I came across this link last Friday and already shared it on Facebook, but if you haven’t seen it yet I would encourage you to take a look. It’s a pretty quick read, and does a great job articulating some of the things that have been percolating in my head for some time:
The author is writing about how this issue intersects with feminism, but I think her points hold true any time such platitudes are used.
As we go through our lives, stuff happens. Sometimes it’s good stuff. Other times it isn’t. And most of the time, the determination as to which type comes to pass is left up to pure, cold, uncaring chance. Did the person who was hit by a car somehow “attract” that car into their lives while crossing at a red light? Did the person with a hereditary disease “attract” that chronic pain and suffering? Does the person with depression “attract” those dark thoughts because their brains are chemically incapable of producing the normal amount of neurotransmitters and brain chemicals?
Every time you blame the victim, no matter how well-intentioned, you add to their anxiety. In fact, platitudes like “you reap what you sow” are the least helpful things that can be said when someone is suffering.
Is this a sore issue for me? You’re darn right it is. For better or worse (mostly the latter), I’ve thoroughly internalized the dominant cultural narrative that this “advice” represents. As such, I am actively struggling against these internal demons nearly every day, which are made all the more insidious by the fact that they use my own voice against me. And then to hear the same points reinforced from the outside? It rocks my shaky semblance of self-esteem to its foundation.
Believe me: I have a black belt in beating myself up. I don’t need outside help.