We are a nation of shamers. We slut shame, weight shame, age shame, personal choices shame, politically shame, race shame, and religious shame. There is someone somewhere right now, deciding to shame me for the way I dress, how many tattoos I have, how I write, or the fact that I am a single parent. White people are shamed for being white. Police are shamed for being police. Addicts are shamed for their addictions. Mentally ill are shamed for their illness. Pot smokers are shamed for smoking pot.
Why do we do this? Is it leftover from our Puritan days? Is it an ingrained part of religious dogma, to shame others? Some of the worst people for doing this, and I hate to admit it, are women. Women are some of the most vicious shamers out there. You claim to be a feminist but you like to wear make up and dresses and shave your legs and arm pits? Shame on you! The reverse is true too, many of the women who like to dress themselves up will shame other women for not shaving, free bleeding, and growing out their unibrows. I see it in comment sections of inflammatory posts all the time. Sometimes it seems like the “articles” are written solely to keep the shaming up.
Do this, not this, or you will get shamed. We have to be the most judgmental nation in the world. We complain about unreal standards, but shame anyone who decides to step away from the norm. If you don’t think like the herd then you get shamed. If you don’t jump aboard the latest social justice warrior train, then you get shamed. If you don’t live your life with conviction, you get shamed but at the same time, if you are living your life with conviction you get shamed.
We are damned if we do, damned if we don’t. So how do we get by? With our heads held high and a personal knowledge that we are doing what is right for our circumstances. I’m guilty of shaming. Just this morning I was saying derogatory things about another person’s hairstyle choice. It’s his hair, he has to look in the mirror everyday, why let it bother me? I think we may justify our shaming as a method of keeping others from being shamed. One of those, hey if you didn’t do that, then no one would be shaming you, sort of things. In the process of that, we are still shaming.
As I write this, I am brought to mind a song by The Beatles that was remade by Guns n’ Roses: Live and Let Die. Shouldn’t we all have the “live and let live” attitude when it comes to others? What business is it of ours how someone else lives their lives? Honestly, the only time we should interfere in each others lives is when someone is being hurt. So, don’t shame someone because they enjoy having sex, or because they wear too tight clothes or worship (or don’t worship) how they see fit.
Shame the ones who are harming others. Shame the rapists, the child molesters, the ones who beat on their loved ones. That girl has her bangs too short and doesn’t shave her armpits. Who cares? That guy over there molests young children. Shame him instead, because that girl isn’t hurting anyone. That guy is wearing skinny jeans or sags his pants. Who cares? That woman over there just sold her daughter for drugs. Shame her instead.
We ignore the real problems in this nation and focus on the mundane. The way a person dresses, their sexuality (except rapists and child molesters), their political affiliation, their religion, their preference for tattoos, those things are none of our business. Yet, we focus on them to the point of causing uproar on social media and making things go viral. We victim shame like no other. Yet, we barely react to those who bring actual harm to others. We, as a culture, society, nation, should focus our shaming skills. Shame those who deserve to be shamed. Shame that fat, nasty uncle who molested his five year old niece. Shame that abusive bastard who rapes his wife after he beats her face to a pulp. Shame those kids who watched and laughed as a man drowned in front of them. Shame those sick pedophiles who are kidnapping and trafficking children for their own sexual pleasure. Shame the politicians who decide there should be a statute of limitations on sex crimes. Shame the women who regularly abuse their partners, both physically and mentally. Shame the war mongers. Shame the rich who can do something to help, but chose to turn the other way. Priorities.
Ok, I’m off my little soapbox now, and I’m going to try my best to mind my business and not be a mean girl, while looking out for those who may be silent victims. I hope you all try to do the same. Perhaps, just maybe, if we focus our shaming on those who really deserve it, there will be less rape, less molestation, less abuse, less human trafficking, less apathy.