Psychologists have found that people’s belief in a just world helps explain how they react to innocent victims of negative life circumstances. People become cognitively frustrated when presented with stories of victims who suffer through little fault of their own. They can deal with this frustration in two ways: they can conclude that the world is an unjust place, or they can decide that the victim is somehow to blame. Most people reconcile their psychological distress by blaming the victim. Even when we know that suffering is undeserved, it is psychologically easier to blame the victim rather than give up the idea that the world is basically fair.
This is also referred to as The Just World Fallacy. If the world is “good and just,” then bad things must only happen to people who “deserved it or caused it.” Except the world is not good and just. And despite individual people choosing to be good and/or just, structures, institutions and systems remain corrupt overall. Primarily through the media is the idea that bad only happens to those who deserve suffering conveyed. Add this to the manifestations of oppression based on gender, race, class, nationality, citizenship, sexual orientation, size, etc. and things like rape culture for example, thrive. And even ideologies that appear “harmless” to some people like prosperity gospel, positivity culture, the law of attraction and American exceptionalism are based on ignoring systemic inequality and focusing on exceptional cases. They stand firm in this particular fallacy.
See, it requires quite a bit from a person to be willing to challenge the world as is. It is psychologically, emotionally and intellectually easier to victim blame. It also helps people protect their psyches from the thought that something bad could happen to them or worse, that they are the causes of those bad things happening to others.
Still…it’s unacceptable. Victim blaming = unacceptable. The right thing to do is listen and support victims/survivors of anything and the oppressed of any form of oppression and work to deconstruct the structures, institutions and systems that make it possible. On an individual level, it requires accountability.
The Norms of War