tw: victim blaming

nightanddayitsnoellieellie asked:

I'm really confused about what "respectability" is. Could you please explain it?

Respectability politics is the idea that if an oppressed group is well educated, polite, and nicely dressed- according to the dominant group’s standards- that they will not face violence from their oppressors. 

Put another way, it’s the idea that the more you act/talk/dress like a middle class, college educated, cis gender, heterosexual white person- and the less you act on or speak up about your own culture,- the less danger you’re putting yourself in.

It’s an ideology of victim-blaming, erasure, and fear. And it doesn’t even hold true. In this type of culture of dominance, an oppressed group can never be “respectable” enough, no matter what they do. If one group is seen as the norm, any group that deviates from the norm is considered Other, and no amount of respectability can change that. 

You don’t overthrow your oppressors by trying to please them.

Women feel more guilt than men, not because of some weird chromosomal issue but because they have a history of being blamed for other people’s behaviour. You get hit, you must have annoyed someone; you get raped, you must have excited someone; your kid is a junkie, you must have brought him up wrong
—  Germaine Greer, Guilt Poisons Women

[Looting rhetoric] is victim blaming which says inanimate objects ought to become the center of discussion and outrage surrounding the death of a living, breathing, vibrant human being, and that never should we mention the white supremacist institution which murdered him or the cop(s) who pulled the trigger.

A while back I tweeted that the most powerful weapon to destroy a people’s resistance is to erase their history. For the phenomenon that is victim blaming, this is absolutely essential. If people (read mostly white people) can erase an oppressed population’s history, they effectively erase the oppression they themselves committed and make invisible the power they obtain from it.

“Looting” rhetoric is a method of erasing the previous violence and oppression visited upon Ferguson’s black community, specifically the killing of Mike Brown, but also even before it. This rhetoric conveniently rejects greater sociopolitical, economic, and historical context for the sake of bolstering itself and in doing so it can dismiss the continuation of white supremacy in contemporary institutions (like police departments).

  • Person with Mental Illnesses/Disabilities:*exists*
  • Person Without Mental Illnesses/Disabilities:I DON't UNDERSTAND!!!!
  • Person Without Mental Illnesses/Disabilities:*abuses person with mental illnesses/disabilities*
  • Person Without Mental Illnesses/Disabilities:I THOUGHT IT WOULD FIX YOU I DON'T UNDERSTAND.
  • Person Without Mental Illnesses/Disabilities:*cries*
  • Society:Wow that must be really hard for you. You're definitely right for being abusive I mean that persons fucking up your whole life with their disabilities.
"They'll only spend it on booze"

Sometimes, people object to giving homeless people money, on the grounds that “they’ll only spend it on booze.”

That ignores something important: people who are dependent on alcohol still need and deserve help. Alcoholism is not a superpower that allows people to survive outdoors in subzero temperatures without food and warm clothing.

The idea that people have to be sober to be worthy of help kills a lot of people in other ways. Most transitional housing services require someone to be either sober or in treatment. The practical effect of this is that people who aren’t able or aren’t ready to get sober are often denied assistance with housing. It’s true the chronic alcoholism kills people, but exposure and starvation kills them a lot faster. 

Further, homeless people who are hardcore addicted to alcohol *need* to spend a lot of their money on booze. If someone is addicted to alcohol, then alcohol withdrawal can be life threatening. Suddenly cutting off their alcohol supply isn’t going to save them, and it may well kill them.

Also, people who are homeless and addicted to alcohol are often veterans who returned home from war traumatized and with no material or mental health support. They’re also often people who were abused as children, grew up in foster care, and aged out with no support. Or any number of other things. American culture creates circumstances that drive people to drink, then uses their drunkenness as a reason to deny them help.

Denying people access to housing and other forms of support necessary for survival not a good way to help them get their lives together. 

tl;dr Homeless people who are addicted to alcohol still need and deserve help. “They’ll just spend it on booze” is not a good reason to deny someone money.

Everyone gets blamed for their condition

People with depression and other mental illnesses get told that they can get over it with diet, exercize, and positive thinking. They also get blamed for having it, and told that it’s their own fault. This is wrong.


It’s also a common experience of everyone with every condition there is. This is not unique to mental illness. 


Everyone with a disability, illness, or other condition gets blamed for it. People with every condition get told that it’s their fault, that they caused it by eating wrong, sleeping wrong, thinking wrong, or not being sufficiently careful.


People with every condition get told that medical treatment is toxic and wrong, and that if they just stop believing big pharma, they’ll recover. Even people with cancer. 


People with every condition get told that they’re causing their own problems by being too negative, and that they’d get better if they’d just think positively. Even people with spinal cord injuries.


People with every condition get told that they will be healed if they just have faith and pray hard enough. Even people whose condition is obviously genetic.


People with every condition get told that they’re imagining things. Even people with unmistakable visible physical conditions. 

People with every condition face this kind of prejudice. It’s not unique to any group. We should stand together and acknowledge that we all face it, and that it’s wrong to do to anyone.


tl;dr People with every condition get blamed for it and told that things like positive thinking and rejecting big pharma will make everything better. It isn’t unique to mental illness. It’s wrong to do to anyone.