Breaking the Silence!
This year I did not participate in the “Day of Silence,” a day where the LGBTQ community and allies keep silent for a day as a protest against the bullying and harassment of students, especially physical violence and verbal threats. I wish that I had, however, after reading The New York Times
Words hurt. They hurt the people who are the victims of daily torment from bullies. The bullies themselves get hurt by being close-minded, constantly negative, and victims of their own personal situations (as I personally believe that bullies tend to be the people who need a lot of help).
Bullying can happen to a lot of people and it comes in many different forms. Unfortunately, bullying can also be a way of reinforcing stereotypical gender expectations. The words “gay,” “faggot,” and “homo” as insults affect not only the LGBTQ community but the whole spectrum of people in an exceedingly fashion. This especially affects young boys who show any signs of feminity who do so “by being emotional, seeming incompetent, caring too much about clothing, liking to dance or even having an interest in literature” (Warner).
The article “Dude, You’ve Got Problems,” by Judith Warner, starts with the recounting of the suicides of 11-year-old Carl Walker-Hoover from earlier this month and 17-year-old Eric Mohat, who killed himself last year. Both were the victims of verbal abuse from bullies who called them fags and gay, and for reasons which were completely unrelated to their sexuality.
As Warner puts it,
The message to the most vulnerable, to the victims of today’s poisonous boy culture, is being heard loud and clear: to be something other than the narrowest, stupidest sort of guy’s guy, is to be unworthy of even being alive.
It’s weird, isn’t it, that in an age in which the definition of acceptable girlhood has expanded, so that desirable femininity now encompasses school success and athleticism, the bounds of boyhood have remained so tightly constrained?