The comic you’re about to read is aimed at Islamophobia and how to handle it, but we believe this can be helpful with all types of bullying.
Maeril is a French artist who created a comic that was recently shared with the world. It describes the 4 easiest and most helpful steps to combat Islamophobic bullying- but we believe its application is greater.
It’s a proven psychological method called “non-complimentary behaviour (NCB),” and it is the basis behind Maeril’s illustrated 4-step guide. Essentially, NCB is when we respond in an opposite manner than someone expects us to.
Recently, the podcast Invisibilia illuminated the effects of non-complimentary behaviour when they discussed the events of a dinner party in Washington, D.C.: An armed robber entered the building with his gun drawn. Then, one man asked the robber if he would like to sit down and join him for a glass of wine. To everyone’s relief, the robber appeared to relax and put his gun away. He then apologized and left.
While that might seem like an extreme example of NCB and the outcome that is to be expected from implementing it, it does show that we can do something about negative situations.
We don’t always have to be bystanders.
Maeril acknowledges that this can be used in a number of scenarios involving harassment or bullying, but states that she wanted to bring focus to Muslims because they have been “very specific targets lately.” She explains further, on her Tumblr post:
“As a French Middle Eastern woman, I wanted to try and do something to raise awareness on how to help when such things happen before our eyes – that way one cannot say they ‘didn’t know what to do’!”
Maeril goes on to give two additional pieces of advice when trying to help someone in this type of situation:
“1) Do not, in any way, interact with the attacker. You must absolutely ignore them and focus entirely on the person being attacked!
2) Please make sure to always respect the wishes of the person you’re helping: whether they want you to leave quickly afterwards, or not! If you’re in a hurry escort them to a place where someone else can take over – call one of their friends, or one of yours, of if they want to, the police. It all depends on how they feel!”
After sharing this comic, Maeril received an enormous amount of feedback from individuals who were extremely thankful to have it in their lives. There were also a few who raised important questions.
One of those questions was, “What do you do when the attacker turns their aggression towards you?”
To which Maeril replied, “Whatever happens, it’s always safer if both of you leave the area ASAP. If you can’t (eg. the subway is in between two train stations) pick one SPECIFIC person and ask them to help you. “You, sir, with the red scarf! Please help me!” You should really point something they’re wearing so that they feel they’re personally invested into the situation: this contributes to breaking bystander syndrome.”
It’s easy to become confused in regards to what to do in these situations, which is why most people choose to do nothing. Ignoring what is going on isn’t going to help anyone, and it isn’t going to fix one of the great dividers in our society. We need to show compassion and empathy towards each other…bottom line.
By Raven Fon