I am always a little amused when anyone claims feminism is really just about man-hating and trying to get women to see themselves as victims. For me, the idea that feminism promotes a victimhood mentality is based on at least two assumptions:
1. That women are not subjected to any real oppression and/or sexism doesn't really exist in any systematic way (or at least isn't that big of a deal).
2. That feminists will try and to convince people they are victims even when they aren't (because of number one).
I don't really understand either of these lines of thought to be honest. The reality is women are an oppressed group. Maybe it isn't as bad today as it was fifty or a hundred years ago for many people, but women still experience all kinds of problems and threats to their livelihood just because they are women (and the majority of the people causing those threats are men unfortunately). The facts speak for themselves.
Violence Against Women:
In the United States, one-third of women murdered each year are killed by intimate partners. Every 2 minutes, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted (15% of sexual assault and rape victims are under age 12). Women and girls comprise 80 percent of the estimated 800,000 people trafficked annually , with the majority (79 percent) trafficked for sexual exploitation. Approximately 100 to 140 million girls and women in the world have experienced female genital mutilation/cutting. Over 60 million girls worldwide are child brides. In the United States, 83 per cent of girls aged 12 to 16 experienced some form of sexual harassment in public schools.
Of the 1.2 billion people living in extreme poverty, 70% are female (and make up 21 of the 37 million people living below the poverty line in the US). There are twice as many women as men among the world’s 900 million illiterates. On average, women are paid 30-40 per cent less than men for comparable work. Every minute, a woman somewhere dies in pregnancy or childbirth. Women own around only 1% of the world's land. Women do two-thirds of the world's work but receive only 10% of the world's income. One year out of college women earn 20% less than men and 10 years later 31% less.
And this is before I even get started on the fact that women are not proportionately represented in government, we make up only 18% of all news subjects (people interviewed or whom the news is about), are used as sources in only a third of stories (more than three quarters of all stories contain male sources), and make up less than 1% of department heads, editors, media owners (though more than a third of working journalists around the world are women). These are just the facts and anyone capable of empathy should be shocked by them. The work women do is often undervalued and the violence overlooked. It will take a whole lot more then just scapegoating feminism to explain them away.
When a woman says she was raped or abused she is not embracing the "cult of the victim." In fact, she is doing the exact opposite. She is fighting against every message that has ever told her that it's not only her fault if something bad does happen to her, but that she must also remain silent about her struggles. I think anyone who has ever shared their own experiences will agree that the very act of telling your story is empowering. Voicing our trauma is as revolutionary as it gets. By refusing to stay silent the victims of assault are saying, "We are here and we will not be overlooked." Feminism is not perfect by any means (who ever said it had to be?), but to be more outraged over the revelation of the status of women worldwide then the actual status of women is pretty ridiculous.
The idea that feminism wants women to identify with being powerless is simply wrong. Feminism isn't about turning women into victims. It's about pointing out the victimization that already takes place around the world. It's perfectly possible to realize one's victimization without identifying as a victim or having some sort of victim mentality. For me feminism is about telling women they aren't alone and that it is perfectly okay if they are pissed the fuck off about the way they're being treated. What is more empowering then being able to say, "I do not like the way I am being treated and I will not tolerate it?"
Feminism also fights against the idea that men are supposed to protect women and that women should expect that protection. (Which I've never understood; men are simultaneously supposed to be our protectors and sexual beasts that can't control themselves? How does that make sense?) I know it can sometimes seem like the message is "all men are evil" and "women will be defiled by those evil men" but that's really not it at all. Empowering women to take control of their own safety, while also informing them of real dangers and reminding them it's not their fault no matter what anyone says, is a far cry from playing the permanent victim. To deny that women are often victims is actually just another way of ignoring the very real suffering of far too women.
And I don't really see how that is empowering in any way at all.