Everybody need to have control in their lives,

Everybody in the world continues to grow
and change in life, and various issues come up where people must learn how to
deal with those life issues and conflicts starting in their childhood. It
begins with learning how to be around and cope with a variety of other people.
We must learn how to get along with our peers and how to act and fit within our
society. As people look for the cause of why others behave the way they do, such
as the assumption that people who bully just want to be mean to others,
however, people need to find that root cause of what would make others act one
way verses another. The problem actually unknowingly can start the moment the
child is born, with how parents dress their infant boys in blue and green
outfits, and infant girls in pink and yellow outfits. People are automatically put
in gender stereotyping categories, and then as the children grow, they are judged
by their peers and adults because of that stereotype. People feel a pressure to
act certain ways to try to fit in and be the person their peers expect.
Children also want and need to have control in their lives, and some want to be
in charge and to have power over situations. However, it is more obvious with
boys since they also have the need to act masculine and be in charge of their
situations because of the stereotypical behavior that is expected from them. That
gender stereotype is the root cause of why children have a lot of
peer-pressure, and why it leads to the children to bully others or they become
victims of being bullied.

            To show the difference in various
peer-pressure situations and being bullied to fit within our peer groups, I
will be referring to the movie, Little
Monsters. The movie stars Fred Savage who plays the main character, a 12
year old boy, Brian Stevenson, and Howie Mandel playing as the main monster,
Maurice, who is actually an 11 year old boy that changed into a monster. There
is actually two different possible focus areas within the movie, however, to
narrow down the different aspects of bullying and peer-pressure, the focus will
be on the relationship between Brian and Maurice. The main concept of their
relationship within the movie is that Brian befriends Maurice and he follows
Maurice around copying the negative behaviors of Maurice. When a group of
monsters try to peer-pressure Brian into scaring an infant, Brian finally
decides to stand up for himself and stops going along with what the other
monsters want him to do and how they want him to act. There is actually quite a
bit of different types of bullying and peer-pressure shown within this movie,
which shows that bullying is not just because someone wants to be mean.

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            To show those differences and issues
that arise with bullying being related to gender stereotyping, and enforced
with peer-pressure, one first must understand what all of that really means. The
first thing to address is to be able to understand what bullying is. Bullying
is a “type of aggression that aims to hurt others through a variety of ways,
including physical assaults (hitting and kicking), verbal harassment (calling
names, teasing, and threatening), and indirect means (isolation, social
exclusion, spreading rumors)” (Gini and Pozzoli 1). When it comes down to it,
bullying is just a way of saying someone is being mean to another, and that
behavior can continue over a period of time, which can be anywhere from a few
weeks, a few months, or even years. Based by a study done in the journal, Bullying at School: The Role of Family, they
had results showing that “for the majority of students the victimization lasts
about 1 or 2 weeks (11.5%) and about 1 month for the 2.2% of the students. For
a rate of 1.8% of students bullying continues for several years” (Papanikolaou
et al. 437) Which shows that one child tends to bully another for only a short period
of time, yet there is still too many children that are still being bullied for
a good portion of their lives.

            The next issue is figuring out what gender
stereotyping really is, which is something that is quiet common everywhere
within our society at all locations, from school, work, and even at home. The
article Gender Stereotypes: Definition,
Examples and Analysis lists the four basic examples of general stereotypes and
gives examples of each issue, which is as follows: personality traits, domestic behaviors,
occupation, and physical. The general idea of females is that they act shy,
submissive, and nurturing, while they appear thin, frail, and weak or delicate.
They are also supposed to be organized and clean. Females take care of the
children and the household, and if they work, they would have jobs such as
teaching, nursing, and secretaries
and they would make less income than what men would make.

The general idea of how males
are expected to act and look like is almost the exact opposite of females.
According to the stereotype, they should be to be tough, aggressive and
dominant, yet they are also messy and lazy, and they should look muscular, and
act tough. They are expected to get into fights and be physically aggressive,
especially if they happen to be shorter or smaller. Males take care of the
household repairs and fix things, and should be the ones that have the messy
jobs such as mechanics, plumbers, construction workers, and engineering, or high
power jobs such as doctors, lawyers, and be in politics. (Gender Stereotypes:
Definition, Examples and Analysis) It creates a bias on characteristics of how
people should act and looked based on if they are male or female.

            The issue of gender stereotyping
is greatly connected to peer-pressure with the fact that people want to fit
into society and feel as if they belong. There is a need to be able to fit into
the gender stereotypical idea or they may be afraid that they would become
victims of bullies. Young Men’s Health article titled Peer Pressure
defines a peer as someone around your own age, which includes friends, family
members, and classmates, and that peer pressure is when they “try to influence,
or pressure you into doing something that you may not want to do” (Peer
Pressure). That also includes things we may not be comfortable doing.  They might use guilt, or threats, or even
insult you to get you to do what they want. “Peer pressure works because we want to be liked by
others and we want to be included. We may give into pressure because of the
fear of being fun of or rejected. Sometimes we just don’t know how to deal with
the situation, so we do what others tell us to do” (Peer Pressure). Even though
there are ways teachers try to use peer-pressure in a positive manner, majority
of the time, peer-pressure comes across as negative behavior and can become a
form of bullying.

            Peer-pressure
is the main type of bullying behavior that occurs in the movie, Little Monsters. The movie begins with
Brian moving to a new town and not being able to make any friends. They
encounter Ronnie Coleman, the school bully, who pushes Brian and the rest of
the students quickly surround the two boys shouting, “Fight! Fight! Fight!”
which of course the two boys then start fighting. (12) Then later that night,
Brian meets and befriends the monster, Maurice. Right away Maurice starts
peer-pressuring Brian go with him into the  monster world under the bed, and pushes about
how great it will be, and that Brian would have the time of his life, and that
its every kids fantasy. Brian tells Maurice that he means make trouble, showing
that he knows that Maurice is up to no-good. 
However, Maurice replies, “Trouble? Trouble is our code of honor, our blood”
and makes a speech about how there is “no school, no rules, no homework, no
parents…” and starts a sermon about how great it is in the monster world,
including being able to get back at someone that they could not normally get
back at (34-36). So he is hinting at the fact that they can bully other
children that first bullied them as a way of paying the other children back for
being mean. Brian was hesitant about it, since he does know that it is the
wrong thing to do, but with enough pressure from Maurice, he agrees and he goes
ahead and joins Maurice in the monster world.

            While
in the monster world, Brian continues following Maurice around and tries to fit
in to act like his new friend. As expected, Brian copies Maurice’s poor
behavior and they go place to place being mean while the other children un-expectedly
and unfairly become their victims, and the two laugh and give high fives about
all the deeds they performed. When Brian goes back to school after their nights
of misbehavior, he watches the reactions of those that they victimized. At
first, Brian it was funny when the school bully, Ronnie, became upset at the
others tricks. Yet, they also tricked a girl that Brian liked, where she got a
zero on a paper she wrote, as well as have the entire class laugh at her, which
made Brian feel guilty about what they did.  

            As Brian
continues to meet with the monsters during the night, Maurice takes Brian to
the home of an infant child, along with a handful of other monsters. While there,
Brian really becomes hesitant, yet the other monsters gang up together and try
to together to pressure Brian into committing a
cruel act of scaring the sleeping child. Maurice tells Brian to “scare the hell
out of her,” which Brian starts to give into that pressure and eventually says,
“Boo.” Which all the other monsters laughed and continued to pressure Brian to
do something else to try to scare the baby. Brian, however, finally listens to
his instincts with the fact that what they are doing is wrong. He finally
decides to stand up for himself and tell the others no, and that he is not
going to do what they wanted, and tells them to stop because what they are
doing is cruel. He attempts to stop the monsters, but when he realizes he cannot
stop them, he just leaves. (1hr 6min). So at the end of it all, Brian is able
to finally stop the peer-pressure, and stops the bullying behavior by being
able to think about how his behavior was wrong, stop what he was doing, and
then be able to stand up for himself.

             The type of peer-pressure in that movie almost
pushes the concept of boys will be boys and that is just how boys are expected
to act around other boys. Yet, when that situation is looked in a more detailed
perspective, it is about being pressured to act a certain way to be able to fit
within their group, saying that the other child is their only friend to try to
get the other kid to do as they want. The issue however, is that all the
monsters were children at one point of time. They were bullying others, than
they became the monsters that they were acting like, and continued to pressure
other children to join them. With enough peer-pressure, the other children,
like Brian, eventually give in so they feel as if they fit in within the group.

            Trying
to fit into a group of peers leads back to the issue of gender stereotyping. With
the fear of ending up being a victim themselves and being tormented for not
agreeing with others, that with enough peer-pressure and with the expectation
of gender stereotyping, children are more likely to give into that peer-pressure
they may be facing. It goes along with a horrible story about a 15-year-old
girl, which was told in the journal, I’d
Rather Go Along and Be Considered a Man: Masculinity and Bystander Intervention.
The 15-year-old girl “was assaulted by four perpetrators (one adult and three
juveniles) in the presence of six bystanders” (Carlson 3). The reports said
that the bystanders did not want to intervene “because they did not want to be
considered “wusses” or “be made fun of”. The idea the bystanders were
more afraid of their masculinity being called into question than the violence
potentially turning on them is essential to understanding the perplexing
dynamics between gender, power, and violence.” (Carlson 3) Yet the entire point
is that even though the others knew they were doing wrong, they did not want to
end up being victims themselves for saying something and not showing weakness
in front of the other male peers.

Even
though the boys in that report did not physically take part of the bullying
behavior, they still played a part in the bullying. According to Salmivalli and
colleagues (Salmivalli et al., 1996; Salmivalli & Voeten, 2004) in the
journal by Paul Poteat, they report that “peers may be active or passive participants
during bullying episodes. For example, those who ‘assist’ the bully may chase
the victim or hold him/her down for the primary aggressor, On the other hand,
‘reinforcers’ encourage the primary aggressor to continue his/her bullying
behavior or engage in the further teasing of the victim after the primary bully
has initiated the engagement” (Poteat  167).
This is stating that even though the six boys did not actually touch the girl,
they were still reinforcing the negative behavior by not doing anything to stop
the others.

That
issue involves mostly juveniles, yet being a victim of peer-pressure and gender
stereotyping actually continues into adulthood. An example of that is with an incident that involved the NFL, where
Richie Incognito bullied Jonathan Martin bad enough that Martin required to be
hospitalized. “When Martin first reported the abuse, he was widely dismissed
and insulted for tattling like a kid. What he’d done by going to the
authorities – instead of taking his tormentor “to fist city” – was break the
masculinity code” (Waldman). Since he broke the masculinity code, others then
saw him as a weak person, and that he was soft. Now we do not know exactly why
Incognito was bullying Martin, it is just showing the fact that because Martin
did not continue to physically fight back and show that he is a man, that he is
now seen as being weak even though he addressed the situation the correct way
with going to the authorities. They report Martin as “Not dominate, strong or
tough enough” and that he “was forced out of the prestigious box his gender
would otherwise enable him to occupy” (Waldman). So he is no longer being seen
as a man like the other football players because of that one event when he did
not fall into the peer-pressure and fight the other player.

The
issue that the NFL players showed is that the adult was at least able to stand
up to the others, yet they also compared him to acting like a child. It then
can make it confusing for younger boys as they are trying to figure out how to act
and become adults. Boys do not want to be seen as weak or girly. Even their “male role models
are strong athletes and superheroes, but also are war heroes who have gained
their infamy through violent actions” (msf31). It is also shown to boys as a fact,
regardless if it is really true or not, that it is ok to use violence if needed
to get what they want. The NFL player did the correct thing by going to the
authorities, yet the consequences was that he was bullied afterwards with
homophobic language. If that research is correct, the behavior the younger boys
look at for their role model may have ended up being the football players that
acted as the bullies because they acted in a manly fashion. Even though the player
that stood up to the bullying behavior was actually correct in the process of
reporting it, he reacted in a way that is considered weak since he did not physically
get back at the other people.

The reaction from other individuals are also a concern for
children, just as the issue that happened with the NFL player. They do not want
to be made fun of or seen as weak. This leads to a lot of homophobic language
used in bullying. With using mapping methods, it was found that the “use
of homophobic epithets was strongly associated with primary bullying behavior
as well as the more secondary supportive roles of assisting and reinforcing the
bully” (Poteat 169). Similar information with homophobic language used as a way
to bully and create peer-pressure has been connected through other studies as
well. There are many journals, and articles, that list different words that are
used for bullying those individuals that do not fit the gender stereotype,
which some of them are gay, fag, pussy, dyke, wimp, wuss, and crybaby. They are
not names that anyone would want to be called. However, there was another study
done that shows that “not only were males more likely to express homophobic
content toward other students, but they were also more likely to be the targets
of homophobic content.”   (Poteat et al. 524)
So the homophobic name calling actually goes both ways, and the same journal’s
study also shows that the name-calling was also directed at friends just as
much as the name-calling was directed to someone the child did not like. (Poteat
et al. 523) That is not something that friends should ever do. However, there
was a scene in the movie, Little Monsters,
where Maurice pulls down Brian’s pants so make another monster laugh, which is similar
to calling their friends’ cruel names. Neither of those behaviors are things
you should do to someone you consider as your friend.

Along with social time on the playground
with friends, who may be both a reinforcer, as well as an un-expecting victim,
the behaviors are not limited to just time spent outside. Granted, according to
a journal written by Dorothy Espelage, there is a study by Craig and Pepler in
1997 that shows that “children in grades 1 through 6 on the playground; peers
were involved in bullying in an astounding 85% of bully episodes” (Espelage 3).
Which shows that the bullying as individuals are not as common as with peers
when outside. However, inside the classroom there are still a lot of the same
issues that take place. According to Espelage’s journal, citing information by
Salmivalli 1996, there was also a survey concluded with 6th graders
which show that those who “participated in the bullying process in some
capacity, and their various participant roles were significantly related to
social status within their respective classrooms” (Espelage 3). That social
status is how they fit in with their peers, and could very well end up being
bullies just to feel as if they are accepted by the others as being cool, or being
one of the guys.  

The behaviors within the classroom are
also a bit more obvious, especially as they become slightly older and in the
teen ages when it is easier to act a certain way in the classroom without the
teacher saying something about the behavior. An example of this is one study that
showed “the boys used the physicality of manly assertion to collectively
inhabit a stylized form of working class masculinity that cleared an informal
space in the socially regulated classroom” (Smith 184). They are trying to show
as if they are manly, that they should be recognized as such, and that they
hold some form of authority in that room. It continues with describing the boys
coming into the classroom loudly, and their behaviors are described “as ‘a way
of walking, of moving in space, of gesticulating, of swearing, joking,
bantering, of laughing, eating, drinking and “being a lad”‘. The collective
performance of these stereotypically swaggering gendered subjects allowed them
to dominate the restricted classroom environment, and it was primarily here
that boys acted in concert through a narrow linguistic repertoire of
‘put-downs'” (Smith 184). Which reminds me of the stereotypical boys in every
classroom. It is how they are expected to act, even if it is considered rude,
it tends to be accepted by others.

That type of gender stereotypical behavior
within the classroom was also shown within the movie, Little Monsters, with the fact that the boys were loud, sloppy, fought,
and they were shown as if they did not even start their homework. However, the
girl that was represented in the movie was the top of her class, quiet, well dressed,
had access to the teachers supply room, and she had her work completed early. It
has become socially acceptable where that behavior and gender stereotype is
seen within movies all the time.

Knowing that gender stereotype behavior seems
to be socially accepted, and that people try to use peer-pressure and bullying as
a result to either fit within that stereotype, or to make fun of someone else
who does not fit within the stereotype that is expected from their gender, we should
find a way to help stop it from happening. The article, Peer Pressure, wrote a great list of things people could when they
are feeling peer-pressured. That list is summarized as follows: Think of the
consequences. Follow your gut instincts. Say what you think and how you feel –
don’t be afraid to say no or walk away. Find something else to do instead. Stay
away from those that use peer-pressure and find better people to hang out with.
Which is good advice and some of those things were actually used in the movie, Little Monsters. Brian questioned his
instincts yet decided to ignore them at first. Eventually, he listened to his
feelings, and got the courage up to tell the other monsters no, and how it was
cruel and wrong to try to scare a baby. He tried to stop them, and eventually walked
away and left. At the end of the movie, he ended up making new friends, and was
able to leave the monster world and the bullies. Which shows the list provided
on the article, Peer Pressure, can
actually be put into action.  

The main problem, however, is the gender
stereotyping and the need to try to stop that from happening, which will never
actually happen. It is something that will probably always be there to some
degree. However, there are ways to change some of the viewpoints on how males
and females can and should act like. Starting with girls, who should be allowed
to play in the dirt and find various bugs and insects. Let them play with cars,
trains, trucks, and allow them to have boy themed toys such as Pokémon and Star
Wars’ items. Teach them how to repair things both in the house and out of the
home, such as auto mechanical work and other jobs where they get messy.  With boys, people can teach them how to cook
and clean, as well as teaching them how to sew or knit. Let boys play with
dolls if they want to, and show them how to care for toys of that nature. Boys
can also learn more about personal hygiene, keeping their clothes neater and
using tissues instead of their shirts, which could also be pink in color if
they wanted. Do not give them the excuse that “boys will be boys” which is so
commonly said. Boys can learn how to use tissues, how to wash their hands
before meals, and tuck in their shirts. They do not have to be messy slobs just
because they are boys. Overall, both boys and girls need a balance of different
experiences, and we can only hope that in the future as the skills learned
between males and females balance out a little better, that the gender
stereotype ideas change and more individuals are accepted for liking whatever
they may like in life, without the fear of being bullied.