Feburary 18, 2011
If there’s one thing I’ve learned doing social justice work, it’s that America hates a whiner. No matter how legitimate you think your grievance is, society at large will likely beg to differ. Whether you’re a victim of racial discrimination or a rape survivor, you’re expected to pull yourself up by your freedom-having bootstraps and prove to the world just how over it you are by going on Oprah, landing a book deal and also hopefully becoming a millionaire. That’s the only kind of story Americans like, so shut it, trauma victims! We are very busy buying stuff and imposing our insane-o version of democracy overseas, and we really don’t have time for your complaining. And by “complaining,” we mean “talking about it at all.”
Women, Latinos, gays—pick your marginalized group—are all familiar with this dynamic. One minute you’re chatting amiably at the water cooler about how your rights have been horribly violated, and the next you’re crouched behind your desk surrounded by an angry mob chanting “VICTIM CARD! VICTIM CARD!” as you file your sexual harassment complaint while trying to fend off said mob with a stapler.
As an affluent white man of a certain age, Massachusetts Republican Senator Scott Brown is getting a rare taste of the bittersweet cocktail we ladies know as “victim blaming,” but which people of Brown’s demographic like to call Defending American Values. That’s because he’s gone on 60 Minutes and bravely—and regardless of his motives, it was brave—disclosed that he was sexually abused as a child. A quick scan of the comments section at the 60 Minutes site shows that being a member of the ruling class doesn’t exempt you from the peculiarly vicious scorn America reserves for those who have been mistreated.
On the other hand, nobody called him a slut, so I guess membership does have its privileges. Buck up, Senator! The Internet plebes will lose interest soon, and you can go back to being the boss of us.