SPOILERS FOR GAME OF THRONES. DON'T WANT TO KNOW, LEAVE NOW.
In the superbly pervy and deliciously macabre TV show Game of Thrones you have a character named Sansa Stark. Her father, Eddard Stark was the Warden of the North and due to his own naive noble intentions, he got his head cut off in the penultimate episode of season 1, way back in 2011. Sansa is a prim and proper, ladylike figure of a girl. She can sew, knows how to address her betters and was raised her entire life to behave with protocol and etiquette. She is polite, sweet natured and gentle.
She's also one of the most bullied and abused characters in the show.
GoT specialises in flipping the tropes and cliches of fantasy fiction on their head. Sansa's naivety and pious nature do nothing except make her the target of the nastier sods she shares the screen with. Her betrothed prince was the sadistic, inbred King Joffrey; a teenage boy whose idea of fun was torturing a prostitute to death by firing crossbow bolts at her. After he died she was married to an even bigger perv named Ramsay, who liked to hunt people with his dogs and had a habit of flaying his enemies alive. Before, between and after these events Sansa has been nothing except nice to those around her and has paid for that with ritualised beatings, having her pet wolf killed (as revenge for something HER SISTER'S WOLF DID) and lost her virginity to Ramsay, being taken from behind in front of a character called Reek that Ramsay knew full well she couldn't stand (she believed Reek had murdered her younger brothers).
Sophie Turner plays Sansa as someone who feels the need to maintain a mask of normality and that retaliation will only lead to worse things happening. A scene in season 4 has her being asked by Joffrey's new potential bride and mother-in-law what Joffrey is 'really like'. She smiles robotically and spouts the standard lines about how her is as brave as a lion and very handsome. When pushed to answer honestly she almost breaks down with fear and briefly stammers about how Joffrey is a monster who cut her father's head off and made her look at it. She then begs the other two women not to make her say any more.
As I was growing up I was told that my own feelings needed to be repressed at any given opportunity. My cousin apparently had so many friends because "he's always got a smile on his little face". Sulky faces did not create friendships, so regardless of how I actually felt I had to pretend to always be happy.
When I was told off or verbally insulted, be it by bullies at school or by teachers, I was informed that "answering back" or "being cheeky" would only lead to even more terrible things happening. While being punched and dragged off my bicycle aged 15 at High school, I vividly recall one of the lads doing it shouting with utter indignation, "Don't you kick me!!!"
Sansa Stark had her wolf killed because her sister Arya's wolf had attacked Joffrey. Arya had the sense to make her wolf run away, but Joffrey's vindictive mother Queen Cersei insisted that A WOLF be made to pay for biting her son.
Sansa's brother Rob led a rebellion against the Iron Throne and for that Sansa was taken from her chambers, brought before the king and his court, before being stripped and beaten as vicarious revenge for the offence her brother had caused the crown.
Sansa was married off against her will to The Imp, dwarf Tyrion Lannister. Only Tyrion's chivalrous nature prevented her being raped on her wedding night. Realising that she would never want to have sex with him, Tyrion simply agreed to let her sleep alone.
When Joffrey was finally poisoned, Sansa was falsely blamed alongside the equally innocent Tyrion.
None of these events were of her own doing or even due to her inactions. She was caught up in a world she wanted no part of where, no matter how nice she was to those around her, they simply used and abused her.
Throughout my life I've always felt that I should not answer back. My mother was very keen on being able to vent her spleen without receiving any retaliation. This attitude was also adopted by people I worked for along with anyone who felt they had a higher rung on the ladder to me, be it socially, professionally or in the realms of intimidation. 'Answering back' was very bad. I had brought the abuse on myself so the very least I could do was sit there and simply take it until the other person had decided that they'd finished. Above all I should not make the person doing it feel 'any worse' by upsetting them further with my sullenness and mouthy attitude.
I could never fight so believed that hitting would only piss the other person off. One time I was punched in the face by a lad at school (a year below me, the ultimate shame). A few days later I anticipated what a teacher who had entered my classroom was saying to my form tutor, but was overheard saying it. My tutor went ballistic at my 'attitude' and told me to see her after school, loudly remonstrating that ' you deserve a black eye', as if the two events were somehow cosmically connected due to my generally shitty behaviour and ability to make people want to hit my face.
I entered job after job from a paper round at 13 to a temping job after university at 24, where I was spoken down to and very rarely if ever answered back. The worst thing is/ was that when I did actually speak my mind I would regard it as a huge step towards rebelliousness that would ultimately lead to trouble, when the truth was that I had simply spoken how I feel.
West Water, 1995. I stand up to go to a meeting that
my supervisor has told me to go to. Big fat woman sat across from me snaps:
"Where are you going?"
"Andrew's already gone. Sit down."
Now...realistically I should have ignored the lardy fat cow and just walked off but something within me fundamentally believed that doing anything that might jeopardise my job would be a cardinal sin. However, I have just been spoken down to by someone who is NOT a higher rank than me and a little bit of 'answering back' might be on call from that secret stash that I so rarely dare to use.
"I was just about to tell you to piss off and not speak to me like that but then I remembered that we do need two of us on."
Big fat cow looks gobsmacked and goes, "What?!"
I reply again with: "You heard me."
Oh the utter anarchy!
Basically I had had it ingrained in me that I had to simply smile, say nothing and just 'get on with it, and keep my head down' in order to be accepted. Even from a shitty job with a shitty company that I was going to leave in a few weeks anyway. A bad reference could scar me for life, yada yada yada.
In 1993 I worked for a petty minded, spiteful little woman named Barbara Bellis at a company named North West Cable Communications. I resigned after 6 months, unable to take her behaviour any more. I got the phone call to say I had another job at about on Friday and my time sheet had already been signed and submitted for that week. I could have simply walked out and would have still been paid as the Friday timesheet agreement was based on trust. It had to be in by close of business so they would let you sign it and assume you would work the remaining five hours. However this wasn't 'the done thing'. I couldn't simply take the company's money and walk away like that. Good Heavens No!!!
So I told Barbara I was leaving (after waiting 10 minutes for her to deign to speak to me) and worked until . As I was leaving she unexpectedly asked me to stay late and work over, knowing full well I was getting a lift home from a guy in the portakabin below us. When I smiled and politely refused, reminding the cunt that I was getting a lift she smirked and said (while looking at the floor) "Remember that when you need a reference."
My niceness had achieved nothing except last second humiliation and bullying off this rancid old labia. 23 years later and I'm STILL pissed off about that.
Reason? I didn't speak my mind.
When I resigned from the
police force in 2008 at the age of 37 I was specifically promised by my
Inspector (roughly equivalent to a US Police Leiutenant) that I didn't have to
work my notice period. Three days later the Superintendent (two ranks higher)
overruled this, passing the message down the line that I had to work 'doing
something' until my notice period was up. When I stated that if I was forced to
go back and "that cunt" walked in the room I wouldn't stand up
(mandatory for any rank over that of Sergeant) and would say exactly what I
thought of him if he tried to talk to me I was told the following:
"Oh you shouldn't do that! He's paying your wages. You should say 'I'm sorry Sir, but I really don't think you've treated me very fairly Sir!"
Despite being a job that I was about to leave permanently due to being bullied, it was still considered appropriate to act pleasantly and with politeness because a). This cunt was holding the purse strings (which he wasn't but hey!) and b). It might have some hypothetical knock on effect to my life later on.
Being nice to horrible cunts was the only way forward.
Recently I got suspended from work. I injured my knee (at work) and got put on rehab duties of one hour a day, despite my doctor saying I needed complete rest before a scheduled knee operation. Instead of doing the sensible thing and putting me away from the public, my bosses saw fit to place me in The Cage. This is the office the public come to, to collect parcels that they weren't in to receive when my colleagues had tried to deliver them. I was in pain, on painkillers and not sleeping properly. Inevitably this exchange happened after a few days:
Customer: "You were supposed to deliver that yesterday!"
Me: "I wasn't supposed to do anything, I'm on restricted duties due to injury."
Customer: "I didn't mean YOU. You're very rude!"
Me: "No I'm not."
The Two People Stood Behind Her: "Yes you are, that was rude."
Customer (while waggling her finger): "Now listen to me young man!"
Me: "I'm 45 next birthday, don't call me 'young man' OLD LADY!"
She then demanded a manager and was so upset at my beastly behaviour that she had to have a cup of tea and was physically shaking. She was also apparently overheard saying that "in 56 years I've never been spoken to like that."
Pointing out that pandering to the old bag's ego like that probably just made the situation worse....didn't cut any ice.
Precautionary suspension pending an investigation into alleged inappropriate and threatening behaviour.