Being Mean to Girls

I suddenly remember a few times when I was mean to girls when I was fourteen. I feel really bad thinking about it now. Being mean and bullying was particularly ugly for one such as myself who had just barely reached the end of his years as an object of bullying. But I see a pattern there that wasn’t visible to me at the time. It doesn’t excuse my behaviour in the least, but it sort of explains it.

H was thin as a rake and had a highly strung personality. She didn’t seem to expect to be liked, and I believe few did like her much. Yet she wasn’t the sort to fade into the background: she was quite raucous. Me and another boy wrote a parody of the Ten Commandments and taped it to the door of the veranda where our Bible study class convened. One of our commandments was “Thou shalt not covet the ample bosom of H”. The joke here, such as it was, was that us boys had about as ample bosoms as H had at this stage. Somebody told me she cried when she saw the note.

A was a rubenesque working-class girl who had received all that had been withheld from H and more. She wore a “BOY TOY” track suit, went pendulously topless on the beach and had a phlegmatic demeanour. She tried to be friendly to me, bless her heart, but I just sneered disdainfully at this Venus from the wrong side of the tracks. Luckily, A would take none of it: she asked angrily, “Why are you always so mean to me? Huh?”. I mumbled an apology and then we avoided each other.

T also had an early onset of curves. Her personality was phlegmatic to the point of sleepiness, very quiet. One summer day she was sitting opposite to me and a friend on the commuter train wearing a mini skirt and no panty hose, her freckled thighs much in evidence. I quipped sardonically, “How very generous of you, T, to offer the world a glimpse of your fine assets!”. T looked down and said nothing. I pretty much immediately felt bad about the whole thing, but I never apologised.

See a theme? This adolescent boy, barely into sexual maturity, is being nasty to girls about their budding womanhood. Not just to any girls, but to ones with little social graces, and girls who, he feels, are deviating from his tribe’s norms of female behaviour — norms of modesty. I was mean out of sexual insecurity to girls I believed unlikely to fight back. Part of it was of course actually an expression of desire.

About a year later I hooked up with the woman who would become my first wife, and that took care of that, thank goodness.

Comments

  1. #1 Art
    March 25, 2009

    So it goes.

    Men are socialized to maintain control, to take charge. Women represent a stumbling block to this control, if not actually a loss of free will. An opportunity to focus on the curve of a breast or turn of an ankle. To fall in.

    Covering such charms does no good. The traditional Japanese covering for females leaves only the neck exposed as even the face is concealed behind makeup and a stiff mask of emotional control. So the Japanese have a rich literature of songs and poetry relating to necks. All but the eyes covered in conservative Arab countries they have a similar fascination for ladies eyes. Those countries that demand the female form to be totally covered have a literature of the sway of those coverings and the curves revealed as the covering drapes around her form. Men can drive themselves do distraction and obsession on the slightest of clues as to the female form and lacking any at all will readily make up what they can’t see.

    Oddly the female form totally revealed is scarcely more attractive. Often less so. What it reveals is seldom as tempting as what the imagination conjures up.

    Men can feel the impending loss of control as the primitive portions of their brains take over. Ancient tribes assumed it was witchcraft. A spell sent from the woman to trap the man. Which is how it can feel.

    These irrational feelings, projections of the male mind onto the female, that form the basis for the Arab belief that women are more sexual than men. Ritual surgical mutilation of the female genitals is seen as a way to control the ‘boundless sexuality’ of the female.

    In modern western life, particularly among juveniles, the reaction is an approach-avoidance conflict and its expression through public contempt and private desire. Wanting and fearing the loss of control represented by the female the male seeks to regain control by rejecting and ostracizing her. Sour grapes for the sex starved male ego.

    Which serves to retard socialization between sexes, and, typical of approach-avoidance issues, sometimes develops in an obsession. Both sides suffer.

    Men don’t own their desires and are left feeling powerless to control the sexuality they project onto others and blind-sided victims of their desires. Women are spun into caricatures both less, Madonna, and more, whore, sexual than they really are. Painted in sexual terms because the cultures have yet to effectively deal with the issue.

  2. #2 Erin
    March 25, 2009

    I love this. Both the message and the way it’s written. Honest and a pleasure to read.

  3. #3 ArchAsa
    March 25, 2009

    The things we do to each other as we are growing up. The difference is some of us do grow up, and others continue with the same adolescent stupidity all through life.

    The difficult line to walk as an adult and/or parent when confronted with a young girl that is treated poorly by some moronic boys, is to on the one hand explain why they are the ones with the problem, while not at the same time excusing that behaviour. I got sick and tired of teachers saying that so-and-so is just insecure and really fancies you.

    First of all, sometimes a bully is just a bully, and doesn’t fancy the girl at all – sexual intimidation is just a quick road to power. Secondly, even if that is the case then so what? Isn’t there an even greater reason for adults to drag off the offender and talk seriously to him about what in his behaviour is simply inexcusable. I really hate it when young girls are taught that they have to put up with harassment as if it was a force of nature (well, ok, it kinda is – but culture can win over nature). Neither girls nor boys benefit from that kind of attitude.

    Great post Martin

  4. #4 Martin R
    March 25, 2009

    My daughter is a handful of years from puberty. We’re teaching her to feel good about herself, and she knows about the changes her body’s heading towards. I’m pretty confident she’ll know that nothing about her is dirty or ugly or shameful. And the kid can talk, and she’s got temperament, so I think she’ll be all right. Still, a dad can worry.

    Thanks for the kind words, guys!

  5. #5 kleer001
    March 25, 2009

    Oh god, I wish I could take back every cold shoulder offered and every snide comment I gave to a young lady as I passed through adolescence. No wonder younger women tend to prefer older men, they’re nice to them.

  6. #6 Martin R
    March 25, 2009

    Well, you know, being a teen boy is frustrating. The girls you want are only interested in older guys, and the only girls who want you are the kid sisters of your friends, and they’re eleven years old. /-:

  7. #7 Stefan K.
    March 25, 2009

    My problem was the exact opposite; I was too nice to girls, and was therefore bullied by other boys.
    Sometimes even by other girls!

  8. #8 Grant
    March 25, 2009

    The few Scandinavians I know all share this humble, reflective honestly. (I can really only speak for those well past their teens, but even the younger Scandinavians seem to on the whole have their lids screwed on better than those from other countries.)

    I sometimes wonder if it is also linked to the high rate of atheism in Scandinavia. Y’know how it goes, genuine honest thinking tends to not side well with religions as it tends to expose the silly things in them.

    It reminds me that I once hoped that there might be a job for me in Oslo (I was told it might be somewhere I would like), but despite being told to watch out for it, it never was advertised. (I guess I’m writing this with the risk of evoking some “friendly rivalry” between Scandinavian countries…? Not sure if you have the same sort of things as, say, New Zealanders and Australians do.)

    Anyway, nice article & thanks for posting it. I can’t recall bullying others, but then I was bullied pretty regularly, so perhaps I’m wasn’t in the position to.

  9. #9 Adrian Morgan
    March 25, 2009

    I think Art’s comment contains a lot of interesting ideas, though I’d like to see most of its assertions backed up with references (especially those that attribute motives to people). The connection between sexual attraction and the psychological sensation of losing control, and how people react to that (e.g. some rebel against it while others revel in it) would make a very interesting topic to explore in more depth.

  10. #10 Martin R
    March 26, 2009

    Grant, thanks for kind words! Oslo and Norway generally are lovely places. I’m not a nationalist.

  11. #11 kai
    March 26, 2009

    Well, if you were nationalist, shouldn’t you insist that Norway really is Swedish property anyway ;-)

    I concur, I find Oslo a delightful place, extremely pedestrian-friendly. A bit like Gothenburg, come to think of it.

  12. #12 Martin R
    March 26, 2009

    I like the Vasa, but no city is of course complete without a real Viking ship.

  13. #13 Normal Gurl
    September 11, 2011

    I’m a normal gurl who’s in love w/ a beautiful guy. He’s so beautiful & I (the normal gurl) feel so self-concious. The beautiful guy will one day notice that I’m the 1 & he will become prom king & I’ll be his prom princess.

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