When I was in elementary school, I was a bit of a tom boy. I spent every recess ignoring the gaggle of girls gathered by the monkey bars in favor of a sweaty game of soccer with the boys. To me, boys were superior because boys were simple and easy to understand. To win the respect of a boy, you simply had to run just as fast, throw just as far, and punch just as hard as they did.
With girls, it was a different story. Girl World is full of subtle manipulations, vague power struggles, and intense mental warfare. I was brought up to be a very straight forward and honest kid, but in Girl World, the ability to lie well was your greatest asset. If you couldn’t fake concern for a weaker kid one second and then rip her to shreds 10 seconds after she walked away, you couldn’t hang with the girls.
So I didn’t. I hung with the boys.
This worked out beautifully until Junior High rolled around. It was at this point that the boys started puberty and the practice of having a girl friend they weren’t fucking suddenly became taboo. So, I was pushed out of the group. For a couple of days, I was bitter about this, but after much wound licking, I decided to suck it up and make some girlfriends.
The only problem was that I was absolutely clueless on how to go about it.
Fast forward to seventh grade gym class where I witnessed for the first time a group of girls bullying another girl. The victim was a gawky kid named Kristy who apparently had a pretty ridiculous sounding last name. Another girl, Wendy, began taunting her because of it and had even managed to convince some of her vicious harpy friends to join in with the name calling.
That’s how girls bully. They never confront a victim alone. They never say a word unless they have a bunch of loud mouth friends behind them backing them up. They are the worst kind of coward.
To make a long story short, I got up in Wendy’s face and called her some choice names of my own. Gawky Kristy was eternally grateful and ended up becoming my first female friend. The day I told Wendy to shut her fucking pie hole was the last day they ever picked on Kristy.
Instead, they started picking on me.
I cannot stress this point enough, but girls don’t pick on other girls the same way that boys pick on other boys. If you want to pick on a boy, you snap him with a wet towel in the locker room. Or you play keep away with his basketball. Or you lick your finger and stick it in his ear. If Wendy had done something like that to me, I would have been better equipped to defend myself.
Instead, Wendy gathered her harpy friends around her in a circle so they could whisper and giggle and shoot nasty looks in my direction. If I approached them, all confidence, and challenged them to say what they had to say about me to my face, they’d roll their eyes and insist, “We weren’t even talking about you. Paranoid much?” But they were.
If I bent over to grab something out of my locker, they’d oh so accidentally bump into me and knock my head against the metal. When I turned around, furious, they’d say, “Oh SO SORRY! Didn’t see you standing there!” and then they’d scurry away vainly trying to suppress grins behind their hands.
Wendy didn’t want my lunch money and she couldn’t care less about publicly proving her strength to the rest of our peers. The only goal of Wendy’s was to totally isolate me from the rest of the girls in my grade. Wendy wanted to make me into an outcast.
The main goal of Girl Bullying is to completely destroy your self esteem. It is not enough for girl bullies to convince others that they have gained the upper hand with you. They want to convince you that you’re a loser. They want to use all the people they manipulated into disliking you as evidence that you’re a failure and a totally unlikable person. They want you to go home and cry into your pillow and think, “Wow. Wendy must be right about me. Just look at all the people that agree with her.”
Even then, I realized that most of the people who befriended Wendy only did so because they were afraid of her. Woman, as a whole, have a really hard time accepting criticism and often mistakenly believe that if the negative spotlight is shining on someone else, no one will notice all the places were they fall short. The weaker ones almost always attach themselves to someone like Wendy in the hopes that enough ass kissing will ensure that they will never get attacked.
I guess what I’m trying to communicate with all this long winded philosophizing is that Girl bullies are far more complicated and sophisticated than boy bullies. And I, having very little experience in that world, hadn’t the foggiest clue on how to deal with them.
One day in gym class we got all set to play hockey. Because of my general aggressiveness when it came to sports, I was chosen to play forward. Wendy just happened to be the goalie on the other team.
When I picked up my stick, I became determined to score a point against Wendy. I thought if I could just make her look foolish and weak athletically, then I would ‘win the war’ against her and her friends.
Obviously, I was still trying to play by boy rules in Girl World.
I gained control of the puck and headed down the court towards Wendy. A few feet from the net, I began swinging my stick fiercely. Wendy was trying her best to block my puck, but she never quite managed to knock it completely out of my control.
I gave up trying to finesse the puck into the net and started swinging my stick harder…trying to score using brute force. At one point, my stick connected with Wendy’s shins with a loud smack that echoed in my ears. Instead of stopping, I swung the stick again and was rewarded with the faint plinking sound of my puck hitting the back of the net.
I stepped back, triumphant, convinced that I had finally gained the upper hand.
Wendy rolled her eyes and smirked at one of her friends. Suddenly, I realized once and for all that boy rules would never work in Girl World. If I wanted to beat Wendy, I either had to crush her spirit or steal her boyfriend.
To crush her spirit, I had to play her game. I had to seek out her past victims and rally them around me. We would have to rise up, together, and bully her like she had bullied us. We would have to turn all of her friends against her and make her believe in her own inferiority. Something like this would be more than effective, but it would take months and I was an impatient young woman.
And Wendy didn’t have a boyfriend to steal.
These two truths hit me simultaneously as I looked into Wendy’s sneering eyes after I had scored that point in Gym class. I realized that my aggressive athleticism wouldn’t be admired and respected in Girl World, but used against me later. Vicious rumors where my sexuality would be questioned would be my only reward for scoring that point.
I thought to myself, “Fuck it. Might as well run with it.”
Then I threw down my stick and I clocked her. That morning, God, my gym teacher, and all of my classmates watched in horror as I beat the shit out of Wendy like she was paying me to do it. Everyone was so shocked by my attack that it wasn’t until I started bouncing Wendy’s head off of the glossy gym floor that someone pulled me off of her.
As my gym teacher and a couple of other girls restrained me, Wendy sat up, backed away from me like a scared animal, rose shakily to her feet, and ran out of the room crying hysterically.
I ended up in a little trouble, but in the end, Wendy never said jack shit to me or about me ever again.
I guess sometimes boy rules do work in Girl World, if you take it far enough.
That happened nearly two decades ago and I’m not particularly proud of myself for pummeling some girl in seventh grade gym class even if she richly deserved it. What I am most proud of was that I refrained from playing her game. Like I said before, I could have ended Wendy’s bullying by gathering the troops and rallying against her. Plenty of girl wars have been fought and won that way and until women refuse to be ruled by their insecurities, many more will be fought and won that way in the future.
This is not to say that I am taking the moral high ground or dismissing girl rules as inferior to my own violent tactics. In the end, bitchiness is bitchiness whether it comes in the form of whispers and giggles or a smack across the face. All I’m saying is that the whispers and giggles are not my style. I am not above being the puppetmaster, I’m just no good at it. If I would have fought fire with fire with Wendy, I would have failed and humiliated myself in the process. So I’m glad I did it my way.
Generally, if I have something to say to someone, I say it and I’ll keep saying it even if there isn’t a single person alive willing to ‘back me up.’ My intent has never been to systematically ruin someone’s self esteem and I am not vindictive enough to attempt to make someone into a social outcast. But kudos to you, if you are. It takes a certain talent and ambition which I most definitely do not have.
Me? It’s more likely that I’ll break your nose before I’ll crush your spirit.
Either that or I’ll steal your boyfriend.
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