Consider the 2 sentences:

  1. "I am victim of patriarchy"

  2. "I have been wronged by the patriarchy"

Which sentence framing comes from a position of (the enlightenment value) personal autonomy? In the first sentence you're starting point is that of a victim which emphasizes your lack of control over the situation. Contrast this with the poem Invictus:

Under the bludgeonings of chance My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears Looms but the Horror of the shade, And yet the menace of the years Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate, How charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate I am the captain of my soul.

Though he has been wronged his framing of having an unconquerable soul will allow him to act in his best self-interest.


Is sentence 1 indeed a less autonomous position than sentence 2. ?

  • 2
    Some would say yes, I would say don't nitpick so much over connotations. The literal meaning is the same. A victim is someone who has been wronged.
    – causative
    Aug 29, 2023 at 4:26
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    Unfortunately, the concept of (moral/political) autonomy is amorphous enough to sustain an opposite deduction: if the language of victimhood is more effective than the language of being wronged, then if one wishes to effectively help oneself as such, one would do better to use victimhood-language. Or then the wrongfulness-language might presuppose an insensitively abstract ethics, which as more in tune with the language of the oppressors then disadvantages the victims when they try to use it. Aug 29, 2023 at 4:43
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    I can't for the life of me see any real difference between the two. Both, in a sense, acknowledge loss of autonomy. Both, in another sense, imply autonomy in the act of acknowledgement. (True loss of autonomy would be to accept what happened without the protest implied in both sentences.) I suggest it all depends on what happens next.
    – Ludwig V
    Aug 29, 2023 at 7:50
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    the main difference i see is that 2 is in the present perfect tense, which indicates completed actions with present results
    – user67675
    Sep 28, 2023 at 8:22
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    @prof_post please post an explicit answer so I can accept it Sep 28, 2023 at 10:14

2 Answers 2


The main difference for me is that 2 is in the perfect present tense so indicates a completed action with results in the present.

Being a victim is slightly different to being wronged, though either can have a broader meaning, depending on what sense you use; the most relevant of 'victim' is

a person who has come to feel helpless and passive in the face of misfortune or ill-treatment.

Supposing all expressions from a discursive subject position reinforce that subjectivity, then the former expression is more likely to lead to our domination: but to me that seems the case only if resistance is impossible.

  • 1
    +1 I would add that your definition of victim includes a helpless and passive feeling while a person who feels wronged may not feel helpless or passive but may be inspired to take immediate action. Sep 29, 2023 at 20:33
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    @IdiosyncraticSoul thanks!
    – user67675
    Sep 29, 2023 at 20:43

Real people may well have wronged you -- "the patriarchy" on the other hand is a rather vague concept. At best it's shorthand for "gender roles"; at worst it's a way to dump all men in the same bag of oppressors, forgetting that some men too are oppressed, and that some women are oppressors.

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