Victimhood – A Collection of Victims
This may ruffle some feathers. In fact, I imagine it’ll ruffle a lot of feathers, but bear with me.
The state of being a victim, I believe, should be reserved for actual victims, victims of crime, abuse, and sexual assault, not for people who declare themselves victims in order to get stuff.
Feminism started as a movement to recognize that women were equal to men and therefore deserved to vote, hold jobs, and contribute to society. Many women today consider the 1960’s to be the defining decade for feminism, but feminism started centuries earlier. And women back then dealt with much weightier issues than cultural attitudes towards the female gender. Long, hard battles were fought for suffrage, education, and equality.
And those battles were not in vain. Today there are women in the Senate and the House of Representatives. Women can vote, hold jobs, even become CEOs, like the recently named CEO of GM, Mary Barra. We have female scientists and mathematicians, astronauts, professors, philosophers, writers, governors, and yes, homemakers. All contribute to society.
It’s safe to say that the battle, for the most part, has been won. Isn’t that right? So why are we still at war?
At the end of the movie Zero Dark Thirty, Maya, the driving force behind the discovery of Osama Bin Laden, climbs into the back of a plane and begins to weep. The war she’d been waging had been won, and yet she was weeping, and I presume not with joy. Why? Because sometimes winning is harder to stomach than losing. When a person or a movement has been fighting long and hard, a sudden victory is almost unfathomable.
Feminism was a long-fought, hard-won victory. But it was a victory nonetheless. And now, instead of fighting obvious battles–pop culture sexism, human trafficking, equal rights for Muslim women–we’re fighting pointless ones.
A quick Google search brings up hundreds of news stories where someone, an organization, a political figure of some kind, is accused of sexism. The offenses are usually so mild, like arguing against the policy positions of a female political opponent, that you wonder how sexism even applies. While most would agree it’s outrageous to use the term sexism just because a certain person irritates you, the damage is much more serious than character assassination.
When the word sexism is so diminished, it makes it that much harder to battle real sexism and actual degradation of women. The idea is so softened by overuse of the term that it’ll no longer be a serious enough allegation–even if justified–for anyone to notice. It’s a classic case of The Boy Who Cried Wolf.
That brings us to point number two.
Many of today’s more passionate feminists don’t want equal rights. They want to be taken care of. They want access to free birth control, free abortions, free physical examinations, free healthcare, and free childcare.
But is that what feminism is? Instead of our fathers taking care of us until we could be handed off to a husband who would take care of us, now we’ll have the government take care of us. That’s feminism? After battling for centuries for the right to education and employment, we now want someone else to be financially responsible for everything about us that makes us women?
Whenever I argue against this, whenever I argue that feminism means having independence and freedom, and responsibility, I get sob stories. I get vague, anecdotal parables of women who can’t afford birth control, who work two jobs at minimum wage and can barely make ends meet. But that isn’t what I’m arguing against. I’m not arguing against helping the individual, and there are always individuals who–through no fault of their own–are temporarily in need. I’m arguing against welfare for women as a whole. I’m arguing against the idea that women, just because they are women, must have free stuff, that we can’t possibly take care of ourselves, that we can’t possibly make grown-up decisions about birth control, who we’re going to sleep with, and who we’ll risk having a baby with–that we must have no physical limitations at all if we’re going to truly be equal to men.
But we’re not men, and our limitations are also a blessing, a powerful tool. Women give birth to–and nurture–future world leaders, presidents, writers, car mechanics, doctors, and scientists. How we go about raising our children determines not only the course of that one person’s life, but the entire world. That kind of power should be celebrated, and we should be sober and thoughtful about how we intend to wield it. But when feminism starts dumbing us down into helpless human beings “burdened” with bodies that can create and sustain life, it causes a ripple effect that drags down the world in its entirety. Women, after all, were never meant to be weak.
Feminism started as a grand idea, a good idea, a moral idea, but we won the war and don’t know how to cope with victory.
Victimhood may get you stuff. It may even ignite a wave of self-righteous indignation from women who’ve taken no notice of their own privileges. But it also starts a slow march backwards away from independence and equality–which cannot exist without the burden of responsibility–to weak subservience to others.
Next: The Problem With Being A Girl, Part III: Victimhood – The Individual