My most hated phrase

‘It wasn’t me, it’s not my fault’

I cannot tell you how much I dread this phrase. It makes my eyes roll at every turn. Its probably because more often than not those saying it are responsible for their behaviour and yet they are blurting out a phrase that’s highly inappropriate given their actions. I guess I’ve long been doomed to detest this phrase, being first qualified as a teacher I often heard close to 30 children at once say this phrase at least once each in a 70 minute lesson. It frequently motivated me to make shirts for teacher’s saying ‘take responsibility for your actions!’ Sadly though kids aren’t saying it because they legitimately aren’t in the wrong, they are saying it because they’ve learnt not to be accountable for their actions and that is what I detest the most. I often meet adults frequently who don’t understand why they have felt powerless for years. It’s pretty simple they have learnt to give their power away for decades. They’ve learnt to say ‘it was someone else, it wasn’t me’ and so their fate has always been dictated by someone else.

Serena Williams latest behaviour on the tennis court at the US Open is the perfect example. A 23 time tennis champion being outplayed in every aspect of the game by a 20 year old woman loses her head, forgets her ability to use sports psychology techniques to refocus herself towards the task of winning a major grand slam & instead she loses it- for bad behaviour. When the bad behaviour was raised and rightfully so the words ‘sexism’ and ‘racism’ pop up quicker than a lightning bolt. It angers me because in no way shape or form is inappropriate anger, defamation or bullying acceptable when you are talking about sexism and racism yet they were put in the same sentence and all to avoid the reality- not wanting to be accountable for her behaviour.

The world over, including dummy spitters of the past like Andy Roddick, jumped on the bandwagon to support the tennis racquet smashing star from an apparent ‘sexist umpire’ who never mentioned her race nor her gender but rather referred to her behaviour. I’ve seen this millions of times in the classroom. As soon as a child misbehaves and you, the teacher, tries to reprimand them they throw out a race card or a sexist card. In fact I remember being harrassed to the point of requiring police involvement simply because I asked an Indigenous boy to pick up a marker on the touch field at the same time I asked a Japanese, Italian and Caucasian Australian- apparently I was racist. For my request to follow a basic instruction and expectation I was left with a child who would shout out ‘slut, whore, heinous bitch’ in the supermarket surrounded by a mob of at least 10 people and I knew I couldn’t reply because I was in the public service. Technically speaking I probably shouldn’t even been writing about this now but I believe an education system that cripples the ability for young people to grow up accountable for their actions does a great disservice to them. It cripples them for life.

These individuals end up being completely unaware of why they feel trapped in the same cycles of poor behaviour, unsuccessful relationships, working careers and finances. They cannot be successful until they start getting their power back. Until they realise that society isn’t always out to pick a fight with them more often than not they are there to empower them.

Serena Williams chose to pick a fight that didn’t exist. She was fined less than a male has in the sport before and she’s asked every woman (or at least insinuated) that we should be in support of her. I am not. Why? I know that if she kept her cool, realised that she chooses how she responds then the outcome would have been entirely different. Instead of creating a divide between cultures by her supporters suggesting that no caucasian woman could ever experience racism she could be a positive role model. I doubt that will happen, in fact I’m certain that when it comes to discussing social issues in sport Serena Williams’ display of behaviour will live on for decades in school classrooms about what not to do. The problem is many children will see that her behaviour is appropriate and they will believe that inappropriate behaviour, a lack of personal accountability and success go together and they do not.

Till next time,

Julia