03 Aug Bonus YSS: Girls + secrets = bullying?
We’ve all heard waayy more than many of us care to about bullying. Likely because it is a very serious situation and rather epidemic (meaning, widespread) in some places. But it is a serious situation and fits directly in with this topic on secrets.
Bullying is often thought of as a rough and tumble, boys beating up boys, situation. But it’s not just that. Bullying takes on many forms and has many names.
One example of a subtle (meaning, not so obvious) bullying method is the keeping and telling of secrets. Although both genders can engage in this process, it is much more common for girls (there are evolutionary reasons for this we won’t get into here). When boys bully, it tends to be overt—more visible. When girls bully, it tends to be more covert—less visible. Therefore, one of the most painful attacks a girl can make on another is in the telling of another person’s secret. It relays unwanted information to the girl’s friends, resulting in embarrassment, and it shatters the bonds of friendship.
The sharing of another’s secret is a display of power.
Secrets are information, and as they say, “Information is power.” To be in on a secret can make you feel included, to be on the outside of a secret—or the center of a revealed secret—can make you feel excluded.
When girls use the telling of another’s secrets to bully, the secret teller often uses the revelation as a means of drawing other people closer to the secret teller while exposing the secret owner to ridicule and thus putting the secret owner in an “outsider’s position.” When initially the sharing of the secret brought the girls together, the revealing of the secret not only pulls the girls apart but it also manipulates the social structure within the group. Some people are more “in” and others are more “out.” This is why it is about power.
Have you ever been bullied like this? Did you recognize it as bullying? What did you do about it?