This is a question I have been exploring in my head while reading about feminism. The term comes up a surprising amount, and often not in a way I am totally comfortable with. I read this blog post in reference to #yesallwomen which said: “Not all men are monsters and not all women choose to live as victims.”
(Although I disagree with much of this particular post, I like the blog. Check it out.).
My understanding of the word victim is that I do not get to choose if it applies to me. I sure as hell did not get a choice when someone came in my store and held a gun to my back. That experience made me a victim of robbery without my consent. So where does this idea of choosing to be a victim come from? It seems to me that the word victim is getting mixed up with victim mentality.
Merriam-Webster defines victim as:
-a person who has been attacked, injured, robbed, or killed by someone else
-a person who is cheated or fooled by someone else
-someone or something that is harmed by an unpleasant event (such as an illness or accident)
Having the victim mentality seems to be about being weak (not exactly a respected trait in our society) and has connotations of being disingenuous as well as generally being a whiny bitchy baby (that is totally the official definition).
The desire to not be weak (or a whiny bitchy baby) often eclipses the meaning of victim. ‘I am not weak, therefor I cannot possibly be a victim’.
Back to the word’s relation to feminism, and specifically the #yesallwomen phenomenon. To my thinking, if I want to refuse to be a victim due to my femaleness I have two recourses: 1) modify my behavior so as to lessen the likelihood of being victimized or 2) to try and change things that contribute to women being victimized on a regular basis. I worry about walking alone at night in a way my male counterpoints do not. I do not want to limit my options based on how I can get home. If tweeting about this brings some awareness to that inequality I am all for it. I can still make an effort to not fall for the victim mentality while railing against things that commonly make women victims in our society.
Also, googling ‘refuse to be a victim’ gave me a full page of NRA links, which was not what I was expecting…