Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Female Shame Game

Okay. So check this out. I'm pissed. I'm hot-lava-raining-on-Pompeii-heated-and-infuriatingly pissed and disgusted. But why? At who? Really, you want to know?

I'm pissed off at every last one of you know-better-than-to-do-that-but-did-it-anyways chicks out there and, hell, I include myself in that glorious group just as much. You know we're all guilty of it: SHAMING. Fat shaming, mom shaming, friend shaming, wife shaming, slut shaming, baby momma drama shaming, career shaming, faith shaming, gender shaming, and whatever others there may be out there that I failed to list because I would like to sleep tonight. I'm sure you get my drift. We're all guilty of some form of it at some point in time in our lives. Hell, I've shamed people for shaming after I just shamed someone. Like everyone else who's guilty of it, I knew better. But why did I waste time that I will never get back on something as petty and pointless as tearing down another human being? It's almost like it's a new epidemic. I remember being bullied as a kid, but now it's damn near global with the gross availability of the internet utilizing our pound signs as now hashtags to make things more easy to find. Hateful things at that.

I've been on both ends of shaming. As a kid and teen, I was shamed because of my weight, my skin, and my blonde hair that was growing brown roots with age which made my hair look dirty. I could do nothing right. Then, as an adult, I was shamed for my mothering, my choice to eventually bottle feed my son, my mental health, my lack of advanced education, and yet again my size. I always tried my best to let it roll off, but it's not true what they say about sticks and stones. 

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words, they scar and hurt me.

I came home nearly every day from school in tears and consoled myself alone in my room. I met hell during the day from students and the fury of my abusive family at night. Those schoolmates didn't know what I went through. They didn't know that my family was all smoke and mirrors; I was covering up all the evil and hiding their crazy.

As an adult, I found myself with my back against the bathroom door, face in hands crying and crumpling to the floor yet again, due to what was just someone's piece of shit opinion. And still knowing better, I did it to another. I criticized another young woman in true sweet southern fashion for continuously getting pregnant while neglecting to use protection. At the time, I didn't see it as shaming, but rather asking her something or "trying to help." As she fell to tears, she told me that she had been raped. In that moment I saw myself in her, only I hadn't been left to raise the resulting child. She's a damn strong woman, but shouldn't have been left to feel she had to defend herself by revealing her tortured soul. I regret what I did if even unknowingly. I can't decide I didn't hurt her if she feels I did.

A few useful cliches in the event you feel yourself leaning toward shaming another woman:

"Everyone is fighting a battle that no one else knows about."

"Opinions are like assholes. Everyone has one and most of them stink."

"The tongue has not a single bone and is yet strong enough to break a heart."

But mostly I offer the overtly teased and meme'd term 'Namaste,' which actually roughly means, "The Spirit within me salutes the Spirit within you." My friend Eli said this to me after an argument we had. It was only one word and, yet, has changed my approach to others and life as a whole.

You see, from the moment we are conceived, we are each on a different path which will not offer the same memories and experiences to every person. We are all so unique because our cultures, upbringings, economic standings, and faiths differ so wildly in different combinations. So why, then, does it make sense to shame another for being different when really in logic they can't be our clone? Basically, I'm not you and you're not me. Yet there has been so much wasted time spent tearing down rather than building up. We've become a society of feeling less-than, in a large part due to the media's assault on women's appearance and behavior. Then we strike out at others to redeem what we never lost. Of course, women are put under the microscope and dictated to look a certain way. I keep wondering why it is that I'm hearing tampon commercials build up our female community more than those I speak to personally? Men have it hard too. I've yet to see a man with physical substance on a cologne ad. Though we now have a female model with down's syndrome, I say she needs a male counterpart because we are ALL awesome.

I've grown so sick of the society that feeds on drama and negativity that I've built my own society. Okay, it's more like a personal little bubble, but it's mine. I refuse to entertain others that seek to destroy in effort to heighten their own sense of self-worth. We all have bad days and issues. By all means, sit and talk with me and share your soul. But if telling me that coworkers ass looked like two Christmas hens trying to fight for freedom and she needs to change her style is what you plan to come at me with, then please refrain from approaching me. I'm just short of throat-punching the next person that has so little class that they choose to talk such trash. Intelligent people talk about ideas, dreams, the future. Small minded people talk about what can easily be seen by the naked eye. I also think that we as a society fail to recognize that it doesn't have to leave a bruise to be abuse. We have teens that held such high potential and intelligence while blessed with such a warm heart and beautiful soul wasting away in cemeteries. They heard more bullshit opinions than truth and at such an emotionally driven age that they couldn't filter through it all.

Shaming is so dangerous because it's done publicly, but then internalized and transformed into a personalized torture. Yet somehow, though it is abuse, it's become accepted and even a trend. Negativity is like a cancer. It started somewhere and it spread. It's only when it is accepted by the next that it spreads. The buck stops with me. We need more uplifting and less downtrodden. We need dolls for little girls that have vitiligo in a senator's attire. I want to see a fashion doll in a wheelchair giving a speech. I need to see a popular kids cartoon that has a main character with a stutter and five good friends. I want to see dolls for special needs children that are wearing protective head gear or have a sensory tag ring for their hands. I need to see more acceptance in any form I can find it. And if I can't find it, then I'll take initiative and be that change I wish to see in the world. Well, I plan to anyway, but still you get it.

I leave you with this: The best exercise for the human heart is to simply reach down to help another up, and that should be the ONLY time any one should look down upon another.

We need a change. We need a revolution in our society that tells each person that they are enough. Period. Because if you can't take me at 100 proof, as I am…then you can't get any part of me at all. And, personally, I think that's a damn good standard to have.

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