Bullying has always been a problem, but in an age where so many teens are constantly connected and blackmail is a tweet away, the effects are worse than ever. The Bystander Revolution aims to take the power out of bullying. Reaching out to both victims and bullies is something I have advocated for a long time. As I said in a post earlier this year:
Sympathy for wrongdoers is always scarce.
Relating to the malefactors among us is uncomfortable. To admit that liars, cheats, murderers, thieves, rapists, bullies, bigots, drunk drivers, and suicide bombers are human is to admit that it could have been us.
The most upstanding among us are but a few personal catastrophes away from villainy. Our monsters linger in their cages, waiting to be unleashed by primal instinct.
Every perpetrator is a victim. If they weren’t, there would be no victims.
The Bystander Revolution is revolutionary because it empathizes with the bully without dismissing their actions. Too often, our society either blames the victim or mislabels the perpetrator. One Billion Rising is a new campaign seeking to end violence against women. How they are approaching that goal is unique and I look forward to following their progress. Even so, they are perpetuating a dangerous idea as they gain publicity.
First of all, the masculine chest thumping exercise that is associated with ‘real men’ is dangerous to both men and women. It is born of sexist gender roles that encourage males to be violent, mask their emotions, and devalue females. Secondly, wording it in such a way implies that only men rape and only women get raped. One Billion Rising is focused on women so perhaps that can be excused. Lastly, real men do rape. Rapists are not a special subset of the species. Most women are raped by men that they know and trust. That’s the scary part. That’s the part we don’t want to admit or address. It is estimated that 20% of U.S. women experience rape. That’s 1 in 5. For every rape victim, there is a rapist. Odds are, you know a rapist.
We cannot ignore the fact that our friends and neighbors have probably hurt someone at some point – immorally, unethically, unspeakably. We cannot ignore that we are capable of such things. Denial only propagates animalistic behavior.
When we think of the most horrific, despicable, and unforgivable crimes against humanity, we usually think of one man. Only, we don’t think of him as a man. We think of him as an inhuman monster. Nothing will ever excuse or make up for the atrocities that he committed and set into motion. But I think it is a grave error to label him as anything other than human. He loved opera, dogs, art, and was said to believe in animal rights. We need to realize what fanatical righteousness can do to a person. We need to accept that while he is an example most extreme, he was still a part of the human race. If we deny that, we cannot prevent history from repeating itself. The man I am talking about is Adolf Hitler.
The above image makes me sick to my stomach. I’m hesitant to even post it, which I think proves my point. Dropping villains into a pit of wickedness and covering the hole does nothing. If we are to prevent atrocities, from bullying to genocide, we must remember that each transgressor is human. We cannot scrub away the filthy stains of humanity if we refuse to believe the blotches exist.