Shaming Society — 4 Comments

  1. Isn’t that how society operates? We are shamed into consuming, because what we have is not good enough. The whole looks (make-up, botox, fashion etc) industry operates on this as well. There are some books that come to mind, “Status Anxiety”, “Growth Fetish”, “Affluenza”, “The Beauty Myth”.

    I’m sure a big part of my desperate search for a man was because I thought there was something wrong with me for being single into my 30s. Took me until my late 30s to realise what a great state, single life can be. It’s sad how a large number of people are shamed into marriage, and there is all that horrible aftermath when it goes wrong.

    My mother, who married in 1965, said there was shame if you weren’t married by your early 20s. I don’t think much has changed, except, now it’s shame if you haven’t been married by your early 30s. We really haven’t come that far.

    Excellent blog.


    • I think one of the most common shaming messages is around singleness: You are not enough as one! There must be something wrong with you!

      And, yes, it is sad that our society is as couplemanic as ever!

  2. I think people also feel pressure to fit into defined categories, and society encourages this because it makes describing and classifying people much easier. It’s much more awkward when someone straddles multiple categories.

    I also think that religion (or at least Christianity) plays a strong role in encouraging shame, talking about grace and acceptance but also frequently engaging in harsh judgments and condemnations.

    • The first part of your comment, Alan, reminds me of Brene Brown’s call for slash-careers! Instead of being a researcher OR a storyteller, she calls herself a researcher/storyteller. I think there’s something really important in this idea of categorizing people… It makes life simpler but maybe that isn’t such a valuable goal given the cost of that simplification!

      Good point about religion! It seems that shame and guilt are often mixed up: Guilt – the idea that what we did was wrong – has the potential of improving how we act. Shame – the idea that who we are is wrong – does not. However, there is evidence that guilt often comes with a shame tag-along: What i did was wrong and thus i must be a bad person. It rarely occurs in a pure form…

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