Alana continues to be more articulate and level-headed than I could ever hope to be with this post about how feminism is not about victimhood. People often tell me that I’m “playing the victim” or that by talking about the fact that I’ve been victimized or am victimized that I’m doing the opposite of what I’m trying to do. I’m somehow not working to stop being a victim, but am perpetuating the idea and role of women as victims. And this is simply not true. here’s why:
When a woman says she was raped or abused she is not embracing the “cult of the victim.” In fact, she is doing the exact opposite. She is fighting against every message that has ever told her that it’s not only her fault if something bad does happen to her, but that she must also remain silent about her struggles. I think anyone who has ever shared their own experiences will agree that the very act of telling your story is empowering. Voicing our trauma is as revolutionary as it gets. By refusing to stay silent the victims of assault are saying, “We are here and we will not be overlooked.” Feminism is not perfect by any means (who ever said it had to be?), but to be more outraged over the revelation of the status of women worldwide then the actual status of women is pretty ridiculous.
The idea that feminism wants women to identify with being powerless is simply wrong. Feminism isn’t about turning women into victims. It’s about pointing out the victimization that already takes place around the world. It’s perfectly possible to realize one’s victimization without identifying as a victim or having some sort of victim mentality. For me feminism is about telling women they aren’t alone and that it is perfectly okay if they are pissed the fuck off about the way they’re being treated. What is more empowering then being able to say, “I do not like the way I am being treated and I will not tolerate it?”
Feminism also fights against the idea that men are supposed to protect women and that women should expect that protection. (Which I’ve never understood; men are simultaneously supposed to be our protectors and sexual beasts that can’t control themselves? How does that make sense?) I know it can sometimes seem like the message is “all men are evil” and “women will be defiled by those evil men” but that’s really not it at all. Empowering women to take control of their own safety, while also informing them of real dangers and reminding them it’s not their fault no matter what anyone says, is a far cry from playing the permanent victim. To deny that women are often victims is actually just another way of ignoring the very real suffering of far too women.
And I don’t really see how that is empowering in any way at all.
I encourage you to go read the whole thing. I’m closing comments here, and ask that you direct all comments to Alana’s blog.