It’s a shame about all that shaming

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“Shaming” is the new hotness, isn’t it? You can’t speak an opinion these days without it being some kind of evil plot to “shame” someone with an opposing one. You’re vegetarian? Oh, clearly you’re shaming we omnivores! You don’t let your kids cry it out? Why shame the rest of us? You ask a question on a public forum and BOOM, you’ve shamed someone. There is never a moment when you’re allowed to have a differing opinion because we all know different people are bullies and shamers and haters and trolls.

In my recent post about the overuse of the word “bullying”, I talked about how oversensitive we seem to be about anyone having a different opinion. How dare they? How dare someone enter into a debate with me about things that are not facts, but beliefs? How audacious to think they can have their own opinions. They must be shaming me.

We talk about slut-shaming, dog-shaming, child-shaming, body-shaming… it’s all a shame. Of course, shaming itself is emotionally damaging, but it somehow evolved into something funny with pet- and baby-shaming, didn’t it? And then riiiight back around again to people posting shaming photos of their kids online. That is shaming. Disagreeing is not shaming. Calling someone out isn’t shaming, either.

I absolutely love this article, and the last part of it in particular:

“…deliberately comical uses go hand-in-hand with the worst uses of shaming: the unintentionally comical kind. Guys who are tired of being called creeps have absurdly claimed creep-shaming, for instance. Breast-feeding advocates are sometimes accused of formula-shaming moms. I’ve also seen social-media-shamingtattoo-shamingluxury-shamingattendance-shamingsnack-shamingbigot-shamingprivilege-shamingsalary-shamingsingle-shaming (i.e., shaming the nonmarried or nonattached), fedora-shamingDrake-shaming, and filter-shaming. This last word was used, with all apparent sincerity, in an article by an acne sufferer who felt “shamed” for her use of Instagram filters by “selfie queens” (a term someone else will have to unpack).

With all due respect to both the acne and creep communities, these broad uses of shaming are stretching a useful word to the point of meaninglessness. The more I hear about filter-shaming, the harder it is to really hear what a problem body-shaming can be. We really should restrain ourselves from mindlessly slapping this label on every single thing in the world that makes us feel bad. I’d hate to lose such a potent word to the Buzzword Abyss, especially since real shaming—the kind mostly done by misogynist jerks or terrible parents—is a true disgrace.”

Sure, there are plenty of you out there who are now angry with me because I’ve shame-shamed you, and that’s ok. It’s time to take back the word, people! Is a film critic movie-shaming if they don’t like a new flick? Would a restaurant critic be meal-shaming if they didn’t give a dish 5 stars?

We really need to get a grip on our language. Much like explaining to my 7-year-old why today wasn’t the “worst day of [her] liiiiiiiiife” because she had to go to school, not all criticism is shaming.

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Alex

7 thoughts on “It’s a shame about all that shaming

  1. It’s kind of a *shame* (for lack of a better word) because my favorite thing in the world has always been a FRIENDLY debate. So few people can do that anymore.

  2. Meanwhile, after the rise of a facebook page “women eating on the tube”, I now find myself paranoid about eating on the tube…and won’t. No-one needs a stranger taking a photo of them, posting it up, and inviting a whole load of other people to comment (sometimes humoursly, but, increasingly, not) on what, and how, they’re eating.

    I’m ashamed of myself for not wanting to be shamed…

  3. There was a link to this post on another blog I was reading. Our society seems to get stuck on keywords. I do agree that “shaming” is just a popular phrase thrown at any disagreement these days… That doesn’t stop the fact that there is an over abundance of extremists whose very verbose opinions do lead to feelings of shame and guilt in those who disagree or can’t comply with their beliefs. Religion, politics, parenting, nutrition, morals. If you’re not doing it the “right” way people are very very ready to tell you. The internet brings out the crazies. 🙂

    1. You’re so right — and a lot of those people are definitely out there clearly trying to shame others who disagree. It never ceases to amaze me how terrible people can be to one another.

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