April 24, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
Much has been written about the cult of victimhood that began with feminism and has now expanded to seemingly anyone and everyone who’s attended college in the last 30 years or so. Oh, I know that most people who’ve attended college in those years escapes without believing the nonsense peddled by the social justice warriors. Still, the notion that one’s highest calling is to realize one’s most abject victim status is altogether present in our national discourse as this article once again demonstrates (The Independent, 4/19/17).
Now, the very concept of ‘victim’ necessarily includes the concept of at least a degree of helplessness. One is a victim of the playground bully if one is unable to avoid or confront the bullying. Black slaves were victims of slavery because they had no realistic out. So the fact that, in a society is comparatively free and prosperous, we have an ever-growing number of people convinced that they’re victims of something or someone means that those people want us to believe that, in some way, they don’t have a choice about the conduct of their lives. They are helpless in the face of some power or other.
Unsurprisingly, the linked-to article traffics in exactly that concept. And, like virtually all similar pieces, it seeks to convince its readers of their empowerment while simultaneously assuming their debility. I would argue that makes their empowerment narrative insincere, that the real goal is to maintain victim status by the presumption of an inability to be anything else.
The article is by Olivia Blair and it’s about Tiffany Dufu, so it’s hard to know which woman is the one assuming her own helplessness, probably both. But whoever’s at fault, the helplessness, like an unwanted guest, comes early and stays late.
More tedious still, the entire piece, plus Dufu’s book, are all about Dufu’s realization that she couldn’t “have it all.” I don’t know about you, but I thought the idea that women could devote 24 hours a day to their careers plus another 24 to their families went out the window in the 80s. Dufu’s flogging a horse that’s been dead for three decades. Ugh!
After trying unsuccessfully to “gracefully manage both career and home,”
A slow and steady period of ‘figuring it out’ succeeded before Dufu concluded that she just could not do it all, at least in the way society expected.
Yes, Dufu presents herself as the helpless victim of a “society” that is at fault for a grown woman’s failure to realize the obvious – that there are just 24 hours in a day and she has only so much energy to devote to her job and her family. Adults understand this full well and make the necessary adjustments to at least try to strike a good balance between competing obligations. Not Dufu. No, for her there’s something called “society” out there somewhere demanding that she “gracefully manage both career and home.”
Actually, there are countless messages of all types in the public sphere. Some of them tell us to buy this type of car, that type of razor blade or some other kind of air freshener. And yes, there are depictions of happy, fulfilled women at home with their kids as well as happy and fulfilled women toiling away at careers. Of course the non-perpetually-victimized among us understand that those messages are just that – messages – and that, as adults, each of us has to make his/her own choices to the extent we can. We also realize that few of us will feel at all times happy and fulfilled like the people in the television ads.
Somehow Dufu realized none of those things, or at least wants us to think she didn’t. For her, the “society” that has the audacity to deliver various messages about various things is to blame for her juvenile belief in a mythical land in which women not only “have it all,” but have it “gracefully.”
I hope Mommy bought Dufu the pony she wanted as a little girl. Heaven only knows what criticism the poor woman would be coming in for now had she not.
“We’re told, ‘It is fine for you to conquer the world and be a powerful executive but everything still has to be managed beautifully on the home front – if it is not then you’re a failure in one way or the other’.
No, actually women have been told the opposite for decades now. That’s what makes the linked-to article so trite; it’s been said and resaid an untold number of times. Just consider the otherwise entirely regrettable Anne-Marie Slaughter who’s had quite a successful career in academia and government. She’s quite clear that she couldn’t have done it without her husband who did the lion’s share of the childcare. Despite the message that women can’t in fact “have it all” being a more or less constant presence in everything from Oprah to women’s magazines and the like, Dufu insists she never got the message. Bless her heart, she’s the only one.
In fact, I suspect she not only got that message, but that she’s smart enough to have figured it out regardless. My guess is that the siren call of victimhood is simply stronger than any other for Dufu. Again, before the supposed preachings of “society,” she’s helpless – helpless to figure out obvious things for herself, helpless to criticize those messages and helpless to simply accept the fact that she’s a human being doing the best she can.
Dufu believes at some point in women’s lives it hits them that it is impossible to both be successful professionally and perform "flawlessly" at home. But when this happens it does not mean women are the failure, and, through her new book, she is striving to make women understand it is society’s expectations of women which are in fact flawed.
She’s right about women coming to understand that they can’t “be successful and perform ‘flawlessly at home.’” It’s called ‘adulthood.’ It’s called realizing one’s limitations and working within them to make the best life one can. It’s as common as dirt; everyone does it. But only people like Dufu believe they’re victims of “society” because of it.
Ms. Dufu, “society” has no expectations of you. Society cares not a whit about you. Society putters along just fine with millions of women who stay at home full-time with their kids. It doesn’t miss a beat when a woman opts for a career in engineering any more than it does when another woman becomes a librarian or decides to spend her days eating bon-bons and reading slim French novels. Society was OK in 1950 when only 35% of women were part of the labor force and it’s OK now when 56% are. Please, stop trying to make your own absurd misunderstandings about yourself and the world into a cause celebre. It’s not one. It’s just you trying to convince someone (yourself) that you’re a helpless victim when in fact, you just didn’t grasp what essentially every adult knows – that you can’t “have it all” and that too is OK.
But that’s far from the extent of Dufu’s nonsense. More on that tomorrow.
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