I’m sitting here on a Saturday night, bored and browsing the web when I saw something that got me thinking. It was a link to a Huffington Post story in which a motivational speaker talks about choosing to be a “victim or a victor”. So here is the thing that got me thinking, why is it shameful to be a victim? How does being a victor in any way mean that you cannot be a victor as well? We’ll ignore the fact that calling yourself a victor seems a little pretentious. What does it mean to stop being a victim?
Being a victim is something, obviously that we as a society seem to disdain. “Who me, a victim? No, I’m a survivor!” We shout indignantly. “I cannot, will not be a victim.” In the US especially, being a victim means that you are weak. In our Protestant “work ethic” culture, we would deign to allow ourselves the luxury of being weak. Being a victim means that we don’t take responsibility for ourselves. We’re blaming our problems on others. Let’s think about that a little more. Let’s follow that kind of logic to its natural conclusion.
Being a Victim
Are you, or have you ever been a victim? Maybe you were mugged. Maybe you were assaulted. Maybe you were abused as a child, verbally, emotionally, physically, psychologically. It doesn’t matter. In all likelihood there is or was a time in your life when you were a victim of something that shouldn’t have happened. The definition of victim is
“a person harmed, injured, or killed as a result of a crime, accident, or other event or action”.
Yet if you do a cursory Google search for the term “victim mentality” you get a host of articles by self help gurus claiming that your first problem is being a victim in the first place. (I’m not going to address the real psychological problem of someone thinking nothing is their fault etc. because this is not a blog post about psychology. Do that on your own time.) We can also look to our victim blaming culture. The right wing likes to talk endlessly about the so called victim mentality of the left (they’re usually talking about liberals, not socialists, but they think we’re the same thing anyway so continuing on). How many times on the news has the victim of a horrific crime been blamed by some rich disconnected asshole? “It’s that gay’s fault he was beaten up, he was acting too flaming.” Or something like “Well, I think that it’s sad that woman was raped, but y’know women are always going outside dressing like sluts, so what can you expect.” No, they don’t blame the rapist. They blame the woman, for not walking around in a burlap sack, apparently. They blame the victims all the time. However, the first time someone speaks up about being a victim, the right wing media will tell them to be quiet, and to get over their “victim mentality”.
You see, you should blame yourself that you were raised in violence and poverty. You should blame yourself that you were not educated. You should blame yourself that you aren’t the right color of skin and weren’t given a Anglo-Saxon enough name. It’s the worker’s fault that he works a part time job that doesn’t pay enough. It’s his fault that he doesn’t have a high school diploma. It’s always always always YOUR fault. Everything.
Why should you stop being a victim? Because, a victim requires a perpetrator. The victim of a rape wasn’t violated by a rapist. (I know this is obvious, please bear with me.) The victim of an assault was an attacker. To deny a victim their victimization, is to deny the crime. It is to deny the actions of the person responsible. It is to erase the rapist’s guilt, his culpability. It goes further than individual crimes the assholes of our world want ignored. Like in the Steubenville case, there are people who don’t want crimes against humanity to be recognized. I have had enough of our culture’s silencing of victims, and I am here to make a statement of solidarity with victims the world over.
I am a Victim
You see, I am a victim. I am a victim of childhood abuse. I am a victim of cult religion that denied me a normal childhood, and normal education, a fact that set me back in my life. I am a victim of capitalism, militarism, homophobia, and a victim of abject poverty. Now, does this mean, as the right wing smug assholes will smirk, that I just let those awful things ruin my life? No, but they have made my life more difficult. I will not deny them however, because denying that I was a victim of bad things means letting off the hook those who did them. That means I ignore other people who are suffering in the same way that I did. Refusing to be a victim, and slapping on myself the ridiculous feel good “victor” bullshit means that I ignore the shit that happened to me. Ignoring victimization, ignoring the victim, is tantamount to ignoring that anything ever happened at all.
We are taught not to be victims. You suck it up, and you move on. In a sense, yes we all move on. However. If I’m the victim of a brutal religion, a brutal capitalist state, a brutal capitalist imperialism, a brutal system of abuse and heartless abject poverty that means that SOMEONE fucking caused those things. There is a REASON all of that happened to me, (and no RW freaks it wasn’t because I deserved it, it wasn’t because chance or any other inane explanation) it was because there are things that need to be changed in our society. There are people who should be held accountable for their crimes. Those who perpetuate cults, the capitalist class, abusive parents. Ignoring the victimization means ignoring the crime altogether and letting the criminal off the hook. They tell you not to be a victim because they don’t want the guilty to be brought to justice.
So, I say be a victim. Let it be known that you’re a victim. We proletarians are all victims of capitalism. We’re victims of a sick and twisted, unequal system of injustice. Some of us are more victimized than others. When you raise your voice and admit to being a victim, when you stand behind the victims of our society you are doing more than patting someone on the back to make them feel better. That’s not what this is all about. This, is about realizing that if we never recognize the victims of this sick society, we can never ever change it. Raising class consciousness means letting people know they are victims of oppression, to undo the many years of brainwashing wherein they were told everything was their own fault. Without seeing the problem for what it is, without noticing the victims, how can we ever stop the crimes.
So dear self-help gurus, instead of telling people to stop being victims, help stop people being victimized. Instead of blaming the victim, blame the criminals. Instead of watching and listening to RW news pundits and talking heads telling the poor and oppressed of the US to stop being victims, it is about goddamn time we stopped the society that is creating so many victims in the first place. So fuck the “stop victim mentality” droning idiots. Maybe it’s about time we started wearing our victim badges proudly, and working for a day when there won’t be so many victims.