I've been reading this whole thread with a lot of interest and thank you all for your great thoughts and opinions so far. I don't mean to change the subject or topic from women to children but this whole 'subtle' type of bullying is very tender with me right at this moment.
Sadly, I feel that when women behave like this, it maybe a trait of their character that may have begun when they were much younger. My 11 year old daughter is going through a particularly traumatic time right now, with exactly this type of bullying. The principle has stated that in her 26 years in this profession, she has never seen something like this so bad. For that statement alone to have been made, its as clear as you can get .... its bullying of the worst kind.
Two other 11 year old girls decided that my daughter was not the flavour of the month, and somehow managed to convince the rest of the class, including her best friends, that they were no longer allowed to be friends with her. These two along with her best friend surrounded her in class and listed to her face all the things that they did not like about her. The teachers never saw a thing, even though there were two of them in the room. A few days later, after the class had been spoken to about bullying and how the school would deal severely with anyone caught bullying another child, these two bullies then decided that my daughter was no longer allowed to have a name and instructed the other kids to call her 'she who shall not be named'. Repeated minor incidents have been ongoing until they had stripped her completely of her confidence, and then decided to take her name from her. My once confident, self assured daughter, broke underneath the pressure of it all and is now in counselling.
I've been told, she's too soft and needs to toughen up.... NO ! Thats my answer to that, she is who she is, soft and gentle. She should not be the one to change, ever.
I've been told, she needs to just walk away and ignore them. This she has done always but when your best friend stands with two bullies and tells you that they don't like you to your face, you begin to think, maybe there is something wrong with me. Self doubt is torture.
I don't care how old you are, 4 in the playground, or 104 in a nursing home, if your feeling excluded by the actions of another, no matter how subtle it is, its bullying. Having thicker skin might soften the blow, but it still wears you down eventually.
Sorry for waffling on, but I'm literally waiting to hear the results of a board of management meeting about what action the school are going to take about the 'subtle' bullying my daughter is suffering today.