Women and Shaming

I’m a fan of Brené Brown. I’ve seen her TED talks, and read her book. I admit to hunting up bits and bytes of her on YouTube. She has a lot of good stuff to say, and it’s backed by research, data, and statistics. Essentially, her message boils down to the need to be REAL – authentically vulnerable in order to form the relationship connections we crave, first with ourselves, and then with others. Though vulnerability is risky, the rewards are enormous. That’s enough of a spoiler – y’all need to read/follow Brené for yourself.

Today, I read this blog and had to reblog it. (I’ll wait while you read it. The rest of this post won’t make much sense if you don’t)

As a psychologist, this behaviour is something I’ve witnessed professionally, and experienced personally in social environments. Shame is organised around gender. Women are shamed by other women and by society, in various and myriad ways. Women also shame men. In relationship and as a gender.

Apparently, women are just as likely to shame each other as they are to shame the men in their lives. (This is not to say that men don’t shame – they do. What I find interesting is that shaming is a common, even preferred tactic of women). Pop culture seems to support this premise as well – think of nearly any popular TV show/movie. “Friends” came to mind; and “Grey’s Anatomy,” or how about “The Devil Wears Prada,” or “Mean Girls?” Tina Fey’s quote about sluts and whores is certainly germane.

I did a search for an image to include with this post, and feel seriously jaded after wading through hundreds of shaming images – fat shaming, skinny shaming, too-many-children shaming, not-vegan shaming, slut shaming, not-feminist-enough shaming, stay-at-home/working-mother shaming, [you-name-it] shaming. One particular set of images that kept cropping up are of Kim Kardashian (she’s everywhere!) during various stages of her pregnancy. All the major “star” magazines carried unflattering pictures of her with captions that can only be considered to be intentionally shaming and cruel. And guess what? The majority of the writers and editorial staff (often right up to the VERY top) of the these publications are women.

Shame is a toxic emotion, and being shamed is soul-destroying. Why are we, as women, perpetuating this hurtful, unhelpful response to anything we don’t like or disagree with?

More about shame here, here, and here and here and here and here.

Talk amongst yourselves...

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