So we all know what shaming used to mean. Well, most of us do. Now most of us also know how it has become merely an attachment to other words to suggest that comments made on the topic of those other words are not politically correct or even potentially harmful. Is that wrong?
Well, no. At least not entirely. The biggest thrust this “movement” seemed to gain was around body shaming. Actual origins of that type of activity stemmed from magazines made for women, advertising, interactions with other women and the person’s own self-dialogue. But that didn’t matter. Sure, plenty of men were either in charge or involved in the magazines and advertising, but that might be a bridge too far here. Also, in fairness, body shaming isn’t only an issue for females. But, there isn’t enough room in this blog for the fully-inclusive tent.
So then the Internet happened. Well, in fairness, it had been a thing for a really long time. But it is still hilarious to watch those clips of Katie Couric and Matt Lauer back in the day on the Today Show dumbfounded not knowing what the Internet was. So even starting soon after that time, we’ve had it around for many years. But it apparently wasn’t until the barrage of apps, social media and constant connectivity that gave the impression that users were online somehow MORE than 24/7/365 and were basically mainlining online straight to their veins.
So in that weird ass world, there could be a perfectly normal female who would have gotten almost no negative comments about her body from men except for those with spite or just pure assholes previously. But now online the “trolls” barrage all her inputs to the system with absolutely abhorrent comments/messages/etc. as if she is Jabba the Hut in female form. That would have been bad enough, but then it shifted to “plus-size” women, particularly those trying to break down barriers in worlds like modeling. So if the woman with 0.01% body fat is female Jabba the Hut, you can imagine what the women were who, admittedly, did have a bit more on their bones. So that led to a counter of that negativity that seems to have gone too far now suggesting that the 800-pound person who needs a big ass machine to extract them from their house is TOTALLY fine and is no cause for concern about their health at all.
After body shaming came things like slut shaming. Again, this had a counter with those suggesting whatever was done or said to receive the shaming was not only totally fine, but they were proud of it and should be celebrated.
As an outsider to these things, it is a little weird, to be honest. I mean that for both sides. I’ve never engaged in it, and I’ve never delved deep into it, which would be why those who have can very easily read this and think I have no idea what I’m talking about. I’d guess they’d likely be correct to think that.
So thank you for coming along on the journey of the long way around to the topic – crazy shaming. Is this even a thing? Well, sadly, yes. And, like many things similar to it, it is by no means a new thing either. Watch enough episodes of literally any older television shows and at some point, you will catch this behavior. And not just for a character who is clearly being played as crazy, but for seemingly very, very normal even-keeled characters too who may have done a single thing slightly weird.
In today’s society, possibly because of mental health problems we have in this country and the prevalence of psych drugs being consumed by more people that just those with diagnosed mental health issues, perhaps it has provided more people to feel like their crazy shaming is done from some sort of protective bubble. It is not. It is like, “oh, well, I sometimes take Xanax that my GP gave me, so I have every right to call this woman ‘Pinot Polar’ because I think it is really funny to suggest she is bipolar when she drinks Pinot Grigio.” (By the way, that is an actual thing, that happened in one of the “Real Housewives” series on Bravo.)
For way too long, even though he made himself a super easy target for it, practically anything out of the ordinary that Kanye West did, tons of people instantly called him crazy. Turns out, he actually does have mental health concerns. Maybe you think it is still okay to shame him because of what he has done and said. (Sure, claiming to be a god or at least on par with Jesus Christ is going to bring you attention, at least some of which you shouldn’t want if you are thinking clearly.) But, no, it is still not okay.
So, thus far, I’ve only used well-known people in my examples. Well, that was done so that most of us could approach this conversation with a more clear picture of what we were discussing. So moving past those who are in the public eye, usually, because they have chosen to allow that to happen, let’s get to the real issue. Everyone else.
So everyone else marks significantly more people than the well-known examples. Don’t worry, I’m not going to lie to you and say you shouldn’t be at least somewhat concerned about your uncle who always talks about the time he was abducted by aliens and they did some constant anal probing. And that is mostly because he does it at every family function and goes into great detail describing it even though your young children are able to hear it all. Maybe look into that.
No, I’m talking about other things. There is so much of it, really, it can be hard to even try and encapsulate it. It can be the teenager who shares their deep despair of depression on Facebook. It can be that mid-30s guy who just started that blog that 3 people read where he talks about bipolar, anxiety and depression 3 times a week. Or it could be the kid who stutters or even wets his pants when called on to stand up and talk, whether as a kid at the time or years later as an adult with those same issues lingering. They’re all in need of support, not shaming and ridicule. In fact, the initial example was just that – an example. But there are actual examples of that happening pretty regularly where the main shaming culprit (typically in a bully capacity) harasses that person through Facebook until that teen chooses to take their own life.
I’m not trying to suggest that other forms of shaming can’t also lead to dire circumstances including suicide. I’m merely staying on point in so far as I am fighting for awareness and support for those of us either dealing with mental health issues that we have or that someone we know has.
Literally, none of the crazy shaming that you do, especially when it is repetitive to the point of essentially harassment or bullying, is okay at all. It really should stop. And, no, I don’t give a fuck if you are a comedian and have a worldview that literally everything is fair game for your humor and that delicate subjects or misery are even better targets for you for some reason. Just stop this shit, already. How are you not impacted at all that even just your words, and certainly if you also added more like actions, have had an effect on at least one person who is no longer with us now because of it? Do you think, “well, that person didn’t kill themselves JUST because of me, so I’m totally off the hook here.” NO. That is NOT how this works. We all are the sum of all of our experiences. When you are a shitty motherfucker to someone, it, at a minimum, is stored in the bank and is now a part of who they are. So, seriously, shut the fuck up. Find a better outlet for whatever it is about you that makes you think and act this way.
Having said that, there is a caveat that I had called myself out on occasionally. It is the suggestion that if you are “crazy” then it is, therefore, okay to call out “crazy” shit from others. It is not unlike Bryan Cranston’s dentist character in Seinfeld who seemed to convert to Judaism for the Jew jokes to be fair game. It’s a weird thing where we think, well we’re under the same tent or in the same bubble or whatever and so my words are somehow different than those on the outside. I have to admit, I still think there is a bit of truth to this. But it really depends on circumstances. If I do exactly what I just railed repeatedly against, the borderline harassing/bullying, I’m no better than anyone else just because I might have the same diagnosis as my target. But, if I do it once light-heartedly, in a manner that doesn’t also provide the context, and I swiftly follow it up with more advocating for change, and potentially even specific calls to action to help the person… Yeah, it seems like that might be okay. But, in case it is not painfully obvious more than 1500 words into this post and other times I have written before, I’m happy to stop tomorrow with any times I may fall into this same trap very rarely and with proper context that shows I’m actually trying to help – provided that everyone else stops as well.