On the mania of refusing to call anyone a victim.

Kajsa Ekis Ekman has a section on this in her book Being and Being Bought: Prostitution, Surrogacy and the Split Self.

She notes that under the neoliberal world order, the meaning of ‘victim’ has changed from being someone who has been abused or exploited by someone else, to a character trait that implies personal weakness. The intention is to make being a victim something to be ashamed of, and to imply that a person cannot be both a subject and a victim at the same time. This means that no one wants to admit to being a victim, and saying that someone has been victimised by someone else is akin to insulting them. It’s a very crafty rhetorical trick – for if there are no more victims, there can be no perpetrators.

She writes that some sex-positive feminists have taken this logic to its natural conclusion, declaring that even prostituted children should not be considered victims, but rather active subjects. This is a completely false dichotomy – of course people (including children) in desperate circumstances are often resilient and intelligent. This shouldn’t excuse the abuse and exploitation they suffer at the hands of perpetrators, nor mitigate the urgent need to change the structures of oppression that facilitate their abuse.

5 thoughts on “On the mania of refusing to call anyone a victim.

  1. Miep November 27, 2014 at 20:37 Reply

    Never show weakness, never admit you’ve been hurt. Just go around back behind their backs and stick it to ’em. My mother actually suggested this to me recently. What is the world coming to?

    Of course, that’s not a very good strategy if you are a child or in any other class or caste of people who are routinely disparaged…

    • Francois Tremblay November 27, 2014 at 20:40 Reply

      And remember to call yourself a “survivor,” not a “victim.”

      Or the newest in-term, “thriver.” LOL

      • Miep November 27, 2014 at 23:06 Reply

        Social Darwinism R Us. And may the biggest abuser win!

        It is, I think, more helpful though to create an environment where people can feel comfortable examining analyses of how victimization works, and consider how such applies to their own lives and relationships, than to say “You are being victimized” without context, because abusers know about all this and try to play it back against people, try to muddy the water. Without understanding how victimization works you can ‘t work out whether you’re being victimized.

  2. Heretic November 27, 2014 at 22:52 Reply

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