Bullying and hazing in America is a topic that has received extensive attention in the recent times. Even though there were people who took advantage of others some time ago, and it would seem the modern world has been modified to exclude such practices, nonetheless bullying still exists.
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There are numerous personal and social examples that show how certain individuals take advantage of others, from sports to school and workplaces. The biggest questions are: what drives people to bully others, who is susceptible to bullying and hazing, and what can be done stop this form of abuse?
Jeff Cohen discusses the “monstrosity” of bullying, and offers a connection between reasons for such behavior and the cultural views of the present times. In his essay titled “Monster Culture”, Jeff talks about labels that are attributed to people who bully others (Cohen 2006).
This is a significant point because it might be seen as one of the reasons such behavior continues. It is possible to suppose that when someone bullies a person whom they can take advantage of, the negative label or stereotype of a bully is reinforced. For example, there might be a personal reason why someone wants to make fun of or degrade another person.
When others see such behavior, they think it is for no reason or they cannot comprehend why someone would bully that person. As such, the person bullying gets a label of a “monster” unjustifiably. Of course, there is no excuse to resort to violence or degrading behavior towards others, but the label of a “monster” causes that person to live up to the name or reputation.
They feel the need to keep up the public image because it adds to their confidence. It is obvious that everyone wants to be respected, feared and treated as a leader, which is the exact position bullies get themselves into. There is no denying that the culture also contributes to a bully image because the western world raises children to be confident and strong.
There is also a great focus on the individuality and personal freedom where a person can do close to anything to act out inner urges. Even though there is a definite connection between the modern times and labels, the problem exists on a much deeper personal level. A good example of the culture and people’s actions can be observed in an article about Miami Dolphins by Peter King.
The sport culture has always been thought to be based on fairness and justice. The fellowship among sports men and women has been glorified on numerous occasions, showing comradeship and mutual respect. “The Mess in Miami” by Peter King brings to light a situation where football players bully their teammates.
This might be seen as an initiation event or a form of attention but in reality, it is clear that the players who are being bullied are not enjoying it (King 2013). The fact that there is always some rough play and pranking among team members is well known.
It is clear that there is no harm if people are having fun in the process. But often, some boundaries get stepped over, and it is fun no more. It seems strange that even adults become victims of bullying and hazing, and this raises concern as to what is going on in the schools and other educational institutions, not to mention workplaces, where people are suscepted to such unfair treatment.
The reasons for such behavior are numerous. As in the case with Miami Dolphins, it might be assumed that the teammates did not think anything of the matter when they were “bullying” others, as the sport is very tough and requires stamina.
It would be difficult to attribute evil and psychopathic intentions to the “bullies” because most likely, they did not go as far as to think that their actions might cause some damage to others. This leads into another important part of the problem, which is gender roles, and how masculinity is viewed by the society.
Don Sabo discusses how the social norms view men and activities they engage in. An essay titled “Pigskin, Patriarchy, and Pain” talks about stereotypes that have been enrooted into human society for many centuries. Men are viewed as strong, pain free, soldier type creations that are meant to survive in harsh conditions with physical and mental limitations.
Even though this fact is partly true and men are naturally made stronger, the morality and mental health are much different from the physical attributes (Sabo 2006). Even though a person might be male or have physical strength, their mental processes, self respect and confidence might be on a very low level.
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People always look for respect and acceptance, and in case they are degraded physically, they suffer internally, as their feelings of self worth are greatly deteriorated. An example of this is Jonathon Martin, NFL player who is discussed in Peter King’s article.
The society and sports culture might think that men are tough and especially, those who get involved in rough sports and extreme situations, but being tough has nothing to do with the ability to handle degradation and abuse. Every person wants to be treated equally and with respect, so even if they do not show the pain from the constant abuse, it does not mean it is absent.
A deeper look at an individual’s personality reveals that there is a battle between several aspects of a person’s character. Angeline Price digs deeper to find the true reasons why certain people become bullies and others are being bullied.
An essay on “Working Class Whites” examines the stereotypes that exist in society, and how people’s internal workings relate back to the public views and norms. “White trash” and “good country folk” are contrasted to reflect the different types of ego. It has been known for some time that there is a battle inside every person between the morally right and rebellious sides (Price 2006).
One side is called “id” and is a part of ego that does not have a “filter”. Whatever comes into the mind, the person cannot qualify the action as negative towards others, and is unable to see the consequences that will emerge for the person being acted upon.
It is clear that his part of character is mostly dominant in the childhood stages, as children are not able to develop a sense of morality and predict the consequences of their actions. As a result, a lot of bullying and hazing exists in schools where children become scapegoats and victims of those who are older, stronger and more insolent than the rest.
Price aligns this side of an individual with the “white trash”, and this is clearly a socially formed label that is given to those apathetic to the public’s moral regulations. On the contrary, “good country folk” are given a positive label of being “an angel”, which is linked to the “superego”.
This is a part of the person that filters thoughts and actions, learns from mistakes and avoids disrespecting others. It is a certain fact that an individual is the basis for bullying, but there is another view by Christina Samivalli who proposes that bullying grows stronger in groups.
A peer-reviewed article titled “Aggression and Violent Behavior” offers to combat groups of bullies and group mentality instead of single individuals and victims. It is possible to agree that a group is much stronger and influential than an individual (Salmivalli 1996).
Forces such as peer pressure and the want to fit in with the “popular” crowd take a hold of people, predisposing them to behaviors and attitudes that are dominant in the group. Not to mention that there is a diffusion of responsibility within a group, which means that if there are several people partaking in a bullying activity, each individual person will feel less responsible in the act because others are participating as well.
In a way it is possible to see how this is true, as if there is an allowance from others to bully someone, and then it must be the common view and goal to join the activity. The greater the number of participants, the more people will feel inclined to join in, as the dissipation of responsibility becomes even greater.
The feeling of being empowered and supported by friends who are also bullies, serves as a great force and people become disentangled from their moral obligations to behave respectfully towards others. But in order to combat the problem, the group research and analysis is the second step in the process.
The primary step that must be looked at is at the individual level and the development of human personality, those of bullies and victims consequently. Matt Stein’s photograph titled “Condiments Display” shows how two football players are being bullied by their teammates. It is a clear illustration that the problem is not in the group, but within each individual person who allows themselves to participate in such actions.
“Condiments Display” illustrates how even though the two players seem distressed and are clearly not enjoying the situation, other players are continuing their “bullying” (Stein 2011). The presence of the group might add some incentive to bullies, but such behavior stems from individual specifics of the person’s character.
For someone to take advantage of others, abuse them physically or mentally, they have to have a certain trait in their personality that desensitizes them to pain and disrespect towards others. A person must be distant from the suffering of the fellow human being, thus finding a scapegoat in their face.
Psychologically, there are several reasons why this happens. That bully might have been abused as a child; improper parenting techniques might have eluded to teach the child that disrespecting and mistreating others is unacceptable by all standards. A personal approach to bullies is the necessary action to be taken.
Bullying and hazing is a definite problem in the society. Both offenders and victims must be taught self confidence and ways to deal with a situation that gets out of hand. Personal attributes are the key to making a change, so strong parental leadership and regulation enforcement are crucial in eradicating bullying and hazing.
Cohen, Jeffery. “Monster Culture.” Readings For Analytical Writing, 3rd Edition. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2006. 105-123. Print.
King, Peter. “The Mess In Miami.” The MMQB with Peter King The Mess In Miami Comments. 2013. Web.
Price, Angeline. “Working Class Whites.” Readings for Analytical Writing. 3rd Edition. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2006. 390-94. Print.
Sabo, Don. “Pigskin, Patriarchy, and Pain.” Readings for Analytical Writing, 3rd Edition. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2006. 425-428. Print.
Salmivalli, Christina. Aggression and Violent Behavior. Tarrytown, NY: Elsevier Science Inc., 1996. Print.
Stein, Matt. “Condiments Display”. Photograph. Bleacher Report. Nashville, TN. 2011. Web.