Thursday, 18 June 2015

Oh yes, "victimhood"

is back on the agenda.
I have not been watching "The killing season" - the ABC production about the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd years in parliament. Quite frankly, I can't be bothered.
One of the reasons I can't be bothered is because of the way they both played the "victim" card. Rudd claimed he was the victim of the media, the unions, his stab-me-in-the-back colleagues - and everyone else except himself. Gillard claimed the media, her sex, her colleagues - and everyone else except herself.
Abbott might do the same with respect to the media. His colleagues have stayed with him even at the low points so that will be harder to complain. He might end up being the victim of his own beliefs - but I suppose one can say he has stayed true to those. We will have to wait.
But then Janet Albrechtson wrote an article about "victimhood" in the Australian and I thought about the idea yet again.  I thought about how often people try to deflect the blame for their own behaviour on to something or someone else. I thought about how they try to do it when that something or someone is unrelated, or should be unrelated, to the behaviour. 
People say, "it's because I am..." and they go on to say they are black, or white, or  brown, or Muslim, or Jewish, or Christian. They will claim discrimination because they are gay, or lesbian, or transgender, or they are unemployed, or part-time, or casual. They will claim the divorce of their parents, violence at home, and sexual abuse as the reason for their own unacceptable behaviour.
Well yes of course those things can influence and shape behaviour. It would be ridiculous to suggest they don't. But does it have to make someone a victim? 
I know someone in Africa. She comes from a dirt-poor background and she has a disability. How she did it I don't know but she is a magistrate and when young offenders appear in front of her claiming "victimhood" for their behaviour she tells them, "No. It was the choice you made. It didn't have to be like that."
I know a man here who has numerous problems, not least that he won't acknowledge he is attracted to the same sex. His background is poor too. He is unemployed and probably unemployable.  I don't admire everything about him by any means but I do admire the fact that he cared for his mother. He cared for her despite the fact that she was intellectually slow and mentally ill. He never hesitated to take her out or hold her hand in public. He was devastated when she died. The purpose went out of his life but he has not resorted to breaking the law because of his background or circumstances. 
We don't hear enough success stories. They don't make good media copy. "Victimhood" is different. Are we supposed to feel some sort of sympathy for the group of kids who went on a spree of smashing windows because they were "bored"? When they appeared in court there were excuses made because of their backgrounds and upbringing. The excuse was made the reason for their behaviour.
The fact that there are hundreds of thousands of other kids in almost identical circumstances who would never consider doing anything like that is apparently beside the point. 
I met a much younger friend from an ethnic background recently. I haven't seen her for quite a while. She has a disability. She's in a wheelchair and she has a severe speech defect. She also has an honours degree. Nobody has been prepared to employ her - something she was, sadly, prepared for. But she greeted me cheerfully, "I decided to employ myself."
And she is. Her plans won't earn her a huge amount but they are well thought out and absolutely doable for her. 
"Oh and I've enrolled for my Master's part-time," she told me.
When I count the things against her she could easily apply to become a member of "Victimhood Inc." but she is too busy getting on with life.
I don't want to dismiss the appalling circumstances some people are brought up in or the obstacles they need to overcome. They can be very, very difficult indeed but I am not sure about "victimhood" as the sole excuse or reason for behaviour. We make choices too.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very well said, Cat!