In a recent commercial run by Gilette, men were shown breaking up fights and protecting boys from bullying. The commercial’s goal was to show a better way than aggression, and it highlighted the increasing problem of bullying among young people.
But boys aren’t the only ones being bullied. Girls bully too.
This isn’t surprising and it isn’t new, but few people take the time to figure out the cause. Bullying isn’t just a product of our culture (though culture certainly contributes). It’s an innate problem of the heart, a condition of the spirit, which causes one person to denigrate another. Bullies truly believe that putting others down – emotionally, mentally, and physically – will elevate their own value. Every bully at his or her core is deeply insecure, unstable, and self-focused.
Girls bully just like boys, and the way they do so is both subtle and heart-wrenching. What’s worse, bullying doesn’t have an age limit! I, Phylicia, am almost twenty-nine years old and I still see women bullying one another online and in real life.
Girls bully with words
Taunting, mocking, cruel words aren’t relegated to one gender, but I find that women prefer this method of bullying over anything physical. In the end, it cuts even deeper. Physical wounds heal with time, but emotional wounds? Those can be carried far longer.
It might be as subtle as a snide comment about what someone is wearing or as straightforward as open mockery. Bullying with words is real, and it has moved to our online platforms where the bullies can hide behind screens. Bullies love screens because they can say everything they feel without seeing the other person’s reaction or hurt. It’s perfect for people who get a high from putting others down.
Girls bully without words
Girls also bully WITHOUT words, and I don’t mean a knock-down-drag-out fight. I mean the looks they give, the whisper to a friend, the once-over-twice when you wear something uncool. It’s just as cruel and ungodly because bullying is an attitude of the heart. You don’t have to use words to sin against your sister.
God hates bullying
In Proverbs 16:28 Solomon writes, “A perverse [woman] spreads strife, And a slanderer separates intimate friends.” Perverse is a very strong word, one we don’t usually use for things like bullying. But Solomon chose a word this strong because spreading strife is the opposite of what God wants for His people. When we create strife among people by putting them down, bullying them into allegiance to us, we’re not only elevating ourselves as a kind of “god”, we’re doing it in a way that God hates. This is a perversion of God’s purpose, which is why Solomon would use such a word.
Further, when girls bully others (with or without words) it’s evidence they are not walking in the Spirit of God. You cannot be at peace with God and also creating jealousy and dissension among His people. Paul makes this clear in his letter to the church at Corinth: “For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?” (1 Cor. 3:3) Paul wasn’t sharing a new concept, either. Thousands of years before, God commanded Israel not to show favoritism (which is what drives bullying): “You shall do no injustice in judgment: you shall not be partial to the poor, nor show favoritism to the great; but you shall judge your neighbor in righteousness.” (Lev. 19:15) This is serious! Showing favoritism is injustice. So the question is: Do I want justice for my favorite causes, criminals, or myself… but I am acting unjustly before Almighty God?
Chances are, the girls bullying you aren’t going to read this article. So what do you do with this information? First, let it be an encouragement to refrain from a more subtle form of bullying. Gossip, slander, whispering about people – these are just the beginnings of bullying. They’re not okay. Secondly, Jesus told us to pray for our enemies (Matt. 5:43-48). This is difficult and counter cultural, but it’s what He commands us to do, because it’s what HE did when He came to earth! We were enemies of God before Jesus saved us. So pray for the bullies you know. Pray for them – and don’t let them run over you. Stand up for what is right and true. Tell someone what is happening if it is getting out of hand. And remember that God is your best defense, your protector, and your justifier.