Ever seen Fiddler on the Roof? My life here in this lakeside neighborhood in northeast Seattle often feels like that scene in Fiddler where the Cossacks show up at the wedding of Tevye’s eldest, Tzeitel, for “an unofficial demonstration.” In other words, when they show up on their horses even before the broken glass has been swept away and gallop through the celebration in an act that one website terms a “mild” pogrom. (Wikipedia, Fiddler on the Roof, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiddler_on_the_Roof)
Today is the 10th of August, the day when the Seattle tenants who have planned to move give notice that they will depart at the month’s end. And, coincidence or not, when I locked up the house tonight to run a few errands, the simpering owner of the south mobbing house sat parked in his SUV at the top of his driveway scowling at me and giving me his mobber’s best attempt at intimidation by facial expression. Across the street, the nasty neighborhood watch stood on her parking strip in all of her malicious glory, muttering under her breath and making whatever racket she could with her garden tools and trash cans. To my north and obscured by the hedge that marks the property line from the front of the house to the street, the owner of the north mobbing house or one of his mobbers was throwing things around and dragging things along the concrete walkway. In my years as a tenant in this Seattle neighborhood, I have been the target of many such “unofficial demonstrations.”
For the nasty neighborhood watch and their mobber friends, these “demonstrations” are a form of public intimidation and harassment that will not be obvious to passersby who do not know the pattern and that, again, for the victim becomes difficult to report. If I were to call Seattle’s North Precinct, with which the neighborhood watch keeps cozy relations, I would be told that I was imagining it, that it was nothing more than a coincidence, and although I might be able to get a pattern of intimidation “on the record,” I would also be aiding in my own “discrediting”—a goal of the provocation-style of mobbing harassment.
When the participating mobbers see passersby on the street, they quiet to a more reasonable level that may still turn heads or seem curious, but is not something a “witness” could report as harassment beyond a shadow of a doubt. As passersby approach, the mobbers refrain from violently throwing things, and they may retreat into the shadowy areas of their garages or their decked walkways. Moreover, the demonstrations occur when the new owners of the house to the north of the nasty neighborhood watch lady are at least inside their homes or not home. If the new owners are home and have their garage door open, things are usually pretty quiet at the house of the nasty neighborhood watch lady and the north mobbing house. The timing of night and weekends is also convenient for the mobbers’ joint projects in harassment and ensures that they can disturb any attempt I make to go outside and enjoy the legal entitlements of my rental agreement, for example, gardening, sitting out on my deck, or just taking in what is for others who are not being forcibly evicted from their homes by a corrupt neighborhood watch in bed with real estate speculators, the natural quiet of the area.
If I remain inside during the exterior harassment, there is often a heightening of the harassment into the interior of my house by directional speaker and ventilation systems and the two proceed side by side. This appears to be a drive to intensify the harassment and the stress on the victim, something that became apparent probably as I began to use sound board and open the windows of my house to thwart the surface harassment.
Note that opening the windows allows another avenue for harassment; as the mobbers said, “We’ll shoot it right in to you.” Dealing with that becomes a case of finding the optimal position to which to open the windows and shades or setting the turning window fan to “Exhaust” in order to avoid assisting in the transport of the ventilation harassment into the house. “Optimal” does not mean that the harassment is entirely quieted; rather, it means finding the best balance I can at the moment between surface harassment on the window panes and harassment shot straight into the house and onto interior surfaces. Often the best compromise is cracking the windows or opening and resting sound board against any areas of window pane that continue to make good targets. In any case, last year, believe it or not, the mobbers began to affably complain, “You don’t even let us harass you anymore! Let us harass you and we’ll get you right out of there!”
I almost felt badly that I had to run errands tonight since the mobbers were going to so much trouble. And since I am nothing if not polite, as I opened the car door, I called over to the nasty neighborhood watch lady: “I’ll be back in about an hour-and-a-half, if you’d like to continue then.”
There’s something to be said for survival humor.
To be serious, however, I strongly believe that it’s important for someone who is being bullied—especially a woman who is being bullied and is probably being bullied in great measure because of stereotypical beliefs about the ease with which women can be victimized—to have the courage to challenge the dynamic of bullying as well as the expectation of those who bully. Granted, there’s a risk in confronting a bully, but there are times in a person’s life when it’s most important to stand up for your rights, and there are times when standing up for your rights is the same thing as standing up for the rights of all those who will later meet the same treatment if you and others like you bow down. I want to make it as hard as possible for them to victimize me. I want to make the chances that they’ll be arrested and prosecuted as great as possible.
People who bully want you to be frightened. Some men probably think you’re an easy target because you’re a woman. They need to affect you, to feel their impact on you. To feel adequate or complete within themselves, they need to feel power over others. Instead of being with you—with others—they must be against you. Instead of Cogito ergo sum, it’s kind of more like, Ergo sum bully, therefore I am. This is the stuff of McCarthyism, the communist plague, homosexual panic, fear of Muslims, war-mongering isolationism, and chest-thumping haters and hooligans like that sorry excuse for a Presidential candidate, Trump. Bullies need to terrorize other human beings, to hurt them, to drive them out of their homes. Perhaps this is how they assure themselves that they are more than they are: Criminals and cowards.