The virtue of victimhood.

I have broached the topic of self-victimization in a few previous entries, especially in reference to “but what about teh menz” rhetoric, but I don’t think I’ve ever written about it in detail.

Self-victimization is defined as creating a state of victimhood without proper justification. It does not designate actual victims of harmful actions who complain about the harm done to them. Rather, it designates individuals or groups who manufacture victimhood in order to gain the moral high ground.

I return again to my example of MRAs, who bring up laundry lists of reasons why they believe women rule over men (see 1 and 2); these lists are full of falsehoods, misrepresentations and absurdities.

That conclusion being drawn, one may then ask, why are they even doing this? What’s the point? Why do neo-nazis even bother to deny the Holocaust and promote a zionist conspiracy, even though the Holocaust is one of their greatest “successes”? Why do MRAs push bizarre conspiracy theories about feminism? Why do statists accuse minority groups and unpopular opinions of all the evils in society, instead of the real culprits? Why do Christians attack science and humanism as the enemies of mankind, when in fact it is capitalism and democracy that are the worse enemies of religion?

Consider again the manichean worldview, on which our loyalties are based. In this worldview, we (the in-group) are the “good guys” and cannot do anything wrong, and they (the out-group) are the “bad guys” and cannot do anything right. Therefore, logically, any harm we inflict on them must necessarily be ethically justifiable, since it cannot be wrong. This is a wonderful example of linear logic, as obvious and natural to the believer’s mind as two plus two make four.

Add to this the positive aspect of victimhood; we naturally sympathize with victims because we empathize with their plight and are outraged at what happened to them. Because of this, it is hard for anyone who sees themselves as good to think that their actions have in some way created victims. It also looks very bad from a simple public relations standpoint.

The two main ways in which one can justify harm that one’s in-group has inflicted are (1) to deny the harm actually happened or (2) to claim that the harm was justified by the fact that they (the in-group) were the “real” victims in that situation. The former is generally unsustainable, therefore the latter is usually more successful.

Therefore we get the idea that, you know, rape is really not that big of a deal because women are just “asking for it” and men can’t help it if women are “overstimulating” them. So men are the actual victims here, and women have the power because they use men’s instincts against them. You see, sex workers are dominating their customers by forcing them to pay to see them naked.

From any sort of objective view, this reasoning is simply laughable. But it is psychologically much easier for a genderist to believe that men are the real victims of rape than to believe that their beliefs are evil.

The only alternatives to defenders of manhood and gender in general are either to (1) admit that their beliefs cause harm and that they are actively lobbying for that harm, (2) that rape doesn’t really happen, or (3) that men are the real victims. Claiming that men are hapless animals entrapped by wily women is an example of (3). The constant attempts to define rape and specific instances of rape (“she didn’t scream!,” “he was her husband!,” and somesuch nonsense) out of existence are examples of (1). Pushing manufactured “false rape allegations” statistics is an example of (2) (and I do intend to discuss this topic in a future entry, because their lies are so astonishing that it’s hard to believe they’re getting away with it).

The more developed the us v them complex, the more developed a view of the enemy one has. There are a few genderist crackpots who claim a feminist conspiracy, although these are not widely accepted beliefs amongst genderists. But other in-groups have accepted conspiracy theories. The nazis had the Protocols of the Elders of Zion (although said document was produced decades before the Nazis came to exist), the Christians have the “homosexual agenda” and the Satanist conspiracy, conservatives have the liberal media conspiracy, and so on. Most pseudo-science quacks believe in some Establishment conspiracy that actively suppresses the TRVTH, although the specific culprits vary. Statists nowadays use terrorism to shape the enemy.

Like most arguments by true believers, these are projections. When we look at actual conspiracies throughout history, we find that by far it is the evildoers, the destroyers, who conspire and commit terroristic acts. Nazis had a made-up Protocol justify a real Holocaust. Christians had a non-existent Satanic conspiracy justify a real Inquisition, and now they use a fantasy “homosexual agenda” to push the death penalty for homosexuals in Uganda. During the Cold War, the Red Scare was used as a pretext to slaughter union leaders and activists around the world.

This is the result of a complex, constantly evolving framing of what the enemy is, but with or without this framing we still get to the same result: persecutors must be praised and victims must be blamed, and the manichean framework must not change. The truth must not be confronted at all costs, no matter how absurd the mechanism to evade it might be.

This seems to me very similar to the process by which Alice Miller says we cannot confront our childhood trauma and, because of this inability, become aberrated adults who will gladly cheat, lie and kill in the name of a higher power.

People who were treated with respect as children, who weren’t drilled to become robots with the aid of mistreatment, will never want to die out of “faithfulness to the Führer” or send thousands of human beings to Stalingrad against all reason just because some madman planned it… In the Fürher’s headquarters, and all counter-arguments dissolved into fear and mental paralysis or, on the other hand, into enthusiasm when they heard him (the father) speak. This disastrous political blindness that cost millions of people their lives proves conclusively what our grandparents so hotly denied: that in every case, physical as well as psychological abuse of the child is not only harmful but highly dangerous. Not only for the individual but under certain circumstances for whole nations.

To evade any accusation of Godwin’s Law, my point here is not that all people who refuse to confront the truth and instead justify themselves through convoluted pseudo-reasoning are just as bad as the Nazis; rather, I’m arguing that they all flow from the same source and proceed in the same fashion. There is no substantial difference between neo-Nazis rationalizing the Holocaust and Americans rationalizing the genocide of the natives or Hiroshima. The acts are different, but the self-victimization process is the same and returns the same result.

20 thoughts on “The virtue of victimhood.

  1. Cammy April 17, 2014 at 07:36
  2. LoneSword7878 June 14, 2014 at 12:22

    This is a question that really needs answering. I have asked this question countless times to other people and have gotten no enlightening response. I just don’t have the self-esteem to answer this for myself.

    Why is it when LGBT’s fight back against bigotry, they are the one’s who are labeled as the intolerant, agenda forcing, bullies? I’ve found this in a growing number of circles, even in liberal and moderate circles, and last time I checked, they are not the one’s condemning everyone for not following their way. I need an answer as soon as possible because this is what is doing me in the most.

    What is wrong with getting angry and fighting back against a group that has long been hating you for who you are?

    Let’s play a scenario.

    There are two couples.

    One is between a man and a woman, the other is between two young men.

    The man-woman couple spends almost every singly day saying that their marriage is the holiest and most sacred and everyone should follow that way or else they “will be left behind.”

    The young man-man couple is doing nothing except going about their jobs and such and just paying the bills. The don’t go around telling everyone about their sexuality unless it is vital for people to know or that their way is the right way.

    The man-woman couple meets the young man-man couple and says their relationship is unnatural and goes against God’s word among other hurtful words such they should be banned. The young man-man couple stands their ground and criticizes in return that they have no right to decide what is right or moral and demand an immediate apology. They also criticize the man-woman for enforcing a wrongfully exclusive and restrictive code. They did not exaggerate and they did not blow things out of proportion like they are normally told on the media; they told it like it was.

    The man-woman couple tell other people about the argument and everyone starts labeling the young man-man couple as intolerant, hateful, and disrespectful bullies who their shoving their sexuality in everyone’s faces.

    How the hell does that make sense?!

    That kind of backwards logic makes me feel very misanthropic, to be honest.

    • Francois Tremblay June 14, 2014 at 14:50

      It would seem to me that the concept of privilege neatly answers your question.

      • LoneSword7878 June 14, 2014 at 15:54

        Could you please elaborate?

        • Francois Tremblay June 14, 2014 at 18:03

          Well, you’re asking how such behavior makes sense. Hetereosexual people are not aware of their privilege as hetereosexuals. Privilege is mostly invisible to the privileged. They don’t see, or don’t want to see, themselves as bigots. Any attack against them must therefore be “unreasonable.”

          Now, the example couple you proposed is arguing on religious grounds. In that perspective, they are certain of the truth of what they are saying, because their very salvation depends on it (of course it’s possible for a person to go from one denomination to another, but that doesn’t register to them as any sort of loss of certainty- God always agrees with them, no matter what they believe). I examined the homosexuality issue in Christianity specifically in this entry:

          So I think that if you combine both elements, it makes a lot of sense. It doesn’t make rational, ethical or compassionate sense, but few people consistently do.

          • LoneSword7878 June 14, 2014 at 20:12

            Thanks for showing me the article, but I don’t think it really offered anything new.

            The problem is that so many people, even liberals, moderates, and a growing number of themselves, have bought into the idea that it’s the LGBT’s who are doing all of the bullying when they are really just reacting in kind to what they receive.

            Is that not what they are doing?

        • Francois Tremblay June 14, 2014 at 20:28

          Well, I think that’s mostly heterosexual privilege, esp. with the whole “we’re equal now” sort of mentality.

  3. LoneSword7878 June 15, 2014 at 00:20

    I’m really, really sorry to this going, but I just can’t wrap my head around it.

    The first thing is that I don’t know what the privilege part means. I just don’t get around why every time an LGBT person fights back against people spitting all over them and saying that they cannot raise a family when permission is never required unless it’s, you know, with the consenting party and has to come out to a whole new audience because that “come out and you’re done” is just bogus, THEY are the ones who are labeled as the intolerant bullies who shove themselves in everyone’s faces when THEY are not the ones going around trying to make their way God’s law, banning straight couples, or any of that crap!

    I’m sorry, but this is what it’s like for a 22 year old like me to both have Asperger’s Syndrome and question my sexuality.


    • Francois Tremblay June 15, 2014 at 00:32

      It seems to me that you want a rational justification for what they believe, not an explanation. There is no rational justification for it.

      (do you not understand what privilege is? if so, you might need to read up about it)

      • LoneSword7878 June 15, 2014 at 10:27

        I want a justification AND an explanation.

        None of this makes sense to me at all.

        How am I the real bully to all those people?

        • Francois Tremblay June 15, 2014 at 11:53

          You’re not. :)

          • LoneSword7878 June 15, 2014 at 16:59

            But there are even groups of LGBT’s that believe and even agree with this bully argument that basically says that if people can say good things for who we are then others can say bad things for who we are just because.

            Whatever happened to freedom of association?

            How can you judge that which you don’t relate to?

            Nobody owns me except me!

        • Francois Tremblay June 16, 2014 at 00:16

          People can say anything they want. That doesn’t mean they should.

          As I read somewhere (I wish I remembered from who), if freedom of speech is your only defense for saying something, then it’s probably not worth saying.

          • LoneSword7878 June 16, 2014 at 11:50

            I don’t care.

            They don’t know me so how can they say what they want? I don’t know any these people and now I’m forced to know them and come to some “center” when I have done nothing. That and I’ve said before that democracy and freedom of speech rob people of their freedom of association by forcing two sides to compromise and conform until something is met.

            Free speech has nothing to do with anything ever.

  4. […] – Francois Tremblay, “The virtue of victimhood“ […]

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