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Hot Topics

Relationship. Friendship. Men and women.

Adult bullying on the rise


Adult bullying is on the rise and its other women we need to watch, says Laura Bond
George and Jerry, in one famous Seinfeld episode,
recall their tyrannical gym teacher who used to
give boys wedgies and encourage them to beat
each other up. Girls dont do anything like that,
do they? Jerry asks Elaine. Oh no, Elaine
replies.
We just tease each other until one of us develops
an eating disorder.

The sadistic, passive-aggressive female bully is celebrated in popular culture. We revelled in Meryl Streeps
ruthlessness in The Devil Wears Prada (pictured), and shows such as The Apprentice and Big Brother rely on
pitting feisty females against one another to guarantee ratings success. But we are less happy to admit to the
existence of female bullying in our own lives. We might be unwilling to blow the whistle on the female boss
who subtly but relentlessly undermines our work, and we may ignore the daily snide remarks doled out by a
colleague, for fear of becoming her next target.
But our dirty secret is very much a reality. A recent UK study of more than 5,000 workers revealed that at
least 45 per cent of bullies are women. And who are their victims? According to research, women attack
other women 71 per cent of the time. I think women now have more opportunities to bully one another,
says Cheryl Dellasega, author of Girl Wars: 12 Strategies That Will End Female Bullying. There are far
more arenas for women to be openly competitive, but I dont think that weve learned to do it very well.
Underhand behaviour
Instead of owning up to our desire to dominate in a meeting, or boasting about sales figures to our
colleagues in the same competitive spirit as men, we prefer to release our feelings of envy and jealousy in
more underhand ways. So what exactly is female bullying? Its often referred to as relational aggression
the word relation being central to the shadowy nature of the problem. There are no closer relationships
than between two women, says Dellasega. We nurture, we care and we can read body language better than
men but all of that can be used against someone when were feeling insecure. Founder of the Workplace
Bullying Institute, Dr Gary Namie, agrees: The basis for the initial relationship is also the tool women use
to destroy that relationship.
Campaign of malevolence
Namie became interested in female bullying after seeing his wife suffer at the hands of a Machiavellian
colleague. This woman feigned fondness for my wife she courted her, she took her to lunch, but this
turned out to be nothing more than intelligence gathering, to use against my wife later on, he says. The
adjectives psychologists often use to describe female bullying are covert, subtle and manipulative. It
might be spreading a rumour, questioning someones competence or ignoring a victims contribution. But,
according to Namie, we should not confuse bullying with a random act of malevolence. Its really a fullblown, laser-focused campaign of systematic, interpersonal destruction.

Our studies reveal that targets are often


independent, skilled and well-liked,Evie, a 29year-old events
manager, is given her daily dose of venom with a
smile and a clever rhetorical question. My
colleague will wait until the boss is in the room
and then say something like, Do you really
think youre experienced enough for this client?.
She constantly undermines me and its knocking
my confidence.

But the devil doesnt just wear Prada she can lord over the school committee, turn your neighbourhood
into Wisteria Lane or even put you off the gym. Along with clinical depression, anger and debilitating
anxiety, a recent study showed that 30 per cent of women experience post-traumatic stress disorder from
bullying. When someone has been a victim of bullying, they become hollowed out. They lose everything:
their self-respect, their confidence and their appetite, says organisational psychologist Mary Sherry. She has
spent the past 15 years working with businesses to overcome bullying and, in her experience, female
managers are more likely to bully staff than male ones.
The victims of adult bullying are often popular and talented. Our studies reveal that targets are often
independent, skilled and well-liked, says Namie. Being famous and beautiful certainly doesnt give you
immunity. Model Sophie Anderton has talked about being bullied, while actress Sienna Miller has spoken
about the vitriol she has experienced from the media and from some friends. Its women who are holding
us back theres no sisterhood, she said in an interview.
Many of us have witnessed bullying, but dont know how to react, though it leaves us deeply uncomfortable.
A UK survey on bullying revealed that 11 per cent of bystanders experience trauma vicariously.
If you witness someone being attacked, it sickens you, says Namie. But then youre further sickened by
knowing you did nothing. The way you resolve that dissonance is to say to yourself, It mustnt have been so
bad. Namie believes workers need to take responsibility when they see poisonous behaviour around them.
New environment
Its not surprising that weve all witnessed a female bully at work there are few senior positions for
women in the workplace, meaning its likely some of us will resort to drastic measures to secure them. For
hundreds of years, men have competed with each other in the workplace, says Dellasega. But women
havent experienced being in these environments for very long. Much of the progress made in feminism
comes from confronting uncomfortable realities and gaining relief merely by acknowledging these. Just a
few decades ago we looked the other way when it came to domestic violence and, until very recently,
schoolyard bullying was seen as a rite of passage. How long will it take for us to stop seeing eye-rolling and
exclusion as OK?

1. Do you agree
- Instead of owning up to our desire to dominate in a
meetting ... we prefer to release our feelings of envy
and jealousy in more underhand ways.
- The victims of adult bullying are often popular and
talented.
- Being famous and beautiful certainly doesnt give you
immunity.
- Much of the progress made in feminism comes from
confronting uncomfortable realities and gaining relief
merely by acknowledging these.
- When someone has been a victim of bullying, they
become hollowed out. They lose everything: their
self-respect, their confidence and their appetite,
- Its women who are holding us back theres no
sisterhood

2. True or false.Correct and express your oppinion.

We nurture, we care and we can read body language better than women but all of that can be used
against someone when were feeling insecure.
Studies reveal that bullies are often independent, skilled and well-liked.
There are far more areas for women to be openly competitive.
If you witness someone being attacked, it depresses you.
Workers need to take responsibility when they see poisonous behaviour around them
We should not confuse bullying with a random act of malevolence.

3. Find the following expressions in the text youve just read:


; -; ; ; ;
, ; , -; -; ;
; ; ; ; ; ,
; ; , ; , ;
, ; ; ;
-; ; , ; ;
; , ; ; ,
; ; ; ;
.; ; .

4. Insert the necessary word in the sentence. Translate the sentences:


1. Ruthless management rely on pitting _____ females against each other to guarantee
______ success.
2. You can be _______ ________ dominating in a meeting or ________ about sales figures.
3. You will be happier if you ________ to the existence of this problem in your life.
4. She ________ her and took her to lunch but it was nothing but ___________ gathering.
5. Psychologies often describe ______ bullying as ________, _________ and manipulative.
6. We _______, we care and we read ______ better than men.
7. No one really wants to ______ up to such _____ a secret.
8. She can _____ over the school __________ or even _____you ___the gym.
9. The studies _______ that _____ are often independent, _____ and ________.
10. Its women who are _____ us ____, theres no _________.
11. If you _________ someone being _______, it ________ you.
12. Much of the progress made in feminism comes from ________ _________ realities and
_______ relief merely by _______ these.
13. __________ who have witnessed bullying experience trauma ___________.
14. How long will it _____ us to see ______ and ________ as OK?

5. Translate into English:


1. ,
. 2.
. 3. , ,
, . 4.
. 5.
, . 6.
.
. 7.

, , . 8.
,
. 9. ,
10 . 10. ,
. ,
, . 11.
,
. 12. ,
, , , .

Teachers may freely enrich exercises after and pre-reading to any extand. Do some discussion
on Hot Topics issues. Do some translation practice of certain parts of the text as some of the
sentences prooved to be rather complicated for the students.

The article was published in an august issue of the Psychologies magazine.


Keys:
Ex 3.: to develop eating disorder; to revel in; ruthlessness; subtly; relentlessly; feisty; to admit to smth; to own up
to smth; to blow the whistle on; a snide remark; to dole; a target; competitive; to boast about; to release; underhand;
to feign; to court; covert; full-blown; to question sbs competence; random; ignore sbs contribution; well-liked; put
off some place; hollowed out; to hold back; bystanders; vicariously; to sicken smb; to witness; senior positions;
drastic measures; the rite of passage; eye-rolling; exclusion.

Ex.4 Key: 1.feisty,rating; 2. openly competitive, boasting; 3. admit; 4.courted, intelligence; 5. female, covert,
subtle; 6. nurture, body gestures; 7. own uo, dirty; 8. lord, put off; 9. reveal, targets, skilled, well-liked; 10. holding
back, sisterhood; 11. witness, attacked, sickens; 12. confronting, uncomfortable, gaining, aknowledging; 13.
bystanders, vicariously; 14.take, eye-rolling, exclusion.

Ex.5.
1. If you keep eating so much junk food you might develop eating disorder pretty soon. 2. He has
always reveled in her ability to boost competitive spirit in her team. 3. Even being famous and
well-skilled doesnt guarantee you immunity from being a bully target. 4. We are happy to admit
to wonderful results shown by the team by the end of the year. 5. Just try to ignore her snide
remarks doled out when shes under mood. 5. Friendship needs to be nurtured. Own up to your
feelings and release your feelings of envy and jealousy openly and politely. 6.A student feigned
interest nodding to the teacher expanding on Economics issues. 7. Working on rating success try
to make your campaign full-blown and focused. 8. He could see that her subtle smile wasnt
feigned she was really hollowed out after 10 hours of seminar presentation. 9. Shes well-liked,
independent and skilled business woman. Still she could be manipulative and covert at times
when shes feeling insecure. 10. Shes always felt this debilitating anxiety having to file the
report by a fixed time. 11. Youll hopefully gain relief merely by acknowledging that your diet
and life-style are debilitating