The Shame Industrial Complex Is Booming. Who’s Cashing In?

The Shame Industrial Complex Is Booming. Who’s Cashing In? (behind paywall), Alissa Bennett, The New York Times.

Where “The Shame Machine” seems to rattle off its tracks is in O’Neil’s discussion of what she refers to as “healthy shaming” — let’s call it a lateral punch. The lateral punch is the blow that we strike against people who do not share our social value systems; it’s the self-righteous bravado we feel when we tell an internet stranger, after the fact, to put his mask on; it’s the thrill of watching someone be reprimanded when they violate our understanding of how things should be. Though O’Neil outlines how the lateral punch often successfully influences behaviors that result in a genuine collective benefit (she provides Covid-19 vaccinations as an example), she neglects to fully excavate what role sheer pleasure plays in our impulse to shame in those situations that have neither obvious victim nor victimizer. It seems disingenuous to ignore what is quietly at play in even the “healthiest” of shaming: a request for compliance that is hinged to a threat of ostracization. The basic “us” versus “you” dichotomy that foregrounds even the most benign of shaming always stands in the shadow of the hierarchical tower.

sted on Domination/Partnership.

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