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The Stolen Valour of Victimhood
Why are so many of the people who fake minority heritage for personal gain women?
There’s been a spate of recent cases in Canada of people faking minority heritage for personal gain. Notably all of the accused have been women. It’s not a new phenomenon - Rachel Dolezal and Elizabeth Warren spring immediately to mind, and as soon you start digging you can find lots of other cases of the same type. Why is that?
There are practical and emotional reasons.
The people who have been caught are mostly academics, which skews female. They’ve been employed at the activist madrassas of the Social Sciences, which skew female again.
The profession is relevant. A female dentist or accountant has fewer reasons to lie about their ethnic background, and fewer ways of getting caught because their ethnicity mostly isn’t referenced in their work. If there are accountants out there who have jettisoned doubly-entry book-keeping and instead track expenditure via Indigenous Ways of Knowing they’re probably not that common.
A profession that deals with indigeneity (or ethnicity), and that sanctifies the indigenous (or non-white) experience is going to encourage people to fake that background for purely material reasons.
But people who misrepresent their background seldom do it for that reason alone. They do it to raise their status amongst their peers; men lie to impress and raise their status amongst other men, women amongst women.
There are plenty of examples of men lying about their heritage but the closest equivalent, for which there are never-ending examples, is Stolen Valour - lying about your military background. Men are more likely to prize bravery, courage, loyalty, honour and all those other things that go along with military service, including the morally neutral virtue of familiarity with violence: so that’s what they lie about.
Women also value those things, but are more likely to lie about the virtues prized highly by other women, kindness, empathy, and the morally neutral virtue of victimhood.
In the past I wrote about how our culture increasingly privileges extravagant and shallow displays of emotion, and described the political manifestation of that as “Hysterical Empathy”. The Stolen Valour of claiming victimhood that isn’t yours, and using it to boost yourself up the hierarchy of esteem, uses Hysterical Empathy as a stepping stone. Each trend amplifies the other.
Women are no morally better or worse than men; they don’t lie or misrepresent themselves any more than men do, but not any less either. When they lie, it reflects the things that matter more to women. We can call this Hysterical empathy, or Stolen Emotional Valour or anything else you like if those labels irritate you. But as women become more prominent in public life, and compete with each other in female-dominated institutions, instances of this happening will increase. We should be proportionally more sceptical of people with the opportunity and motive to work these levers; who smash their enemies (and rivals) out of the way using manipulated empathy as a battering ram; and we should be proportionally less reticent about calling them on their bullshit.