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October 22, 2013 6:11 AM   Subscribe

"There are times when we should feel shame, like when we’re tempted to hunt for Communists. But nowadays one suspects that Joe McCarthy would have just accused his critics of “red-shaming.” On shaming.
posted by mippy (28 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
I think they must mean that Joe McCarthy's critics would accuse him of red-shaming. Otherwise, confusing.
posted by Miko at 6:14 AM on October 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


There are indeed times when people should feel ashamed, agreed; the trick, though, is knowing what the difference is.

For instance, in this thread about a photographer who's responding to catcallers by taking photos of them, one commenter criticized her actions, saying that they were "shaming" the men who did this.

Well, for pity's sake, shouldn't they be shamed?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:19 AM on October 22, 2013 [21 favorites]


If you can't wrap your head around why it's bad to shame women for wearing anything more revealing than a burkha, you might imagine that feminists are against "shaming" anyone, I guess.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 6:34 AM on October 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


So would the people criticising the shamers be shame-shaming?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 6:35 AM on October 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wow. A Slate piece I don't reflexively disagree with, that doesn't seem to purely exist as a contrarian piece of click-bait. I'm surprised. Considering all it's saying is 'a useful word is being diluted and that's unfortunate', I wouldn't think it even that controversial.

Considering I agree, I'll try not to indulge in any related wordplay, for fear of pun-shaming... damnit.
posted by gadge emeritus at 6:42 AM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


This person doesn't seem to understand either Joe McCarthy or the word "shaming."
posted by koeselitz at 6:44 AM on October 22, 2013 [10 favorites]


Hmm, kinda controversial and difficult topic with lots of perspectives to it. Not really interested in a contrarian Slate piece again so who is the author...?
Mark Peters is a freelance writer from Chicago. He writes jokes on Twitter and writes about jokes for McSweeney’s.
If anything this guy seems overqualified! Shame on me for questioning him :(
posted by Foci for Analysis at 6:45 AM on October 22, 2013


Shaming is a handy diversion useful in avoiding accusations of Judging.
posted by klarck at 6:53 AM on October 22, 2013


"Redbait-shaming," no?
posted by dgaicun at 6:59 AM on October 22, 2013


See, I came across this link in a discussion about XoJane, a site where 'shaming' seems to apply to a number of things (and was the first place I saw it being used on the reg) - sugar, drinking water, happiness, shopping, shoes, the wrong 'kind' of poverty, and 'elevator shaming' (which I suppose is a kind of fat-shaming, and the author makes some good points about ableism - or is there another word such as 'heterosexism' that presumes all the world are able-bodied?). Kind of like 'trigger warning', the word gets diluted, and it makes things such as fat-shaming or slut-shaming - things which are real and pernicious - seem trivial.
posted by mippy at 7:13 AM on October 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Hey, sorry, I feel bad---"
"You should. You should feel very bad, and ashamed."
-Steven Soderbergh's "Full Frontal"
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 7:33 AM on October 22, 2013


mippy: “Kind of like 'trigger warning', the word gets diluted, and it makes things such as fat-shaming or slut-shaming - things which are real and pernicious - seem trivial.”

That seems totally true. It's probably a bad idea to get hung up on the McCarthy thing. Words like this do tend to get overused to the point of losing some coherence.
posted by koeselitz at 7:34 AM on October 22, 2013


Amazingly, his last example of term-dilution, people with acne who are made to feel bad because of their acne, is totally an example of body-shaming, but somehow that doesn't pass muster; is that because "body-shaming" is only a legitimate problem when it's because you're fat?
posted by Poppa Bear at 8:00 AM on October 22, 2013


"Slut-shaming" was a useful new term which succinctly described something obviously real and problematic.

The term "creep-shaming" is to the term "slut-shaming" as men's rights activism is to feminism: an sick inversion, a hateful parody of something good and helpful and necessary.
posted by edheil at 8:04 AM on October 22, 2013 [11 favorites]


I thought this might be something by Joseph Burgo; was surprised when it wasn't. He has some good stuff on shame as having different expressions, like any other emotion, really. Just as you wouldn't say or read "I love garlic" and "I love my children" with the same meaning, nor is shame monochromatic. Challenging the Anti-Shame Zeitgeist is one he wrote for The Atlantic earlier this year. The first paragraphs can be triggering if you've experienced bullying, so rest assured: he is not saying that the shame felt from bullying is acceptable. He is arguing that shame has both negative and positive uses, again, like any emotion. For another instance, anyone who's been stalked or had "love" used as an excuse for crossing other boundaries can probably relate to seeing "love" as something that's not always used positively.
posted by fraula at 8:05 AM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think shame is a pretty huge concept that definitely does relate to condemnation and social control. I have no problem with us finding it in a lot of places, because it is deployed in a lot of places.
posted by Miko at 8:08 AM on October 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


The only context in which shaming is ever appropriate.
posted by blucevalo at 8:11 AM on October 22, 2013


Poppa Bear: “Amazingly, his last example of term-dilution, people with acne who are made to feel bad because of their acne, is totally an example of body-shaming, but somehow that doesn't pass muster; is that because ‘body-shaming’ is only a legitimate problem when it's because you're fat?”

It's not so much "body-shaming," or even "acne-shaming." The term is "filter-shaming," and it's specifically shaming someone for using an Instagram filter. Which, yeah, maybe there's a reason you used a filter that's totally fair. But appending "-shaming" to anything that people mock or mislike loudly, like the use of filters on images, seems to be taking it a bit far. If people are mocking others for their use of Instagram filters, it stands to reason (I think?) that they aren't mocking others for their acne. And it seems pretty important to make a distinction there. So: to the extent that people are mocking others for acne, let's call that "body-shaming," simple and direct; to the extent that people are mocking others for using Instagram filters, well, whatever – it's mockery, it might be dumb or uncivil or crude, but it's really just mockery and not some category of shaming that needs to be delineated as such with jargony jargon.
posted by koeselitz at 8:15 AM on October 22, 2013


(Although, reading the article that Mark Peters was pointing to, I don't know. It is a complex thing, I guess.)
posted by koeselitz at 8:19 AM on October 22, 2013


Maybe a better way to say it would be:

There are a lot of very serious and important issues in the world. "Shaming" is a hip subject these days, so it might seem that the best way to emphasize the seriousness and importance of what you're talking about is by introducing "-shaming" jargon. But often that has the opposite of the intended effect. At the very least, a freelance writer might come along and ask if you really need to use that word. More worryingly, the very people who are ostensibly part of the problem might attempt to co-opt your jargon and turn it against you (a la "creep-shaming.")
posted by koeselitz at 8:23 AM on October 22, 2013


A word starts out as powerful. Wielding it in the right place at the right time yields impressive results -- just like a hammer with a nail: POW. Result. Not just rhetorical points scored, but real connection, there. So it's tempting to continue using it. Over and over. All problems start looking like nails for this hammer, and then you've spent all the power it once had. People stop listening when it's deployed because, lo and behold, its overuse, or facile use, or just plain misuse has given the term its own baggage, and when you have a discussion you're just chewing on the semantics. But that doesn't change the memories of when that word really MEANT something, so it keeps on getting overused and misused. It's a shame, really.
posted by chimaera at 8:29 AM on October 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


an sick inversion, a hateful parody of something good and helpful and necessary.

Yes, exactly. I've seen MRA defenders claim that criticism of stuff like /r/creepshots amounts to kinkshaming and therefore it is a matter of a creepshotter's human rights being denied and whatnot. It's really, really revoltingly gross.
posted by elizardbits at 8:31 AM on October 22, 2013 [6 favorites]


It's a shame, the way you mess around with my heart.
posted by benito.strauss at 8:47 AM on October 22, 2013


I actually left a few Flickr street photography groups back in the day because they were basically r/creepshots.

A new phrase to me today, thanks to Twitter, is TERF: trans-exclusive radical feminists. Which is confusing, as there is a blogger with a very similar name which for some reason the internets don't like.
posted by mippy at 8:51 AM on October 22, 2013


I have wanted to link to this essay on Metafilter for quite some time, but I'm not sure that a pdf of an article published long ago would be appropriate for an FPP. It's "The Genesis of Shame" by David Velleman. It's one of the greatest essays in the philosophy of emotions that there is, it's bursting with genuinely deep insights, it's rheotrically deft, and it doesn't require any technical knowledge. I know that not everyone will agree with all of its conclusions, but it's argued extremely well. It starts with a slow exegesis of the Eden myth in Genesis, and slowly expands into a general discussion of shame:
And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed." So ends Chapter 2 of Genesis. Chapter 3 narrates the Fall and its aftermath: "The eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons." Presumably, they made themselves aprons to cover their nakedness, because they were now ashamed.

Why were Adam and Eve ashamed? And why hadn't they been ashamed before? The text of Genesis 3 suggests that they became ashamed because they realized that they were naked. But what realization was that? [...]

The story of Genesis makes little sense under the standard philosophical analysis of shame as an emotion of reflected self-assessment. According to this analysis, the subject of shame thinks less of himself at the thought of how he is seen by others. The problem is to explain how the shame of Adam and Eve could have involved a negative assessment of themselves.
There's a pretty hilarious punchline. Velleman is a terrific philosopher.

Defenses of shame (and many other "negative" emotions) have being recently been cropping up pretty frequently in philosophy. For example.
posted by painquale at 10:57 AM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Defenses of shame (and many other "negative" emotions) have being recently been cropping up pretty frequently in philosophy

Good. Because if the first real barrier to personal bad behavior is the law, we are in a sorry state indeed.

Nixon resigned when the jig was up. Old school. Clinton - no sense of shame, even when disbarred. Which encourages clowns like Weiner.

I don't particularly like Clinton (or Nixon for that matter), but even if I did, I can't see that his refusal to fall on his sword makes the world a better place.
posted by IndigoJones at 7:31 AM on October 23, 2013


"There are times when we should feel shame, like when we’re tempted to hunt for Communists."

Perhaps. But let's consider the moral hierarchy.

On the one side, you have an ideology and regimes which killed tens of millions of people in horrific ways, which stifled and ruined many more, which inflicted incalculable material, spiritual, and psychological damage on virtually all who lived under it, and which for expedience allied itself with Hitler's Germany.

On the other side, you have people who wanted to take that ideology's adherents and apologists to task, not least of all those adherents who surreptitiously and even illegally promoting the its interests against those of their own country. Who thought that the treaty of Yalta, consigning eastern Europe to Stalin's malign rule, was shameful.

For the life of me, I have never understood how people can gag at portraits of Hitler but find it nothing more than chic to put up Warhol posters of the likes of Mao.

Shame indeed.

(Wonder how an entrance essay for Bard would go over if the prospective student argued that Alger Hiss was an execution worth traitor.)
posted by IndigoJones at 8:55 AM on October 23, 2013


On the one side, you have an ideology and regimes which killed tens of millions of people in horrific ways, which stifled and ruined many more, which inflicted incalculable material, spiritual, and psychological damage on virtually all who lived under it, and which for expedience allied itself with Hitler's Germany.

Really, Lucy did all of that? Talk about having some 'splaining to do.

'Cause you do know, don't you, that the Communist hunters in no way limited themselves to opposing the Soviet Union.
posted by benito.strauss at 1:25 PM on October 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


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