Archive for July 2017

Victim Blaming & Gaslighting: Our Society's Shameful Abuse of Women

I considered myself a strong woman. I was proud of my ability to read people. When I was 18, I used to judge other women who would get fucked over by men. How can they keep going back to men who hurt them? Are they really that naive? Do they not love themselves enough to stay away? 

Call it karma...or perhaps, bitter irony, because a few years later, I became one of those women.

Image Description: black background with white and red text saying "Because survivors deserve our support, NOT our scrutiny. End victim blaming."

Victim blaming is a terrible tactic society has used time and time again to stigmatize and silence survivors of abuse. It is, of course, a fruitless and irrational endeavor, for it neither addresses the root of the problem, nor mitigates its harm. Yet, we raise entire generations of women who are brainwashed to believe the contrary.

Abusers will always find someone else to prey on. For every individual who is spared, another will fall victim to their abuse. If a motorcyclist sustained injuries due to a poorly designed helmet, would we blame the people who designed and manufactured it, or the biker? Of course, we would hold the company who made the helmet responsible, because we would understand anyone who wore it would have been at risk of injury. Why do we not extend this same level of empathy to victims of domestic abuse?

It is because even today, despite multiple feminist movements and our growing understanding of the dynamics of abusive relationships, we continue to raise our girls to be docile recipients of abuse. One needn't look further than the depictions of idealized relationships in pop culture to see this. From songs that teach "good" women to forgive their partners for being unfaithful, to movies that teach women to change themselves to please men, we condition our girls to not only accept, but desire abusive relationships at a  young age.

Quote from "Fifty Shades of Grey". This is abuse.

We teach our girls that their emotions are "irrational" and impair their ability to make sound decisions. Instead of teaching men to respect us and empathize with us, we teach them to treat our emotions as a burden. We do this by shaming people for being empathetic. We regard empathy as a weakness, and devalue professions that require higher EQs.

We raise generations of young girls with low self esteem, who want to change themselves to please men. We shame women for being emotional, while simultaneously telling them that being nurturing is a desirable trait in women. We encourage women to chase men who hurt them...after all, "good" women always go back to abusive men no matter what they were put through. We fail to teach our girls that even infidelity is a form of abuse.

By doing all of this, we as a society, start gaslighting women before they even have a chance at self-actualization. Women are trapped in abusive relationships not just because of their abusers, but also because of a society that will stigmatize and blame them for the abuse they endured.

Knowing all of this, how can we continue to shame women for behaving exactly the way they have been conditioned to behave throughout their lives?

Our discourse of abuse needs to extend beyond the dynamics of abusive relationships. We need to start talking about how we have created a toxic culture that condones and promotes violence against women while teaching young girls to accept it as their fate. Only then can we work toward dismantling it. 

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