Tag Archives: shaming

Shame, Shame, Shame!

When I was a child and had done something wrong, my mother would shake her finger at me. I hated that pointing, wagging finger more than I hated getting yelled at. The gesture conveyed shame, even if my mother’s words didn’t.

Nowadays we seem to see a lot of pointing and shaking fingers, pronouncing blame or shame on the offending parties. Here are some that you are likely familiar with and others that you may not be.

Fat-shaming This is probably most common kind of shaming and comes in various forms. One of the most noticeable kinds is fat-shaming actresses for carrying a few extra pounds – or even ounces. Increasingly stringent and nearly impossible standards are held up. Who the hell notices whether the woman in the supermarket or on the soccer field has a thigh gap anyway? Are the rest of us supposed to try to achieve this dubious standard? Thigh jiggle was bad enough. And 99% of those “People of Walmart” photos? Fat people in outfits that don’t even have the “decency” to try to hide it.

Body-shaming There are other types of body-shaming. Skinny-shaming. Have you ever heard someone pass a thin woman and call, “Eat a sandwich”? Fashion models are held to unrealistic standards of thinness, then mocked when they do. Women at science fiction conventions are shamed for having the “wrong” body type to wear a She-Hulk or Slave Girl Leia costume. And forget black Supergirls and Wonderwomen. You’d think we’d be over this by now. But no.

Slut-shaming Even the term makes my skin crawl. It contains the assumption that there is such a thing as a slut who can be recognized on sight. Or if you’re not going strictly on clothing, hair, and makeup, it becomes sexual-behavior-shaming. It’s a thin line between that and blaming rape victims for the crime.

Mommy-shaming Suddenly, everyone’s an expert. Underprotective mothers, overprotective mothers, breastfeeding mothers, bottle-feeding mothers, mothers of “free-range children,” “helicopter moms” and “tiger moms.” Worst of all, people feel entitled to comment on their behavior, not just on social media, but face-to-face with the mothers themselves. Oh, there’s plenty on social media too. Recently a celebrity was caught giving her child the wrong sort of toy, which apparently viewers could see had eyes that were a choking hazard. There’s nothing like 100,000 people telling you you’re killing your child.

Age-shaming This started in Hollywood too, it seems. Feminists have long noted that female actors’ careers are over when they hit 40 – or long before, especially if they play romantic leads. Meanwhile, male actors star in such films long into their 60s or 70s – with ingenues young enough to be their granddaughters. Body-shaming is also involved. When it was announced that Meryl Streep was starring in the action-adventure film The River Wild, critics couldn’t help sniping that no one would want to see the 45-year-old Streep in shorts or a bathing suit. But this insidious trend isn’t limited to LaLa-Land. Think about all those articles you’ve seen that tell women over 40 what they shouldn’t wear – even women over 30, for God’s sakes! I’m not throwing away my leopard-print flats just for them!

Poverty-shaming Again, think about those “People of Walmart” photos. Who shops there? Not the rich. So the poor are targets for shaming. Now think of the “Welfare Queen” stereotype – a woman on public assistance who drives a Cadillac, has her hair and nails done weekly, smokes and drinks and drugs, never works, dines out on steak and lobster while feeding her kids junk food. You’ve seen it in memes and rants on social media and even heard it from elected officials. This is particularly hurtful, because it affects public policy. And it’s simply untrue. Most people on public assistance have jobs and close-to-the-bone lives. But even school lunches for their kids are politically controversial. Life is hard enough without the shaming.

Am I just ranting that shaming is shameful and wrong? Of course I am. It’s mean-spirited and insulting and unnecessary. But look at who gets shamed the most – women. And often, it’s other women who do the shaming. From the time when fashion magazines covered the eyes of women committing clothing “crimes” to nowadays when women can be shamed for how they look – no matter how they look – and for what they do and how they behave.

And people wonder why women have low self-esteem and doubt their every decision, and why poverty is seen as a moral failing. Shaming is a nastier form of gossiping, which is nasty already, but it is worse than that. All those pointing, wagging fingers are pointing the wrong direction. What we need is a little more shame-shaming.


Weeding Followers, Friends, and Fans

Name-calling. Shaming. Trolls. Hate speech. Threats. Doxxing. These are increasingly common on the internet.

They are also problems I don’t have, given the relatively few Facebook friends I have, the relative civility of most of them, and the relatively slow growth of my blogs.

Personally, I have only ever blocked a couple of people on Facebook, one for use of the “n-word.” I don’t often post about controversial topics on my timeline, though I’m sure people can figure out my general leanings from the things I do post and the comments I make on others’ posts. I accept friend requests from people I know, who are on all points of the political and social continuum. Some of my friends and I disagree totally on, and stay away from discussing, sensitive issues.

But I thought it would be worthwhile to take a look at how other people handle such problems.

First, let’s look at someone whose situation is similar to mine: a private citizen, Georgianna, who has unfriended and been unfriended. She says that what has pushed her over the edge at times is situations like this:

On posts I made about shootings of unarmed blacks by cops, [the person in question] kept commenting things like why do they riot and why do they run if they’re not guilty. I ignored those. The final straw was when I posted about Cecil the Lion and he commented what about all the babies murdered by abortion. His posts were off topic, annoying, and displayed stupidity. I was done.

I guess I just got tired of folks highjacking my posts for their own purposes and not adding substance.

Fair enough. I think that sums up most people’s experiences. But what about more public figures who regularly discuss – indeed, argue about, promote, or decry – volatile topics?

Tom Smith is a professional singer/songwriter with a modest-by-national-standards but impressive-in-certain-circles following. His songs and his Facebook posts clearly show a progressive/liberal bent. Among his friends and followers are a rather large number of highly opinionated people (I am one of them), and the comments on his posts can run into the hundreds.

Because he began fearing for his blood pressure, Tom established Rules covering comments and what would get a person blocked.

1: BE POLITE DAMMIT. You don’t have to be polite to whatever person or persons are the subject(s) of the original post, although I will not tolerate name-calling or crude sexual insults or fat-shaming or anything like that. But, by damn, you WILL be polite to your fellow commenters. You are all guests at a party at my place, and I don’t like it when my friends fight, especially IN MY FRONT ROOM.
2. Facts. Back up any assertions with facts — to credible sources, please. Breitbart.com, anything associated with Fox “News”, The Weekly Standard, anything by Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Pam Geller, Michelle Malkin, Michael Savage, Sean Hannity, or Bill O’Reilly are ESPECIALLY right out. They are known, proven liars and nutbar conspiracy theorists. If you got it off Reddit or Free Republic or Townhall or someplace like that… get some confirmation from the damn New York Times or Washington Post or CNN or BBC.
3. I reiterate: no sexual shaming. No fat “jokes”. No ethnic jokes. (Yeah, I know a shitload of ’em. Some people just take them wrong). Nothing that you think might be triggery. You can swear your head off, if that’s your style — it certainly is my style sometimes. But, basically, if you have to stop and ask yourself if it might really offend someone, there’s a decent chance it will. Use your words, and find a different way to phrase it.
4. Did I mention facts? Whatever you think you know about climate change, Planned Parenthood, Benghazi, Obama’s birth certificate, or the wonderful benefits of fracking, there’s a good chance you have at least some misinformation. No, not that site. No, not that one either. Science denial will get you Blocked faster than two days of eating peanut butter.

Recently, Tom has (quite sensibly, in my opinion) moved his political postings to a separate page called Political Noise (https://www.facebook.com/politicalnoise?pnref=story), where he has basically the same rules as above, but has also articulated this:

If conversations go off the rails, if people are snarling at each other and no one’s going to change each other’s minds, I will step in and say ENOUGH. When that happens, THE THREAD IS CLOSED AND I EXPECT YOU TO STOP COMMENTING. We’ve reached the loud, circular phase of the argument, and it’s time to let it go and move on.

If someone is being a particular jerk about things, I may hit you with the Ban Hammer and say BUH-BYE. Usually, this is just for a couple of days. If you’re a really special snowflake, however, it may be permanent.

He adds: “Anybody got a problem with that? Tough. My wall, my rules. Now. Go forth and play nice.”

As of a few days ago, Tom’s main Facebook page is reserved for personal updates and musings, his professional page (https://www.facebook.com/tomsmithonline?fref=ts)  for his music, and the new page for political/social opinions.

Then there’s Jim Wright, widely known writer, blogger, Navy veteran, and unrepentant curmudgeon, whose website Stonekettle Station (http://www.stonekettle.com/) and Facebook page are platforms for his strongly worded and often iconoclastic views. He has maxed out the number of Facebook friends allowed. His rules (which I asked permission to quote, so don’t bother reporting me to him):

Things that get you booted off my Facebook page:
1. Acting like an asshole.
2. Acting like an ignorant asshole.
3. Acting like an asshole to other commenters.
4. Acting like a condescending asshole by explaining to other commenters “what Jim ‘really’ meant.”
If you act in this manner, you will be summarily removed. Period. There will be no warning given ….
Addendum: You get booted, DON’T email me begging an explanation, forgiveness and/or reinstatement. I already gave your slot away. If you don’t want to get booted, don’t act like an asshole. If you’re not sure what I consider acting like an asshole is, then err well on the side of caution. I am not going to argue about this.

Jim has also been known to publicly mock any truly and/or amusingly stupid comments, tweets, or messages, and, under certain circumstances, to send forth his “minions” to do likewise.

Another Famous Writer weeds out friend requests in advance. Apparently he goes to your home page and looks at whether you post cat photos and pass-alongs from Upworthy and Buzzfeed. I quit trying. I like cat photos and sometimes find Upworthy and Buzzfeed interesting. If that rules me out for his roster of friends, so be it. I have plenty of friends who follow things that I consider dopey. Then again, I’m not even within shouting distance of the Facebook friend limit.

All things considered, I am glad not to be even a semi-public figure (except insofar as my blogs make me one, which is not very far at all) – and glad to have non-troll friends, however opinionated.