Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Stop Playing the Victim Card

I find myself frustrated with the inundation of articles entitled “Don’t say (insert something someone is sure to find offensive here). It’s annoying. In fact, I've talked about this before, in a slightly more jesty-sort of way.

Every time I see one of these articles, my blood boils because I think, “seriously, another person is telling me what I can or cannot say. Please.”

My biggest issue with the articles that tell us what we can’t say, is that they are reinforcing victimization. When we tell people “Oh, you can’t ask a mom why she isn’t nursing,” or “You can’t ask your friends if they plan to have kids,” or “Don’t call my girl a tomboy,” we are reinforcing the idea that being a victim is okay. We are saying that we are somehow incapable of choosing not to be offended or that we are incapable of just living our life without worrying about what other people think.

All of us know (or at least should know) basic etiquette. Wash your hands, be nice, smile and don’t be nosey. However, those black and white rules aren’t always black and white and not everyone is offended by what other people would call “nosiness.” Choosing to be offended because someone has fewer personal boundaries is a waste of time and energy.

It’s just as easy to smile and nod as it is to list the 40 things that might offend someone. Actually, it’s much faster and consumes far less energy to smile and nod than it does to get all grumpy-cat on your keyboard.  

This concept of choosing not to be a victim extends to even some of the biggest movements we are seeing in the world right now. Gender-equality, sexual- preference equality, racism etc. Yes, there is room for improvement in society and yes, we should work harder to ensure equal rights and fair treatment. However, people playing the victim hinders some of the progress that could be made in these areas.

For example, instead of showing our girls that women are just as capable at sports and tree climbing as boys by just letting them do it, we write lengthy posts ranting about how being called a “tomboy” is so offensive. 

When we become wrapped up in defeating “the man” we lose time we could be spending improving our own lives and improving our own communities through example and service.

Instead of creating a media circus every time a baker refuses to make a cake for a same-sex wedding, tell your friends to stop going there and choose to work with someone who respects you and your decisions. Don’t go whining to the news outlets and threaten to sue.

Instead of taking off your tops and marching in protest for women’s rights (I mean, really of all the women’s issues, that’s the one you’re going to fight for?) go to work and work your ass off. Develop the skills you need to become the next CEO and earn that pay raise.

There is a time and a place to speak up and I would never discourage anyone from taking a public stand for things that are truly important, but spending time on the insignificant ways we choose to be offended is a waste of energy. We cannot expect others to respect our sexuality, gender, race or other lifestyle choices as equal if we are constantly allowing ourselves to be a victim.

Stop telling other people what to say (or what not so say) and start living as if you really don’t care what they say, because you shouldn’t.

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