Monday, July 27, 2009

The Victim-Blaming Impulse

Excellent post from Amanda on abusive police. Especially this passage:
Victim blamers are often also telling a story about how they personally will never be...arrested unfairly for doing something totally legal. To blame Gates for being stupid is to say, "I would never get arrested for breaking into my house, because I have the sort of self-preservation instincts that this man is clearly missing." People enjoy the illusion of having more mastery of the world than they do, because it makes them feel safe, but it also contributes to an atmosphere where victim-blaming can flourish, particularly in situations that are loaded with racial or gender politics.
I think this is hugely significant. And also tragic, because it's a reaction basically rooted in the recognition of just how horrible it would be to find oneself in a victim's situation, i.e., empathy. Ideally we'd be able to channel that initial identification with the victim toward something more constructive.

No comments: