Very few words carry the weight of “victim” in today’s world. Most of its power, however, comes from not being spoken directly. It is a term for a concept that must lurk in the shadows, a mugger ready to rob you or a secret that dare not be exposed, all in the name of social status.
It may seem strange for a middle-aged pale male of great privilege to write about the word victim. But that is actually the point in the end. Many people just like me have assumed the trappings of victimhood and attempt to use it as an armor in battle, Joan of Arc style. How did this come about, and how does it work?
More to the point, why on earth does this work?
A repeat from a year ago on a bizzy month end.
Any essay on “privilege” has to start with a solid disclosure. As a middle-aged pale male, I have no business lecturing anyone on privilege. I’m at the top of the heap, and I know it. That is my point in this piece, after all. I have the privilege of contemplating privilege.
It still seems to me to be primarily the benefit of the doubt. If I walk into a store, I’m a customer – not a potential thief casing the joint. If the cops pull me over I get a certain level of respect that not everyone does, and I do use this to my advantage at times. If things get really bad and guns are pulled out, the benefit of the doubt makes me the good guy in the split second decision that separates life from death.
I have no illusions about any of this. That is, actually, my point through all of this.