Politics Magazine

Boot Camp Boyhood Redux

Posted on the 12 March 2018 by Calvinthedog

Shi: Did I miss out on an important rite of passage because I never really got bullied in childhood, school, college or employment?

Probably early on as a child I learned that you should never let people walk over you. As a schoolboy, I would get into plenty of brawls in the playground or after school. Ugly ones which often led to a bloody nose. Medically, I was considered unfit. That didn’t stop me from enjoying a decent fight. I loved fights…

I never failed standing up to bullies and even older boys. They would completely whoop my ass but I still enjoyed the adrenaline rush. Sometimes it would hurt so much that I couldn’t walk straight for a few days. We’re talking about mid-90s in India. I prided myself for being a little warrior who would fight till the death when needed, even when the odds are against him. The onlookers had to always split the fights out of fear for my life. But back down. Never!

I’d say I just got lucky. Had I been raised in a really violent environment, say around African-American kids, it could have led to an early obituary.

Only in 7th grade I learned that it’s not OK to engage in physical confrontations to settle disagreements. This made perfect sense, as by then I was old enough to understand that a juvenile prison isn’t a pretty place.

Even though I magically became nonviolent (much to the relief of my parents), that streak of aggression never disappeared. Every time somebody pushed me around, I would play dirty to defend myself. Screaming and yelling never got out of my system.

1- High school/college — Almost no hazing. I never respected any seniors who were being “playful”. It was supposed to be a rite of passage where you address your seniors as “sir” and be obsequious. I never understood it. They left me alone.

I did have a hard time in engineering college when I was sharing an apartment with a bunch of aggro co-students. All of them were violent sociopathic types. We fought sometimes but were mostly friends. Out of all the seven roommates, I endured physical violence with only two. Can’t call that hazing, as we were in the same class.

2- Workplace — Worked under many a sadistic boss. I do have a tendency to only care about the top bosses, and ignore immediate supervisors. That probably saved me the day-to-day grief. No fear = No bullying — Yes, I’ve been kicked out of a few jobs. But mostly I was the one who went ahead with the resignation.

Just to add in a summary. I’m not a violent person, but I do have a violent streak that might intimidate a few people. Especially women. I’ve hit my girlfriends a few times in the past, but I regret it now. I don’t hit women anymore. Really that phase is over.

I’m 35. Somewhere there is this uncontrollable rage left within me but by now, I have learned how to bottle it up.

Moral of the story: Kids should get into fights. When they grow up, they will not fear anyone.

I love this comment. Thanks so much. The commenters on here are all saying they never bullied anyone as children, bullying is terrible, bla bla. Come on! Teasing, taunting, tormenting, challenging, instigating and fighting are normal behavior in y young boys. It’s just what they do.I love this comment. Thanks so much. The commenters on here are all saying they never bullied anyone as children, bullying is terrible, bla bla. Come on! Teasing, taunting, tormenting, challenging, instigating and fighting are normal behavior in y young boys. It’s just what they do.

Did you ever bully, taunt, torment, tease, or instigate a fight with any other boys? Damn, we sure did. There were three boys in our family and we fought all the time! It was great!

And we had rock clod wars and berry wars even with our best friends and cousins. These would sometimes end in wild fights, each side would be screaming, “We’re going to kill you!” I remember one time my cousins and my brothers and I got into a berry war up at their house. It was right before we were going home on the plane. All I remember was my Mom gathering us up for the trip to the airport as our we and our cousins were yelling that we were going to kill each other. My Mom was a bit beside herself.

I asked my Mom about bullying, taunting, teasing, instigating and fighting among boys the other day. She shrugged her shoulders and said you can’t stop it, and boys will always be this way. Just try to break up the bad fights, make sure they don’t seriously hurt or kill each other and try to protect the weaker ones. Her attitude was that it was not a good thing but that there was no way to stop it and it was going to go on forever, as it’s natural and normal behavior among boys to fight.

Come to think of it, my friends and I never engaged in much bullying. It was more taunting and teasing in order to instigate or try to provoke a fight. We would run up to the victim and call him names in an effort to provoke a response out of him. If he responded, we would either beat him up, fight him,  or run away.

There is a cruel sort of bullying where a group of boys gang up on another boy or girl and commit acts of aggression or violence against them. Throwing them up against the lockers, knocking their books out of their hands, stealing their stuff, spitting on them, punching or kicking them. That’s just violence. I can’t remember doing that too much as a boy. There were boys who engaged in this sort of physically violent bullying even up to high school, but they were sociopathic, violent, often criminal types who also committed crimes like burglary, drug dealing, vandalism, etc.

I did support the bullying or better yet, taunting and teasing of severe outliers because their behavior is so bizarre and off that it’s just not acceptable. They need to get the message and learn! Severely effeminate boys, crybabies, profoundly bizarre and nerdy boys, and dangerous, disturbed and psycho boys will never be accepted by other boys because their behavior is so strange and aberrant. My experience has been that a lot of those boys get bullied for their aberrant behavior, and at some point, they knock it off and act normal.

I realize that kids do gang up on kids who are relatively normal. I don’t support bullying any normal kid for being fat, skinny, redheaded, wearing glasses, or whatever. There’s nothing wrong with a kid like that, so there’s no object lesson to be gained in bullying him. It’s just cruelty.

Furthermore, I am aware that the severe, physical and sociopathic type of bullying often damages people far into adulthood. I can’t support such a thing.

This is what I meant when I said that boyhood was boot camp for manhood. The purpose of boyhood is to make a man out of a boy. It tends to be a rather cruel, brutal, and often violent project with a lot of psychological and even physical aggression.

If you make it through boot camp,  you come out a hardened Marine. If you bomb out of boot camp, you don’t come out a Marine.

In the same way, if you make it through boyhood, you come out a hardened and hopefully masculine man. That’s the purpose of boyhood – to create not just men but hardened, masculine, and tough men who can handle rough circumstances without running away or bursting into tears. There are a lot of boys who don’t seem to make it through Boot Camp Boyhood well. They don’t emerge toughened; instead, they come out damaged. This is sad, but this is how life is. Life is a series of trial by fire episodes. They’re often Hellish, but you are supposed to make it through more or less intact. At the end of each of these tests, you are supposed to be a bit stronger and tougher than before.

I do agree with protecting weak, relatively normal boys and girls from bullying.  There’s nothing wrong with them anyway, so there’s no lesson to learn from the bullying. It’s just cruelty, and it can cause a lot of damage, not only in youth but later on, far off into adulthood. I know adults who are 35 years old and are still suffering the effects of childhood bullying. The most common effect that I have seen from childhood bullying is chronic low self-esteem in adulthood. These are often very nice people, but I would be lying if I said it was an easy problem to fix. I’ve had a harder time fixing chronic low self-esteem than just about anything else. It’s like it got pounded in their brains with concrete.


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