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Commentary :: Human Rights
Projecting Embarrassment
10 Jan 2012
Whenever a person experiences harassment, discrimination or prejudice, there are certain things that can help them survive the situation. This is particularly true when the harassment occurs within a structured environment where there are certain rules that make such activity illegal or otherwise punishable. Specific rules governing structures mean for those wishing to discriminate they must endeavor to find ways around those rules. This can seem difficult and unfair to the person being discriminated against until they learn to find ways to use the manipulation of the rules by others to their advantage.
I myself went through a situation where I was being discriminated against in a structured environment . It happened when I was in college between the years 2003 and 2006. I quickly learned to be able to see things coming for the most part and the rules themselves helped me towards this.

The rules became in many ways an obstacle course for the people attempting to come at me with harassment, discrimination and prejudice. They were things the people attempting to harass me needed to find ways around and there were a finite amount of ways to do this and feel safe for them apparently. There were only so many ways they could attempt things and remain within a certain comfort or safety zone.

To get more risky was to make themselves more vulnerable. It didn't mean they wouldn't attempt things that put them at greater risk for consequences, but like most people or animals in general they wanted to minimize negative repercussions for themselves.

Typically real concerted harassment is not just to cause a person pain, bother or to pick on them. As adults we all learn ways to desensitize ourselves to such things when they occur and adults aren't as likely as kids to engage in such behavior to any serious degree just just for sport – not to say that never happens. In the world of adults there typically is a goal to concerted, organized and consistent harassment, and that is usually to remove the target of the harassment from the situation in question.

Be it race, gender, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, ethnicity or anything else that sparks the desire, within a structured environment, in the end the common thread is that the people doing the harassment want the person being targeted gone. It could also be for things like jealousy, workplace competition, revenge for a perceived slight or something else, etc. What I found when it was happening to me was that not only were there a finite amount of safe routes for my harassers to come at me through, but that I would see these repeated with minor variations here and there.

There were threats of more blatant activity which put them at more risk, but threatened me in more substantial ways possible like physical harm or something more outright than what was being done etc. However, even then I found that those things rarely if ever happened and when they did they never turned out like you thought they would and instead always turned out to be a sign of progress. I say that because as they were careful previously due to the fact they did not want to be caught, their behavior showed they were now becoming increasingly desperate. Had they had their druthers then, as in earlier eras when people could get away with such things easily, they would have implemented more blatant and harsh tactics from the beginning.

But they couldn't that was why there was the overriding theme of restraint. Simply put they were becoming frustrated and were losing their cool. They were pushing their head further out of the turtle's shell. All of this, once put into the proper context, should be a form of bolstering to the comfort level and confidence of the person being targeted for harassment. The repetition of the same things over and over that is, because the fact they don't want to be caught should be helpful in a number of ways. First, you know what the list of possibilities for their approaches will be and you know how to more easily avoid traps as they come up.

Second, when they become more severe at times this is a good sign. A Korean zen master once said “a good situation is a bad situation and a bad situation is a good situation.” Though you may have to be more aware, clear and keep your wits about you, they have just shown you they are becoming more nervous, more scared, more desperate, increasingly feeling as though they're running out of options, more anxious and probably more stressed. That puts you in a position of increased strength.

Third, as long as you endeavor to persevere and keep coming back, standing up and showing up, you have successfully squashed or stepped around every trap every time. The ultimate goal for them is to get you to leave, and when you don't they have failed again and must regroup and retry. The bigger more risky more expensive tactics show that, though they have a fear of being caught and exposed, they are starting to take wider swings that, though potentially more powerful if they land correctly, force them to exert more energy, and if they miss leave them much more vulnerable to having light shone on them. That light is their greatest enemy and what they fear most – being seen for what they are, for as I was to learn even they don't like their reflection when they see it in the mirror. It's almost as if who they really are scares them more than it does those they are trying to strike fear into.

I have even noticed that as time goes on to keep people that were aiding them on their side from leaving often they would begin projecting a win. They would implement a new minor variation on an old trick or theme or one they had not tried but that you could see was a probability sooner or later, and before I entered the room the next morning, for example, I could actually hear them from the hall proclaiming victory.

They would be exclaiming things like, “score,” “we won,” “victory,” “we have him,” “he's toast,” “he's been arrested,” “he's given up the ghost,” etc. But this was before they even knew if I was coming back or not. The looks on their faces when I walked into the room just like any other morning was priceless. The shades of red on peoples faces that even went to blue and purple from embarrassment was also priceless. I've been to many museums and seen many expressions painted on peoples faces as a reflection humanity and of the human condition, but rarely if ever have I seen that.

If only there were pictures to share the hilarity, ridiculous and overestimation of the size of their opponents' ego and underestimation of the size of their opponent's heart, not to mention overestimation of the effectiveness of their absurdly uncivilized behavior and underestimation of how ego driven what they were doing was, there may be more of this sort of picture. Maybe artists have to be careful of not offending their patrons. The last thing they want is for some CEO to come home sit on his couch after getting handed such a defeat and after half a glass of johnny Walker Black realizing that painting they paid $250,000 for reflects them at that very moment. It's like in the horror movies when people are crying and holding hands and saying to themselves, “it's going to be alright, it's going to be alright.” We all know what's coming next.

As time went on they did it every time and every time they projected a win and the more losses that mounted up you almost wanted to tell them that by now, even if this time it was a win, they'd be so far behind to celebrate would seem inane. You almost wanted to find a way to spare them the embarrassment.

But to the person suffering through being the target of harassment or that may, I write this not to toot my horn because it was not easy or painless when I went through it - believe me. I write this in hindsight so that they know that those things that seem scary at first can be the markers or guide posts to showing you where things will be coming from, and how in the future, if they choose to stick it out, there are ways to not only surviving, but bettering themselves from the situation.

It isn't easy but in a way it is less difficult than perhaps may be imagined when you realize there is a definite pattern and even the worst that you can imagine if it happens isn't as bad once it actually does as long as you are committed. You can survive. Just be a little savvy, know the rules and be careful and alert about those around you and about what you yourself do. You may even notice that the blind hatred with which your harassers come at you is exactly one of the best assets you have on your side.

That very emotion and ones that spring from similar places on their part are exactly what give you a leg up and strength in the situation. They are a mark of fear, and thus why they feel the need to project wins before they happen and to at times take greater risks. They are in fact your harassers' greatest achilles heel. They boast before there is anything to boast about. They brag before they have anything to brag about. At that point they have been effectively reduced. They have gone from wanting people to see and celebrate their win to wanting people to believe their projection of an image of a false win and hope nobody notices it never happened.

To read about my inspiration for this article go to
See also:

This work is in the public domain
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