This is a post about victimhood: admiring, sanctifying, exploiting, parading and – strangest of all – stealing victimhood.
Guys, seriously, if aliens dropped in from alpha centauri tomorrow they would think we are very odd creatures. What is it with the big fights over who the biggest victim is, shaming and trying to make people feel guilty because they aren’t victims, claiming victimhood on behalf of anyone else and, most important of all, endowing oneself with someone else’s victimhood by white-knighting for them?
To define things: a victim is someone to whom, through no fault of his or her own, unpleasant things happen. Worse, in today’s lexicon, to cultivate the victimhood, a victim must remain a victim and allow bad things to continue happening to him/her. The minute he stops being a victim he loses all victimhood points.
So… who would WANT to be a victim. Beats me. I’ve been one at times, through no fault of my own, and it was pretty unpleasant.
Part of this, I think, is a perversion of the desire to help others. For instance, in books, it is easiest to gain sympathy with a character if pretty unpleasant things have happened/continue to happen to them. Anyone who has read my books knows I’m not above using those.
Here’s the thing, though, in a book worth reading, the character doesn’t come in whining and sobbing, doesn’t drape himself all over you claiming victimhood and REMAIN A VICTIM for the rest of the story. Instead, the character shoulders his or her limitations, grows and becomes admirable not by feeling sorry for him/herself, but by doing something worthwhile. If he or she does remain a passive victim, for this reader at least, the book takes flying lessons.
Mind you, if your ambition is to be assigned to a school’s reading schedule, then that’s exactly what the book should be. I don’t know how many of the kids’ assigned books could be described as “Downtrodden minority has a shower of sh*t rained on his/her head every page of the book, till the end when he/she dies a horrible death or achieves revenge in some stupid way.” It’s the plot of all of them I skimmed.
Add to that the strange concoction of sixties/seventies ideas that no one is ever guilty of anything and that even the most heinous criminal was driven to it by society, and we have… a fine mess, where being a victim gives you license to do whatever you want, and be as nasty as you want to perceived “evildoers” while remaining “saintly” because you are a victim.
As a confession, when I was in 9th grade, during the final exams (the ultimate accountability exam. It having come to someone’s attention that through the previous three years, the first years of the revolution, teaching had been spotty; days had been spent painting murals and having our “consciousness” raised and that some schools were never in fact assigned teachers, in 9th grade they made us take a nationally scored exam – ours was the first and weirdest year, since we weren’t prepared for it, but since then it’s become a national thing. You had to pass the exam to continue or, in fact, to have any chance at college.) which were stressful-crazy, since most of the stuff on them we’d never been taught, and “I haven’t been taught this” was no reason for the question not to count, one of the boys in the all-boy school across from mine committed suicide.
In retrospect, he must have been mentally ill. What he left behind was the usual “manifesto” bumble broth of complaints about how we were treating the environment and men’s inhumanity to men.
His letter made the rounds of both schools and more than one of us posted it in some public space, because of course, he was a “victim of society” and we identified with him.
This was foolishness. First, I’m fairly sure he was mentally ill (though it might not have been permanent had he survived. In the boiling broth leading up to those exams, all of us could be fairly overheated) and second, it was his decision to kill himself, not anyone in society.
But as adolescents we were primed to view “he was driven to it” as a reason enough and to lionize him. It was the spirit of the times. Nothing better than being the ultimate victim: a dead one.
It wasn’t always this way. One of my favorite books is A Little Princess, which is admittedly my most girlish taste in reading. I read it round about twelve, and granted, the girl is a victim. But the thing is, she doesn’t stay a victim. Through imagination and compassion, she builds a universe for herself that can’t be destroyed, and is ultimately rewarded. (BTW the movie is not like the book, and the book is better.)
And there were times, further back, when being poor or a “victim” in any way was proof that you were somehow evil. A bit of this mentality is preserved in Islam’s belief that Christ could not have been crucified, because that would be proof he wasn’t a prophet.
Yes, if you look further back, there are some hints of this in the Judeo Christian tradition. All the prophets of Israel seemed to be cast out and wander the wilderness doing the Biblical equivalent of eating out of trashcans, which was a necessary passage to their destiny, and of course Christian martyrs went singing psalms to the lions’ bellies. (Believe it or not, they did. It was a great factor in early conversions. Though I suspect now and then, one of them, faith or not, indulged in a good cry or scream. Who knows?)
What one is apt to forget in our secular days is the difference between dying in the FIRM belief in a reward on the other side, or suffering ill on Earth in the certainty that Himself will life one up after. The amount of certainty in the afterlife even among people in my village dwarfed my most faith-filled moments. They spoke of it incidentally and casually, as one plans a holiday or a trip abroad. I think that most of those days from which the stories of true martyrs come to us were more like that, and in face of the great reward promised, a passage through brief victimhood was acceptable.
It was perhaps predictable the tradition would get perverted by the romantics.
But it in itself, it wouldn’t matter much, hadn’t Marx got his foot in the intellectual door of the West. (Like a bad salesman. A little bearded ink blot, selling hatred and divisiveness.)
It was Marx who allotted victimhood out by classes and classes in a later evolution of his theory came to be apportioned by such weird characteristics as sex, race or sexual attraction.
According to the neo-Marxists what you are determines your victimhood. You can neither escape nor change it.
Take me, for instance, as a Latina (and fairly dark if I spent any time in the sun, which I don’t), an immigrant, a woman, I am by definition downtrodden and a victim. My days are filled with endless struggle and humiliation. There is no way to change that… unless of course, I declare non-Marxist opinions when the other side will immediately define me as white and call me names. They have to define me as white before they call me names, otherwise they just would add to my victimhood points. (No, I don’t know what you get if you win. Perhaps a set of matched shot glasses.)
But don’t despair, if you’re born lilly white, and even – gasp – male, you can be a victim by proxy so long as your opinions are red. You become a champion of the downtrodden and from then on you can attribute everything that goes wrong in your life to political discrimination.
Sorry, I rolled my eyes so hard I dropped them. Will someone please retrieve them for me and dust off the cat hair. Right.
Do I need to tell you this is nonsense?
Yes, of course, some people are victims. In fact, I will pretty confidently state we’re all victims sometime. Sometimes it’s when we’re too young to know better. And sometimes it is because we love someone and allow him or her to take advantage of us. And sometimes it’s even because of our sex, color, or sexual orientation.
Most of the time, though we’re only victims for some time.
Even the people I know who grew up in the hardest circumstances imaginable, usually turned their lives around when they became adults/moved away.
In fact to remain a victim seems to take either mental illness or extraordinary effort not to improve one’s circumstances.
And no, of course, victimhood doesn’t always follow the lines that people tell you should be victims. Say you grew up in a middle class community as a black person, in America. You might think you’re a victim – only because the SJW’s tell you that night and day – but the truth is that you’re nowhere near victimhood. The poor black baby born to a crack addicted mother in Detroit is. As is a white baby in similar circumstances. Notwithstanding which, they might both turn out all right and have a good life.
Because here’s the thing: this is America. We don’t have a caste system. As study after study shows, people move all over the map, not just physically but economically.
America is a country where you can reinvent yourself. Unless, of course, you’re wedded to your victimhood and think it confers something special upon you.
I’m here to tell you it doesn’t. If you’re a victim, it doesn’t make you special, or good or full of human kindness. It is in fact likely to make you the opposite – human nature being what it is. But mostly, you’ll be the same human you were before you were victimized. And being victimized doesn’t excuse your acting horribly. Self-defense is not the same as hurting those who never did any harm to you.
Your “class of victimhood” doesn’t count in anyone’s mind but Marxists, and come on, those people are crazy cultists. It doesn’t make you better or worse than anyone else.
And if you experienced a little pang at reading that, it’s time you came out of the dank darkness of Marxism and into the light.
You see, while being a certain color or orientation or sex might cause crazy people who follow a long-dead white-man (failed) prophet of doom to fawn upon you, refusing to be a victim, taking your lumps and learning from your experiences and battling on, makes you human, and an individual human at that.
And if you are an individual human, not trying to follow any script, the possibilities are limitless, and you decide where you go and – depending on how much effort you’re willing to put in – how far you go.
And that – that – is far more fun and more interesting than being a perpetual victim.
Stand tall. You’re a free man/woman. Despite what the Social Justice Warriors Whiners would have you believe, your future is not dictated by your skin color, sex, orientation, or even (within limits) your handicap.
Your future is yours, and only you can script it.
UPDATE: Today being Wednesday, I have a post up at Mad Genius Club.