Victim blaming: the act of blaming and/or shaming a victim because of the fact they were victimized. This often happens to people who are deemed “weaker” in some manner, which usually equates to someone being different or unable to take up for themselves. Personally, the victim blaming I encountered as a child had a lot to do with bullying, and not just from my peers.
Sure, I was made fun of for my looks and status. Those are minor things and I like to think I handled them well. It really only hurt when the bullying actually changed the outcome and efficiency of the education I was receiving and made me feel unsafe. I remember being so afraid to walk to school alone, despite living less than 500 feet from my high school, just because of some boys that would drive by and insult/threaten me on the basis that I had rejected one of their advances. When I became so fed up with it, I reported it to a vice principal who, instead of reprimanding the boys, told me that I should consider wearing pants more often. I had grown out of a tomboy stage and rather enjoyed wearing dresses and skirts, and it wasn’t like I was wearing club clothes to school.
I remember being even more confused because just two years prior, in middle school, a teacher told me I would get picked on less if I did not dress so much like a boy. Basically, it was all my fault that I was bullied to the point of fearing for my safety, and there was no way I could fix it without being disowned by my peers and even my teachers.
At one point I had accepted a ride during lunch from one of the boys. He had been acting friendly and I thought this was my chance to show him in particular that I was not a “bitch” or a “whore” and maybe he would tell his friends to leave me alone. This ride turned into him trying to pressure me for sex and me walking all the way back to school while he drove slowly behind me, acting as if he would run me over or trying to scare me by blowing his horn or yelling. Ultimately I was told that I simply should not have accepted the ride. Again, it was my fault as the victim, and he was clear to behave that way, even as he passed rumors around the school and posted my private information places.
Again, I was confused, because had I not accepted the ride I would still be a bitch/whore (yes, “whore” for rejecting sexual advances) to him and his friends. Because I accepted the ride, I was still a bitch and a whore to everyone he knew and had to worry about being run over, or potentially kidnapped, and still dealt with being humiliated in public at school.
There are over a dozen worse incidents that I am reluctant to share here for the sake of my own privacy and feelings, but I will sum it up by saying my safety and my life was truly threatened soon after.
Now I will share with you a meme I have seen passed around on Facebook that has over 30,000 shares and is posted originally by the Facebook group “Right Wing News”.
In summary, this mentality suggests that it is most important to teach kids how to cope with being bullied instead of teaching them not to bully, as portrayed in the insensitivity to anti-bullying movements. It suggests that bullying is a minor thing, and that the word “victim” is an insult to apply to a person, as evident in the term “society of victims”. They want you to believe a victim is someone who cannot cope or stand up for themselves, and therefore deserving of being victimized.
Agreed: It is important that we prepare our children for the hardships of life because there will always be people who seek to bully others either as children or adults. Those people will likely not miraculously disappear. Simple bullying can be forgiven and forgotten, but make no mistake: the bullying many experience is not simple by any means. It is dangerous and devastating. In fact, there are children who are bullied cannot stand up for themselves or else the bullying gets worse. For me, not only did the bullying get worse, my education was threatened by the system itself; zero tolerance policy school systems require that all parties are disciplined. When verbally standing up for myself by telling bullies to stop or leave me alone, I would also be sent to the office and suspended or placed in isolation. This would hurt my grades.
It is even more important to prepare our youth to achieve good feelings and accomplishments in life without bullying. When we do this, we slim the numbers of bullies and we lessen the amount of victims in the process. We also build stronger people, who learned that they could experience feeling good about themselves through something constructive instead of pushing their peers around emotionally and/or physically.
While my personal experiences with bullying did result in thicker skin and my ability to cope while under stress became stronger, it also resulted in an integrated fear of men, a poor educational experience, deeply ingrained social anxiety, depression, physical trauma, emotional trauma, and suicidal thoughts. I did not need to be bullied to learn how to cope and I sure as hell did not deserve to have to constantly cope with the bullying. Instead, the aggressors should have been punished accordingly and if they did not stop the bullying they should have been removed from the situation altogether.
Instead of worrying about a so-called “society of victims”, we should probably be worrying about how many of our children develop extreme bullying habits. Children who start bullying at a young age are very likely to grow into young men and women who get what they want via bullying. This results in its own set of problems. By inspiring people to be insensitive to anti-bullying movements and failing to teach against bullying, you are creating a society of victims. It’s simple math. More bullies = more victims of bullying. Definition of “Victim”:
a (1) : one that is injured, destroyed, or sacrificed under any of various conditions <a victim of cancer> <a victim of the auto crash> <a murder victim> (2) : one that is subjected to oppression, hardship, or mistreatment <a frequent victim of political attacks> b : one that is tricked or duped <a con man’s victim>
As you can see, victim does not mean “weakling, whiner, insignificant, deserving of victimization” as inferred by the victim-blaming mentality.