When Owen Jones tweeted that “[w]e live in a country which demonises women both for wearing too much and for wearing too little”, many of the responses that ensued did a good job of summing up the alienation of victimhood-pushers from reality nowadays.
“Has he emigrated?”, one tweeted, and another gently highlighted that, in fact, “[t]his is one of the best countries on earth to be a woman”. Someone else said they “once saw a woman queuing to enter a Newcastle nightclub wearing no more than a bikini and high heels. No one demonized her. In fact, she seemed quite popular”.
Some of these comments were made in a jocular fashion, but they offer snapshots of a growing sentiment against social media’s pity-distributors. Commentators who build their personal brand by complaining – mostly on behalf of others – are becoming tiresome at best and, at worst, doing more harm than good.
Imagine someone waking up before work and thinking of all the things that disadvantage them relative to their colleagues. They are so polite that they always end up lumbered with the most undesirable tasks. They do not drink alcohol so networking opportunities are trickier. They are better-looking so people judge that they did not get their position based on merit. They are the funny ones so their proposals are taken less seriously.
But, in truth, there are hundreds of personal features that could negatively impact an individual’s success. For some other people, those same features may be used to their advantage. Once we start to control for other factors, such as how individuals react to and are compensated for what they cannot easily change about themselves, discovering the biggest victim in the office is impossible.
Every time I see Owen Jones and other proponents of the victimhood culture make a far-fetched generalisation, imploring another group of people to feel collectively downtrodden for whatever reason, I remember why I wanted to document the journey of my friend, Christianah Jones.
I made a film about Christianah Jones, one of the millennials willing to, as the Nike slogan goes, “Just Do It”. She – like many entrepreneurs – simply works too hard to have the time to be obsessed about her gender, race, religion, class, accent, disabilities or privileges (and the list could go on). No doubt she is probably also too busy to notice what Owen Jones is tweeting.
Using what she could get her hands on, Christianah turned her ambition to transform an idea – a lucrative international fashion brand – into a reality. The documentary shows what her life is like as a young business founder, as she describes the four years of hard graft that went into creating a label now worn by Beyoncé.
Like many under-the-radar, go-getting young people, you won’t hear Christianah waste a second talking about all the reasons why unchangeable aspects of her life might hold her back. This is despite starting with nothing in terms of all the things one would need to build a fashion business. No start-up money, no experience and no connections. An iPhone and an ambitious, driven mentality were enough for her.
Christianah’s story represents an alternative to the growing obsession with the negativity of victimhood. Tonnes of her followers have been inspired to feel confident in themselves and start their own ventures, inspired by her flourishing fashion lines that “celebrate confidence, style and attitude”.
Setting such a positive example is ultimately far more powerful and inspirational – and capable of helping many more people – than crying over every conceivable barrier we face.