Young girls make vicious bullies
I don’t remember being bullied by other girls when I was young. But I do remember with shame having failed to do the right thing as a teenager at summer camp, when a cabinmate — we weren’t close, and she wasn’t socially attractive, but still — was cruelly humiliated.
“Shira” kept a diary, as many of us did at the time. A mischief-maker found it, and some intimate details of Shira’s sexual fantasies about a male counsellor were read aloud to shrieks of pitiless laughter. To this day I can vividly recall the moment’s exact setting, and Shira’s horrified face. I also recall my own visceral empathy with her pain, in spite of which I didn’t step up to the plate and denounce my cabinmates’ barbarism.
The rumours spread around the camp, and Shira’s summer was ruined. Looking back, I have to wonder how that vignette affected her life and her relationships with women as an adult. Such a betrayal isn’t something any girl would forget.
The good retrospective news for Shira is that she grew up before the era of social media; her mortification was socially contained and unarchived. Shira’s fate today might have been that of 15-year-old Phoebe Prince of South Hadley, Mass., an Irish newcomer who, relentlessly hounded on Facebook and in text messages by girl peers (“slut” was the leitmotif), hanged herself in her closet in 2010. In the aftermath, the question remains: “Are girls really meaner?” (Illustration: Kelsey Heinrichs/National Post)