Overcoming the label of victim in modern society

Nicole Leonard

The transition from 2017 to 2018 witnessed the transformation of victims into activists. The end of the year left many frustrated with the stagnation of change, and they made moves to actualize social reformation.

Sexual harassment in the workplace and within all facets of society was rampant for decades. Despite the dialogue sparked byAnita Hill’s sexual harassment allegations against now Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas in 1991, victims continued to be outwardly shamed and blamed for the injustices their abusers perpetrated.

Sexual harassment victims and their allies generated buzz about causes like the “MeToo” campaign and “Time’s Up” initiative as 2017 came to a close. Top businessmen and public figures were consequently fired from their positions in the wake of this bold conversation.

As individuals come forward, refusing to remain complicit with the victimization of their bodies, minds and reputations, the public has no option but to alter the course of dialogue regarding their strife. As victim becomes a term which connotes determined defiance, their victimization becomes their strength in numbers and in heart.

Gun control has dominated media conversation recently, as another group refuses to become another victim of public, political indifference.

One of the deadliest mass shootings in modern U.S. history occurred Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida wherein 17 students were killed. Exasperated by the notion that community members had reported the shooter’s violent tendencies, and teachers had undergone training to prevent an active shooter situation, students of the school joined forces to devise a plan that will feasibly suffice.

They called on politicians to cut off the influence of the National Rifle Association, who they claim had paved the way for a dangerous 19 year old to murder their friends and classmates. They denounced the weak and ineffective sentiments of thoughts and prayers aimed at their tragedy. They met with victims from the 2016 Pulse nightclub murders, who had received a similarly pathetic public reaction, to rally strength before confronting Capitol Hill politicians directly. 

Victims’ experiences, their attitudes and their anger are a blatant testimony to the tragedies we sweep under the table on a day-to-day basis. They are evidence of social and governmental ignorance. They are arbiters of reparation for those who stand beside them and behind them, and they are voices for those who still fear the consequence of politicizing their social afflictions. 

Few times in American history the marginalized and the victimized created a social movement for the masses. When it occurs, it is a force to be reckoned with. And they demand that those in power dare to reckon with them.

The issue is that too often those who are stuck in the crossfire of the debate among politicians, the public and individuals who commit atrocities are effectively labeled as victims. With the superimposition of this title comes the degradation of the individual, and they are reduced to symbols of a larger issue that is beyond their perceived comprehension.

The “experts” are likely out-of-touch social observers willing to be bought out with money and support. That’s why their advocacy has had minimal impact.

A human being is not a statistic until society renders them helpless to the greater scheme of a political debate. They become a number that later becomes a monetary figure contributed to support or kill a cause.

To victimize the resilient is to wage a battle that generates an era of transformational social movement.