The Power of Victimhood
Today, everyone’s a victim.
Everyone. Like, everyone. Even over-privileged white men are happy to whine about how much it sucks to be them.
Y’all don’t know what it’s like, bein’ male middle class & white!
Rockin' the Suburbs - Ben Folds Five
There’s a lot of power in being a victim. If love means never having to say you’re sorry, victimhood means never having to be accountable for your own actions or destiny. ‘Coz, you know, it’s not your fault.
Everyone wants power, particularly if they actually are disadvantaged, but the problem is it also comes with responsibility. No one wants that. Subconsciously, we fear that gaining real power might mean going from “It’s not your fault,” to “It’s all your fault.”
Realistically, it’s somewhere in between. They’re a matched set.
The beauty of victimhood is that it’s always someone else’s fault. Some other a-hole or collection of a-holes are keeping you down.
True victimhood isn’t one-size-fits-all. Not all victims are created equal. Some people are victimized, but less than they think. (See: Aforementioned over-privileged white boys).
In truth, probably everyone can claim victimhood to one degree or another. Even white men, who may come across as whiny aging brats but they do receive outsized blame for everything wrong with the world. Speaking as a white person, if not a male, I say: Kim Jong Un, anyone? Xi Jinping? Robert Mugabe? Idi Amin? Saddam Hussein? Mao-tse Tung? Pol Pot? ISIS?
Don’t go entirely blaming America’s white males for those guys. People suck universally. You know it. The U.S. gets blamed for everything, including the Inquisition and the Punic Wars and original sin. Don’t believe me? Check out all those medieval and Renaissance paintings of the Fall. Adam and Eve were white. And you just know they were American.
The original Stupid White People trick. Painting by Adriaen van der Werff, a Renaissance Dutch painter whose name couldn’t be any whiter if you bleached it. Photo by Tilemahos Efthimiadis on Flickr
The Power of Chicktimhood
Some of my self-styled feminist friends on some social media get mad at me when I express my feminist views because, well, there’s too much empowerment and shit. They don’t actually put it that way but that’s what they mean. We disagree on whether women actually have some decision-making power when it comes to how victimized they’ll be. (Guess which side I fall on.)
Related: Mama Didn’t Raise No Victim Feminist
Sure, there are still plenty of inequities and battles yet to fight, like the Trumpocalypse, surrounded by the stupidest white men he could find and one token dizzy blonde dimbulb. The Trumpocalypse got to that lofty height because a lot of white women voted for him, despite his well-publicized love of grabbing women’s nether regions without asking permission. Many of whom were apparently quite happy to have him do so, which brings up embarrassing questions about female psychology and power, but that’s a subject for another day.
Related: When Victims Take Charge
My feeling is that some women are more victimized than others but are overall more powerful than fifty years ago, or a hundred years ago when we first got the vote. Just because there’s still a power imbalance between males, females, and Gender Binary Hoozits doesn’t mean we’re still in the days when a man had to to co-sign a loan for us and we couldn’t get a birth control pill on demand because we might get up to All Kinds Of Things.
Too many victim feminists ignore all progress and believe inequities are just as bad as they ever were or maybe even worse. Like the Trumpocalypse, which is bad for women (and blacks and Muslims and Mexicans and gays and immigrants) but it’s not the end of the world.
Interestingly, my Power Feminist views go over better on professional social media sites, where, I guess, women feel more empowered, even if they’re not making quite as much money as men for the same amount of work and still have to deal with sexual harassment. My last post, Women’s Only Groups: Are They Archaic? did well on beBee and LinkedIn, although when I posted it to a women’s rights/spirituality group on Facebook, it was about as well-received as Jake Tapper at a presidential press conference.
It was kinda funny, actually, to hear them challenging me while defending their need for ‘safe spaces.’
There’s a similar siege mentality among some American blacks who are also blind to progress even if plenty of grievances about inequality and violence directed against them still remain. Outgoing President Barack Obama challenged this blindness in his last speech to the American people:
“After my election, there was talk of a post-racial America. Such a vision, however well-intended, was never realistic. For race remains a potent and often divisive force in our society. I’ve lived long enough to know that race relations are better than they were 10, or 20, or 30 years ago – you can see it not just in statistics, but in the attitudes of young Americans across the political spectrum.”
Victimhood for everyone else
Victimhood for everyone else
Victimhood for everyone else
No one wants to hear they need to grow up. Ever. But power isn’t for children. It means assuming responsibility and recognizing that lack of success isn’t all because of racism, sexism, or other forms of discrimination. It might be because one didn’t study hard enough. Or because one made some bad choices in life. Or bought into a mentality of ‘not good enough’ from parents, society, or maybe just one’s self. The reasons why anyone didn’t ‘make it’ are probably multiple, and maybe some of it isn’t their fault. But many don’t want to look too closely and ask what they or their tribe are doing wrong. It’s less personally threatening to blame others.
Chronic victimhood is wreaking havoc with our public discourse or ability to address or resolve any real inequities. Social and moral immaturity go unchallenged because the moment you say, “But I’m a PERSON OF COLOUR! I’m a WOMAN! I’m a GENDER BINARY HOOZIT! I’m a MUSLIM! I’m a GAY PERSON!” you shut down conversation and never ever have to ask more uncomfortable questions: How much is society, discrimination and whatever-phobia holding me back, and how much of it is myself? Am I doing a better job of keeping me down than The Man?
Are you ready for real power?
I mean real power?
Are you sure?
Nicole Chardenet is a freelance writer, language translation software schlepper and ideological pain in the ass to absolutely everyone. She agrees you’re probably a legitimate victim for one reason or another but still thinks you need to blame a little less and self-examine a little more. It won’t kill you. She promises. Vitriolic victimhood defenses or inquiries about her writing services may be directed to the contact info right next to this cheezy bio.