It's not anyone's business, but since you COULD change, you deserve to be harrassed.

I hope the title of that OP makes my meaning clear.

What is this logic? Let’s say someone has a habit, or a characteristic, or a tendency, and it’s nobody’s business and it isn’t impacting on anyone else’s life. Like, they’re not adhering to the accepted standards of attractiveness (too fat, funny hair cut, funny clothes, etc.), behave like a geek, have geeky hobbies, or whatever. Does that mean that they deserve to be mercilessly harrassed until they buckle under and fit in? Does that mean that the person who harrasses them or makes snide, judgmental comments about them is justified? Because they could change—they could be less geeky, they could lose weight, they could dress better—so that makes whatever shit someone slings at them acceptable?

I understand that being in some way unattractive (in hair, clothes, weight, etc.) is probably going to get a reaction. And that behaving like a geek is likewise going to get a reaction. But I simply don’t believe that the only reasonable answer is to feel forced to conform, while the assholes who are going out of their way to pester someone (who is doing nothing harmful to anyone) get off scott free. This has never made sense to me.

For instance, a young man in school might be nerdy and geeky, and therefore gets picked on and beaten up in school. Or a woman who is overweight might be yelled and mooed at from passing cars.

Now, it’s true that if both these people wanted to stop the beatings and the yelled insults from cars, they could change their appearance and behavior. Certainly, life would be simpler for them if they did that, and therefore, it wouldn’t be a bad idea.

However, since when is the obligation to change put on the person who is minding their own business, i.e., the victim? Why should they be expected to do anything? They aren’t hurting anyone. The people who are going out of their way to behave like assholes are the ones who are hurting someone. Why shouldn’t they be the ones to change? Why are the picked-upon and the insulted told that, “Well, if you don’t like it, you should change,” as if the answer is so simple, and if they don’t do that, they obviously are “asking for it,” or, “Well, since they won’t change, clearly it’s their own fault, whatever happens.” And—this is my favorite—the asshole who is doing the harrassing will explain, “Well, since they won’t change I guess they like it” or (another favorite of mine, this one really gets me), “I’m doing them a favor by harrassing them. It will inspire them to change and better themselves.” Oh yeah. That’s a good one. Behaving like a raging asshole is the height of human compassion.

And another thing, and perhaps the whole crux of my rant: when you are being harrassed and treated like shit, you see these people for the assholes that they are. Assholes. Even if you change and become “acceptable,” and therefore the assholes are nice to you, it doesn’t change the fact that they are assholes—people that you want nothing to do with, people that you want to avoid. So, the incentive, “Well, change who you are and they’ll like you” isn’t perhaps the great incentive that some people might think it is. Change yourself so that the people that you have come to despise like you? What for? (Of course, the incentive to change so they’ll stop bugging you is still there.)

Given that this forum’s membership has a large proportion of fat people, geeky people, and fat geeks, I don’t see that you are going to get any affirmative answers here. Do you think anyone is going to come out in favor of raging assholism against random victims as an effective form of behavioral therapy?

And you can count me (winter-weight fat nerd checking in)as a “No” vote, speaking as someone who has had crap thrown at him from passing cars while running.

Well, actually, I recall on several of the school bullying threads through the years, that yes, some people were saying that. (The nerds didn’t change so it was at least partly their own fault.) And don’t even get started on the fat issue. While we do have our fair share of fat people, there are also some who hint that harrassment or hostility towards fat people should “inspire them to change,” as if that makes the harrassment sort of understandable.

And actually, this rant was prompted by a recent (pretty mild, so I won’t post a link) comment about someone being fat, and it was okay to bring the fatness up as an insult, because they fat person could change. The comment in itself wasn’t that big of a deal in its context, but it reminded me that many people have this attitude: if you could change something about yourself (that is nobody’s business), then if you don’t, you deserve whatever (unjustified, unwarranted) shit that is slung at you.

I knew I could count on you, gobear. :slight_smile:

No one should have to change just to please someone else. No one. Just like no one deserves to be harassed just because they’re something or someone others don’t like.

To be honest, it just seems sad to me that people WOULD change just to “stop getting picked on”. One shouldn’t have to make “deals” with assholes.

Don’t go changing, to try and please
You never let me down before
Don’t imagine you’re too familiar
And I don’t see you anymore

Oooh, ooh, ooh ooh. Because we really do love you just the way you are.

I usuallyresist the tempation, but for once just couldn’t. :wink: Sorry. :stuck_out_tongue:

Because you can’t control other people’s behavior. You can say they *should * change, and most people will likely agree with you, but that doesn’t mean they will change anything.

If the following are true:

  1. You get picked on for a trait or activity
  2. You dislike said trait/activity about yourself
  3. You have the ability to change it

Then go ahead and change it. If #2 or #3 isn’t true, then you can’t do much else than chalk it up to their being assholes in the world. Nothing new there.

What about fighting back? I mean, I don’t see anything wrong with standing up for youself.

Yes, of course that is true. But knowing that you can’t change them doesn’t suddenly make their behavior acceptable, or make them less of an asshole. It seems like too many people shrug their shoulders at that assholes, like it’s no big deal.

True. Change it because you want to, for some other reason having nothing to do with the assholes.

However, for some people their nerdiness or extra weight was not a huge issue—something that wasn’t too severe, wasn’t a real problem—it suddenly becomes one when the harrassment sets in. And the person might feel this conflict: would they have wanted to change all that much before? Perhaps not. But they are being made so miserable now that they can’t quite figure out if they really want to change, or whether it’s mainly because they want the tormenting to stop.

There comes a time for everyone to do on purpose what he used to do accidentally. If you are effeminate, you must find a way of letting the world know that you know you are; otherwise they keep telling you.

  • Quentin Crisp

Sure, knock yourself out. But that’s a reaction to what we’re talking about, not changing the preceding circumstances.

For me, it’s not so much shrugging my shoulders that assholes aren’t a big deal, it’s shrugging my shoulders because you can’t do a whole lot to change other people.

I really don’t see a practical difference. We’ve gone through this before, and I guess we just disagree. I understand what you’re saying, but IMO it just boils down to either making the change in yourself or growing thicker skin. I agree that it sucks that you have to do one of those things (instead of waiting for people to be generally nice) – but if not doing one of those things is going to result in continued unhappiness for you, then I think you go ahead and do it.

I was always under the impression that if you faught back, people left you alone. It’s worked for me, but that’s just me. shrugs

Maybe for some people. There’s also the kind of people, who, if they can see that they’re getting under your skin, they’ll pick harder. I guess it also depends on what “fighting back” means – flinging insults back, or breaking someone’s nose?

So if I have a co-worker who reeks to high heaven, its harassment if I snipe him with hurled bars of little hotel soaps as a hint and dashing behind my cubicle wall? Don’t we want to help people here?

Last weekend my brother was over, and he didn’t shower the whole time he was here :eek: so one afternoon while sitting in the family room, I got out a block of really strong smelling cheese and started grating it, filling the room with the odor of ripe cheese. My brother, bothered by the smell, shouted, “What the hell are you doing?!” and I cooly replied, “Oh, I’m sorry, I was just trying to freshen up the room; the cheese makes the room smell great compared to what your armpits are doing.”


I understand, and I’m not saying that you are shrugging your shoulders, only that many people do (or, they try to defend the harrassers by saying that they are “trying to inspire you to improve yourself”).

Yeah, sometimes that’s what you have to do, I guess. I did say in my OP that it isn’t a bad idea, necessarily, to change in order to avoid torment. More of my rant is, I think, about the frustration of being told that it’s your fault of that “you asked for it” when you are harrassed. No, it’s not your fault. Even if you resort to changing in order to avoid the harrassment, it does not mean that the harrasser was correct. Even if you change in some way that many would consider a good way (improve your appearance, etc.), it still does not validate what the assholes did to you. They did not “inspire” you. They were a flaming asshole.

The whole premise is that they are not doing anything that is hurting anyone else, or that is anyone else’s business. Reeking to high heaven doesn’t really fall into that category.

No argument from me on any of these points.

I agree with the OP completely and enthusiastically.

Yes, it’s completely unnecessary harassment. If your cow-orker reeks to high heaven, speak with him privately and let him know that his odor is interfering with your ability to work with him. For all you know, he has some kind of medical condition. If it continues to be a problem, speak to Human Resources.

But isn’t fighting back, for some people, just another change forced on them? I myself abhor violence of any sort and would really have to be backed into a corner to attempt it. Even then I probably would look for a reasonable flight option. Call me a coward, call me gentle, whatever… but I don’t want to spend my life fighting so people leave me alone. Leaving others alone when they wish to be left alone is not a quid pro quo situation. Not a privilege to be given but rather a right of human courtesy and decency.

Why should I have to change but the asshole doesn’t? Last I checked (s)he could stop being an asshole anytime they wanted.

omg, I’m not the only one. Why the fuck do people do that? Some of the also honk and shout. Argh!

When you say crap, you mean garbage right? Because I hope people aren’t horrible enough to throw feces (wouldn’t surprise me though)

Then there’s the “throw a giant Slurpee at the fat girl riding the bicycle and almost drive her into a ditch” gambit.

Guess how I know about THAT one.

People. Are. Assholes.