Societal Munchausen's

Yeah, I know, that sounds a bit strange, but I think I may have uncovered a new affliction.  What sparked this discovery was a story I first heard Dana Loesch discussing on her radio program yesterday afternoon. I was at work, so not paying 100% attention, but what I gleaned was that there was some gal somewhere going off on the wearing of hoop earrings by white women.  At this, my ears perked up (no pun intended), not only because I happen to be one of those horrible white women, but because I also happen to wear hoop earrings. Daily. Little did I know I was culturally (mis)appropriating someone else’s fashion?!

My immediate response:

An aside regarding yours truly and fashion: When they occasionally are “intersectional,” it’s purely by chance.  Aside from a brief period in the late 80’s or early 90’s when I intentionally cultivated an earthy, granola look, my sense of “fashion” is largely driven by what’s clean, arguably wrinkle-free and doesn’t make me look fat.

Anyhoo, I’d moved on from my momentary angst over the statement my earlobes are apparently making until I read this by Kira Davis this morning and it got me to pondering this whole situation a bit further.  As I then noted in response to my friend Mark’s comment on Twitter:

I hadn’t really looked at the “Social Justice” movement through that lens before, but Kira really cut to the heart of it.  Many of today’s protestors seem to be “warriors” in search of a worthy cause. Please don’t misunderstand: There are worthy causes to champion. I’m not so “privileged” that I’m unable to see societal ills and injustices which warrant protest and redress. (Setting aside the fact that even worthy causes seem all too often co-opted by those with hidden or less-than-honorable agendas – that’s a discussion for another day.) But wagging fingers (or spray painting admonitions on a wall) at others over their fashion accessorizing in an attempt to claim some sort of cultural moral high ground doesn’t fit the bill. Nevermind the fact that this claim is historically dubious at best, it’s absurdly frivolous.

So what possesses some to champion such causes?  It occurs to me that we’ve come to a place where victimhood is prized.  Championing the underdog is an honorable impulse; guarding against the tyranny of the majority is ideal. But we’ve catered to these notions so doggedly that we’ve overshot and now live in a land where the traditional “underdog” wields most — if not all — of the power and it’s the tyranny of the minority we face.  Words are the weapon of choice and they’re used to keep us in line. Disagree? Hate speech. Offer a counterpoint? Get shouted down. Ironic that victimhood has now become such an unassailable source of power, yet here we are. So laying claim to such status is critical.

I expect even the most obtuse among us can at least sense that not all victimhood is equal.  (Or, perhaps, that some victimhood is more equal than others.) So, like one prone to Munchausen’s Syndrome, those who might not objectively qualify as oppressed feel compelled to exaggerate or create their own symptoms of oppression in order to prove their worth and acquire the power they perceive inherent to it. And we wind up with Societal Somatoform Disorder.

It’s 2017 and you’re a student at a private liberal arts college in California — one considered “Ivy League” equivalent — in the richest, freest nation in the world.  Your personal story may have its share of hurts and challenges, but we live in a soundbite society where the quickest, easiest (laziest) way to distinguish yourself from others is to slap identity labels on like nametags. Maybe you can’t quite point to big “O” oppression holding you back but by gum, that blonde girl with the hoops dangling from her lobes has surely micro-aggressed you and must be made to pay!