Bullies and bullying

From XKCD.com

I decided to write this post a couple of days ago so I was quite amused to see the offering from XKCD this morning!

A frequent topic of conversation on the internet is something along the lines of ‘What do you wish you knew as a kid’. I wish I knew that all the bullshit you put up with at school never really ends.

I remember when I was a kid, sitting in the nurse’s office and holding an ice pack to a black eye, thinking ‘One day I’ll be an adult and all of this will be in the past’. I thought that no-one would call me names or push me down any more, I thought that adults were nice to each other because bullying was childish and immature. I wish someone had told me then that some people never grow out of it.

Throughout school, college and university there was always someone who had a need to belittle me or other people. I thought that maybe these people just hadn’t matured past it yet and I grew a thicker skin. Then I entered the professional world and encountered my first bullying grandmother.

It seems there is no cut off age for bullies. Some people will just be cruel and cutting for their entire lives. Sure, the physical violence stops but, as the comic above shows, words are just as harmful.

When you look at the stories of people like Amanda Todd or the high suicide rate among LGBT youth you have to think that words often are much more harmful than physical violence.

So, in my case, why do I seem to attract harsh words and belittling rumours?

I think it’s impossible to put up with any level of personal attack without looking for fault in yourself. I know I’m not perfect, I know I have flaws and haven’t always been the best person I can be. I hope I’ve never made anyone feel as bad as people have made me feel but I do know that, in the past, I’ve been cruel to people who didn’t deserve it.

I say ‘I don’t deserve this’ or ‘I deserve better’ but now, deep down, I’m not so sure. Maybe this is what I deserve, this is my lot in life. If things haven’t got better by now, I guess they probably never will.

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Rights and Equality

Time for another rambling, stream of consciousness post!

Everyone’s favourite!

So, I’ve never considered myself a feminist. In my life and my experience I’ve found that for every inequality suffered by women, there is another suffered by men. I am in favour of equal rights for all people so I don’t pick one group to champion over any others.

Recently, I’ve been educating myself on men’s rights issues. I read about a man asked to move seats on a flight so he wasn’t sitting next to a child. This man was automatically assumed to be a paedophile just because he is a man. I read about a man who helped a lesbian couple conceive a child, only to later be sued for child support when the mothers fell upon hard times. I read countless stories of men who had been raped only to be laughed at when they went for help or to press charges.

Spurred on by these stories I sought out information on men’s rights, to see what people were doing and how the inequalities were being fought.

I was surprised by what I found.

Instead of focusing on spreading their message to receptive minds and engaging in peaceful activism, men’s rights activists seem to just want to hate feminists. When questioned they say that the masses are too brainwashed by the idea of the ‘patriarchy’ to be won over. Instead of being ‘Pro-men’ they’ve become ‘anti-woman’. But hasn’t feminism done the same?

Treating all men like potential rapists, abusers and paedophiles isn’t furthering any cause. Treating all women as gold diggers looking to trap men be filling their wombs isn’t helping anyone.

Almost every issue of gender equality could be addressed and amended if the two groups recognised their mutual interests and worked together but too many feminists have hated men for too long to believe that men can be raped and abused and too many men’s rights activists have been treated like rapists and paedophiles to trust them.

It makes me sad that people can’t talk to each other, in most situations communication would fix a lot.

Food for thought, why does a woman have the right to terminate a pregnancy that the father wants to keep?

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The morality of corporate charity

We have some funny conversations in this house. We’ll sit in relative silence during the programs and then loudly debate the adverts. Recently, the topic has been charitable donations by big companies and how they are portrayed.

I think that everyone can agree that charity, giving some of your excess to those in need to help better their situation, is a good thing. Companies are known to try and improve their public image by committing grand gestures of charity and reaping the benefits in improved sales and reputation. Large companies are in a great position to do real good in the world with charitable actions so these should be encouraged but are there right ways and wrong ways to go about this?

I think so.

The latest offering from multinational giant P&G is an exchange. For every P&G product sold, the company promise to donate one day’s worth of clean drinking water. Now, P&G have a large charitable program and do a lot of good as a company, however they have a tendency to publicise their efforts with these ‘For every product sold we’ll do this….’ campaigns. It feels like the company is holding the less fortunate as hostages and we must pay the ransom.

Sure, we get to feel like we’re good people, helping the world with our product choices and purchasing habits, but is it really the best way? Must we be coerced into buying certain products with a promise of good karma? There’s no doubt that clean drinking water is a worthy cause but haven’t we learned that long term solutions are better than short term fixes?

Conversely, a new advert caught my attention today. Pedigree dog food, owned by an equally giant multinational, show us the journey of a rescue dog in a heart warming story with only a slight emphasis on the benefit that good food has for the dog. The hook? Pedigree are donating one million meals to rescue dogs this year. We, the consumers, don’t need to do anything to make this happen, it’s a guarantee. So we may be more likely to but the brand because we now associate them with a good deed, not because our action is needed to secure the charitable action.

Now, any charity from any direction is to be applauded and encouraged but is it not better to make the commitment without needing sales than to set a condition on your charity?

I know which I prefer.

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