I am not a courageous man, if anything, I’m the opposite.
I can think of the one time in which I faced a bully directly and called him out. I was eleven, and the stupid show of power in the playground between classes was to take boys to the poll. The only ingredients necessary were a group of two or three bully kids and a scared kid. They would pick him up and open his legs and pull his legs as his genitals went against the pole. It was cruel. Most of the time my mind was in “let it not be me” mode. I always found a way not to be in their eyesight or not to look weak. But then eventually it got to me. I was the student representative of the class, and after I tried to get the bullies to stop by asking them a few times, I went and reported it to the teacher. That kind of bullying was condemned and mostly finished. But for the next few days were full of dread for me, I kept thinking that as soon as I was alone somewhere, the older bully would come for me and beat me up. I knew that the class had a mix of people and some had very rough childhoods, so I knew it could happen. One day passed, and I was full of fear, day and night, particularly on school grounds. Another day and another day until when we were in the locker room getting ready for Physical Education (and again I was silent while super scared), the older kid came to me, and instead of yelling or beating me up he said he was sorry. He was sorry for having done those things to the other kids and that I had been right to call him out. I was in awe. But the feeling of fear stuck with me throughout my life and having been robbed and bullied some more as I grew up, I chose to take care of myself and look the other way. Yesterday C had a conversation with me about privilege. About being a white adult male makes me privileged in this world. How white men dictate the rules of play for everyone else, be it in the company boardroom or seat of Government. And how we still have a society wherein some countries rape and murder of women is conceivable and sexual harassment in other forms, like saying things with sexual innuendos or groping women is still prevalent (Girls as young as 14 face regular public sexual harassment, new figures show). I grew up listening to sexist jokes. I went to Engineering University where being surrounded by young men with too much testosterone had plenty of that. I never took to them and found them in bad taste but I rarely, if ever, did anything about it. “The women will just ignore it”, I told myself. “These guys are not mean, and they would never actually do anything, it’s just words”, I thought. And that’s the fallacy. I believe that the men around me would never go past the bad joke, but it is still a form of discrimination. It’s still a form of privilege and abuse. It’s still a form of bullying. I doubt that I will become a hero, but I’ll try in my little way to try to change this going forward.