Lately with all the high profile, teen suicides, the topic of bullies has been on everyone's lips.
Bullying is a by-product of rape culture and of a military theocracy, which is the predominant social structure on this planet. Aka Kyriarchy, it is the world's longest running tragedy. It opened in the Bronze Age and has been held over for 275,600 weeks.
It is a system that sustains itself by keeping vast numbers of poor, uninformed, unreasoning and superstitious people living, breeding and dying under the belief that their next life will be better than this. Meanwhile, a small number of people who are informed, profit immensely and live their lives in every bit the idyllic splendor they promise to those who labor and die in poverty to make it all possible. They hoard the wealth of society in a small number of people.
What is wealth? It is the tangible benefits of a society working together: food, shelter, warmth, sex, knowledge, joy and long life. No society lasts for long when the benefits are hoarded in the hands of only a few.
The simple glue that holds this system together? Bullying.
A man's home is his castle
This is the kōan and reinforcing message to every man across the planet., from wealthy to dirt-ass poor It is an ego boost and a promise of some small reward for perpetuating the system of oppression that keeps him down. It is a permission slip to brutalize women and children. He may "belong to" a factory or a warlord or a wealthy man and as a result be forced to endure shame, pain, poverty, helplessness, disease, injury or even death. He takes in form of a bribe, permission to "own" a woman and whatever children they have. He may be the lowest form of scum in his town, but when he gets home - he can put a woman down, put a child down and become the king of his pile of shit. Until tomorrow, when he leaves the house and starts all over. The cycle repeats.
The male children grow up with the belief that to prosper is to oppress, to bully. Their heroes are men who fight and brutalize their enemies. They look forward to the day when they too can be the king of their castle. This oppression of women and children is their motivation to continue the culture of bullying that keeps them and the generations to follow at an economic disadvantage. It is the reward for not only participating in a system of brutality and inequity, but for embracing it, accepting it and passing it on to the next generation.
Women are always "less than" and exist as reward & property of the men for their brutalities. Girl children are aborted, beaten, abandoned, sold off as slaves, told to be pure until the day they marry when somehow they must also become good enough sexually to "keep" their husbands happy. They must also cook, clean, bear children, go without food, education, health care, rights or say in their own lives. This may not be your life, if you're reading this - but worldwide, you are a minority.
Female children grow up learning that their path to success is to play within the system and compete with other females to be chosen by a better brute than them. Females are rewarded for admiring and empowering their brutes...for embracing the inequality, not challenging the men's status and for passing it on to the children.
The thing that makes this system work is that we all buy into it and keep it going. Men, women, children of all ages, class, race and faith. We all keep it going by accepting, believing and participating in this system of bullying. Whether we seek to use the system for our gain or we shake our head and ignore it - we are the wheels of the machine. That's bad news for our ego perhaps, but good news, too. It means we can stop it - once we acknowledge that it's happening.
Bullying is privilege by force.
There can be an obvious privilege like wealth, food, resources, etc. Or, it can simply be that by beating on someone, a privilege is created: the privilege of being the person giving the beating.
Everyone can bully and does. Some place in our lives. All genders, all ages, all races. Everyone.
The basic model has two classes: men and everybody else.
Men bully each other to establish the pecking order of oppression among the bullies. This system allows some room for bullies to elevate themselves in their rank among other bullies. At the same time, the predominant view is that all men, no matter the rank can always push a woman down into "her place". From the lofty heights of the ruling elites to the poorest man on the planet, this system places them all in a position of societally accepted superiority over women, children & anyone who bucks the gender binary.
The fear of equals.
The reaction of men toward women seeking equal value in society is a language problem. These men see women as taking something away from the men: status & privilege. The devaluing of women as a means to make men feel better about themselves. For those who are successful in preserving the inequity, It is a short-term, self satisfying reward.
The kyriarchy will eat itself
This system of oppression and brutality cannot sustain healthy cultures. It is a shell game. The empires of Rome, Greece, Egypt, Ming, Hitler, Napoleon, Britain, Spain, France, Aztecs, Hittites and every one else - all fail. They fail because they insist on limiting the flow of knowledge and wealth. These two things are both the life blood of human society but they only grow when all members of the society have access to them. When they are hoarded, the society collapes into poverty, disease and ineptitude. The priest / warrior / ruler class try to keep the poor from challenging them. The do this by replacing fact with myth. A steady diet of this yields a gullible population but one produces less and less.
And bullies are not very bright. Their tactics will always be threats and violence. It's what they do and what they know how to do. They're perfectly OK with doing it because they think they can get away with it if they do it enough.
The threat of knowledge
Within the last 50 years, the kyriarchy had been able to replicate itself from one generation to the next with ease. It was sustained by the limits of communication in a world without radio, television and the Internet. Propaganda from the ruling class, soldiers and priests was very hard to disprove unless a person had the wealth to afford a higher education and the ability to travel. Knowledge resided in libraries, public and private and could be quite easily withheld or buried altogether. People had no way of knowing the great wealth imbalance created by the kyriarchy. They had no idea what someone on the other side of the world might be saying or doing.
It is no coincidence that as information has flowed faster and in much greater volume, that we find the kyriarchy under attack. Still, in some parts of the planet, where poverty and high, dense populations exist in staggering proportions, this old model of religious fed bullying still blooms. Religious fundamentalists are often preaching this exact model of bullying: men ruling their homes and women existing as brood mares to swell the ranks of a population so that it can gang up on another population and bully them.
The threat of women
I wish there was a magic wand to wave and eliminate bullying. There simply isn't. That's not to say that there is no way to diminish bullying and even replace it, because there is: the education of women.
Bullies know this and they fight it, tooth and nail. Nothing is a greater threat to the kyriarchy and the poverty it lives off of, than the education of women.
Not religious education, but health, science, reasoning - fact based education that give women in all cultures, the knowledge and cognitive skills to choose their own way, to create wealth for their families and to teach the next generation a better path forward than bullying.
But women are not helpless agents and neither are men. Bullying stops when we all realize that our survival as a species is best served by lifting us all up instead of pushing us all down.