So, I’ve been following all sorts of Victimhood arguments on Facebook. By “following” you should understand “sometimes I can’t look away fast enough.”
In my community (O, my people!) they were sparked by the usual suspect, who wants everyone to know she’s more victim than thou, and who will, d*mn it, carry her point, even if she has to sharpen it herself. Kate goes over that mess, which frankly, I couldn’t read in full. It appears to me that some people are so sure of their own lack of talent that they must seize on whining and pretend victimhood to be important. Whatever.
But it brings us to another point.
Most of you know I grew up in another country, right? A Latin country, with different ideas of standing and honor. I was two when my dad informed me that Legionnaires don’t cry, after I skinned my knee and threw a fit. The obvious rejoinder didn’t occur to me for 29 years. When he repeated it to my son, who was then one and a half, I answered “Yes, dad, but Rome has fallen, the legion is no more, and I think he’s a tad bit young for it.” Dad looked confused. (Because of the trend of my dad’s mind, yes, it was the Roman Legion he was talking about, trust me.)
I’m not ragging on my dad. I was the apple of his eye, being late-born, a girl, and liking to hear him recite poetry. (Later on we found our minds both ran to history and literature, so we’ve always been close. My taking up art late in life only made us more so, since he used to be an artist.) Seeing me cry, he reached for something, anything, that would make me stop, because he couldn’t stand it.
It worked. It also worked later on.
I don’t think I went to rough schools by Portuguese standards at the time. In fact, my mom pulled strings to get me into a magnet school for High School because our local one was “too rough.”
They were, however, rough by American standards. Particularly current American standards. As early as middle school, boys (many of them repeating grades, which they could do till 19) would grab you and feel you up in the halls (no, I’m not advocating this. In fact this should be curtailed whenever possible. At 11 I had no clue why this was a bad thing, but I still felt like showering with bleach and a wire brush.) and the only way to stop them was to deck them. Fortunately they eventually figured out I had the knee of doom, the kick of a mule and not a bad right hook and left me alone.
But the point is, whether that type of bullying or another, the worst thing you could do was cry. With real bullies, when you cry, whine or feel uncomfortable, it’s meat and drink to them. It’s what they WANT. It makes them feel big.
So dad’s training, not to show hurt served me well. Eventually I gathered around me a bunch of girls who were small, weak and the crying sort, and I taught them both how to aim for the ah… relevant bits (no, it doesn’t always work, at that age, though, since boys are developing and sensitive, it works more often than with adult males. And it’s worth a try) and also not to cry. (Also to shout for me. I was by American standards small and slim, but for a Portuguese girl my age and generation I was a moose. More so because I grew to adult size at 13. And then stopped. But for a while I had the advantage.)
Just not crying or whining, even if you couldn’t fight back, was half the battle.
As with a friend of my dad’s from college, who insisted on arguing politics with me from the time I was eight and too young to realize his politics made NO SENSE whatsoever and were just a form of self-aggrandizement (as was picking on the kid to argue with) and who would eventually descend to taunts and make me cry, until I realized if I just smiled at him and said “of course” when he tried to pick a fight, if you don’t react and don’t cry and don’t let them have what they want – need? – the bullies get bored and go away.
So, imagine my shock when most of the science fiction community (O, my people!!) including writers I know and admire, get in a fist fight over who is the most victimized victimy victim in the universe.
No, seriously. This is all over FB. “But my parents…” “But my ancestors” Yep, uphill, both ways, drank a cup of cold poison every morning… etc. It’s mostly “my ancestors.” When you get to personal history the worst is the sort of thing I described above, which frankly was bog standard when I was growing up.
What I mean here is that everyone is going “But I/my ancestors are more victims than you/your ancestors and everyone should recognize that.”
(I’m so glad I put my eyes on a chain so I can’t lose them under the desk, when I roll them.)
A few thoughts come to mind watching this unseemly spectacle:
1- The therapeutic mind set of society has done us a serious disservice, by elevating dysfunction and victimhood to an excuse for bad behavior which, of course, everyone wants.
2- Most of your experiences are not only not traumatic, they’re laughably common. Look, guys, we’re geeks. If you weren’t laughed at/teased/beaten in elementary school, you’re geeking wrong.
3- Those claiming they’re surrounded by people mistreating them/putting them down and doing so at the top of their voices at every venue, are either very very stupid, or liars aware that they’re liars. If they really thought that everyone not of their race/credo/ideology is against them, and had a brain cell, they would know the best thing to do is not gratify the bully. But they don’t think that for a moment. They know their story will fall on sympathetic, credulous ears of people who like them BECAUSE of their race/credo/ideology, and garner them sympathy and bennies. Kind of like the little girls who claimed someone had beat them up to the sympathetic older relatives, so they got candy and praise.
4- Only in a very rich, very secure, very SAFE society could this entire idea of “I’m more of a victim than you” take hold as being a good thing to do. Societies and communities where there is even the slightest form of retaliation/discrimination/put down of minorities, you claim you’re fine, you’re stronger than they are, and you don’t let them see you sweat.
5- Even in our society/community (O, My People!!!) this is corrosive. If you keep telling everyone you’re a victim, you’ll feel like one. The definition of victim is that you’re helpless. Helplessness is one of the things that corrodes the soul and eats at your mood, till you’re depressed and irritable (and usually irritating, but that’s maybe just to me.) Even if the publishing establishment showers you in “candy” you start wondering if other people who aren’t “victims” get better “candy” and also if you’d get it if you weren’t a “victim.”
6- Since at least one of the slug fests on FB related to the teaching of the minority young (and since books do that to everyone anyway, by inculcating certain subconscious ideas of how things go in life) the victimhood nonsense is really, really, damaging. It makes young sprouts who’ve never had to fight for anything in their lives, living in the safest, most prosperous nation on Earth, learn to see themselves as victims. They grow up thinking that everything that goes wrong with them/everytime someone is rude, is racism, sexism, purplism. This prevents their taking a long hard look at what they might be doing wrong to bring about bad results. It also makes other youngsters grow up feeling guilty for stuff they never did and never benefited from. All so that some overgrown toddlers can get pets and “candy” from the establishment. We need to stop. One shouldn’t lie, not to the young. Telling them that their victimhood is special and entitles them to special stuff is a lie. In a world that really is against most of them, outside this country, it can entitle them to swift death or worse. I’m minded of the American female journalist who thought it was perfectly fine to push into Tahir square during the disturbances. Any woman raised in a country where female doesn’t mean endowed with the armor of sacred victimhood knows better than that.
7- The only way to get “candy” for being beaten is that the adults give it to you. Stop being a child. Realize that there are no “teachers’ in real life, and that the people giving you the victimhood candy are doing it to make themselves feel better. I.e. to feel superior to you. They think you need them and can’t make it on your own. They think you’re inferior to them. And you’re encouraging this.That “candy” is laced with strychnine and will keep you down and dependent.
8- Whatever else is happening, the world is heading to some seriously difficult economic times, and thanks to the idiocy of multiculturalism, the barbarism of far flung places (No, if you think it’s not barbaric to rape a woman because she has her face uncovered and thus is “asking for it” I don’t want to hear from you. Also, culture is not race, and the first one to cry racism on calling a culture barbaric gets my boot on his behind with force, in a rising vector.) is coming to your doorstep. Whining you’re the biggest victim evah (O, my people!!!!) will only paint a huge target on your forehead. Stop it now.
9- Stop with the stupid competition for “most victimy victim ever” and learn to count your blessings. Learn that no time or place is perfect. Learn that every human who ever lived had some issue or other and some circumstance in which he or she was treated unfairly. That’s just how life is. You were born into a big wide world, not a bubble room. If I’m right and what I still pray every night isn’t heading for us – economic crash, social instability, infighting of various “communities” – you’ll leave a longer and happier life, and get few stress illnesses, if you stop seeing yourself as a victim. And if you it IS heading for us, getting out of the “victim mentality” is the best chance you have of surviving.