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Right Wingers Playing the Victim

To be a right winger these days, you have to be good at playing the victim. Victim-playing defines the behaviour of right wingers from the Prime Minister and his in-fighting colleagues, throughout the right-wing business world, all the way down to the rank and file right-wing-trolls on social media. This is not just an Australian right-winger thing – but rather a worldwide movement. Play the victim. Take responsibility for nothing. Zero self-awareness. Here are some examples:

Men’s rights activists. I’ve watched The Red Pill. The men in this documentary claim that men are victims of society, more so than women. They provide evidence for these claims that include that men undertake more dangerous professions, and when there is a plane crash, women and children get saved ahead of men. They say this is evidence of society treating men as dispensable, a form of discrimination against poor, weak, underprivileged men. These men have massive gripes about family court custody decisions (which last time I checked are designed to benefit the children) and obsess about the problem of male suicide. I’ve got no issue, by the way, with men campaigning for more attention to be paid to male suicide. But I don’t see why they need to talk-over, and put down, feminists campaigning for less sex-discrimination, more gender equity, and less violence against women by claiming MEN are the victims of society. Ever tried to talk about domestic violence and had the discussion railroaded by men who claim that ‘not all men are violent’ and therefore they are the victim of any action to stop women being hurt and killed? Clearly women have much more reason, overall, to fight societal status quos which keep us from achieving life-equity with men. If this situation changes in the future, I’ll be the first to celebrate.

Speaking of male suicide, this issue was also used to back up Liberal Mark Paton’s bizarre claims of victimhood for ‘heterosexual, white men over 30 with jobs’, who are apparently victims because ‘they’re not included in anything’. The ‘anything’ Paton is speaking of referred to policies such as the one being discussed in the ACT Assembly when Paton made his outrageous claims – programs to improve inclusion of women, gay and lesbian people, refugees, Indigenous Australians and vulnerable members of the community. Not content to agree that these groups are the victims of marginalisation, discrimination, inequality and systemic disadvantage, Paton wanted the subject changed to talk about his preferred group of victims who apparently don’t get enough of the victimhood pie: middle aged, economically comfortable, white men. The men who dominate and run every institution in the country. What the fuck? So desperate to be the victim, and to reject any claims of privilege, right wingers are resorting to satirising themselves. And by the way, since when is victimhood a pie? Can’t men be disproportionally the victims of mental illness leading to suicide, and not have to take this victimhood away from other just-as-worthy discussions of other victimised groups in society?

Let’s look at Malcolm Turnbull. Have you noticed how he can’t talk about any policy for which his government is responsible, a government that has been in power for four years, without blaming all his obvious problems, contradictions, failures and inadequacies on the previous Labor government? That’s right – Turnbull, the man who threw in over a million dollars of his own pocket money to help himself get the top job, plays the victim card at every possible opportunity. It’s revolting really. And all his colleagues do it too. Whether it be energy and climate change policies (who exactly did cancel the Carbon Price which was working to cut emissions?), school funding (the Liberals have adopted a less-good version of Labor’s Gonski policy), employment (let’s not forget who told the car manufactures to leave the country) and any other policy you can think of – nothing is Turnbull’s responsibility. No, he will whinge and whine and cry and play a tiny violin as he begs to be the victim.

This behaviour has become endemic in right-wing politics. Donald Trump is the master of the victim card. Look at his Twitter feed and see all the things he complains about; painting himself as the poor-hapless-victim-of-other-people’s-nastiness. Recently he complained that people were writing books about him who didn’t know him. The President of the United States. Everyone in the media (except his friends at Fox) are out to get him and are making things up about him – poor little down trodden him. And, just like Malcolm, anything that is wrong with America is NOT HIS FAULT – it’s all Obama’s fault. But, conveniently, everything that is going well is all thanks to him. Amazing how he takes responsibility for only one side of the ledger. Typical card-carrying-victim, teaching all his followers how it is done.

The loony right in Australia make a living out of victimhood. Recent examples abound, but include Cory Bernardi claiming a charity drive where school students wear school tunics to raise awareness of the importance of female education is, apparently, evidence of a plot to do away with gender. You seriously couldn’t make this shit up. Pauline Hanson wearing a burqa to parliament to raise awareness of how she feels victimised by multiculturalism, in an act of religious intolerance and blatant bigotry, is my new definition of hypocrisy. The strange thing in all this is that those doing the discriminating – those exhibiting text-book racist, bigoted, homophobic, intolerant, aggressive, freedom-squashing discriminatory behaviour – are painting themselves as the victim. The victims, obviously, are those being discriminated against. Not the villains doing the discriminating. Apparently, this is not obvious enough to right wingers.

Same goes for those voting ‘no’ to marriage equality – who are all over social media grabbing every victim card in site – who claim to be the ones suffering from the yes campaign. Tony Abbott’s alleged headbutting is just one example. The Trolls are on-message, claiming to be bullied about their discriminating ideas. Poor, silenced Lyle Shelton, head-spokesmen for the no campaign, who has been given more media opportunities than the three leading yes campaigners put together, claims that no campaigners like him are being bullied and intimidated.

My message to these people, who are literally campaigning to encourage no voters to reject the rights of gay people to do what non-gay people are allowed to do, and are campaigning against gay peoples’ rights in unrelated areas, such as their right to have children, and their right to feel safe in educational environments, is this: you are not the victim. The victims are gay people. And there’s more. Those blocking the rights of gay people are the villains of this story. If you don’t like being called the villain, if you don’t like being called homophobic, racist or bigoted, stop being these things. And stop claiming to be the victim, claiming to be bullied, when it’s pointed out to you that your behaviour is bad. The person in the wrong, like any 5 year old knows, is not being bullied when they’re told to stop misbehaving. This is a very simple idea which seems to be so easily muddied by right wingers, you’d swear their holding training workshops to show people how it’s done.

The business community. Those people who have managed to achieve a 40% increase in their profits over the last four years, while, coincidentally, also managing not to give their workers a pay rise, are represented by the chief whingers, otherwise knowns as business lobbyists. This week the Business Council of Australia were whinging that they want stability in energy and climate policy because uncertainty is bad for business. That’s right. The very same lobbyists who refused to accept Labor’s Carbon Price policy, who campaigned against it alongside the Liberals and a complicit media for three years, are now say they are the victim of instability in climate policy. Seriously folks, you couldn’t make this shit up. Have the business owners and ridiculously over-paid executives ever wondered how their workers cope with huge household power bills when their household incomes have remained stagnant for years. Have they considered the victims of climate change? I get it – there’s no time for sympathy when you’re busy playing the victim yourself.

I’m fed up with the lot of them. Right wingers need to grow a spine, stop whinging and trying to find ways that they are the victim, when, in almost every case, it just so happens that they are not an innocent bystander, but are actively engaging in villainous behaviour. Progressives need to get better at calling out right winger’s false claims of victimhood as we go about our core business of making things better for the real victims in society. Victim-playing is a potent strategy of right wingers to deflect blame away from their actions, and it’s time we stopped letting them get away with it.

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  1. Jack

    Playing the victim card has nothing to do with what side of politics you sit on. It’s a product of our modern western society, where “its always somebody else’s fault”.
    While I accept your article is clearly coming from the left point of view, if you really think its just a right winger’s problem, then you’re a long way from the centre

  2. David1

    Oh Jack, ….a victim of the truth. Well written Victoria.

  3. diannaart


    You have taken aim and skewered the many straw-men raised by bullies to claim not only victim-hood but innocence of all the dirty deeds perpetuated by such self-interested groups as the Fossil Fuel lobby, right wing think tanks such as the IPA, the Centre for Independent Studies, the Business council, the Australian Christians Party, Men’s Rights groups who want to shun working with women – sure more men than women succeed at suicide, but more women try to kill themselves (the truth is out there, look it up any deniers reading this).

    Yes, Jack, there are extremists on the left – however, where is their representation in the 20% of the world’s most powerful?


    Timely writing and a tonic for those who have experienced the discrimination and hatred dished out regularly by the powerful and cashed up.

  4. Möbius Ecko

    Isn’t that another way the Right play the victim, by prefacing any argument pointing out conservative policy failures and dishonesty with “the Left do it, so we must do it more or we’ll be defeated by them”? In my circles, which is predominantly of the right, they go much further and reply to any highlighting of conservative failures with the Left are soooooo much worse and we’re (us poor victims) only failing because we’re being forced into it by the Left, or the Left left us such a huge mess we’re (us victims of the Left’s mess) failing to fix it. But that’s not our fault, it’s theirs.

  5. Shutterbug

    And just this day, Abbott has thrown in his two ‘penneth worth with said head butting Yes voter. Truly pathetic.

  6. Roswell

    Great writing again, Victoria.

  7. Andrew J. Smith

    Nowadays too many conservatives are encouraged to play the person not the ball, like playing the victim, it seems also about confusing society and/or electorate and disorientating perceptions of an issue.

    Bit like walking into a supermarket when first one is frozen, then assaulted by loud music and noisy echoes, again it’s to create disorientation and making (purchase) choices of things not needed; may help some undecided to vote against their own interests.

    Turkey’s Erdogan and many of his senior supporters too do it all the time, eg. when dealing with ‘grown up’ Germany, Erdogan shouts, slanders and abuses German MPs, Turk German citizens especially Kurds etc., then like the narcissist he is (like Trump) then turns rounds and plays the victim when criticised or called out.

    It’s very immature behaviour from people who cannot think rationally, are stressed or have been coached over time to react to their own cues?

  8. Florence nee Fedup

    Poor Abbott got head butted because the bloke didn’t like him. No glory or marytism for the cause in that.

  9. Zathras

    The religious – and especially fervent Christians – have an obsession with persecution and martyrdom. Anything less than full agreement and compliance with their beliefs is always viewed as a type of personal victimisation.

    We see the annual ritual every Easter and Christmas where the mysterious “they” are out to ban something-or-other to do with each celebration.

    You can wear a cross around your neck, plaster your car with religious stickers. put a nativity scene up in your front yards, sing Carols, bedeck all the shopping centres with ornaments, put lights all over your house and attend churches every day – you can even burn a cross on your own front lawn and wear a white hood (fire restrictions permitting) but that’s apparently under some sort of unspecified threat.

    Now it’s predictably spilled over into the Same Sex Marriage debate where some vague “freedoms” are likewise under threat.
    You can get legally married (and buried) in a civil ceremony, nowhere near a church and without the word God ever being mentioned.

    The whole debate is really about giving gay couples the same right to choose between the legal protection of marriage or a defacto relationship that hetero couples have – and nothing else.

    It’s the extremists who have conflated and distorted it into something else that we should all fear, in the same twisted way they treat religious festivals.

    As the article says – always playing the victim.

  10. Alphonse

    Jeez Jack. You bloody virtuous chest-puffing centrists are always playing the victim. Every time you’re vitimised by some winner you blame the loser for victimising you as well. You know what I’m victimised by? False equivalence. Can’t you lay off? It’s not hard to understand. If there’s a struggle and one side wins, the other side is the victim. When you call it a draw, the losers get further victimised. Are you clear now?

  11. Glenn Barry

    Victoria – I love it – Tantrums, where not being the centre of attention equals being excluded and inflated senses of self importance unfortunately aren’t everyone else’s priorities also

  12. king1394

    It’s annoying that men point to initiatives set up by minority and marginalised groups, such as Women’s Health clinics or Aboriginal people’s centres, and complain that they are not privileged with the same level of concern and support. Apart from the fact that many of these initiatives were developed and fought for over many years by the groups they serve, it seems to me that men’s interests are rarely overlooked. Compare the size and power of men’s sports such as the National Rugby League with women’s sports for example. There are wonderful new initiatives for men, such as the Men’s Sheds, and I have noticed that these are welcomed and well funded – I think this is how it should be for all.

    Many years ago when I was in conversation with a man about women’s health services, he commented that the same type of facilities were not being provided to men. I told him that they had not been provided to women, but that women had struggled to set them up. “Do you think men should have to do that?” he asked. I said yes; he nodded. But I didn’t notice any action. Presumably the existing health system was providing the level of support they needed. Women (and other groups) would not have found it necessary to expend so much time and energy on special facilities had the existing system provided for their needs well enough either.

  13. diannaart


    I had a similar conversation with a man complaining there was not enough assistance for men with prostate cancer (this was a few years ago). He was comparing it to the funds set up for breast cancer, told him the same thing; women have struggled for years to get the public awareness and services needed to help sufferers.

    His response was silence, although it is good to see not all men are so self-entitled and now prostate cancer sufferers are receiving the services they require.

    It is partly a result of the unconscious entitlement that those in power have. Clueless because they never had to struggle for much – an example springs to mind, the lacquered up Bronwyn Bishop and her helicopter ride. Even now, in spite of the public outcry, I don’t think she believes she did anything wrong. No wonder they squeal when someone has the temerity to stand up to them.

  14. Harry

    Jack: the right have the loudest megaphone (the mainstream media).

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