(...or, no, I'll put it in PBW's own words, in case you're thinking of going over there; please do not follow my own example and give in to the temptation to snark at another commenter and thus further derail, no matter how--anyway, here's PBW:
My issue is with classism and elitism masquerading as victimhood and solidarity. It is not about Bitch PhD as a person or a blogger. Please try to at least get the basic facts right if you plan to point people to my blog as I am tired of having to explain it to them when they arrive.
My blog isn’t about smack downs it is about discussing oppression and until now the people who read it have been able to have a civil and productive conversation. I resent that this episode means those days might be gone. So much for standing up against the tide.”
on edit: Black Amazon's take on this, and her expansion into the more general subjects of entitlement versus gratitude, and the latter's application within the broader culture, particularly the loosely-defined progressive political communit(ies), is--as usual, it's BA--well worth a read or six.
--ANYWAY, on the subject of shame.
A commenter said this:
When shame leads to self-hate and inaction it is a pointless emotion. When shame stems from abuses that only perpetrators should carry and yet society expects from the survivors it is a function of patriarchy and should be shunned. But when shame signals a warning that you have done something wrong, you have fallen down, then use it as an opportunity to stop doing that, get up, brush yourself off, own your mistake, and forge a new way.
which got me a-ruminating, since this is the sort of thing that I think about a lot (quibbles over whether one wants to use the term "patriarchy" as the Monolith du jour or not aside).
*nod* I know people have talked about the difference between a “shame” and a “guilt” culture, but for the life of me I can never remember which is which.
In psych there’s this notion of “optimal” shame as an essential part of the socialization process, I remember from child development class. Basically, it’s like the littlest Bear. Not enough of it and the kid never really gets to grow, doesn’t learn sie can fix hir own mistakes (just that someone will be along to clean um hir mess), or basic empathy, which is actually hir loss as much as anyone else’s, because well, that’s actually a rather lonely and disconnected place.
At the other extreme, if you’re too heavy-handed with the shaming it can crush the kid’s spirit. Interestingly enough it can lead to the same sorts of coping mechanisms as too little shaming, i.e. narcissism. It can also make you a kind of Bontsha the Silent, someone whose spirit is just kind of crushed, who stops asking for or even imagining that sie deserves anything better than whatever comes to hir.
From another angle, I’ve often pondered to what degree one’s cultural and religious baggage influences how we deal with shame/guilt, even if on the surface we don’t identify with the religion or culture of our upbringing. For instance, more and more lately I’ve been thinking that maybe part of the reason why I don’t “get” certain approaches to various political movements, i.e. this weird sort of interpretation of “the personal is political” (I am thinking in particular of someone who announced that -anyone- can do social work or practical work to help women, -real- feminism is an “in your soul” thing) might -possibly- have something to do with, my own cultural/religious background, secular humanist Jewish, doesn’t really grok the whole “faith, not works” thing. Yeah, guilt we get, and we can overdo it, but mostly what I learned wasn’t “you have already sinned in your heart, and that’s just as bad as the deed;” what I learned was “what you DO and how it affects OTHER PEOPLE is what matters. You fucked up? -Go fix it.-” THAT is “atonement,” not self-flagellating or…
mm, then again, here it is Yom Kippur-ish (which I -always- forget about), and I don’t suppose fasting is particularly about anyone else but one’s own spiritual process. Still, on the whole, I’ve generally thought of My People as rather eminently pragmatic, for good or for ill.
Thoughts on this, either the shame/guilt thing or the influence of religion and culture? I realize I'm painting with a rather broad brush here, particularly viz Judaism and Christianit(ies). Still, I do think the New Testament switch from outer to inner--and I am not saying this is always a bad thing, by any means, I've said it before, on the whole I tend to like the dude in the sandals a lot better than much of the Old Testament, whatever problems I have with many of (H)his followers and/or fanfic writers notwithstanding--has maybe -something- to do with the ways in which shame manifests in this (U.S.) culture.
...and now I am also thinking of Midori, who, in the course of a workshop on female domination, expounded on her take on the difference between the Japanese ways of processing shame/guilt (she was one of the ones who made the distinction, dammit, and I STILL can't remember which is supposed to be which) and the--well, at least the U.S. one, I don't remember how far she expanded that, but she did connect it to predominantly Protestant-influenced cultures, I'm pretty sure. Anyway, she was particularly of course referring to sexualized shame/guilt; very roughly i think her take was that in Japan, it's a lot less about internalization of "I am a bad person for having these fantasies" and more about a sort of socialized shame; i.e. if a wanker wanks in the forest and no one sees or hears, ain't nobody's business if sie do; neither Santa nor the baby Jesus is interested in whether you've sinned in your heart. I'm probably getting it horribly off, it was a long time ago.