Some people enjoy being victims. People seem to express their enjoyment of being victims by publicly announcing that they are victims. Public announcements provide what I call victim validation. Victim validation gives people feelings of importance as validated victims. Validated victims expect other people to pay attention to their victim needs and take care of their victim needs. Because they feel that publicly announcing their victimhood makes their needs more important than anyone else’s, validated victims feel entitled to ignore everyone else’s needs.
Validated victims blame other people for all of their problems and complain about other people hurting them. Unfortunately, validated victims are everywhere, including the political left and the political right.
Victims on the Left
One example from the political left is Terry O’Neill, President of the National Organization for Women since 2009. I am not a member of the National Organization for Women, but I did sign up for emails. NOW President Terry O’Neill sends out emails to “hundreds of thousands of contributing members and more than 500 local and campus affiliates in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.” I disproved those membership claims, so we don’t know how many people receive the emails. NOW’s claim about the number of members has changed since I disproved its claim of more than 500,000 members.
This email from O’Neill perfectly illustrates victim validation:
Subject Line: Haterade
September 13, 2014
Terry O’Neill, NOW via mail.salsalabs.net
10:53 AM (1 hour ago)
Dear Paula, I’m sure you’ve heard by now, but this week NOW called on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to resign his post. Since we released that statement, it has been a whirlwind of press and action.
You might have seen or heard me on MSNBC, CBS, ABC, NBC or ESPN – or any of a dozen other media outlets. But if you saw me, that means the trolls did too; all week, we’ve been getting barraged with hateful comments via phone, email and on Facebook and Twitter.
Nestled in there — often hidden in the muck — are voices of solidarity. These voices wish us luck in our endeavor, many identify as football fans or activists working in their communities – all agree that we must end the epidemic of violence against women.
Contribute and help us continue our work!
Sure, some of the trolls use the old quip of demanding that I “make them a sandwich” – not the first time I’ve heard that one! I’ve been accused of being “off my rocker”.
The truth is, though, almost all of these comments have been outright and aggressively misogynistic. Since I became president of NOW, I’ve received a regular stream of hate mail. Sadly, it just comes with the job. But knowing I have your support makes all the difference.
So a warning to the trolls: We will not deviate from this path. I know that we can change our culture – which is so permissive of violence against women — and change our laws, simultaneously.
How do I know that? Because we’re the National Organization for Women and this what we do – especially with supporters like you.
Thank you for all you do,
Terry O’Neill President, National Organization for Women
P.S. Thousands of you have already shown your support by signing our petition demanding that Roger Goodell resign. Can I count on your continued support with a contribution today?
Blaming and complaining over and over again, just in this one email. O’Neill clearly feels sorrier for herself than she feels for women who live with domestic violence. She never acknowledges the men who live with domestic violence. She does acknowledge that hate mail “just comes with the job.” Though she made the choice to take a job that comes with hate mail, O’Neill still feels more victimized than women who are victims of domestic violence. Never mind the male victims.
Did O’Neill validate her victimhood on ”MSNBC, CBS, ABC, NBC or ESPN — or any of a dozen other media outlets”? I don’t know. I have better things to do than watch the President of the National Organization for Women demonstrate the fine art of validating victimhood.
Victims on the Right
One example from the political right is a commenter to online articles in local newspapers. This is a much smaller audience than O’Neill’s audience. The commenter and I both live in Wisconsin. She is a Republican. I am a Democrat.
I exchanged comments with this commenter in several discussions. Two discussions illustrate her desire to be a validated victim. Both were political discussions. Several newspapers have written articles about how Wisconsin is doing worse under Governor Scott Walker. For one discussion, I provided this list of online article titles for everyone reading the comments to see:
“Surprise! ‘Pro-business’ policies hurt state economic growth”
Los Angeles Times
May 6, 2014
“State Employment Trends: Does a Low Tax/Right-to-Work/Low Minimum Wage Regime Correlate to Growth?”
April 22, 2014
“Declining Private Employment in Wisconsin, Sideways Trending in Kansas”
July 17, 2014
“Revised and Updated Data Indicate Minnesota-Wisconsin Economic Activity Gap Increases”
April 1, 2014
“Right vs. Left in the Midwest”
Lawrence R. Jacobs
The New York Times
November 23, 2013
The commenter wrote these two comments to me:
“California is a disaster. You should quit posting.”
“Yes, Paula Kramer. You should quit posting when you say CA is doing better than WI.”
She included the link below with her second comment:
“California’s Economic Collision Course: Immigration and Water”
Thomas Del Beccaro
August 19, 2014
This article was the only evidence she presented in response to me during the discussion.
Because of these two comments, I gave this commenter a nickname: Stop-Thinking-You’re-Equal-To-Me.
In another discussion, I wrote a comment about how Walker’s policies had made life worse for all Wisconsin residents. I included this list of links to online articles:
“Wisconsin ‘right-to-work” critic will expand company in Minnesota
St. Paul Pioneer Press
March 10, 2015
“Wisconsin and Minnesota: A One-Sided Political Competition”
The Rachel Maddow Show/The MaddowBlog
March 5, 2015
“Scott Walker has failed Wisconsin and Minnesota is the proof”
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
October 22, 2014
“Minnesota economy beats Wisconsin: 7 charts, 1 table”
Minnesota Public Radio NewsCut
January 26, 2015
“A Fiscal Tale of Two States: Minnesota vs. Wisconsin”
September 30, 2014
“Our view: Minnesota is winning this border battle”
January 4, 2015
“Walker vs. Dayton smackdown: Which governor has the better economy?”
Louis O. Johnson
February 7, 2013
“Minnesota making our state look bad”
January 15, 2015
The January 15, 2015 Post Crescent article includes these statements:
“Despite Walker’s claim that we’re “open for business,” Forbes magazine ranks Wisconsin 31st for business; Minnesota ranks ninth. This despite the fact that the American Legislative Exchange Council, the powerful organization that drafts legislation for conservative politicians and is funded, in part, by Exxon-Mobil and the Koch brothers, places Minnesota in the lowest tier of “ALEC-friendly” states and touts Wisconsin as No. 1 for taxes in 2014.
But that number is countered by reality. The median income for a Wisconsin family is some $8,000 less per year than in Minnesota. Forbes places our Minnesota seventh for economic climate and Wisconsin 27th. Forbes also ranks Minnesota second in quality of life and Wisconsin 17th.
Those numbers make ALEC’s numbers a little suspect and raise the question of exactly who benefits from Wisconsin’s No. 1 ALEC tax rating? Obviously, it’s not the ordinary Wisconsin citizen.”
This was the response from Stop-Thinking-You’re-Equal-To-Me:
“Hey Paula: Obama made me give up my Dr. so it’s best to stop talking about what is taken away from you.”
In response to a list of articles about the effect of state government policies on all Wisconsin residents, Stop-Thinking-You’re-Equal-To-Me wrote about herself. She created inequality for me again by telling me to “stop talking”.
Blaming and complaining, Stop-Thinking-You’re-Equal-To-Me validated herself as a victim. She expects other people to be responsible for her needs while she ignores the needs of everyone else. Why should she pay attention to the needs of people she considers her inferiors?
To make sure she knew I would quote her comments, I sent Stop-Thinking-You’re-Equal-To-Me a private Facebook message. I assured her I would keep her anonymous. I also wrote this:
“It’s sad that you don’t see equality as the benefit it is. It’s sad that you don’t understand that creating inequality for someone else means inviting other people to create inequality for you. You and I are equal, ——-. You deserve the same respect I deserve. I deserve the same respect you deserve. You deserve the same respect from other people that I receive from other people. That is why I hope you stop inviting other people to create inequality for you.”
This is part of her response:
“Now I remember, Paula. Your mother tried to kill you twice and you write about it and have trouble still dealing with it. I had a brother that beheaded himself, an alcoholic husband that became a ward of the state, a family member that embezzled, incidents in childhood that may make you shudder.”
For the record, I write about my mother trying to kill me only when I am participating in discussions about abortion, which might be two or three times a year. I do not write about my mother trying to kill me when it has nothing to do with the discussion.
Stop-Thinking-You’re-Equal-To-Me, however, inserted her personal pain into a discussion that was not about personal pain. Perhaps Stop-Thinking-You’re-Equal-To-Me thought those four examples would force me to see her for the validated victim she believes she is. As a validated victim, no one should expect anything of her, including treating other people with respect and equality. Instead, we should tolerate Stop-Thinking-You’re-Equal-To-Me’s blaming and complaining and take responsibility for easing her pain while expecting nothing in return.
What to Do about Validated Victims?
You could tolerate the victims who share your political views, though you shouldn’t expect them to treat you with respect or equality. You could ignore validated victims on both the right and the left. Or, you could use one or more of these four techniques:
Use the term validated victim to them.
Repeat, “Blaming and complaining again?” each time they do it.
Let them know how many times they made the same statement.
Ask, “What are you doing to change the situation?”
I’ve tried the last two techniques with just one person. After one friend made the exact same complaint five times in a row, I told her she had made the exact same statement five times in a row. I told her I needed to hear it only once. Then I asked her what she was going to do about the situation. She told me she might need to say it five times in a row. I told her she could find someone else to say it to. She no longer calls me to blame and complain about anything.
If we all use similar strategies with the people in our lives, maybe we could gradually convince everyone that victim validation is a waste of everyone’s time. Maybe pointing out the common ground between validated victims on the political left and validated victims on the political right would cause enough healthy embarrassment to stop the blaming and complaining. Something along the lines of:
“You sound just like…”
I’m ready to try.
“Processes Explaining the Concealment and Distortion of Evidence on Gender Symmetry in Partner Violence”
Murray A. Strauss
European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research
July 14, 2007
Ms. Magazine published the article ‘Trashing: The Dark Side of Sisterhood’ in 1976.
More than 40 years later, former National Organization for Women (NOW) vice president Gilda Yazzi filed a federal discrimination lawsuit against NOW and national NOW President Toni Van Pelt for race discrimination, hostile work environment, and retaliation. NOW filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. Part of the lawsuit was dismissed, but the motion to dismiss all counts was denied. The lawsuit is moving forward.
Other NOW staff members and interns accused Van Pelt of discrimination: “illegal, morally reprehensible, dishonest, destructive, and frankly toxic behavior.”
Trashing to create intentional inequality is a feminist leader tradition.
Fortunately, NOW includes state chapter leaders and national board members who do want equality. They called for Van Pelt to leave NOW. Van Pelt resigned, citing health reasons.
NOW has yet to create equality between its own staff and members. How can it possibly create equality between women and men?
“‘Don’t Forget the White Women!’: Members Say Racism Ran Rampant at NOW”
The Daily Beast
August 12, 2020
“President of Now steps down amid racism allegations at feminist group”
August 17, 2020
“Trashing: The Dark Side of Sisterhood”
1976, pages 49 to 51 and 92 to 98.
As an American, I have freedom of speech.
As a woman, I have the right to express my opinion about anything the National Organization for Women claims to do for women.
In 2016, I started adding the section below to all of my new Feminist Leader blog posts. I also added it to all posts published before 2016.
The National Organization For Women
National NOW has blocked me on its Facebook page. I wrote comments based on my blog posts. All of my blog posts are based on a wide variety of evidence. Much of the evidence comes from National NOW’s website, emails and posts from NOW presidents, and emails from NOW staff members. I use no hostile language, no slurs, no profanity. I do use the phrase “glory addicts” in reference to NOW leaders. I also use “glory addiction”, “glory fixes”, and “a dedicated network of glory addicts”. Dr. Marsha Vanderford (Doyle) identified the glory needs of pro-choice leaders in her 1982 dissertation.
Feminist leaders have been silencing women for decades. bell hooks, Gloria Steinem, Urvashi Vaid, and Naomi Wolf got together for a conversation that was published in Ms. Magazine in 1993. The discussion included why women choose not to call themselves feminists. Did these four feminist leaders working for women’s equality ask women who choose not to call themselves feminist to speak for themselves? Of course not! The four feminist leaders silenced millions of women by speaking for them without first requesting permission to speak for them.
Imagine a group of women who choose not to call themselves feminists getting together for a conversation to be published in a magazine about why some women call themselves feminists. Would hooks, Steinem, Vaid, Wolf, or Ms. Magazine agree with nonfeminist women denying them the opportunity to speak for themselves? Of course not! Would hooks, Steinem, Vaid, Wolf, or Ms. Magazine agree that nonfeminist women had the right to speak for feminist women without their permission? Of course not!
hooks, Steinem Vaid, and Wolf could have created equality between women. They could have provided a platform for women who choose not to call themselves feminist to explain their choice in their own words.
My feminist leader blog posts provide evidence that feminist leaders still create glory for themselves while relegating supporters to “secondary importance”. Dr. Vanderford used the words “relegated” and “secondary importance” in her dissertation. Eoin Harnett of University College Cork in Ireland used the same “secondary importance” phrase:
“Throughout the ages, women were frequently characterised
and treated as inferior and of secondary importance to men.”
NOW leaders even relegated two of their supporters to secondary importance. The supporters responded to my last two comments on National NOW’s Facebook page with comments supporting NOW. NOW leaders silenced those supporters by removing their comments along with my comments. Instead of creating equality, NOW leaders treat other women the same way patriarchal men treat women, as inferior and of secondary importance.
In-House Rhetoric of Pro-Life and Pro-Choice Special Interest Groups in Minnesota: Motivation and Alienation
Dissertation, University of Minnesota, 1982
Marsha Vanderford Doyle, Ph.D.
(Now Marsha Vanderford)
Quoted words on page 350.
“Let’s Get Real about Feminism: The Backlash, the Myths, the Movement.”
hooks, bell, Gloria Steinem, Urvashi Vaid, and Naomi Wolf.
Vol 4(2) September/October 1993: pages 34-43.
“Multitext Project in Irish History: Movements for Political & Social Reform, 1870-1914”
University College Cork, Ireland
This project is no longer available online.
Paula M. Kramer
© 2015 to the present.
All rights reserved.
Posts on this blog alternate with posts at the link below. Posts for both blogs are published on Wednesdays as they are ready to be published. Time between posts could be weeks or months.
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