By Joshua Patton
Turn on your phone. Go to Facebook, Twitter, or CNN, and you will hear, see, or read about the concept of victim blaming.
In most cases, it is women that are targeted as being at fault when they are raped, sexually assaulted, or worse, told that they should have been more responsible, dressed more appropriately, or perhaps not have been so drunk.
This is truly appalling.
Thankfully, society has begun calling itself out on the concept of excusing the perpetrator in favor of wagging their finger at the victim.
But this is where the line fades to gray. When I hear the words “victim blaming,” I can’t help but think on some level that it is a ploy. Not in cases I’ve mentioned, or towards individuals, but towards society’s own tendency to paint itself as a victim.
The truth is, being a true victim is a terrible experience. No one should ever feel that his fate is at the mercy of another person, but this is where the similarities end.
Today, too many people, the same who claim to oppose victim blaming, still prefer to portray their own lives as the consequence of others’ cruelty or injustice. They claim to be victims.
This is a brilliant scheme, but one that is truly unhealthy, and ultimately self-defeating. The truth is, when people paint themselves as a victim, they give up their own self-determination.
The sad reality is that life is easier to live as a victim.
It’s easier to gather sympathy when you claim that others are keeping you down. It’s easier to give yourself excuses for never trying, but this transforms from a legitimate argument to a way of living.
If you constantly claim that you are a victim, you will eventually develop a persecution complex, and in that, you will lose a piece of your dignity.
It seems ridiculous.
Of course nobody believes that they have absolutely no control over their own destiny. Of course, there is always a will to succeed. But where the pervasive victim mindset becomes truly problematic, is when it shifts to the blaming of others, and today, that takes the form of privilege.
Consider the common concept of “white privilege.” I was born white, but I no longer feel comfortable in my own skin. I’m not alleging reverse racism; that’s not what I’m here to argue.
I am here to argue for the situation of my life.
Put simply, I don’t like when others tear me down, whether it’s to my face, or indirectly. But what I can’t stand is the idea that someone else would assume my life has been easy because I am white. That someone would ever come to my face and tell me that I’ve never experienced discrimination, or bullying, or intolerance because I’m white, and white people have all the privilege in the world.
I bought my first car, a smooth red Firebird, by working a minimum wage job for two summers. I was fired from another well-paying job because I wanted to return to school, and I’ve had the police at my home more times that I care to admit growing up.
However, where the similarities between myself and those that claim to be victims end, is that to me, these aren’t negative things in my life. They’re positive. They weren’t good or pleasant at the time, but they made me who I am, and they have given me the will to move forward.
These instances, however bad, have shaped my life and my being. Without them, I may not have enrolled in college, gained self-esteem, or become the driven person that I am today.
What I want to say to those that are the victims of an unjust society is this: You’re right. Society is unjust, more so to racial minorities, religious minorities, and women.
It is a rigged system. So, fight your fight, and win your battles.
What I ask is, do not let your hatred of an unjust system blind you to those beside you who are struggling with their own battles, and trying to win their own fights, just because they might stand one rung higher than you on the grand social ladder.
Don’t blame your fellow victims.
Contact Joshua Patton at firstname.lastname@example.org