidemic’ being thrown around to describe the bullying problem that exists from school yard to corporate office and we should take notice.

Culture has bred a new kind of woman. She is a woman raised on the mantra ‘Girl-Power’ in uber-competitive environments. She is a girl who is taught to draw comparisons with everyone and everything and match up or exceed them – from the size zero on the bill-board to the billionaire in the boardroom. A fascinating article in Time Magazine brings research that turns what we know about bullying on its head and places blame on this competitive culture.

“Seemingly normal well-adjusted kids can be aggressive. We found that status increases aggression.”
Robert Faris, University of California Davis

For many years we have told ourselves that bullies are the one’s with issues, lacking in empathy, but the Faris/Felmlee study tells a different story. Those that bullied were those that were actively moving up the popularity scale.

“It’s one of the few times I can recall in social sciences where race and family background seem to make very little difference,”
Faris, UCD

There are many things in our lives that we can’t control and, up until now, the factors that create bullies have been put firmly in that camp leaving it up to parents to ‘bully-proof’ their kids and workplaces to pass stricter and stricter policies that, in some cases have been legislatively backed up. However, every time, we as women, blame someone or something else for our issues we lose the opportunity to fix it and hand power away.

If our own competitive, comparison driven culture is to blame then maybe we do have some positive ‘girl power’ that we can apply to change the situation.

  1. Instead of proofing yourself or your kids against bullies, work on proofing against becoming bullies.
  2. Stop comparing yourself to everyone else and keep competition in healthy spaces. Your sales figures do matter but keep it professional.
  3. Put energy on positive, non-competitive methods to get ahead such as mentoring (see The Queen Bee Myth)
  4. Most importantly, according to the study authors, we must teach ourselves and our kids to take the success out of bullying by reporting it, supporting the victim and breaking the social or professional climb of the bully.

For years we were told by other mothers that when you react to bullying you give the bully their power however, its time to change that advice. It is really those who sit by, watch and endorse the behaviour by bumping up the bully’s social status that give the power. We must teach ourselves and our daughters to stop playing the victim and play the role of the solution by redefining a new path to being the most popular girl in school.

Are you ready to stand up to bullying? Help us spread this message by liking, commenting and sharing this article. 


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