Complications with Victim Blaming

Years ago there were no domestic violence shelters or a movement to end violence against women. Some of us remember.

In those days, there was a gender hierarchy. That is, males were considered authorities over females by the recognition of a body part and understandings attached to it. No experience necessary. Just a body part made an authority. And the whole group together was responsible to keep the subordinates subordinating! To not get confused, let’s keep this simple.360maledom copyBecause men had a particular body part, they got treated differently. Part of that difference was structured in authority/subordinate understandings.  In the gender/sex hierarchy, that meant men as belonging to a group were the ‘authority‘ with rules of behavior as authority not just gender. Women were the ‘subordinates‘ with those relationship rules. It’s all just relationship rules that are changeable. That understanding explains some of why a male rapist or murderer still can get custody of the child but a woman loses custody or is jailed with stricter punishments for much less severe violations in relationships. The worst man on the planet earth was ranked higher than the best woman. No woman could rank above a man or in the group of men as authorities. No man had to listen to a word a woman spoke. But rules changed. So No bad guys here. Just a bad idea. Gender as top-bottom relationship had some bad consequences.

Now, as to deal with some resistance from my readers right here who would find exception to that general statement about gender realities, there is exception. Bear with me. I have to explain that I’m talking about what is the social movement of a society despite individual differences. A simple teaching about people that coincided with law and order existed but that can be complicated and varied due to individuals and circumstances. Yes, men and women do function beyond authority/subordinates because it is often practical to do so. But so is authority/subordinates, sometimes practical. Depending on circumstances.

In other words, That hierarchy is what was ‘appropriate‘ in a general sense.

Individual people and circumstances end up in all sorts of complications, but let’s just agree that in a general way, women were to be the subordinates. They were not allowed to live with the same independence and freedom and autonomy as men. It’s easily seen in historical records. Most people know this as historical fact but are caught in changes of it with more unintended consequences. Women fought to remove some of the hierarchy that men as a group politically imposed on women. But society enforced that subordination by violence. Both ways.

Now I have to say, to be clear, authority and subordinates is not just something unique here. Look around. Teacher/student, employer/employee, parent/child, doctor/patient, government agency official/citizen.  These are all power over relationships and part of our social design that requires that if you are subordinate, you are expected to follow, to some degree, the lead and rules of the authority without protest. Authorities get to Make the rules. Oh, and don’t be surprised, they get to break them too. That’s the gig here. This is not unusual. It’s common today to think authorities breaking rules are criminals but that is partially a perception change. That is a debate for another article. The use and techniques of violence has been questioned in many relationships over centuries.


But That said, back to what I wanted to say. In the days when there was no domestic violence shelters, women and children, as subordinates, to men, could wind up in horrific circumstances that no human being should AND that our whole free society is designed to eliminate and protect their citizens from. So It was a systematic failure of protecting women as citizens of a country by the very ways and whys countries were created – by militarized and ruling men, that is. Um, that’s violent men organized as a group to be violent. Clarity, here.

Well, in some cases, that meant just white men are protected from other groups of violent white and colored men so men didn’t have to be victims of violence or have those horrific circumstances. And if it does happen, they had a social design for them to escape being a victim of violence. Women had none of this; by gender rules. Possibly gender rules were the first rules of violence. Rules of countries were clear about boundaries and rules of invasion were understood by warring men. Men didn’t have to be afraid of women’s violence because it wasn’t much of a problem compared to the violence of men. Rape of women can be understood as just a place where men can invade somebody else’s terroritory. Invasions of territory are central to wars of country boundaries. Women had no country protected but by the men that are to protect them.

This discussion isn’t about white men being the bad guys or men being the bad guys. That’s what I’m trying to say. This is just a social design or way of functioning made for past reasons long ago, inherited. There are no bad guys in a social design of arrangement when everyone in the group is obeying social law and order. The problem is a social design, relationship rules and how they function for specific goals – successfully or unsuccessfully. If it is a success or not depends on what the goal is. Unintended consequences are always part of accomplished goals.

When you get the authority/subordination thing going on, the design is one that allows those kinds of horrific things to happen, not purposely with intent,  because authorities shouldn’t do such things and the purpose of authority/subordinate doesn’t have those goals.

But, of course, they do. Such things happen when they can and because it is part of the circumstances. In some cases, Certain people in authority do indulge themselves and manage to use their authority inappropriately. Some aren’t even aware because when authority gets too far down an imbalanced road, you don’t see the other side anymore. Authorities, once well established, do not have to care about their subordinates by design. Not by intent of the relationship rules. It’s the subordinates that are to be obedient to authority and that can become a problem when authority is the unrecognized source of problems.

Back to my history lesson.

For women and children, with men as authorities, violence was, for the most part, acceptable as a form of punishment, so quite naturally when a woman or child was violated, the question was what did these deviants do? Even if they were killed.  It was perceived as a punishment, lack of obedience and the flaw of the subordinate. Not the flaw of authority. Deviants are devalued and have what is coming to them.  And women and children were micro – perceived and managed as to correct their behavior to submit to obedience. Or lack ofobedience when it flips. Why didn’t she leave becomes the question that fails to comprehend how obedience and social order and laws are the answer.

Having good mental health wasn’t on the table for our foremothers and their children. Good mental health was perceived AS quiet obedience and therefore unwellness was often unrecognized or uncovered. Hidden like the violence.

But then Things changed. Mental health became the goal and understood in terms of harm. Obedience was no longer the goal. Ending mental health problems and harm was. This had to be described for society to grasp a new concept. Sometimes,the victims did nothing wrong. Thus there was a push to improve things and with it words and concepts like codependent, abuser, addict, depression, anxiety became huge movements and well known words, that replaced strict lines and ideas of obedience to authority. Society shifted. The purpose: to deal with the unintended consequences of a social system of law and order based on  relationships of power over and under rather than with. Power over became understood as abuse and toxic relationships. ‘Power with’ became known as healthy relationship and mental well being. But you don’t have power with in many social situations today. Obedience is not only required but survival. Disobedience can get people killed. Some women know this. Some don’t.

Someone, somewhere, and probably a psychologist in deep thought,  lost sight of such normal occurrences about the functioning lawful ways and terms of correcting a subordinate. Instead it became fashionable in the domestic violence movement to call the conditions of obedience correction;  ‘victim blaming‘.

The concept of victim blaming has served many people to help reveal circumstances that, by law and social order, of a free society, should not happen to anyone. The term has also helped many to understand that sometimes victims don’t do anything wrong. They happen to be in a bad set of circumstances or around someone whose harmed them. The fault is then flipped unto the perpetrator of harm. With this change, tenacious roots of men as authorities and women as subordinates were sidestepped and in some rare cases, eliminated.

But it seems, despite changes, a respect for victims could barely exist when respect for authorities was still highly demanded by law and order. Thus a society in conflict with itself seems normalized and where we exist. But it doesn’t have to be.

There became a denial about gender as authority along with a protest against it amidst aspects of it changing as well. But like the term, victim blaming, the protest was not described as a problem of authority/subordination. It was described in other terms that complicate the matter and actually do exist as part of it.

For example, There was confusion between what part of the feminine IS the passive, submissive subordinate and what part of the masculine IS the aggressive leader and authority.  In fact, even women struggled to understand how much of being feminine actually does exist, who has it, who doesn’t and how much is pure social subordination or innate characteristics of being human and which kind of human. The results are with us. Some of this is still a part of how we see a woman in a race for President of the country.

Confusion was also couched in something that was called equality. Now this equality of the sexes thing shouldn’t be that hard to understand or deal with, but apparently understanding and simplicity was lost. My guess is, in part, it was lost in the teachings and changes from of one generation to the next, or one group of people to the next.

So let’s be clear this equality and human rights thing began with the Declaration of Independence in the US. Not with women and gender. Equal rights began as a protest via country boundaries and as some men protested against the authority of the king-religion relationship. Nowhere did this thing that started America get into debates about victim blaming in its colonial beginnings. However, The other part, the subordinate part of the king relationship, the slave, took another 100 years to address. And still seems to idealogically be enjoyed by some. But this is, after all,  just another authority/subordinate relationship that I forgot to mention previously. It’s been said Trump is very authoritarian so you can kind of predict that subordination may likely increase if he becomes president. It seems many people really don’t understand relationships enough to  behave in ways to get the results they want. An understatement? Maybe it’s because there is confusion because relationships are changing and many ways to discuss it.

Nonetheless, getting back to what I’m trying to say.

Yesterday I caught a segment of a woman crying on Dr. Phil and he quite rudely and authoritatively said to her “Quit playing the victim”. It is common these days to hear that.  It was this that prompted me to, once again, as I have many times, turn off the show and why I am writing this article.

Dr. Phil has some education but he is woefully lacking in his authority about women. First off, he isn’t one and will never be. He misses fundamental problems. But that’s being deviant now, isn’t it? Women love Dr. Phil, right?


One of the things that happens in our social structures of relationships is that when you mass produce authority/subordinate dynamics of relationships, you tend to not take the time to get to KNOW your subordinates. Today voice mails handle people. Speaking about not knowing. You don’t even have to talk to a person who has authority over you. And One hour time segments or less are perceived as sufficient to know someone or understand a problem and then use authority over them. How can this setup not be bound to be riddled with mistakes, misperceptions and failure?

As authority, your time is quite full in the mass production model of people which drives up the numbers of them coming into your life as subordinates. Like a corporation, the more the numbers the more the profit. In a large system the idea is efficiency in handling the masses.  You have to shuffle them through quickly. So the design is to sacrifice quality of relationships for quantity and to deny quality is being circumvented and justify method in a denial – again.

And a source of this is that the authority/subordinate dynamic may be causing more harm than good these days. I’m not advocating getting rid of authority. I’m pointing to adjusting for its limitations. This also seems to be happening in some ways as a result of our image and text technologies that decrease the time people spend with each other. You just can’t know something when you are there to see it. No book. No text. Nothing replaces being there and experience. Fiction replaces fact when you have no facts. Stats become facts even when statisticians say no, they aren’t. Context and interpretation frame facts.

I’m saying all this for a reason.

You ultimately HAVE to stereotype your subordinates in such a social design. Stereotyping is dehumanizing a person to a simple image or text. It is less likely to happen as your time increases with a person and decreases with image and texts about people. And we already know from past experience what damage stereotyping does and how hard it is to eradicate stereotypes once established. Still, We haven’t decreased them. We are mass producing them rapidly simply by our social design and relationship rules. 236f&sboxed

It’s necessary for one to develop a way of looking at and understanding people you don’t know or don’t have the time to get to know by simply categorizing and classifying them into boxes or non-human things, like numbers, words and digital dots of light. You have decisions to make and only 15 minutes, you know?  You have less time to specifically learn who individual people are and discern whose the bad guy. This model of relationship, runs not just the Dr. Phil show, but most all of the ways our society functions these days.

The reason I mention that is because when someone is a victim it means that something has happened to them. It means that circumstances exist in such a way that they lose the normal abilities and power that they have to function, not just as an equal, but as a normally, independent person. That doesn’t mean the person is flawed. So equality gets warped from the get go when there is violence, harm and subsequent victims of violence. An Adult person as a victim can not function as a normal adult in some circumstances. If your house is on fire, you can’t take a shower. That doesn’t mean you have an innate mental problem in taking a shower. It means your bathroom is gone and you need one. Taking medications to survive the loss of a home doesn’t magically produce a new shower. Only community help can do that. But in stereotyping people and making invisible their life conditions and circumstances or stereotyping those circumstances as well, we can easily miss that the house is on fire and they just need a kind person to lend a hand. We all lack this type of community sharing and compassion in some ways because It’s not part of the dominant focus of our lens or design of the visual box we frame to see people in. We are taught to question character, personality disorders and behaviors and miss the obvious events that are going on around us.

Needless to say, we got some problems here.

In the case of skewing the understandings of authority, subordination, obedience and punishment, the social discourse was changed out of that to a new one; that of being a victim of ‘an abuser’ or any word that fits a bad person. I’ve heard them all. Abuser became synonymous with bad person and when bad person is pointed out then many words can be applied. Evil. Idiot. Narcissist. Pervert. Scumbag. And a bunch of ‘bad’ words I won’t add here. Just look online. They are everywhere. It reeks of the old witch hunts cast out of society. It’s not the word I’m pointing to that I’m pointing to. It’s what we attach to the word in terms of being a human being and missing our socially organized structure that helps us see people in difficult circumstancs.

In not addressing authority/subordinate, the dynamics of social structure that causes the problem are denied and the problem is presented as a bunch of bad individuals with some type of personality, character or behavioral problem. We flipped from seeing the victim as flawed to seeing the perpetrator as flawed, but the relationship descriptions are flawed as well. Violence is a social problem. Not just individual. And we still have a society that is run on law and order and needs to be maintained by authority and subordinates which when push comes to shove is only maintained by violence. Are we chasing our tail?

Abuser/victim concepts and this way of dealing with a violence problem has served to help save people from harm, stop some violence and even spare deaths so I’m not wanting to criticize harshly here. I’m trying to improve upon it. It has limitations especially when it becomes a quagmire filled with catch 22 situations and the results are disappointing. It’s like being caught in the flood of a river and believing that you can rid of a few buckets of water to stop the problem while the river is still flowing over it’s banks.

And getting back to Dr. Phil, it seems when we make abusers out to be the bad guys and deny the dynamics of obedience in a social system of law and order, then we also can deny, once again, the violations of victims. We deny that victims are the result of something that happened.

Upon these changes mentioned and the further awakening of some people to the structural violence against women and children from men as as a group of authorities, victims stopped being blamed but only for a brief breathe of fresh air because then, almost immediately, victims started being accused of ‘playing the victim’.  The recognition of circumstances was immediately snuffed out by perceptions of the victims as flawed that has not fully grasped the reality of circumstances. So Not just abusers, but victims are subjected to a characterization, as if being a victim is some stereotype now and the flaw of a person rather than an event that happens to someone.  And Worse, not even understood as a common event based on relationship and social design.

So that’s it. A victim is a person that some event has happened to them. It is not some psychological flaw and behavior functioning that they need to change. Consider, for a minute, any stereotype in the same way. Consider the idea that a prostitute isn’t a kind of person with bad choices but a human person in a particular situation. A human like yourself that you could get trapped in. Consider that a homeless person is a human like yourself with the same characteristics you have, but that may be a person in a particular set of circumstances that you don’t have. Thus stereotyped victims and abusers are the same dynamics in some ways .

It is in the very way we discuss things that causes problems of dehumanizing, unequal rights, unfairness, AND violence toward one another. Violence rarely happens in a situation where there is high honor and respect for one another. In fact, many honored, respected, and important people actually pay for body protections so they lessen the chances that they are victimized.

We need to take a look at the social discourse and how it evolves to put all of us right back to the things we are trying to eradicate.

Overall from centuries past, humans have lessened their violence toward one another but in a very unique Hitler kind of way, violence has also increased. Remember being a victim means that something has happened to someone. You know, kind of like equivalent to a tornado or a fire destroying your ritual functioning, your house and complete belongings. You are forced to live completely different and in new ways. Nothing is the same.

Years ago, men got away with violence against women and children. They got away with rape and murder by the same structure, ideas, and the very language that was used and how the social discourse played out to make the violence both invisible and for those who did it unaccountable or justified.

While we have new discourse to improve things, we don’t have discourse that can end violence.

Today an accusation of playing the victim has the same results as years ago when people would say….What did YOU do to cause being hit? It leaves a victim powerless not by one’s own actions but by all the actions of those around and in the community that function in a way that creates and perpetuates it even while wanting it to end.

I think this is important because this problem of violence is not just a bunch of bad guys and girls. The more we deny the structural reasons for violence the less we can stop it. The more we blame a bunch of bad guys for violence, the more every single one of us is being set up to fall into the category and stereotype ourselves as a bad guy for functioning normally.  Sometimes the normal really is abnormal when circumstances are abnormal. Our society, for many good reasons, is abnormal. It is abnormal for human beings to have phones as a dominant way of communication in relationships, for example, but has fast become normal.

How predictable is it that the very flaws of a large system requiring mass obedience and punishment, authorities and subordinates is actually seen as the solution and not the problem – or that it exists as a solution and problem simultaneously?

The solutions, yes, aren’t easy and quick. But I recommend something I read was Einstein’s thinking. You can’t solve a problem with the same mindset that created it.



One thought on “Complications with Victim Blaming

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