Kajsa Ekis Ekman has a section on this in her book Being and Being Bought: Prostitution, Surrogacy and the Split Self.
She notes that under the neoliberal world order, the meaning of ‘victim’ has changed from being someone who has been abused or exploited by someone else, to a character trait that implies personal weakness. The intention is to make being a victim something to be ashamed of, and to imply that a person cannot be both a subject and a victim at the same time. This means that no one wants to admit to being a victim, and saying that someone has been victimised by someone else is akin to insulting them. It’s a very crafty rhetorical trick – for if there are no more victims, there can be no perpetrators.
She writes that some sex-positive feminists have taken this logic to its natural conclusion, declaring that even prostituted children should not be considered victims, but rather active subjects. This is a completely false dichotomy – of course people (including children) in desperate circumstances are often resilient and intelligent. This shouldn’t excuse the abuse and exploitation they suffer at the hands of perpetrators, nor mitigate the urgent need to change the structures of oppression that facilitate their abuse.
QotD: “Being and Being Bought”