Roxane Gay, Still The Victim

As long as there’s no blind transgender Aleut in the room, Roxane Gay gets away with using her victim points to attack anyone who points out that she’s full of shit. She a woman. She’s black.  She’s Haitian. She’s gay. She’s morbidly obese. Somehow, the fact that her parents were wealthy, she went to Philips Exeter for prep school and then Yale for undergrad doesn’t manage to find its way into her oppression narrative. Hey, there’s only so much room.

But in an op-ed in the New York Times, where her marginalized voice seems to find a remarkable amount of real estate, Gay has come to the ironic realization that twits are nasty, brutish and short.

Online is where I found a community beyond my graduate school peers. I followed and met other emerging writers, many of whom remain my truest friends. I got to share opinions, join in on memes, celebrate people’s personal joys, process the news with others and partake in the collective effervescence of watching awards shows with thousands of strangers.

Something fundamental has changed since then. I don’t enjoy most social media anymore. I’ve felt this way for a while, but I’m loath to admit it.

Even I felt bad for this person with her more than 843,000 followers, denied the pleasant banalities of chatting with her truest friends and thousands of strangers about awards shows.

Increasingly, I’ve felt that online engagement is fueled by the hopelessness many people feel when we consider the state of the world and the challenges we deal with in our day-to-day lives. Online spaces offer the hopeful fiction of a tangible cause and effect — an injustice answered by an immediate consequence. On Twitter, we can wield a small measure of power, avenge wrongs, punish villains, exalt the pure of heart.

All she wants to do is “wield a small measure of power” to destroy anyone she decides is evil. Is that too much to ask? Oh, and be loved and appreciated for it, but then, who doesn’t? But has it gotten so bad, so vicious, that even mean girls feel it’s gone too far?

In our quest for this simulacrum of justice, however, we have lost all sense of proportion and scale. We hold in equal contempt a war criminal and a fiction writer who too transparently borrows details from someone else’s life. It’s hard to calibrate how we engage or argue.

Coming from a woman whose idea of empathy is to demand the burning of a black guy who was acquitted of rape, but who Gay decided was guilty anyway because that’s how she felt, this rings rather hollow. But then, she’s not shy about her simplistic but absolutely certain grasp of good and evil in the world, for which she, and she alone, is the voice of the righteous, even if she still hasn’t denied killing the puppy.

After a while, the lines blur, and it’s not at all clear what friend or foe look like, or how we as humans should interact in this place. After being on the receiving end of enough aggression, everything starts to feel like an attack. Your skin thins until you have no defenses left. It becomes harder and harder to distinguish good-faith criticism from pettiness or cruelty. It becomes harder to disinvest from pointless arguments that have nothing at all to do with you. An experience that was once charming and fun becomes stressful and largely unpleasant. I don’t think I’m alone in feeling this way. We have all become hammers in search of nails.

It’s not that she’s wrong about twitter, or social media writ large. You can twit “it’s Sunday” and half a dozen minimum will feel the irresistible impulse to argue the point, call you racist if they’re from the left or a cuck if they’re from the right, and often you get both sides of the horseshoe outraged at the same thing for not going as far off the ledge as they demand. No, Gay isn’t wrong. Gay is the problem.

There is a curious phenomenon that infects the pathologically twisted self-anointed victims where they can spew their vitriol at will, utter the most absurdly irrational nonsense and attack at will. They sic their swarm of sycophantic gnats on their enemies to shut them down, shut them up, teach them what happens when you challenge a Victim-Superior like Roxane Gay.

And that makes her sad?

Every harm is treated as trauma. Vulnerability and difference are weaponized. People assume the worst intentions. Bad-faith arguments abound, presented with righteous bluster.

And these are the more reasonable online arguments. There is another category entirely of racists, homophobes, transphobes, xenophobes and other bigots who target the subjects of their ire relentlessly and are largely unchecked by the platforms enabling them. And then, of course, there are the straight-up trolls, gleefully wreaking havoc.

If this emits the stench of “it’s so exhausting to be right and have to deal with all the wrong people who don’t adore me,” that’s nothing compared to the laundry list of pejoratives cast on the “straight-up trolls, gleefully wreaking havoc” whom Gay hasn’t already blocked for not replying “Yasss Queen” to her vitriol.

But is Gay’s compulsion to simultaneously attack even as she whines about poor her sincere?

It is infuriating. It is also entirely understandable. Some days, as I am reading the news, I feel as if I am drowning. I think most of us do. At least online, we can use our voices and know they can be heard by someone.

It’s no wonder that we seek control and justice online. It’s no wonder that the tenor of online engagement has devolved so precipitously. It’s no wonder that some of us have grown weary of it.

No matter how many victim points she can muster for someone who has enjoyed a life of  amazing privilege, and who has almost nothing substantive to say and yet gets space in the op-ed pages and has amassed a swarm of useful idiots to do as she commands, she’s yet again the  weary victim of mean social media. And all she sought was control over others and to impose her personal brand of justice. Was that too much to ask?

30 thoughts on “Roxane Gay, Still The Victim

  1. Henry Berry

    I liked your naming Gay “Superior-Victim.” This brought to my mind “Alpha-Victim”, another appropriate label.

    Reply
      1. Guitardave

        Poor Henry must be dyslexic…
        but it was a good one…an old Beatles lyric immediately got revised in my head..
        “…Victim Superior dropped the bomb, Victim Superior dropped the bomb…”

        Reply
        1. Guitardave

          …jumped the gun…not dropped the bomb, WTF?…. so much for the lyric recall.
          CRS strikes again.

          Reply
  2. Hal

    So, Roxane Gay goes to the doctor. He tells her she’s morbidly obese and needs to lose weight.

    “What did you say?” she demands.

    “I said that you’re too fat” he explains, thinking she didn’t understand what “morbidly obese” means.

    “I want a second opinion” she insists.

    “OK, you’re ugly, too.”

    Thanks, I’ll be here all week. Don’t forget to tip your server… Oh, and try the veal…

    Reply
  3. Paleo

    It makes her sad that people are giving her the same vitriol that she and her pals have been dishing out all this time.

    Note also that she complains about the bigotry and racism of the other side without the self awareness to notice that of her own side.

    And victims have to occasionally include some lament about “the state of the world” and how many challenges we have to deal with because of it. The state of the world is at or near the best it’s ever been, but dealing with a world in which the conditions have been improving for centuries just doesn’t provide the opportunity to complain about how tiring it is.

    If she feels that terrible about it the least she could do is apologize to those she admits unfairly attacking. Somehow she neglects to do so.

    Reply
      1. L. Phillips

        You want victimhood? I’ve had to make it an iron rule never to open links in your posts about Roxane Gay. There are pictures out there I do not want to see.

        Reply
  4. ShootingHipster

    Fucking bullshit that I can’t attach the obligatory picture on mobile. Fuck everything fucking fuck.

    Reply
  5. B. McLeod

    All this from the wothing who had to stop watching cable news because it left her too exhausted. It is also interesting that the morbid obesity persists despite the bariatric surgery. Most probably because the compulsive gluttony persists. I think she needs to spend a long, long time in psychiatric therapy, but that’s probably hard for a person who knows the only truth about everything.

    Reply
    1. cthulhu

      I personally know of two people who have had bariatric surgery but have had little to no positive benefits from it. Of course, anecdotes are not data…but what the hey, I’ll throw this nugget out there anyway.

      Reply
      1. Hunting Guy

        I know several people that had the surgery. It doesn’t work unless you are committed enough to completely change your eating habits and address the underlying reason you overeat.

        Unless Gay is willing to face whatever causes her to eat excessively, she will retain the weight and gain more.

        Reply
        1. B. McLeod

          I did a quick survey of her life and work for a dedicated Peeps diorama and song a few years ago. It was fairly evident from her own comments about the procedure that she saw it as a substitute for any personal discipline in backing off the feed bag. I would expect the doctors tried to tell her it wouldn’t work, but she persisted.

          Reply
  6. Curtis

    Has the golden rule been totally forgotten? According to Wikipedia, it pretty universal going back to Confucius and ancient Egypt. Wiccans, Yorubas and Scientologists have their own versions.

    It’s seems like it only progressives and totalitarians lack the concept.

    Reply

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