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Maybe We Should Blame The Victim
In the comments to The Missing Wink, my Advice Goddess column I posted recently, a woman who calls herself "myce" trots out the same old expected defense about not blaming the victim. But, hmmm, maybe that's not so good for the victim. "myce" writes:

I see your point about personal responsibility, Amy, but a man just wrote that he was nearly murdered and his children endangered, and you put the blame on him? *He* ruined his son's life, and not the violent psycho who did that to him?! So then, for the sake of personal responsibility, do you also blame a woman who is beaten nearly to death in front of her children? If she tries to leave the relationship and is subsequently murdered, is it still her fault for having the bad judgement to be with the loser in the first place? Is it her fault if her daughters grow up to be terrified of men? I ask because that is the impossible standard you are holding a man to. Yes people do make mistakes in relationships especially when they are young and naive, but you don't know the exact circumstances of the relationship. Some people have a Jekel and Hyde personality and may not show their true colors until it's too late. Or maybe he was a victim of psychological abuse/brainwashing, ie. "Battered (Man) Syndrome." Whatever happened, I think it is very cold-hearted to blame him after he and his children suffered so much. It's like telling a rape victim that she was "asking for it."

My reply:

I realize the canon says "don't blame the victim," and it's a pity, because it allows people like this guy to feel like something "happened" to them -- something over which they had no control... rather than accepting responsibility for their choices -- if there was even that much "agency" in their actions. People rarely go suddenly psycho. If you're involved with some sick and horrible person, chances are it isn't because Little Red Riding Hood turned into the wolf overnight.

Idiots involved with idiots should have themselves sterilized.

And to wrap up that part before, maybe if more people "blamed the victim," there'd be far fewer victims. Camille Paglia had a great bit about this in one of her books, asking that girls start behaving like they're responsible for their own behavior. No, nobody should be raped, but going up to a frat boy's bedroom with 12 guys is kind of like driving to NYC and parking your car and leaving your keys on the hood. I believe that was Paglia's example if I'm remembering correctly.

"myce's" comment was in response to "Steve's" comment, pasted in below below:

Maybe an introduction is in order here ...

I raised my boys alone after their mother took off on a cross Canada drunk. I spoke as a pro for fathers with custody and fought hard for basic human rights for fathers with custody. I worked my way through college while the single mothers were supported through college by massive government programs. I am men's movement to the core.

I speak of Jungian psychology because Jung type thought works and works well. It is also the only psychology which does not trash men with abundant sexism. The statistics are the Jungian view.

So, let's start over.

My son is gay: He needed to attract a man with the right qualities as he shares my repugnance for gay promiscuity.

My other son will never get involved with a female (or a male as he is straight) : He watched the horror I went through during the fight to get the right to collect child support & other "women's" rights.

After I was attacked --I nearly died--, (for daring to try to get basic rights for males), he watched me lie on the floor in my own vomit & urine for two days, while he --too small to do anything sensible-- tried to keep his baby brother alive. He blames women for chearing for the violence against his father and other men who were only trying to get some help for their kids. He is wrong to blame all women, but I cannot change his mind. His childhood was full to the brim with very evil women and no one as of yet has found a way to breach that pain. We have not even found a willingness to deal with evil females ...

My step-daughter is an interesting woman. She will probably be the youngest area manager her company ever had. Her ex is almost the definition of the bad-man. She needs to make a change in the type of male she finds attractive: The best way to do that is to take charge of the dating situation. Thus, the Jungian way.

You will notice there is nothing pro-feminist in what I say. Rather, there is pragmatism and care and concern for others and ...

We will not arrive at a situation in which all people are treated fairly with attitudes based on absolutes. Absolutes are what harmed my older son and nearly killed me. Abolutes see no problem in starving small children because they are in their father's custody. Absolutes are what feminism gives, as poison, to our young.

People are what they are. Some good, some bad, most in the middle. People think the way they do, some like the classic male, some like the classic female, some like neither classic view.

I could hate all women: I have abundant cause; few men have more cause. I do not hate: That would wrong. The way out of our gender mess is to see what is, not the absolute, not the political, not the stereotype ... no, we must simply see what is.

Thus, I disagree with your absolutist point of view.

My reply:

"It is also the only psychology which does not trash men with abundant sexism."

Oh, come on. You're wrong from the get-go. Read any Albert Ellis? "Change the way you think and you'll change the way you feel"? And you're disturbed because you're thinking irrationally? He's one of the founders of cognitive behavioral therapy, and his REBT (Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy) is based on the ideas of the stoic philosopher Epictetus, not the work of Andrea Dworkin. My own work is based in reason and data.

Men like you, poisoning your boys against women, are as bad as the nuttiest of feminists. Take responsibility for your bad choices. Don't blame them on all womenkind. I went out on one date with a hell of a lot of men in my thirties. Why? Because finding somebody ethical (among other things) was of primary importance to me. I didn't just hope people would turn out to be good men. Taking care to look at what particular men I went out with were really made of, I seriously searched for a good man. When I was 39, I finally met him.

It's unlikely the woman you were with went suddenly psycho, or suddenly became some horrible person. She was that from the start, right? But, you got involved with her anyway, and then, idiocy of all idiocies, produced not one but two children with her. Your children had a bad life because daddy was a naive idiot. I had bad boyfriends, too. I saw them as learning experiences, and sometimes expensive lessons, but not people you marry and have kids with. How barbaric of you.

You'll find there's nothing "pro-feminist" in what I say either. It's all rational and pretty objective. Then again, I blame myself for being naive or whatever the case may be when I get involved with shitty people, I don't blame peoplekind.

YOU WRITE: "He is wrong to blame all women, but I cannot change his mind. His childhood was full to the brim with very evil women and no one as of yet has found a way to breach that pain. We have not even found a willingness to deal with evil females ..."

You've probably ruined your child's life. It's unlikely he can dial back from this. How tragic. It's a pity you need a license to cut hair, and all you need are a working dick and working ovaries to have a child.

Again, there are a lot of people out there. You chose to get involved with the woman you did. I suggest you read The Art Of Living Consciously by Nathaniel Branden and start taking responsibility for your own actions. Sadly, your son will probably have to be alone all his life, thanks to you. Think about that. Think where the blame lies.

Posted by aalkon at June 3, 2006 11:45 AM

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As an adult, his son is now solely responsible for his own healing, health and well-being. Assigning blame detracts from that, and it sounds like he cannot afford the distraction.

Posted by: Flagrant Feminist at June 3, 2006 11:16 AM

His son's childhood was "full to the brim with evil women?" Oh those evil women, just a-sneakin' in when I wasn't looking! Children don't have much control over who enters their lives. That's almost always dictated by who the parents choose to get involved with and allow to enter their child's life. Maybe iddle babykins would have had fewer evil women in his life if, oh I dunno, Dad hadn't gotten involved with them? Just a thought. I guess I better go nail my windows shut, just in case some evil women try to sneak in. Sounds like Dad just couldn't brain, he had the dumb.

Posted by: amh18057 at June 4, 2006 7:09 AM

Hey, can you please post that on the column itself, amh? The link to it is above.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at June 4, 2006 7:24 AM

chill the fuck out people.

that dude is right not to blame all women, but should take some more responsbility for himself.

his straight son will probably totally change when he gets out in the real world, at least if he's got any semblance of personality and looks. a good blow job will always get your motor running. i was always extremely self-conscious about a few imperfections, but once i got my first hummer, i knew i'd have to overcome my own self-imposed hurdles to get me some more of that good stuff.

finally, hot chicks need to stop going out with assholes. if a guy treats you like dog shit when you meet him, it doesn't mean that he's secure, it means he's always going to treat you like dog shit.

Posted by: g*mart at June 4, 2006 2:50 PM

Hot chicks who go out with assholes are hot chicks with low self-esteem.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at June 4, 2006 8:15 PM

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