Why it’s fashionable to blame the victim

Do you know how I personally know that society defaults to victim blaming rather than attitude adjustment? Because there’s a million adverts on TV for weight loss products but not a single advert for a self help book on tolerance.

Out of all the topics involved with victim blaming right now that is the least newsworthy but, as a fat white dude, it is the only one I’ve experienced personally. People shout things from cars, they make snide backhanded comments and they call me an “Unfunny fat fuck” which is both alliterative and accurate as I am more passionate and less hilarious in my lovemaking.

I realise that being overweight doesn’t necessarily make me a victim, doughnuts don’t hurl themselves into my mouth when I stroll down bakery aisles. I’m not assaulted in darkened alley ways by two men who hold me down and pour buttercream into my mouth. But people don’t know why I’m big, do I have a thyroid problem? Am I diabetic? Is this an allergic reaction to unexpected aggression? They don’t know.

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(and they don’t want to come out from under their bridge long enough to find out)

Yesterday I asked what people thought was the cause in the rise of food bank use, I was looking for a reason beyond “The government”. What I was hoping for was a way we could look at it and say “it wasn’t this specific government, it would have happened under any government” what I got was justification for this article. Here’s my favourite answer:

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That’s right you heard it here first, the reason people use foodbanks more now is because more people donate food! ALTRUISM IS THE CAUSE OF SUFFERING! Last year I saw people commenting that the rise in social housing was causing the housing crisis, UKIP supporters were claiming that immigrants cause racism because without immigrants there wouldn’t be anyone to be racist to.

And who could forget the age old classic “Well what did you expect to happen going out dressed like that?!”

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(Well if you’re going to walk around with your back to people, you’ve got to expect someone to put a few bullets in it haven’t you?)

It’s a strange way of thinking but the more I dwell on it the more I get it. People’s first reaction whenever anything bad happens is to find someone to blame for it. It’s a base evolutionary instinct adapted, inadequately, to modern day situations. As cave people we would see a problem and find a solution, the problem wouldn’t be with ourselves as that was something we could fix immediately. We die because we leave our cave, ok so it’s that tiger killing us as we leave, right we need to kill the tiger. Our ability to see problems and solve them accordingly is why we evolved into the virus like mammals we are.

So cut to today and people see problems in the world around them, problems they’re not directly responsible for causing. Take the rise in food banks, your average person hasn’t cut anyone’s wages or sanctioned anyone’s benefits, they haven’t shut down a hospital or personally forced a person into a life of addiction. What they see is a problem that they haven’t manufactured. They look at the people they do relate to and think “If I didn’t cause that problem they couldn’t have either because I didn’t” it’s a very straightforward way of thinking, almost computer like in it’s logical progression

I am like this

Those people are suffering

Those other people are like me

They aren’t causing the suffering because I am not causing the suffering

I don’t identify with the people who are suffering

The people who are suffering must be causing their own suffering or they wouldn’t be suffering

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And that’s how easy it is to blame a victim. All that needs to happen is for the person to not identify with the victim, that’s all it takes.

We all do it too. The examples I’ve used are extreme prejudices and situations but how many of us have seen someone get a parking ticket and thought “well you deserved that” not knowing the situation, how many of us have seen a mother screaming at her children in the street and thought “she’s a terrible mother” rather than “Maybe she just needs someone to help” we’ve all done it because as soon as we can’t identify with that person’s suffering we’re numb to it. We have to be, our inner caveperson screams at the tiger outside the cave.

It’s a terrible problem right now. I could go on and on about what’s happened in a Tory Britain, about injustices and horror stories but really I’d either be preaching to the choir or fuelling the fires of animosity. Either way you know the story. Working class people vote Tory because they WANT to identify with them, they want to be rich and successful and have everything. Rich people vote Tory because it’s in their best interest to. Both aspects of those two society cross sections don’t identify with the suffering they see on TV. Why would they? They haven’t experienced it and they’ve worked hard their whole life, everyone else must have had the same opportunity to have that same life right?

Victim blaming has become the sociological norm. No matter what we think we still, as a planet, vote in the people who have the potential to cause the most damage. Labour are suggesting free school meals for every child and the only thing the right can respond to it with is “where’s the money coming from for that?!” but the Conservatives have given tax cuts to corporations, in practise rather than just policy, and funded full on wars without the right so much as suggesting maybe spending £80,000 on one missile is a crazy expenditure and don’t you think we should clear down some of our credit cards before we go shopping again darling? I know you love those shoes but we really should think about making housing affordable again, oh you know what I could never say no to you, you can have second houses for every minister rather than just getting them to Skype into any important debates they should have a presence at, we don’t need free healthcare anyway.

The fact that this viewpoint is becoming more prolific shows a shift backwards, a survival instinct kicking in as we feel the world shifting. Maybe if we stopped worrying about the tiger outside the cave so much we’d notice the one inside here with us.

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Dieting (and why it’s like politics)

First off I’d like to say I am overwhelmed by how supportive everyone is. I am losing weight and whenever someone says that to me I immediately roll my eyes, it’s the same as when someone asks if I want to see pictures of their new baby or that they’re undergoing chemo, I get it you’re trying to better yourself stop rubbing it in my face. But truly I am astounded at how many people are genuinely cheering me on to become, essentially, less of me. My friends, family and just people I meet are absolutely and completely, genuinely, excited and pleased that I am losing weight, which is lovely.

But now I totally get why governments fail horrendously even when they have the best advisors money can buy.

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The first thing that happens when you lose a bunch of weight (I’ve currently lost 36lbs or 16.3kg depending on whether you use the pre or post Brexit values) is people ask you how you did it. In my case I cut out sugar, carbs and processed rubbish. I also cut out sweeteners because sweeteners have been linked to raised risks of diabetes, cancer, dementia and strokes, my opinion being if someone hands you a gun and says “I’m pretty sure I loaded it with blanks, fire it into your mouth a couple of times to check” my reply will always be “I’ll just have a water thanks”.

So people asked and I said “I’ve cut out sugar, carbs, processed stuff and sweeteners and it seems to be helping me lose weight, I also let myself have a slice cake once a week or something similar and I’m not beating myself up about sticking to it. If I’m doing it the majority of the time that’s fine but I’m not going to ruin someone’s dinner party because they made pasta” and 100% of the time people have said “Ok I’m going to do most of that but I’m not going to do all of it, I couldn’t live without this thing you’ve given up”

Which is why I think government policies don’t work.

 

The government pays a bunch of advisors to tell them what to do. These advisors are, usually and hopefully, experts in their field having either decades of experience or an extensive education in the subject they are advising on (ideally both but I’ll take one over none). These advisors write reports that they then submit to the MPs that need to make all the decisions, obviously it’s not just one MP it’s usually a committee of MPs all sat around taking in reports from various different advisors. The policies they make are based on these reports.

But…

What actually happens is a bunch of unqualified people look at the findings from a bunch of qualified people and make changes based on their opinions. They’re not taking the advice directly, it’s filtered through a level of bureaucracy and bias first before making it’s way into the government’s remit. In fact the advisors might as well not be there in the first place,

If you just Google “Government advisor” the 2nd result under News is this – Government privacy advisor quits and slams Cabinet Office for lack of support that’s a story about Jerry Fishenden who was an advisor to the government on matters of online privacy and related issues, he quit as an advisor because of how they were treated when presenting advice (bearing in mind this is what they’re there to do), he said:

“Without such backing, those officials who find the group ‘challenging’ have found it easier to ignore it, attempting instead to smuggle their inadequate proposals past ministers without the benefit of the group’s independent expert assistance”

The thing is that, as an advisor, that falls right back on him. He’s part of an advisory board on privacy, a policy is made around online privacy around the findings of the board he is on, that policy fails to achieve anything or is detrimental to the thing it’s trying to stop, he gets blamed because everything was based on his findings but really NOTHING WAS BASED ON HIS FINDINGS.

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(mistyped Scapegoat)

And this is exactly what I’ve discovered through dieting. You do something and it works, you tell someone else to do exactly the same thing, they do similar but change a bits because they think they know better, IT DOESN’T WORK and they blame you because you gave them the advice in the first place.

This is why our government doesn’t work right now. More focus is put on opinion than it is on facts. Last year’s referendum was the most important decision the UK’s population has ever made and what facts were presented? Zero. Zero facts were presented. A lot of opinions were presented, oh yes big red buses covered in opinions were presented, billboards covered in the opinions of a single racist were posed in front of for publicity, social media was awash with opinions and not one of them agreed on anything other than the people who didn’t share their opinions were idiots.

Former London Mayor Boris Johnson speaks at the launch of the Vote Leave bus campaign, in favour of Britain leaving the European Union, in Truro

(GIANT RED OPINIONS)

We have, as a country, started the Brexit process and yet we still don’t have any actual facts. We don’t know how trade is going to be affected, whether freedom of movement across the EU will still happen, what it’ll do to our economy etc etc. It’s all guesses and opinions.

The fact is we need a government based on facts, we need less opinions and bias, less selfish policy making to help ourselves and more to help the country. Less infighting, more experts and definitely a couple of scientists up making decisions rather than people who think you can ignore a portion of the facts if they don’t fit into your world view.

It’s strange how we’re quick to dismiss things that don’t fit into our opinions, like the fact that aspartame has been linked to melting your brain and growing tumours in your stomach because we like the taste and drinking it feels like we’re doing something to make things better without actually doing anything to make things better.

Basically what I’m saying is if you’re going to make a decision, look at the facts and only the facts. Alter your opinion based on those facts and don’t disregard things that have been proven just because you don’t feel like they fit in with how you think. Opinions are like nipples, everyone has at least two and no one needs to see them in a Starbucks.