I have held back from posting about passive aggression before. It is a bit of an Oprah (bless her) term and not everyone knows what it means AND people in the UK are just as bloody passive aggressive if you ask me.
Passive aggression is the thing you do when you want something to happen but you do not want to take the responsibility for it.
For instance, if your partner wants to go to a party – but – you do not want them to go – but – you sure as shit do not want to be the one who stopped their fun you might say
“It is fine, do what you want.”
There are other techniques. These include “forgetting” as in “I forgot to find out that thing you asked me to find out” (because you do not want said thing to happen) or “accidents” as in when something does not go your way something “accidentally” gets broken.
In a lot of families, the main passive aggressor is the older generation of women. This might be because they had no power and so to be able to get men to do things, or to have things the way they wanted, they would have to do such things as sulking, stropping, forgetting and making things happen accidentally on purpose.
I had one relationship where I had to prove, continually, that when I said “oh whatever” it meant I was ambivalent not that he really had no choice.
I had two relationships where the guy was very much a passive aggressor and sometimes, not so passive.
My last school, the head of department was all about calling out passive aggression. Teachers are big on it, especially in the UK where they have very little power, teachers gossiping, teachers saying “don’t tell him I told you but”, teachers “forgetting”, teachers blocking things they do not want to happen.
So, I held back on calling Danish culture passive aggressive because as far as I know it, most cultures are.
Though there certainly are more examples of it that I can think of.
The way people try to push in at queues, the way people push past you without a by-your-leave, the people who email instead of talk, the people who “tell on” you, the people who only tell you that something is wrong when it is so badly wrong and too late and they look clever and you look stupid, the people who frown at you but never say why, the people who talk about you but never to you, the people who say about the most integrated immigrants you know “they really don’t even try to integrate, we hope you will be different”, the photocopying queue jumping.
Lots of examples. I think that it thrives here because people feel powerless. I think people feel uncomfortable in management positions but they still want to take management decisions.
But seriously, as passive aggressive as it is here, they have nothing on my old head of department in North London who would email us every few days to tell us we were “unproffesional” and name us and how she thought we had fallen down… in group emails. If you asked her for help, she would email back and then print out the email. If there was a problem, she would always email. If you asked for advice, it was always “have you called the parents?” whether that was appropriate or not.
So, I guess I am trying to say, it can always be worse!