New York Times: Really Special Victims Unit

In a rambling, borderline incoherent and ultimately pointless op-ed, a Brooklyn writer named Leslie Jamison has found a way to make herself the most victimest victim of victims. Not an easy feat, these days, but then, her fertile imagination gave rise to an idea no one ever thought about before.

So what’s her trick? Micro-victimization.*

Jamison, you see, is a jogger. Big deal, you say? Every day, millions of people jog. They have for decades, since jogging became fashionable in the ’70s because people looked silly standing there in those cool suits. And any idiot could jog, making it the perfect physical activity for those who needed a fixx (not a typo).

But Jamison connected dots that have nothing to do with each other, at least not in the fashion of being materially different than any person being in the wrong place at the wrong time, She throws in social justice jargon, which is inherently usable with absolutely any scenario under the sun because of its joyous lack of meaning, and BAM, made herself the most victimy victim ever!

In the last month, three female joggers — all of them white, all around 30 — have been murdered: Alexandra Brueger, a nurse in Michigan; Karina Vetrano, who worked at a restaurant in Howard Beach, Queens; and Vanessa Marcotte, a Google employee who was attacked while jogging on a bucolic stretch of wooded road near her mother’s home in Massachusetts.

Is it an epidemic? Is the patriarchy targeting women joggers because they’re marginalized, privileged, vulnerable, exhausted, and women? Or did Jamison pluck three crimes out of tens of thousands that occurred during the last month to play a trick on you, to get you to focus on her issue by creating a sense of singularity, that suddenly jogging women are special victims?

Their deaths are horrifying, their families’ grief unimaginable, and they make me aware of my own vulnerability — as a jogger, I guess, but mainly as a woman and a human being with an innately fragile body. Their deaths also make me aware of the fact that I have a body — female, white, 33 — readily understood as vulnerable.

See what she did there? No, Jamison has never been raped, robbed, killed while jogging. But someone else has, so that makes her a special victim, even if it’s inchoate for the moment. How dare you deny her lived experience of imagined fear! Plus, she used the “horrifying” buzzword, as if these deaths are more deathy deaths than other crime victims’ deaths.

They come at the end of a summer marked by other killings — Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Sylville Smith, all black men, all shot by police officers who imagined they were threats — that make me aware of the ways in which my body isn’t vulnerable at all. I have been pulled over for traffic violations plenty of times, but I have never been shot while reaching for my license.

What? What’s this got to do with anything? Absolutely nothing, but as long as she’s on a roll about the social injustice of it all, why not throw in random police shootings of black people? They’re wrong, and isn’t it the duty of white people to say so whenever possible? So what if it’s a gratuitous aside that suggests her dose of Ritalin needs upping?

In the American imagination, some bodies need to be protected, while others need to be protected from. But to have your body understood as vulnerable is a privilege that should be a right.

To the extent there is anything comprehensible about this gibberish, it’s that “bodies,” formerly known as people, but that was before women’s bodies were special victim bodies, requiring their own words to differentiate their unique vulnerability and privilege and rights and marginalized and exhausted and horrified and terrified and . . . oops. Sorry, got carried away there.

Jamison, since her theme is joggers because she’s a jogger and joggers are special, can’t resist the lure of the Central Park Jogger case. She plucks one sentence out of the book written by the Central Park jogger, Trisha Meili:

Ms. Meili describes the fantasies of invulnerability that brought her to the park to run: “I was indestructible, omnipotent. Comfortable. I could run and run and nothing and no one could harm me.”

But fantasies of invulnerability — even ones that get punctured — have never been democratically available.

What the hell is she talking about? What is she trying to say? She refers to a poem about a black man jogging, followed by a white man yelling “nigger” at him. Apparently, no one explained to Jamison that in 1989, nobody with half a brain, regardless of genitalia, went into Central Park alone at night, walking, running, biking, because it was taking your life into your hands. It was a cesspool of crime, but then, since she only cares about jogging, the entirety of human experience otherwise disappears.

And then, another orthogonal aside:

The Central Park Five had their own fantasies of invulnerability: They believed that because they were innocent, they wouldn’t go to jail. They thought if they said what the police wanted them to say, they would go home. But instead they went to prison — where their own bodies, already vulnerable, became even more so.

So false confessions never happened to anyone else unrelated to jogging or being black? And this back to her very special victims theme:

What is it about the imperiled silhouette of the young female jogger that grips the collective imagination with such force? I think it has something to do with the wholesomeness of jogging — the way it suggests capability, self-improvement, female autonomy — and the horror of witnessing its virtues violated.

Do we need special female jogging crimes, because they are attacks on vulnerable female autonomy and “the horror [see? There’s that word again] of witnessing its virtues violated”? Will the New York Times start a series by women on their personal activities, raising the specter of how someone once was a crime victim while doing it, so that we need special laws for their very special activities?

Or will there come a time when the sheer idiocy of trying to out-victimize each other, to wrap every personal fear in the rhetoric of social justice and marginalized victimhood, will be so flagrantly obvious that even the New York Times will stop publishing garbage like this?

Maybe, just maybe, it will dawn on one of the very sensitive editors that it has nothing to do with jogging, or curling, or bike riding. Crime happens. It happens to people of all races, colors, ages, genders, nationalities, religions, sexual orientations, gender identities and without regard to their favorite pastimes. And that all victims of crime suffer, including the victims of crimes committed by police. And we can get past this insanity of who’s the most victimy victim and deal with reality.

*I just coined this. I want credit for it going forward, as this is going to be the next big thing in social justice.


32 thoughts on “New York Times: Really Special Victims Unit

  1. Quinn Martindale

    “So false confessions never happened to anyone else unrelated to jogging or being black? ”

    Black people may falsely confess at higher rates (though the exoneration data is not a great sample). More broadly, crimes against white victims tend to have different outcomes than crimes against black victims. (Higher clearance rates, harsher sentences, etc.) Jamison probably could have even made a valid point about how black men get stopped by police for jogging while black in certain neighborhoods. Instead, because she has to be part of the story, we get this jumble of emoting that says nothing.

  2. Erik H.

    “What is it about the imperiled silhouette of the young female jogger that grips the collective imagination with such force?”

    Because it is the cause of the majority of distracted-driver accidents. Especially in summer.

    Sheesh, doesn’t she know anything?

  3. DaveL

    I find it hard to take offense at Jamison’s article, which seems to be more of an inkblot than an opinion piece, seeking to tie everything to nothing.

    1. SHG Post author

      It’s not Jamison, but that the New York Times published it. Because people aren’t stupid enough already.

  4. Gregg

    I was going to ask about the definition of “micro-victimization” so we could make it happen, but then I remembered that definitions don’t actually matter and asking a person to clearly define a term is a microaggression. Consider my privilege checked.

      1. Gregg

        “Unhip” people (a/k/a “squares,” presumably) are the micro-victims of tomorrow, once female joggers’ turn is over.

  5. Richard G. Kopf


    People who jog should be victims. It’s the law. That is true regardless of gender or lack thereof.

    All the best.


    1. SHG Post author

      Right after I got my new Sony walkman, I decided to try jogging (because that’s what they did in all the walkman commercials). So I put on my Keds, the gym shorts from 1975, a headband to keep my longish hair out of my eyes after I began to sweat, and set out from my apartment at Park and 20th to jog around Gramercy Park.

      I made it as far as the National Artists Club and thought to myself, “this is frigging’ nuts? What kind of idiot puts himself though this insanity?” So, I went to Pete’s Tavern and had a beer. It was delicious. I miss that walkman.

        1. maz

          Careful. The FBI cited an SMS stating this as proof the sender “was urging child abusers to share with her documentation of their crimes.”

          Of course, in this case you’re requesting images that would more likely re-victimize the *viewer* with each repeated exposure, but the concept still stands.

          1. Jim Tyre

            Now you’ve done it, you’ve micro aggressed me. I had what I thought was a damn fine jewfro. Now, my feelz hurt and I question all my lived experiences.

  6. Brian

    So the NYT is trying out a new thing: improv editorials. Give them a break. When the audience throws out: (1) jogging, (3) violent crime, and (3) police shootings, and your job is to write an editorial incorporating all these elements, expect to have a difficult time. Sometimes the audience suggestions gel, and sometimes they don’t.

  7. B. McLeod

    I have noticed a lot of long, rambling, pointless pieces in the NY Times recently. It is becoming a hallmark for them.

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  9. Jim the Squid

    The only imagination gripped here is hers, though I’m at a loss as to what it was gripped by. Was this a stream of consciousness exercise with her therapist?

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