One of the concepts that I wanted to explore from this article is the concept of victimhood—these women are losing themselves, losing their voices. They are suffering because of somebody else’s actions. None of the women are explicitly described as victims, of course. Why would anybody admit to being a victim? “Victim” is a dirty word; even people who get sick, who suddenly fall ill with horrible diseases, are “survivors,” because calling them “victims” means that they’re losers. Even if they only survive a week! Calling them victims means that the disease is more important.
Being a survivor implies strength, that somehow being acted upon by illness or evil made you a better, stronger person. Although does that mean that women have to be sick or raped to be “their best selves”? I would rather be my shitty self. Although why do I think that I’m a shitty person because I haven’t, say, come through a brutal rape or been riddled with cancer? Why does bodily and emotional pain blot out any of my own freely chosen actions? If I got cancer and died, would that mean I was a terrible person, as opposed to all those times I was cool about people being in jail forever? Are my morals contained entirely in my vagina and breasts and what other people do to them?
And maybe that’s not so bad? I mean, it’s hard to change things. Power resides not just in some asshole on the Internet, but in my family and in my friends, and power isn’t just incarnate in fat, ugly MRAs but in a whole series of processes, slow and grinding and vast, some of which hurt me, some of which benefit me. Men have power, and they don’t see me as another creature with power but rather as something attractive, or silly, or neurotic or old or funny or this or that. An object, not a subject. Even if I tried, I couldn’t change anything, because attempting that would be just be futile. I’d look silly. I wouldn’t even be a threat.
And maybe this works. After all, very few people in this world are always the “I” and not the “me.” Who am I to complain? And weakness has its advantages. Fuck up at work? Ha, that wasn’t really me, I’m stupid! What I say doesn’t matter! A man couldn’t get away with that. Fuck up at home? It wasn’t me, the script was wrong, or my brain is wired wrong, or I need emotional balance or some other shit (emotional balance being the most important goal a woman can achieve—are you happy?) It wasn’t me, in other words. I don’t threaten a thing, I am the thing. Ideally, an object doesn’t get in any trouble at all, just like a beloved dog or a cat is cosseted after it acts badly because “it doesn’t know any better.” And who wouldn’t want to be a pet, if you can’t really be a human? Who wants responsibility for their own life?
But still—why would I want to be a victim? Why would I want this system to turn on me? Do I want men to be angry at me because I think that means that I mean something? Do I want to be angry, to be upset at something else because then I don’t have to bother being a moral agent? Do I want to be an eternal victim-woman because being a person is that much harder? Because I don’t think I can even be a person? Does being a woman exclude being a person?