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via moominmuppet

http://eminism.org/blog/entry/291
"Reclaiming 'victim': Exploring alternatives to the heteronormative 'victim to survivor' discourse"

The article discusses the rigidity of societal narratives around people who have been subjected to violence. I quote from it below the cut-tag.


Excerpt:
The society views victimhood as something that must be overcome. When we are victimized, we are (sometimes) afforded a small allowance of time, space, and resources in order to recover–limited and conditional exemptions from normal societal expectations and responsibilities–and are given a different set of expectations and responsibilities that we must live up to (mainly focused around getting help, taking care of ourselves, and recovering). “Healing” is not optional, but is a mandatory process by which a “victim” is transformed into a “survivor”; the failure to successfully complete this transformation results in victim-blaming and sanctions.
This is really useful for me right now because lately I'm very aware that many societal narratives don't accurately describe my experience.

This entry was originally posted at http://firecat.dreamwidth.org/756612.html, where there are comment count unavailable comments.

Comments

( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
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(Deleted comment)
firecat
Jan. 12th, 2012 07:37 pm (UTC)
I posit that there is no way to profit or learn from having cancer, or any number of other horrendous events.

You can learn that life sucks sometimes, and that you previously had no idea how much pain and inconvenience and indignity it was possible to be in. Somehow I don't think that's what the oncologist had in mind. Of course, the oncologist has a vested interest in not hearing patients complain about their cancer and the difficulties of the treatments the oncologist puts them on.

The thing about your support network deserting you strikes at the heart of the matter (in my experience): You must "recover" and stop complaining (i.e. mentioning your problem) as soon as possible because your problem makes other people uncomfortable. It reminds them of their own vulnerability and it marks you as damaged, as having lost status, and thus risky to be around, since this loss of status is contagious.

Yeah. I think there's one other, slightly less damning reason people don't like to hear complaining: They feel like they should be able to do something to make it better, and they can't. The "should be able to do something" is one of society's narratives that's unhelpful.

Seems like in society in general, a support network is a diaphanous and fragile thing, not to be truly relied on

Yep, that's definitely what the narratives around life difficulties told me. And there's some truth to it sometimes, and at other times not.

I'm glad we're networked up!
(Deleted comment)
firecat
Jan. 12th, 2012 11:18 am (UTC)
Yeah, being chronically ill doesn't fit neatly into society's narratives, that's for sure.
nancylebov
Jan. 12th, 2012 01:33 pm (UTC)
Neither "victim" nor "survivor" feels right to me. Maybe I can come up with something.

From casual reading of people who do pull together pretty good lives after some disaster, it seems as though a lot of them spend a year or two freaking out or collapsing first.

It's possible that part of the problem with the victim/survivor dichotomy is that it doesn't leave space for natural processes of healing-- it's all supposed to be a matter of choice.
firecat
Jan. 12th, 2012 07:45 pm (UTC)
I haven't experienced violent abuse and I don't want to speak for people who have. But when I think of bad things that were or are part of my life, it generally seems that identity nouns oversimplify my experience.
(Deleted comment)
nancylebov
Jan. 13th, 2012 01:40 am (UTC)
Weirdly enough, it was the movie Napoleon Dynamite which put me onto the idea of natural processes, and how much they get left out of the usual narratives.

The movie is about natural maturation, rather than healing-- but I noticed that it isn't the usual story.

Mild spoilers:

N lbhat zna frrzf hafcrnxnoyl hfryrff naq naablvat ng gur ortvaavat bs gur zbivr. Ur znxrf fbzr tbbq pubvprf gb trg n unccl raqvat, ohg vg'f nyfb whfg gung ur'f tebjvat hc.
johnpalmer
Jan. 16th, 2012 11:07 pm (UTC)
One thing about the entire discussion that bothers me is how it makes "victim" out to be a bad thing.

Someone punctured my car tires; I'm a victim of vandalism. That's not a bad word. Should I call myself a "survivor" of vandalism because I had plenty of cash available to fix the tire, and a working doughnut-spare? No. There's nothing wrong with the word "victim".

People who try to play the "victim to (survivor, or whatever)" game are probably trying to use "victim" to mean something else. Until they recognize and acknowledge what that "something else" is, they're working from faulty premises.
firecat
Jan. 17th, 2012 12:57 am (UTC)
Yeah, I agree. I think the premises are "someone subjected to violence is broken, and it's that person's responsibility to become unbroken ASAP."
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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