Sunday, November 1, 2015

Bully, Be Gone



I am part of an organization has been around for over a hundred years.  The mission of the group is to promote voluntarism and to teach its members about the needs of the community while also helping to meet those needs.  It is a women’s organization and I am extremely proud to be among its ranks.   I have met and worked alongside so many extraordinary women, and admired and aspired to be amongst them.  My mother (who was one of the most perfect people to love me ever), my aunt (who was a bad ass) and my grandmother were also a part of this group when they were alive (see above pic).  I am so very honored to be a legacy and to contribute myself.

That said, (and that is a big deal), I have also noticed what can only be called gossiping.  We form small groups to accomplish goals. When expectations are not met, the talk behind the back of the person not meeting them is atrocious.  Instead of confronting the person who is lagging, or better yet, asking if they need help, the blaming and back-biting are embarrassing.  It has actually prevented me from inviting other fabulous women to join an organization I love so much. I wish I could say this was an isolated incident, but in my tenure in this group (over a decade) I have seen it time and again.  Further, I rarely see it when the subject is a man. Instead he is excused for being a man. (k'  just gonna say it. That's sexism)


To be fair, not everyone does it, and there are some women who actually stop it by responding negatively when it happens.  Yay!  Go Team!

And now we get down to it.  The truth is that this kind ofbehavior is a form of bullying.  It is passive aggressive, yes, and as a culture, women are taught to engage in psychological warfare that allows for the cutting down of others as a form of power.  But here is the thing, we are not girls anymore, we are women.  You do not get a Bitch Pass for this behavior.  You didn’t offer to help, you didn’t express your expectations, you didn’t talk to the Chair of the committee, or if you are the Chair, you didn’t reach out.   So, Shut Up!

Just like in corporate America, women need to act like professionals.  Especially in this organization whose public face is everything, and our mission is to better the community we are in.  We can’t help people who do not trust us, and they are not likely to trust us if we cannot get along within our own ranks.  So what I want to say to these women, is to stop being a bully.  What do we tell our children when we see them acting this way?  We tell them it is inappropriate and that they are being mean.  We get mad at them.  We are ashamed of them.


Right.

And to the women who tell me that they just don’t get involved, my response is: why not?  This organization is just as much yours, as it is mine.  If you see something that you know is crappy, say something.  Stand up to the bully.  Isn’t this what you tell your children, and what you want their teachers to say?  One of the main reasons we do not do this is because we are busy being “nice.”  

We do not want to lose a relationship.The loss of a relationship is hard, especially for women. Research from UCLA shows that the friendships of women are so healthy and beneficial that women who do not have friendships have a lesser life expectancy.  Research out of UPenn also shows that when women’s relationships are power based lead to depression and are detrimental to overall health.  So, really is it a matter of health to change the conversation to one that is more productive and healthy. Especially in a women’s organization. To say nothing, or to ignore the bully, creates minor victims of the bullying behavior.  A bully gets away with it if he is egged on. Silence equates to agreement.

I know that some of my readers are also in this organization.  I call on you to help stop this behavior with your voice, with trainings, with simple compassion and honesty to do the right thing and stop the bullying of women by other women.  To those of you who are not in this organization, I call on you to do the same in the halls of your school, or the aisles of your workplace.  We cannot afford to have strong intelligent articulate women to be bullied, or to be bullies.  We just can’t.

Stand Up.