The Power of Negative Thinking

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
May 19 2010 10:04 AM

The Power of Negative Thinking

KJ , I really loved your post applauding research that shows that bullied girls who hate their bullies in kind do better than those who try to make nice. Bully victims and girls both get bad advice about ignoring bullies and turning the other cheek, and it has more to do with our culture's antagonism against the disempowered fighting back than actually giving the disempowered tools to help themselves.

Funnily enough, Anna N. at Jezebel posted on something similar . In responding to post-break-up advice aimed at women that centered around passivity and forgiveness, she pointed to research that showed that people who get mad and not sad after break-ups tend suffer less depression. Obviously, that's not a solution if the relationship just fizzled out and there are genuinely no hard feelings. But in this case, the woman advised to embrace Pollyanna-ish forgiveness sounds like she was cheated on and then dumped for the other woman. If ever there was a case not to focus on being high-minded and conciliatory, this is it.

Advertisement

Despite the fact that most of us have seen the power of spine-growing alongside reading research that supports this power, the standard issue advice to the stepped-upon-especially when they're female-is to embrace your inner Jesus. (And even he got to be mad once in a while!) This has little to do with helping any victim, and everything to do with getting the victim to stop making people uncomfortable. Anyone who was bullied in school and saw the way the teachers discouraged the victims from fighting back can attest to this. The very human discomfort with shaking up social hierarchies extends even to the popularity system of the sixth grade.

Amanda Marcotte is a Brooklyn-based writer and DoubleX contributor. She also writes regularly for the Daily Beast, AlterNet, and USA Today. Follow her on Twitter.

TODAY IN SLATE

Technology

Driving in Circles

The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.

Where Ebola Lives Between Outbreaks

Gunman Killed Inside Canadian Parliament; Soldier Shot at National Monument Dies

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

The Simpsons World App Is Here, and Nearly Perfect

Science

“I’m Not a Scientist” Is No Excuse

Politicians brag about their ignorance while making ignorant decisions.

Politics

The Right to Run

If you can vote, you should be able to run for public office—any office.

In Praise of 13th Grade: Why a Fifth Year of High School Is a Great Idea 

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 22 2014 2:05 PM Paul Farmer Says Up to Ninety Percent of Those Infected Should Survive Ebola. Is He Right?
  Business
Continuously Operating
Oct. 22 2014 2:38 PM Crack Open an Old One A highly unscientific evaluation of Germany’s oldest breweries.
  Life
Gentleman Scholar
Oct. 22 2014 5:54 PM May I Offer to Sharpen My Friends’ Knives? Or would that be rude?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 22 2014 4:27 PM Three Ways Your Text Messages Change After You Get Married
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 22 2014 5:27 PM The Slate Walking Dead Podcast A spoiler-filled discussion of Episodes 1 and 2.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 22 2014 4:10 PM Skinny Mark Wahlberg Goes for an Oscar: The First Trailer for The Gambler
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 22 2014 5:33 PM One More Reason Not to Use PowerPoint: It’s The Gateway for a Serious Windows Vulnerability
  Health & Science
Wild Things
Oct. 22 2014 2:42 PM Orcas, Via Drone, for the First Time Ever
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.