Yesterday, one of the featured news stories here was the effort by local authorities to force semi-nude coffee girls in Everett, Washington to cover up.
We discussed the sleezy baristas and their sleezy customers in the context of the law.
What surely disturbs some of us is the lack of society’s disapproval of naked coffee stands.
Shaming by leftists rarely extends to sexual behavior by women, but only by men. This selective shaming is unhealthy. Baring your surgically enhanced breasts to sell a cup of coffee to some horny fool isn’t “empowering” no matter what feminists say.
The following excerpt covers a chunk of a wider discussion on shaming as a tactic to discourage sleezy or harmful behavior. The focus in the excerpt is on divorce. However, shaming (and shunning) is a tactic that ought to be widely applied in our “anything goes” culture. Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey are not the only ones who deserve to be shamed.
Excerpt from The Federalist
Sociologists such as W. Bradford Wilcox at the University of Virginia for decades have noted the tremendous damage divorce — another project of the sexual revolution — has done to America’s social fabric. Children exposed to divorce are more likely than their peers in intact marriages to suffer from serious social or psychological pathologies. Adolescents with divorced parents are more likely to drop out of high school when compared to children from intact families. Adolescent girls with divorced parents are three times more likely to become teen mothers, while their male counterparts are twice as likely to spend time in prison.
The effects of divorce are a huge drain on our nation’s wealth and resources. If the United States enjoyed the same level of family stability today as it did in 1960, one sociologist has estimated that the nation would have 750,000 fewer children repeating grades, 1.2 million fewer school suspensions, approximately 500,000 fewer acts of teenage delinquency, about 600,000 fewer kids receiving therapy, and about 70,000 fewer suicide attempts every year. Wilcox’s research has found similar detrimental effects caused by cohabitation.
Yet our culture, media, and dominant institutions have not only abandoned any kind of shame attached to divorce, cohabitation, or other deleterious side-effects of the sexual revolution (e.g. abortion on demand, pornography); we promote them as an intrinsic part of our freedom to pursue our own life goals and self-actualization.
Curiously, the only elements of the sexual revolution mainstream culture seems focused on attacking are those perceived to violate consent — harassment, rape, etc. Even here the hypocrisy runs deep: children from divorced families don’t consent to broken homes; the approximately 650,000 American babies aborted every year don’t consent to their conception or subsequent murder; and most parents have not consented to a culture where children are exposed on average to pornography at the age of 11.
Burgo’s article goes on to provide a methodology for appropriately applying shame. It must not only humiliate, “it should leave room for those who have violated our standards to experience remorse and then to make amends.” The ultimate goal is to “ease the shaming” and allow violators of our culture’s mores to reintegrate into society. Shame, public penance, forgiveness, and reintegration. This also should sound familiar.
Prior to the secularization and atomization of Western society, this is the way our communities, either through the judicial system or churches, dealt with crimes against society. As First Things contributor Marc Barnes notes, citing Cambridge University historian Helen Mary Carrel, the majority of medieval punishments “were administered by small communities who took responsibility for their own criminals. Shaming punishments — like shaving the head of an adulteress or dunking a crooked merchant in the river — worked, and they worked because a person really could be shamed to have broken the peace of an actual community of neighbors.”
Today our public shaming methods obviously need not be identical to these, but can at least include other more modernly acceptable methods of expressing disapproval. Moreover, for many centuries, those who violated church rules were expected to publicly confess their sins and do penance, then were ultimately reintegrated into the Christian community.
Ironically enough, far removed from the Enlightenment and its attempts to remove the shackles of institutional religion’s influence on society, modern experts are (seemingly unknowingly) taking their cues from the tactics of pre-modern Christian societies. Forms of shame — both public and internal — are now good and useful. So is public penance and ultimately, forgiveness (although one wonders why darlings of the Left like Al Franken are being forgiven so quickly). If only liberals had a principled means of applying shame, we might actually be able to cooperate on a vision of the common good for all Americans.