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PETA, Bullying, and Speaking Up

Thank you for your thoughts on the PETA campaign.  I hope it does turn into good PR for NIAW — that would be a clear silver lining.  And I heard that PETA in the end removed the reference to NIAW from their campaign.  Which was obviously the goal, so there is a lot to celebrate there.

Even if I wasn’t writing about it, I was thinking about it a lot — though more in terms of whether it’s better to speak out or be silent in this particular situation.  Even with the goal reached, I’m still thinking about it.  Which may seem pointless.  But indulge me in thinking aloud because I don’t think this will be the last time (since it certainly wasn’t the first time) that we’ll see insensitivity play out on the Internet or in the face-to-face world.

There is this little girl we used to know who is the twins’ age.  She is in no uncertain terms, a bully.  She is also six, so the damage she can do is fairly minimal, but still (and while we haven’t seen her for a year, recent reports from mutual friends is that she hasn’t changed a bit).  She will ram her body into another kid on purpose while they’re playing a sports game.  She’ll walk by you and smack you.  She’ll call you “baby” and tell you that she hopes you wet your bed tonight. (She’s a charmer!)

The reality is that she is so over-the-top that it makes it difficult to know whether to respond.  Her parents are useless — they see the behaviour and say nothing.  There are two ways we can tell our kids to respond: (1) take a stand, let her know that her smack hurt you, and ask her to stop.  Or (2) ignore her in the largest sense of the word after giving her a dismissive wave.

I’ve watched both choices play out.  In the first case, the kid laughs and does it again.  In the second case, the kid simply does it again.

Neither choice actually changes the behaviour since behaviour is internalized.  The only person who is going to change that kid is… that kid.  We can remove her from a game or the playground and stop something in the short-term, but what I mean is that we can’t change who she is at her core.  The only person who can do that is that little girl.

We can hope that our lack of engagement turns her around when she notices how she has no friends, but we haven’t actually seen that happen yet.  Her parents could help since we are talking about a six-year-old, but again, this is not a normal kid who is being called a bully who actually has her heart in the right place and needs guidance.  This is a kid who IS a bully.  There is nothing else that we know about her personality.  We don’t see any other side of it.  This is how she interacts with the world, her modus operandi.

I see this girl very differently from how I see kids who generally have their heart in the right place, but — like all kids — will sometimes prey on someone weaker in order to make themselves feel better or who will test the social limits to see how hard they can push.

Back when we saw her on the playground, I begged the twins to simply ignore her and walk away, though also felt that it should be up to them to react how they needed to react provided they didn’t do something outside the confines of decent behaviour.  For instance, I didn’t want them smacking her back.  But if they needed to shout at her to release their own hurt feelings, then, by all means, do it.

Both the story of this little bully and PETA raises an interesting question — when is it better to ignore a bully and when is it better to address them?  Take, for example, the Westboro Baptist Church.  Some people rally right back at them.  Some people ignore them rather than giving them the attention they seek.  I don’t think it comes down to one option being better than another, but rather, how do you choose which one you use?

For me, I am so wholly against PETA that this campaign felt like a drop in a very big bucket of hate that they continuously foment in order to utilize the angry energy of targeted groups.  I didn’t feel the need to write about it or send a letter to them because — like the Westboro Baptist Church — it isn’t going to change the behaviour in the long term even if it changes it for this particular campaign.  You are not dealing with rational people who generally have their heart in the right place.  You are dealing with an organization whose tactics have been specifically to upset people in order to get their attention.

I also completely understand if you didn’t know this about PETA prior to this campaign.  As a life-long vegetarian, I’m pretty familiar with the ongoing antics of the group as well as its lack of respect in the overall animal rights/vegetarian circles in which I run.  Therefore, I probably approached this campaign with more of an eye roll than seething anger due to that prior knowledge.

I am absolutely pro-fighting-the-good-fight: speaking out when you have a chance to change someone’s mind.  Speaking out when if you change their mind it will benefit you greatly — for instance, participating in Resolve’s advocacy work on the Hill, trying to change stubborn lawmaker’s minds.  It’s May 5, 2011 this year!  Truly, if you want to make a difference, that is the event to focus on.  That is the activism that could truly change your life and change other infertile men and women’s lives.  That is an event that I would define as the “good fight.”

Speaking out when you are correcting inaccuracies — I think it would have made a stronger statement and been more educational if the posts aimed at PETA hadn’t been of the “infertility is not a joke” variety but instead used the space to reeducate specifically on how animal adoption and human adoption cannot and should not be equated with one another.

I’m thrilled that the reference to NIAW was removed, but I’d also love to think that bystanders walked away with new knowledge.  Or greater sensitivity.  Or that something more was gained.

I wish instead of focusing on changing PETA, we had taken all of that anger and energy and directed it towards actions that would have made a huge difference in our lives — writing our congressperson instead of writing PETA, for instance.  I was really impressed with the posts that didn’t speak about PETA, but instead used the energy as a diving board to jump early into NIAW and educating readers about infertility.  About the emotional side of infertility.  All the people who used their anger from this to come out to friends and family and educate them about infertility.

I’m more on the fence when it comes to joining in a fight that someone else is picking.  For me, there’s a difference between fighting with the bully girl or the Westboro Baptist Church or PETA because they want a fight.  They want your hatred because they’re using your hatred.  They want your anger because they hope to utilize your anger.  They were hoping for a fight and we’ve given it to them.  I don’t think they picked the infertility community because they thought we’d quietly take it.  I think they picked a random group knowing that every random group they’ve chosen so far has taken the bait.  There has been no group that they’ve encountered who hasn’t made a big noise and they’ve done the same thing again and again.  Which, for me, speaks more to the effectiveness of indifference in this situation.  Of ignoring.

I think the response to bullying has to be personal — that we can’t say there is a one-size-fits-all-situations solution.  That some people needed to speak out for their own peace of heart, and in that case, they should.  And some people needed to roll their eyes and walk away from it, and in that case, they shouldI guess my question is how do we decide which way to go when the answer isn’t clear to our gut?  When we’re on the fence and we simply don’t know what will benefit our own peace of heart nor what is best for society on the whole?

Did we just do society a disfavour by fanning the flames?  PETA has learned once again that if they target a group — pretty much any group — they will get a rise out of them and get the free publicity.  Did we just ensure that PETA will do another campaign in the future, choosing another group and trying to get them riled up so they can borrow the eyes of their members?  They’ve done it with the Jews, they’ve done it with the African-American community, they’ve done it with the infertility community… did we all just ensure that there will be another community after us?

Were they going to do it anyway regardless of how we respond like the bully girl? (My sense, if you want to know the truth, is that they most likely will do this again whether we fought back or whether we didn’t fight back.)

And when they do it again, are we going to jump in and lend our support to that group, or will we only fight if it affects us directly?  An uncomfortable question, but I think an important one.  One that I ask without judgment — I don’t think there is a simple answer as to whether or not you jump to support the next group.

For me, personally, I was uncomfortable speaking out about this one because I didn’t speak out with other campaigns that bothered me (choosing instead to ignore).  I also would feel obligated to support future groups targeted, and I wasn’t sure how I felt about doing that.

Will the Westboro Baptist Churches of this world continue to spread their messages of hate, will the PETAs of this world continue to exploit people emotionally in order to bring attention to their cause regardless of whether we feed the flames or don’t feed the flames?


As Jjiraffe states, did we just make a huge statement about our community?  She writes:

So my protest of PETA is twofold. To inform the public that infertility is painful and awful, and should not be made fun of. Because that’s a message that doesn’t get out much. But also to alert ANY organization wanting to belittle our community that you BETTER NOT. We’re organized, and kinda powerful.

I think there’s a lot of worth in a don’t-fuck-with-us moment to show the world that we are not only well-organized, but we can make a lot of noise.


I also think Katie makes a great point both in her comment and in her post about knowing when to fight and when to lay down your figurative gun:

But this whole fiasco has also made me realize something else: I’m tired of fighting. Not the disease, but the ignorance. Every time it seems as though our community makes headway in trying to educate the public about infertility, there’s someone waiting to knock us back down again. Why must we always be the ones who end up with the bloodied, scraped knees?

You must keep fighting for those things that stand in the way of family building — fight your body, fight for insurance coverage, fight the restrictive laws, fight for ethical behaviour from agencies and clinics.  But then there is this other side of it.  Is it a need to fight back against ignorance?  I’d say yes when that ignorance trickles down and makes the problems you’re fighting in the first category.  Is it still a need if that ignorance is simply ridicule or a distraction?  It’s annoying, it’s terrible — yes.  But do we need to always pick up the figurative gun?  And how do we decide when it’s “worth it?”

I don’t think there are clear answers, nor do I think that we’ll come to complete agreement.  And I think the personal answer (what’s best for the individual and what do they need to do to be at peace with themselves) will be very different from the community answer.  I don’t think anyone can answer definitively whether it’s best to fight back or know what is lost or gained from fighting back — I’m only asking how we decide when to fight back and when to dismissively give someone/an organization the figurative eye roll.

P.S. I am challenging you to take any energy you felt over the PETA campaign and channel it into activism such as Resolve’s Advocacy Day.  That would be the true silver lining in all of this.  If you can make it to D.C., go to D.C.  If not, there is plenty you can do from home.


1 Kathy { 04.10.11 at 8:28 am }

Thank you for this post Mel! I really appreciate your thoughts on when it is appropriate and the best course of action to ignore or fight back against bullies in our lives (both small scale personal relationships and big scale public organizations).

I have struggled with this question of what to do/how to handle being bullied my whole life and more recently I have been dealing with it in one of my personal relationships.

For years I thought that speaking out and confrontation was almost always the way to handle conflict. However, the older and more mature I get, the more I am realizing how sometimes ignoring a person or situation can be most effective and a very appropriate option to choose.

I have learned through years of being involved and familiar with 12 Step programs that there are situations where confrontation (from speaking out to making amends) can be the “right thing to do” unless doing so can “injure you or others.”

I am typing this comment on my iPhone and my thumbs are getting tired… So those are my thoughts for now. But I may come back later to debrief more, as your post gave me so many great thoughts and insights to consider. Thank you Mel. 🙂

2 Anjali { 04.10.11 at 9:36 am }

I struggle with this too, Mel— whether it’s better to ignore or rally and fight. I’m wondering if, in the age of social media and the internet, ignoring is overall the better option. Fighting back seems to bring so much focus and media attention on the bully.

3 Kate (Bee In The Bonnet) { 04.10.11 at 12:00 pm }

I think the decision comes for me in whether or not the figurative eye-roll feels more like a simple eye-roll, or one accompanied by an extended middle finger. Kinda the same thing– a middle finger just more emphatically dismisses something while not really bothering to have a true fight, I guess. So, if my impulse is to give someone that eye-roll-with-middle-finger, I suppose I might be more inclined to jump into the fray (which was, by the way, my instinct with this whole PETA thing, though I didn’t really jump in much at all). I had a strong gut reaction to their campaign probably because we dealt with male-factor infertility. But I also had a strong gut reaction to not engage a group that is clearly ignorant and/or simply out for a reaction. I really needed them to see my raised middle finger, but I did not need to wind myself up in a fruitless argument.

So, despite what I said up there, I actually ended up not doing anything, really. I signed the petition, because I wanted PETA to see how many people thought ill of them for this campaign. I am surprised that they changed their campaign at all, and I seriously doubt it was the result of my “signature” on a petition, but I just needed them to see that there were people, named people, who found their antics distasteful. No doubt they already knew that, but I somehow felt better knowing that they might see my name attached to it.

ALSO, I promoted the petition on my facebook page, mostly because I have several friends who are supporters of PETA (I have to assume it’s because they just don’t know any better) and I needed them to see MY face associated with the target of their hateful tactics. I needed people to understand that there *are* faces behind PETA’s targets, and that mine was one of them this time. It’s like you said with standing up for the various groups PETA targets– would I do it every time, for every hateful thing they do? No. Might I be more inclined to if I saw a friend’s face on it? Sure. It might take me from being someone who rolls their eyes at PETA’s idiocy to being someone who stands with a raised fist, middle finger extended, at PETA, who convinces others to do so, too. And in the immortal words of Depeche Mode, you can’t change the world, but you can change the facts, and when you change the facts, you change points of view, and when you change points of view, you may change a vote, and if you change a vote, you may change the world. So, not that I expect to change PETA’s world, but I think I hope that I can change a few points of view, and maybe those collective changed points of view will eventually cause some change to come about for the good. That’s about the best I can do with it at this point, I think.

4 onehitwonder { 04.10.11 at 12:15 pm }

Point well taken (about not just saying that IF shouldn’t be a joke) but that was all I could say in my post on the topic. I don’t live in the US – I’m Canadian – and I doubt my MP would care (or have any influence) over what PETA does. I think I’m doing my part on educating people about IF sensitivity awareness. In the end, all I could think to do was point out that IF isn’t something to laugh at .. maybe it’s just a whine into the wilderness but sometimes that’s what blogging is good for, too.

5 Rebecca { 04.10.11 at 12:20 pm }

I’ve never been a big fan of PETA. As a vegetarian, I always feel like they’re just making people feel more ill will toward vegetarians in general. Same with the Westboro Baptist Church for that matter — their idiotic tactics can make (uninformed) people question all religious groups. And, I will say that having the target aimed at me made me more defensive than I would have been with all of their other coordinated attacks — even on other groups I belong to (Jews, etc.). But, I guess in this case I feel like the IF community just seemed like too easy of a target — a “small” group with no loud voice. Yes, maybe I should have been more defensive in previous cases and in the future, but this particular attack just brought out a little more anger than an eye roll could show.

Maybe it’s because I feel confident as a Jew and I know that their “holocaust campaign” was idiotic and felt that a larger community supported that idea. I’ve always been willing to stand up in any situation and say “I’m Jewish.” But, I’ve been a Jew for 36 years and only infertile for 2.5. As an infertile woman I still feel uncertain about my decisions and anxious and and private and not willing to stand up and share my experiences. And, yes, as much as I try to get beyond it, some degree of shame.

No, this won’t keep PETA from doing it again. And, yes, it might even encourage them. But, hopefully, at the same time, we’ve brought a little more attention to NIAW and the infertile community and a little more confidence to those who have been afraid to speak.

(For the record, I SUCKED at standing up to bullies as a kid. I tried to ignore them but usually just cried which made them attack me more. Maybe my desire to yell now comes from all the memories of bullies picking on me and calling me a crybaby as a kid.)

6 HereWeGoAJen { 04.10.11 at 1:13 pm }

I think that it is okay to ignore when it is you that has the strength to ignore. But maybe when it is someone else being bullied, that is the time to stand up. Like in the case of the protests at funerals, I think people need to stand up and protest against them because if it were one of my loved ones being buried, I wouldn’t have the strength and everyone ignoring the bullies would make me feel ignored.

7 Hope { 04.10.11 at 1:25 pm }

I have nothing to say about PETA, but I do need to say that a 6 yo can do considerable psychological damage to another 6 yo. It is a fallacy to think that just because a child is doing the bullying, it doesn’t have much capacity to hurt other children. I am a victim of childhood peer abuse and have many symptoms of PTSD. I am currently in therapy using a technique called EMDR to release this trauma, so I can live my life more fully.

You are right that you cannot change the bully, but you can teach your children effective coping strategies, so that her behavior won’t have a lasting effect on them. If you want to learn more about effective ways to deal with bullying, an excellent resource is the KidPower organization. Their website is http://www.kidpower.org/. They may appear on the surface to be a physical self-defense organization, but they also teach essential emotional self-defense through boundary setting and emotional repair techniques. I highly recommend attending their workshops for both children and adults.

8 Angie { 04.10.11 at 3:46 pm }

I definitely see your point, Mel. I have been thinking about this post since I read it. PETA disgusts me, and what disgusts me about the organization as a whole is the fact that people conflate vegetarianism, veganism and animal rights with PETA, and conversely animal rights with an extreme disregard for human decency. PETA flames groups to get their agenda on the media’s radar, and to generate buzz about themselves.

And then I was thinking about the six year old, and ignoring her. Okay, yes, she is a bully. Like PETA. Someone looking for attention, any attention, and she gets it from kids, adults, though not her parent’s clearly, by acting out. She has learned a way to survive her world. She is not a monster. PETA, I would argue as adults working as a group conscience may actually be monsters, but same principle applies. When they were nice, peaceful, animal loving vegans, they got no attention. They learned a way that has worked for them. I know what PETA is about and still clicked on their website at least six times since this whole debacle started, following links and whatnot. This is how they measure success, I imagine, in a campaign.

I guess I would argue that ignoring and not engaging with someone are two different things. Studies done on bullying also show that there is an increased risk of criminal behavior, substance abuse and jail time for kids who grow up as bullies. The twins have an amazing support system to return home to after being pushed, what about that little bully? What are we doing by ignoring the six year old? I think it is wise to tell the twins not to engage with the bully, but I also don’t think we as adults can ignore her. Can teachers step in? Can counselors? Can anyone? Is she a lost cause at 6? Do her parents realize, I mean, really realize, what kind of bully their daughter is? What about PETA? Yes, we don’t have to engage with PETA, and I think that is wise. But ignoring PETA isn’t wise either. Because the result is that people not in the ALI community, or non-vegetarians think radically different things about animal rights activists and infertility because of PETA. So, I guess what I am saying is that I feel like what you wrote, and what others have said, is so important. We need to keep reminding people that PETA doesn’t represent vegans. And infertility cannot be solved by adoption, as was PETA’s assertion. Can one make that point without referring to PETA? I don’t know. I love this:

Speaking out when you are correcting inaccuracies — I think it would have made a stronger statement and been more educational if the posts aimed at PETA hadn’t been of the “infertility is not a joke” variety but instead used the space to reeducate specifically on how animal adoption and human adoption cannot and should not be equated with one another.

Thanks for getting me thinking on this grey Sunday.

9 a { 04.10.11 at 4:00 pm }

The edge of this question is – when does ignoring things because you feel like it won’t make a difference become apathy? I wish I could straighten out in my own mind when an issue becomes something worth fighting about…

10 Barely Sane { 04.10.11 at 4:56 pm }

Interesting timing on this one. I’ve just experienced my first on-line bruhaha this weekend when I was invaded by a well organized group of angry adoptees slinging all sorts of crap my way. At first, I wanted to take a stand but I quickly realized there was no point. Slinging nasty words at each other and me trying to defend myself serves no purpose. I will never change their minds and I already know what their sole purpose is: to shut down another adoptive parent blog. To me, that’s just not a fight worth having. I wont change my opinion and they wont change theirs and quite frankly, I wont waste my time on it.
With that matter in mind, I would tend to lean towards finding a cause to support, such as RESOLVE vs fighting an entity (PETA) that wont likely change any time soon, if ever.

11 Heather { 04.10.11 at 5:50 pm }


12 Baby Smiling In Back Seat { 04.10.11 at 7:13 pm }

I feel really sad for that little girl. The only way she knows how to get anything from anyone is to be a bully. She may realize/be taught that it’s a bad idea, or she may go her whole life without connecting her actions to her friendlessness.

Hopefully if her parents are going to continue being so ineffectual, she’ll have a teacher one of these years who just won’t stand for it and who takes it on herself to make changes in how that girl approaches the world.

13 Mali { 04.10.11 at 8:07 pm }

I feel sorry for bullies. Their lives and worse their heads must be full of hate and anger. And that can’t feel good.

It’s tricky, this issue of when to speak up and when to ignore.
Groups that are on the margins – like PETA and the Westboro Group – should in my view be ignored, as we’re never going to change their opinion. But that only applies as long as their ignorance and vitriol doesn’t spread. When it spreads, that’s when I think we should speak up. That’s when it becomes dangerous.

As for the little girl – I agree with the previous commenter. I hope someone speaks up, either to her parents or a teacher, for her sake as much as for the children who are bullied.

14 Chickenpig { 04.10.11 at 9:08 pm }

I think the important thing is not just to know when to fight, but to know your enemy. PETA is not the bully, PETA is the kid who sits back and laughs at you when the bully has pushed you into the dirt. I don’t care about PETA, I don’t care about them hurting people’s feelings. Infertility is the enemy, insurance companies that won’t pay for infertility treatment are the enemy, not PETA.

PETA hurt the sensibilities of some of my friends, so I stood shoulder to shoulder with them, as I would have when I was 6 and kids bullied my friends. But I personally couldn’t care less. I don’t care how ignorant people are about infertility, unless their a congressman. The people at PETA aren’t worth the dirt on my shoes. Peh.

15 jana { 04.11.11 at 12:40 am }

excellent post

16 Esperanza { 04.11.11 at 1:48 am }

What a wonderful, thought provoking post (as always). Sadly I don’t have time to write much (it’s way past my bedtime) but I did want to say that your first post on PETA got me thinking a lot. I eventually wrote a post about the whole thing on Thursday and then this post made me rethink what I wrote there. The reality is these are such hard questions and I don’t have any of the answers. But I’m glad that I’m thinking about them. And I’m glad that I’ve been reminded of how much I need to get involved in some way with some cause. I think I get so overwhelmed by how many causes I want to be a part of that I don’t commit to any of them. Such a lame cop out. I need to figure this all out and soon. I think it will be yet another facet of my new project. We shall see. When I gain some ground on all of this I’ll let you know.

Thanks for getting me thinking!

17 jjiraffe { 04.11.11 at 2:14 am }

This post probably challenged me more than any philosophy classes at University. My response became so long that I eventually just wrote a post about your point. http://jjiraffe.wordpress.com/2011/04/11/did-i-rage-against-the-wrong-machine/

Thank you for challenging me.

18 Queenie { 04.11.11 at 2:40 am }

Sometimes I think you are a mindreader.

A few days ago I discovered (probably very belatedly, since I rarely log in) that Facebook has changed yet again. I was subsequently scrolling through “notes” posted by “friends” when I stumbled upon one which is shocking in it’s venomous anti-Muslim hate speech. It was posted September 10 by a high school classmate that I’m friends with on FB, but have not spoken to in 20 years. I think it is horrible and damaging, but I’m torn. Do I simply unfriendly him? Do I post a scathing message back, chastising him? I am torn, but it’s such an awful message that I feel like I need to say “this is not okay,” even though it is unlikely it will make a difference.

19 Katie { 04.11.11 at 11:57 am }

Mel, can I just say that you have an innate gift? It’s called, “making the wheels in my head spin way too fast.” 🙂 There are so many points in this post that got me thinking, but I’m going to try and narrow it down as best I can. I apologize in advance, because I know this is going to get long:

The little girl on the playground: There must be something in her private life that makes her act that way. I truly hope that her parents, someone in her school, or even a stranger can get her the help that she needs. I would hate to see this situation get worse as she gets older.

When is it better to ignore a bully and when is it better to address them: I don’t know, and this is mainly what I struggle with. Like you said, no matter which option you choose, the bully tends to keep bullying. So I guess my question to your question is, “How do we get that bully to change? Can we change what happens in someone’s mind?” It seems like the only answer to that is no. I feel this way about fighting infertility so often. I firmly believe that while I can stand up for what I feel is right or what I feel we deserve, it’s up to the person on the other end to change themselves in order to make a difference – and that is difficult to do without experiencing what the person on the other side is going through. This isn’t to say that we need to bully the bully, because I don’t agree with that. However, unless someone bullies a bully, will the bully ever understand what it feels like to be on the receiving end? Maybe I’m just being too cynical here…

I love this idea about pouring our passion and anger into RESOLVE’s advocacy day. Hindsight being 20/20, this is what I wish I had done from the beginning. PETA did take down the references to infertility, but somehow, I’m not left feeling any better. I guess I feel like taking down the reference didn’t make them any more or less ignorant than when they put it up in the first place. They proved this when they simply took down “in honor of” before they decided to delete the reference in its entirety. They only removed it because we made noise. They didn’t remove it because their thoughts on infertility changed or they were suddenly educated on the disease.

Back to the little girl on the playground: I feel sorry for her. In truth, I feel sorry for all bullies. What makes her (and others like her) feel so vulnerable that they choose to attack others? And I’m starting to question if we are behaving any better by going after organizations and individuals who bully us first. Are we truly advocating? Or, by hollering and shouting names back, are we behaving just as badly as the bully?

20 Chickenpig { 04.11.11 at 2:30 pm }

PS Not that I don’t understand why other people were totally pissed off and hurt by PETA. I just totally lack the ‘give a shit’ gene when it comes to what anybody thinks about me. I truly appreciate what Keiko did to rally people and to get involved. I get upset for other people, but never for myself.

21 Christina { 04.11.11 at 3:05 pm }

The key word to concentrate on is “ethical”. PETA should practice what they preach. The human animal must be considered as well. They forget that.

This little girls attitude is her parents fault. As she gets older that bullying may not work for her. I personally cannot follow a “turn the other cheek” viewpoint. She may run across another little girl that wont put up with that crap.

22 Hope { 04.11.11 at 7:45 pm }

Mel, I’m linking to you in a post about my childhood experiences that I mentioned in my previous comment. I really hope you don’t mind. If you do, let me know, and I’ll remove the reference and the link.


23 Another Dreamer { 04.11.11 at 8:33 pm }

Very thought provoking. Honestly, I chose to stand up because I’m sick of things like this. I try writing letters to my representatives, but always get a reply basically saying that while the respect my beliefs, they just don’t care. It’s hard to stay active politically when you never see a difference. The PETA issue gave me some hope, because it did make a difference. Because it actually worked, they took the wording down. So it gives me renewed hope about writing my politicians, writing on my blog, etc… I was already writing on my blog, posting on my FB, and tweeting for raising IF awareness, and I will continue to do so.

For me, whether or not to speak out hasn’t been an issue. As a child I was bullied constantly, sometimes shunned by my entire class. Even gotten into physical altercations. I was always the new kid, or the different kid, or the poor kid, or the girl who was too shy to fit in so they bullied me. In high school, the football players threatened me, the other kids copied my homework because I was the shy nerd who they could scare into it. It wasn’t hard to do because I came from an abusive home anyway. I promised myself to never ignore this behavior again, for myself. Ignoring the bullies never made them go away, ignoring hurtful behavior never made it go away, calling it out caused trouble… but at this point in my life, I’ll take trouble over accepting things as they are. I’m tired of it.

So I’ll continue using my networking outlets to raise awareness, to educate and plead my case, I’ll write my letters to my representatives and sign petitions. I’m glad I spoke out against PETA, and I’m glad they took down the offensive reference. But mostly I’m glad for the renewed sense of hope it gave me, the feeling of being one person but still making a difference. I’m tired of fighting losing battles, it feels good to win just this once.

24 Missy { 04.12.11 at 1:19 am }

I live 25 minutes from the WBC compound. People ask us Kansans how we put up with the crap and we don’t. We ignore it because they simply want the attention. Ignore them and they lose their power.

25 TasIVFer { 04.12.11 at 2:22 am }

I fight rather than giving the eye roll when that’s what I need to do for ME. Often I’d rather ignore, because often fighting is just what they want and is a win for ‘them’. But there are times when if you don’t, things will rattle in your brain for too long and you’ll not be able to put it into the past and move on.

26 Keiko { 04.12.11 at 5:04 pm }

The bullying aspect of your post has brought back some old demons of mine. Shocker: I was bullied as a child. Your post has inspired me to write about that experience, but that’s not the point of my comment here.

The day you posted this, much earlier in the afternoon, three young boys on bikes approached me as I got out of the car. They couldn’t have been more than, 10 years old? If that? Two of the boys were making masturbatory gestures with their hands, laughing and sneering. A pudgy little boy said over and over as he jerked off his handlebar: “You like this? You like this?” He laughed and rode off. They all did.

I was so shocked by what I’d just witnessed I didn’t say anything at first. In true l’espirit d’escalier, witty comebacks abounded and they had already turned down another block. I was too out of shape to even attempt chasing after them.

I had a moment, granted a split second moment, to act or not act. I was honestly so shocked that kids thought it was okay to come up to an adult stranger and basically sexually harass me – I couldn’t act in the moment. Two days later, the incident still doesn’t sit right with me and their faces have been imprinted in my brain. If I see them again anywhere in my town, you better believe I will stop them and say something. In fact, there’s a pretty good chance they live on the street adjacent to mine, so I probably will see them. And I’ll have a teachable moment with them.

I guess this just speaks to my character: I’m a fighter. I’m not like a mad dog barking and snapping at everyone; I do choose my fights carefully. But when PETA pulled a stunt that I honestly didn’t even believe was real (and that’s why I didn’t address it for nearly a week when I first read about it), it was like that moment when I realized what those kids on their bikes were doing – and doing at me. Thankfully PETA couldn’t just ride on by on their bikes. I knew that I could take action in that moment. Amazingly, PETA actually acquiesced to our demands.

I know that not everyone is able to fight, either by personal choice or circumstance beyond their control. But that’s the exact reason I do fight and call others to action: because we all need someone to fight for us.

27 loribeth { 04.12.11 at 7:42 pm }

Great post, Mel. I haven’t done any writing or much commenting on the whole PETA thing, mainly because I’ve been so busy, but also because there is just so much food for thought here. And one of the things that strikes me, reading this (although not for the first time), is that our culture seems to be getting so much worse these days when it comes to being rude & unkind and inconsiderate towards others. I think technology has magnified the problem in some respects, although of course it’s been such a blessing in many other ways.

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