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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Bulling and Shaming

This was my sign to post about something that has bothered me for a long time. I keep reading about it on social media, on blogs and webpages, in books and magazines and hear people saying. Since tomorrow is Stop Bullying Day, I'm taking the opportunity to say something about it, since it's happened to me my entire life. I know I'm not alone and I just see it getting worse.

Lately, "Shaming" has become very popular. But shaming is just another form of bullying. You have body shaming, fat shaming, slut shaming, food shaming, religion shaming, and on and on and on.

It's gotten to the point that anytime someone does anything that another person doesn't like or approve of, it gives them license to "shame" that person to get them to conform with their idea of what "should be". I've spent a lot of time trying to figure out why this is and I'm convinced it comes down to low self esteem and the need to have everyone agree with their choices so that they can feel good about those choices.

I have been judged about my gender, my weight, the clothing I wear, what I eat and don't eat (and they think I should), my health choices, where I live, the books I read, the TV shows I watch, and of course, my religion. But the worst, of course, is when they learn that I was raped. Either they call me a liar or blame me for what happened. If I hadn't worn what I was wearing or gone where I went, it never would have happened to me. I must have done something to cause it to happen, if it really did happen.

I know I'm not alone in any of this. I know a lot of people have been bullied and shamed in many ways much worse than I have. Bullying and shaming does not accomplish what most bullies and shamers think it does. When you set out to control other people's actions so you can feel better about your own, you take away that person's natural autonomy. When they feel they have no control over their own life, and when it happens over and over again, eventually something has to give. What then happens is that they snap and someone gets hurt. I'm convinced this is the cause of most road rage, shootings, suicides and mass murders. People who feel good about themselves and their lives don't need to resort hurting themselves or others. But those who have to deal with mental and emotional abuse that come from bullying and shaming of any kind, often do.

So, what's the answer? I'm convinced it's two things.. education and experience. Both are the bases of everything in our life. Attitudes and opinions are based on both of these. Everything we know in our life is based on the things we learn and the things we have experienced, good and bad. Bad experiences can color our opinions of other people and events. And then we judge those people and events by the bad experiences we had. Education can come from formal education, personal reading and the words of another person. The problem lies with listening to just one person or reading just one book or going to just one school (or school of thought), and believing that those one things have all of the answers. I don't believe that to be true. Those schools, books and people are using just their own experiences and educations to base their own person opinion. And opinion only relates to themselves... opinions are not facts.

So rather than judge people and events based on negative experiences and basing your opinion on just those things, why not LEARN more about the situation you are judging? Give others a break and find out what makes them tick? Try to empathize with them, ask questions, learn the "facts" and don't judge people just based on what you thought you knew about the situation.

When people tell me I'm going to hell (which I don't believe in by the way), because my religion isn't the same as theirs, I ask them what they know about my religion. The answer is usually nothing, or not very much, or a very twisted account taught them by someone who doesn't want them to know about it. How much easier it would be if they would just ask me questions about what I believe instead of telling me what they want to me to believe or should believe.

This is true of everything in people's lives.. from lifestyle choices to clothing to food to education. Why are so threatened by people who are different? I once had a woman who "assumed" that I was a diabetic because of my size. When I asked her why she thought that, she became flustered and said she thought she read it in my medical chart. Now if she had just asked me and instead assumed that based on the idea that if you are fat you must be sick, it would have saved us both some embarrassment. I am not a diabetic (and I know a lot of people who are and many of them are skinny), I don't have high blood pressure and I'm now healthier now that I have been in my entire life.

But I still have people who try to shame into changing.. from "you should be ashamed of yourself for being that heavy"... to "you shouldn't wear those kinds of things when you're fat"... to "you're going to die early if you don't stop eating and drinking [fill in the blank]"... to "you're going to hell if you don't give up your evil ways".

These are just opinions.. their opinions. They don't apply to me or anyone else, just themselves. Why do they feel the need to force others to comply with them? Insecurity, fear, hate...

It's pretty sad if you ask me.

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