Survivor’s Demise

Two tweets over the last couple of days inspire this post. Here’s the first:

Up until recently, the term survivor was reserved for people who were alive when the odds said they probably ought to be dead. People who stave off cancer, for example, or those who walk away from a plane crash in which most other people were killed. “Survivor” was never used to describe somebody who is still alive after merely being in close proximity to a catastrophic event, or having had their chances of dying increased. Even soldiers who come through a battle or war aren’t described as survivors, except on those rare occasions when a unit is almost obliterated.

But in the past couple of years American liberals, particularly feminists, have started applying the term to any woman who has been raped, sexually assaulted, or – in some instances – had mean things said to her. Now being raped or sexually assaulted is pretty horrific, but they are not, in general, life-threatening. Sure, women do get raped and murdered, and anyone who survives an attempted rape and murder is a survivor; but being raped alone does not merit the term.

I may sound harsh here, but the recent use of the term survivor is a deliberate hijacking of the language for political purposes. The people who use it inappropriately, as Antonova does above, do so because they believe it gives their cause moral authority, granting their side of the argument a gravitas it doesn’t deserve. “I’ve met trafficking victims” would be far more accurate, but doesn’t carry the same force as a word which implies these women are exceptionally lucky to be alive. Yes, trafficked women do get killed. Yes, being trafficked is horrific. But it’s not, in terms of mortality, the same as being in a ferry sinking or a plane crash. Nor is trafficking the same as attempted murder. If victims of campus sexual assaults deserved the term survivor, and these assaults were happening at the rate feminists say they are, the grounds of American colleges would look like the beaches of Iwo Jima.

Over the last few days, the term has been hijacked further – again for political purposes – to describe any teenage left-wing political activist who might have been somewhere in the vicinity of the Parkland school shooting. Now if you were cowering under the desk with bullets flying around you, watching your classmates getting shot, then I’d grant you the right to call yourself a survivor. If you were in the class next door and jumped out the window before the gunman came in and massacred those who remained, perhaps then also. But if you were merely at the school – which covered several acres – and did nothing more than hear the gunshots I’ll concede you’ve been through a very traumatic experience which should not be dismissed out of hand, but you’re not a survivor in any meaningful sense.

But what we’re now seeing is a bunch of teenagers from Parkland school catapulted onto the national stage to argue in favour of progressive political policies and given “survivor” status to justify their new-found fame and to deflect criticism. As one person on Twitter wrote:

When I was at school an Argentinian boy was killed when a tree blew over in storm, crushing a load of those underneath. They were out playing army cadets and had taken shelter under an enormous beech tree. The squall was short but brutal, and blew the thing over. At the time I was a few hundred metres away, also playing army cadets, and I sheltered my squad under a different tree. When I heard screams and saw people racing to the other side of the playing fields I knew something was up, so ran over myself. I found utter carnage, a dozen or so bashed-up schoolboys in army gear lying in a jumbled pile of wood and branches, blood everywhere. The dead lad – Nick Montanaro – caught a branch right on the back of his head, and his face been covered by a combat jacket by the time I got there. I still remember how grey his hands were, though. By some miracle he was the only fatality, but a couple of the other kids were badly smashed up. Once had severe leg injuries, but I think everyone made a full recovery. I’d say the fellows who were under the tree at the time could call themselves survivors, especially the ones who were injured, but the idea that I was a survivor of that incident is preposterous.

It’s another example of a perfectly reasonable and useful term with little ambiguity that has been hijacked by the left and rendered meaningless. My advice is to assume anyone using it inappropriately is flogging an agenda, and shouldn’t be taken seriously.

UPDATE

A helpful response to my post:

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29 thoughts on “Survivor’s Demise

  1. Now you’ve got me wasting my time… I clicked on Antonova’s twitter feed, then to her ‘Anti-Nihilist Institute’ wibble-project and then finally to her blog, where she’s hit maximum wibble (fuelled largely by cake, judging from the photo).

    Warning: do not read her poetry. She makes Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz seem like Milton.

  2. Still, one has to feel sympathy. She writes about being in a terribly abusive relationship and has also been raped. https://nataliaantonova.com/2017/01/17/i-was-raped-a-few-years-ago/

    Her ordeal sounds horribly similar to Laurie Penny’s. She even mentions the ‘correct’ politics of her rapist and how people would warm to him. I’m going to bet that he’s actually an obvious utter cunt with a knack for targeting vulnerable idiots.

    Social justice activism is for broken people and the sharks that prey on them.

  3. Still, one has to feel sympathy. She writes about being in a terribly abusive relationship and has also been raped.

    Yes, but I question the long-term benefit of airing such stuff on blogs and Twitter rather than seeking professional help.

    I’m going to bet that he’s actually an obvious utter cunt with a knack for targeting vulnerable idiots.

    Yes.

    Her ordeal sounds horribly similar to Laurie Penny’s

    On most issues you couldn’t fit a fag paper between her and Laurie Penny, and her Twitter behaviour is almost identical. When my friend read her blog yesterday she said the only thing missing was polyamory.

  4. I question the long-term benefit of airing such stuff on blogs and Twitter rather than seeking professional help.

    There’s no benefit; it is a symptom rather than an attempt at a cure.

  5. you couldn’t fit a fag paper between her and Laurie Penny

    I could echo MC and say now you’ve got me wasting my time, but that would give away that I was contemplating the image of squeezing a Rizla between two survivors and concluding that it would be too difficult with gloves on.

  6. Very true Tim, I’d also add to your list of innapropriatley used words ‘victim’ and (maybe more controversially ‘hero’.

    I wonder how much the misuse of Survivor can be blamed on Beyoncé?

    Also another leftist term that really annoys me is ‘Woke’. If nothing else ‘Awakened’ or ‘Awoken’ would be better grammatically.

  7. Words can mean whatever you want them to mean. Here’s what Antonova says on her blog about being raped:

    “The experience changed me. It killed me, in a way.”

    So (in a way, of course) she’s not a survivor at all, is she? She’s dead.

  8. “Also another leftist term that really annoys me is ‘Woke’. If nothing else ‘Awakened’ or ‘Awoken’ would be better grammatically.”

    Sorry, Andy. Grammar loses out to ghetto, illiteracy, and patois. Not knowing that shows you jus’ ain’t woke.

  9. She even mentions the ‘correct’ politics of her rapist and how people would warm to him. I’m going to bet that he’s actually an obvious utter cunt with a knack for targeting vulnerable idiots.

    It’s not necessary* that the guy is pretending to have the correct politics in order to target these women. It could just be that no one actually wants to have sex with a “correct politics” beta male soy boy and so any attempt he makes at sex just comes across as a bit creepy and rapey.

    *note: I did not read the post, he could well just be pretending

  10. It could just be that no one actually wants to have sex with a “correct politics” beta male soy boy and so any attempt he makes at sex just comes across as a bit creepy and rapey.

    I didn’t pay much attention, and I might be getting the various traumatic events in her life confused, but I think she married some thug of a Russian with whom she has a son. It’s a familiar pattern.

  11. It’s not necessary* that the guy is pretending to have the correct politics in order to target these women.

    I am certain his politics were absolutely genuine. It is no coincidence that so many socialist/Marxist rulers have been larcenous, murderous maniacs.

    David Thompson has countless examples of the malice of the modern lefty.

    Twitter full of people wishing death on Tory voters.

  12. I remember hearing on the radio that Dimebag Darrel from Pantera had been shot on stage. As a fellow musician, that makes me a survivor.

    Although I’ve been dead inside ever since, so as Sam Vara says, really I didn’t survive. Yet I walk and talk. I guess that makes me… a zombie.

  13. “the image of squeezing a Rizla between two survivors and concluding that it would be too difficult with gloves on.”

    Tie the Rizla to a piece of string, and the other end of the string to a stick. Push the stick between the two survivors until you get to the other side. Now go to the other side of them and pull the stick out, then pull the string until the Rizla is lodged between them. Simples.

  14. Is “economic coercion” a euphemism for “someone offered them money”?

    It is all rather vague, isn’t it? Which is deliberate, of course.

  15. If nothing else ‘Awakened’ or ‘Awoken’ would be better grammatically.

    Grammar is a tool of the Patriarchy to keep women and minorities down.

    Words can mean whatever you want them to mean.

    Yes. It’s the Humpty Dumpty school of rhetoric. The question is: who is to be the master?

  16. ‘Yeah, survivorship is all perspectives: You say “Victim”- I say “Loser”‘

    attrib. Laurie Penny*, 2011

    *yeah, right

  17. This use/misuse of nouns with previously clear and universally-agreed definitions should not be a surprise.

    As others have alluded to here, it is simply one form of persuasion. It is an attempt to mix hyperbole (that isn’t pronounced “hyperbowl” if you’re reading this in Australia) with a claim of most aggrieved victim status.

    This is actually a very natural progression of the left’s current strategy; if we have cognitive dissonance in the face of irrefutable facts that run counter to our world view, we have to change the definitions or accept the alternative position.

    The latter would invite the Twitter pile-on mob in response to the Leftist equivalent of apostasy so “survivor” now means “fortunate to have been nowhere near the place”.

  18. I am actually expecting at some point to encounter the term “microaggression survivor”. It’s only a matter of time, I fear…

  19. ” hyperbole (that isn’t pronounced “hyperbowl” if you’re reading this in Australia) ”

    Uh-oh…

    Have I been mispronouncing ‘minestrone’ all these years?

  20. I think you all underestimate how psychologically damaging her experiences can be. She identifies as one of the good guys (“Tory scum” and all that come from somewhere superior). She was with someone who expressed views that made him one of the good guys. He raped her which makes him one of the bad guys, but he can’t be a bad guy as having the right, correct even, views makes you one of the good people. Tories are heartless scum. We care for people. We loves people. He raped me therefore he can’t love people therefore I might be wrong about so many things that are the foundation of my identity.

    The dissonance is palpable. Results go two ways. Into more lunacy a la LP, or to treatment and recovery as a normal person.

  21. Andrew – I’m surprised lefty women don’t try and justify lefty rapists as simply being closet Tory’s!

  22. He raped her which makes him one of the bad guys, but he can’t be a bad guy as having the right, correct even, views makes you one of the good people.

    This encapsulates the utter stupidity of judging the character of someone you know personally purely on the political opinions they purport to hold.

  23. Funny enough, I was in a room with a couple of Ukrainian sex worker “survivors”, recently. In quite alarming proximity, bearing in mind their almost overwhelming attractiveness. Thankfully, I managed to get out of there without it costing me any money.
    Can I call myself a survivor?

  24. Funny enough, I was with a couple of Ukrainian sex worker “survivors”, recently. In quite alarming proximity, bearing in mind their almost overwhelming attractiveness & apparent willingness to do…well, most anything, . Thankfully, I managed to get out of there without it costing me any money.
    Can I call myself a survivor?

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