The Shaming-Industrial Complex

The Shaming-Industrial Complex, Becca Rothfeld.

,,,the book ends by recommending that we “detoxify our relations.” It’s self-improvement that’s paramount. We should stop feeling shame, and we should stop inflicting it. “Don’t get outraged—or at least don’t make a habit of it.”

But how much does it matter whether we make a habit of it? The suggestion that our emotional practices have such outsized political import belongs to a dubious theory of cultural change. There is little evidence that electoral havoc is an offshoot of private insecurities, to be discussed and dismantled on the psychoanalyst’s couch. Vicious gerrymandering and laws that continue to disenfranchise millions are at least as consequential as a handful of private outbursts.

The force of shame stems from its status as a social condition, not from its emotional resonance. The bad feelings that shamings instill are incidental to the material injuries they inflict. No matter how supreme our sanguinity, how unshakable our equipoise, people who get raked over the coals online can expect to find themselves jobless in the aftermath,….

“The trolling works only when the target is ashamed,” she writes sunnily, concluding that “shamelessness can be a healthy and freeing response.” But if fat-shaming is the result of the weight-loss industry’s machinations, we almost certainly cannot alter our feelings without altering the institutional arrangements that support them. Flanagan may be right that emotions are culturally specific—but we will still have to change a culture in order to change the emotions that it generates. How effective can a personal crusade really be when the gears of the shame machine go on grinding? (Posted in Systemic Resources/Domination-Partnership)

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