I’ve blogged recently about the things people say to the infertile as to why they deserve to not be able to have a

Playing the Blame Game with Infertility
Playing the Blame Game with Infertility

baby. (Waited too long, ambivalence about becoming a mom, husband plays Dungeon and Dragons) It got me to thinking why blaming the victim is such a common occurrence. In addition to a general lack of understanding in our culture of the causes and frequency of infertility, I think blaming the victims gives the blamer a false sense of security. Their unconscious logic might go like this: OMG!>This is a horrible thing.>If the reason is random it could happen to me.>EEK. {quiver}>If they did something to deserve this horrible thing, then it is not random.>If it is not random, then I’m not at risk.>Ergo-I won’t do the thing they did, so this horrible thing won’t happen to me.

Not Just for Infertility

The blame game is not reserved just for infertility. In the last couple of months alone, I’ve heard it used for cancer, foster care adoption, and autism.

  • 14 year old with cancer: “Her parent took her on a mission trip where she was exposed to mold. I would never allow my kids to be exposed to mold since everyone knows how bad that stuff is.”
  • Family really struggling after adopting a 10 year old from foster care: “Honestly, I can’t believe they did this to their other kids. What did they expect? His mother’s a crack head, his dad is in jail, and he’s been in four foster homes.”
  • 4 year old diagnosed with autism: “Well you know how high strung she [his mother] is, and she was so stressed out about her job when she was pregnant with him.”

And before I get too sanctimonious, let me admit right here and now that my first question when I hear that someone was injured or killed in a traffic accident is whether they were wearing seat belts. I desperately want to believe that I, and those I love, will be protected in an accident because we always wear our seat belts.

 It Happens

Sometimes our actions do result in putting us at increased risk for bad things to happen. And sometimes, as the saying goes, s_it just happens.

Knowing what we know now, given the gift of hindsight, many of us would make different choices when faced with the bad consequence. That goes without saying—so no need for you to say it. Just give us your compassion. No one escapes all the bad things of life, and we’ll offer our compassion to you too.

Poem of Compassion for the Infertile

If you are infertile, feel free to share this poem about infertility with your family and friends to help them find their compassion.

Infertility Is…

Infertility is a disease affecting the present and the future. Unless you’ve experienced it, it’s hard to understand:

The pain – a deep, scarring, searing pain

at seeing the pink smear on the toilet paper each month;
at sharing your intimacy with doctors and nurses;
at receiving another pastel envelope inviting you to yet another baby shower that isn’t yours.

The anger – an enveloping, controlling, frightening anger 

at people who say “just relax” or “just not meant to be” when they don’t have a f___ing clue;
at God or karma or the universe or whatever the hell you call the force that is to blame;
at your partner.

The shame – a hidden, gnawing, ego-destroying shame 

at your jealousy of other’s easy conceptions;
at cutting people with children out of your life;
at your body’s failure.

The fear that this pain, anger, and shame will never end.


What example of victim blaming have you heard recently?


Image credit: Conversations on the Fringe