Since the topic seems to be flaring up in the bjd tumblr community again I wanted to say something about bullying. Specifically I wanted to talk about what is bullying and what isn’t bullying. I feel that this is a very important distinction to make and without it the issue becomes distorted and it gives a false impression of how the hobby and the community interacts with its members.
A little background information on me. I was a victim of childhood bullying. It started in second grade when I went to a new school. At the time I had a small speech impediment that resulted in me talking funny and that was apparently enough to brand me as “outsider”. The bullying started small. It was just “teasing” Kids endlessly going “You talk funny. You have an accent. Did you know you have an accent? while laughing when I spoke until I was in tears. Then it moved on to the other children calling stupid and other names. Saying I couldn’t play with them. Shoving me on the playground, and my personal property being damaged. Rumors that I smoked or did drugs. This went on for four years until my family moved for my mother’s job. This was also long before any bullying awareness campaigns so I was stuck dealing with it with no support other than to “ignore the bullies.” Please keep this history in mind going forward.
I recently watched Asenvabjd’s video on Bullying in the BJD hobby and it made my teeth grind. Primarily because the items she presents and the way she presents them do not meet the definition of bullying by themselves. Per Raychelle Cassada Lohmann(on a Psychology Today article I’ll be linking to) bullying is defined as aggressive behavior, with an intent to harm, repetitive in nature, and features an imbalance of power. This definition is also discussed in the sites that Asenva linked to as well. What Asenva presented as “bullying” were one off instances of rudeness and meanness, with the implication that if you experienced these things even once you were a victim. Or if you did any of them(some without even thinking because lets face, not all of us have the best social skills) then you were a bully.
This sort of attitude is not helpful in dealing with with debates, or personal arguments within the hobby. People become afraid of criticizing poor or harmful behaviors lest they be accused and then hated on for being a “bully.” Which ironically can allow some bullies to get away with bullying behavior because everyone’s too scared to call them out on it. It also dilutes the meaning of the word bully and belittles the experience of anyone who has been a victim of bullying.
So before anyone waves their Bully victim flag I would recommend asking yourself a few questions.
Is this action actually directed at me personally? Someone going off on a rant or submitting a confession about how much they hate the plethora of minifees, or can’t stand people who show their dolls having sex, or the effect pro-recasts have one the hobby isn’t bullying. If you count it as such then someone ranting about how much they hated George Bush during his presidency is somehow guilty of bullying a former president of the USA.
How often has this happened? Specifically how often has this individual said or done something deliberately to hurt me? If there is a pattern of behavior from the same person then you’re probably are a victim of bullying. But someone going off on a rant one or two times even if you’re hurt or offended by it doesn’t bullying make.
Now one thing I want to give special mention and consideration here is confession blogs. Because of the anonymous nature of confession blogs they are used as a way to vent or call out bad behavior without risking confrontation. But oddly even if there is a flood of confessions about one person it’s not an indication of concentrated bullying. It may look like it falls under the repetitive nature of bullying but it might not be. This is because even though we are a small niche hobby there’s still a couple thousand of us. There have been and there will be times someone will say something so offensive and rude it will anger a lot of the community. Like say you’re on a forum or follow a blog with 3000 members and you say or doing something that outrages just 1% of them. That’s 30 angry people. Some of them may confront your directly, some may go to the confession blogs. Even if only half of them decide to say something anywhere, that’s not bullying. That’s 15 one on one personal arguments and disagreements. Those 15 separate individuals are not repetitively attacking for long periods of time. Though I can agree it’s not fun to deal with it still doesn’t harassment or bullying make.
Is it escalating? Bullying is something that often starts out small, one or two snide hurtful remarks, but then builds. Bullies will attempt to spread rumors and lies about someone. They’ll start to exclude them or escalate into physical violence. Bullying is something that builds up between the bully and the victim.
Now none of this rant is meant to say that it’s ok to be rude, or mean or harassing, but at the same time I want people acknowledge that we are human. And at times humans will make mistakes, and end up being mean to someone because we’re angry or frustrated. Those instances do have to be dealt with and handled, but it does take a different approach than dealing with bullies and harassment. I want people to stop and make a realistic and honest assessment of whether or not bullying is happening. If we go around calling every mean act an act of bullying then we create a toxic environment for everyone. Eventually no-one will take accusations of bullying seriously because there’s been too many false flags. But if we can create an honest assessment of bullying, then we can more easily identify both victims and perpetrators of bullying behavior and deal with it more effectively.
Links for more information about the differences being being mean, or a bully
Denali Wind and AsenvaBJD are two people on Youtube that I really look up to, they inspired me to take up the bjd hobby and I watch their videos for advice and tips! (Asenva’s videos are doubly hilarious and fun while Denali feels so easy going and friendly~)
I can’t hear ‘Shake It Off’ without my brain substituting AsenvaBJD’s YouTube video version. So I’m at work grinning like a dork when it comes on and people are asking me if I’m thinking of my boyfriend. Lol nope I’m just trying to contain my inner laughter at someone capturing the eternal struggle of bjd photography (rolling around on the floor trying to get the perfect angle) in a music video