Secrecy, Silence, Judgement

I have made a new friend! April over at Modern Sex Culture reblogged one of my posts, and I wanted to thank her, so I sent her an e-mail and I told her that it’s very cool that she is talking about what happened to her and in general talking about things that are tough to say. She wrote me back and told me that there was a TED talk by one Brene Brown that discussed shame in culture, and I watched it, and, well, here watch yourself!

TED Talk by Brene Brown

This is really very great. This is something I struggle with on a daily basis. I wrote off a lot of my neuroses as guilt, as things I was taught being raised Catholic, and that in general it was making me miserable. The honest truth, though, is that whatever those guilty feelings were? This is actually shame. The constant lock in my brain of “You aren’t good enough,” and “Who the fuck do you think you are?” these messages that my chemically imbalanced brain sets on repeat man nights, this is shame. I don’t go through life with a lot of people externally shaming me, for which, I am extremely glad, because my internal mechanism has pushed me to thinking about no longer existing on occasion. I cannot imagine for a minute how miserable it must be for others, women especially. I’ll admit, I was brought up in a very socially conservative environment. Women were not to enjoy sex. Boys and girls were not to admit that they were curious about sex. God mandated through his servants that sexuality was a sin. Exploring a core facet of your human existence was a sin that would get you eternal punishment if you explored it before dedicating the entirety of your future to exploring with a single person, and only to the end of having children. On top of this, it was a gross double standard, looking back now, that was the end of the message. Girls, if you got pregnant, oh God help you, you are going to raising that baby and you are going to suffer and give up your life because you done sinned and sinned HARD.

Dear nonspecific higher power (look, I shamed myself into not saying ‘dear god’ without really thinking about it, its that built in) let’s think about how awful these messages are for a second.

First and most disturbing: A child isn’t a punishment! It’s not! It’s a time to grow up and become responsible, but its not a punishment! It’s a living breathing human being!And believe it or not, you aren’t stuck with it! I will say here that I am not keen on abortion while being pro choice; I respect a woman’s right to be in control of her body and certainly respect an ethical decision to not be able to provide for a child and terminating an unplanned and unwanted pregnancy, but I also believe it’s a symptom and not a moral disease. It’s a symptom of refusing to teach children what sex is about and how to responsibly take precautions, motivated by shame! There are some pretty basic things you can do to responsibly explore the nature of your body that they refuse to teach young women SPECIFICALLY that they could use to help prevent them from having children too young!

God help a girl that is smart and responsible and realizes “Hey, sex is fun and is a neat thing my body does!” because that girl is a slut.

Keep in mind, the good old boys are usually pressured into sowing some wild oats in their high school years. Who exactly are they supposed to be having sex with if the girls are expected to never open up and explore their bodies? You better find someone that isn’t a slut, because sluts are inherently bad, so you better go force your way into a “pure” girl’s vagina.

HOW IS THIS OK? HOW DID WE GET TO THE POINT WHERE WE ARE SHAMING YOUNG PEOPLE INTO RAPE AND ACCEPTING THAT RAPE IS A THING THAT’S OK?

It’s mind boggling. I focused on sex here, because I have a background in human interaction and language, but this concept of shame is built into almost everything around us. You can’t ask for help at work because that would mean that you are a weak link, even if there is a dozen people with the same problem and that by discussing it you would all do better jobs. It’s utter madness.

Fixing it is so simple, too. You just have to realize that other people are people. They have feelings and problems just like you.

Secrecy, Silence, Judgement. They are the root. We strike at the root.

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One response to “Secrecy, Silence, Judgement”

  1. April Lee says :

    So often we confuse guilt with shame. I don’t think I ever thought about that difference before I heard Brene Brown talk about it.

    THIS: “First and most disturbing: A child isn’t a punishment! It’s not! It’s a time to grow up and become responsible, but its not a punishment!”

    THIS: “God help a girl that is smart and responsible and realizes “Hey, sex is fun and is a neat thing my body does!” because that girl is a slut.”

    and THIS!!: “You can’t ask for help at work because that would mean that you are a weak link, even if there is a dozen people with the same problem and that by discussing it you would all do better jobs. It’s utter madness.”

    Yes, indeed. It is absolutely absurd to think everyone is supposed to know everything. Or it’s dubbed “common sense.” Not everything we say is “common sense” is common sense. Much of it is learned through experience; not necessarily being rational or logical. Sometimes you have to mess up to understand.

    The notion that you are supposed to punished by your child is ludicrous. I grew up in a semi-conservative culture (from the South/Midwest but missed much of the Southern conservatism because I was too young to understand. The MidWest can be laid back or rather “We don’t talk about that stuff. Hmph.”). It is so difficult to hear single mothers be demonized. We always say teenagers and young adults are just supposed to understand.. Well, when most of our conversation is centered around putting people down/shaming rather than actually talking honestly.. openly about what it’s like to have sex .. what adult relationships look like.. instead of making it this stupid naughty image.. OF COURSE that’s what you’re going to do when everyone tells you “Don’t look at the purple elephant.. DON’T!” (Can Adam and Eve be blamed? :P).

    Perhaps, it is too bold of a statement. It is too bold but now that I’ve had the thought it’s hard for me to shake it. I can’t not share it sometimes.. In the Bible, Mary was impregnated by the holy spirit.. without her consent.

    And we romanticized it of course because it’s the son of god.. is it any wonder we have the impressions we do of rape and women bearing the burden of child rearing? of being punished? I know there are other stories but Christianity is what I grew up with so it’s what I know..

    When I connected those things together.. I almost never wanted to share them because they are so horrifying. Im not even religious and I feel bad for pointing it out.. but there it is.

    Anyway, thank you for this post! Once again it is fantastic. Please don’t stop writing 🙂

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