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Shame-O-Phobia

This essay, written by David Wexler, begins by setting a couple in Paris who is at a shopping area. The wife had asked her husband if he could grab her purse for her and bring it over to where she was. He couldn’t do it. This is the problem of today. Our society has everyone so concerned with what other people think about them and their actions. This  husband was so embarrassed by even just the thought of holding a purse for 15 seconds. The idea of losing an “guy points” was to painful for him to do it.

Shame; its a feeling that can first appear in childhood, and can resonate for the rest of a persons life. Whether it’s from a family experience or something in school or sports,we all know what this feeling is. Humiliation is the last thing we want.It’s become a fear – something people in academia call “shame-o-phobia”. As many of us see, there are still many men he refuse to appear weak, fragile, or even worse, feminine. Their whole job of being a male is to prove that they really are a “man”. Sadly, a lot of men will do just about everything to do so. It’s shown in every day life by doing tasks that are deemed “manly” or “masculine”. Grilling, working on cars, & hunting are just a few examples of these tasks.

Wexler states that on the inside, a lot of men pride themselves on being tough and this is one characteristic that is very traditional. Unfortunately, it’s very hard to change this because it is how human society has been structured for so long. Men feel they need to prove something, and that they need to be a certain way because they’ve been encouraged to to follow what their gender roles tell them to do. Women are often the same way, fulfilling the role of being emotional and caretakers.

In the example in the beginning, the man couldn’t carry his wife’s purse because he thought he would be judged and that he would be failing at some part of being a man. Wexler is a great person for this essay because he is a man. He has been in this position, and has to experience the world with the pressure to be all “man”.

There is a very important explanation for this given by Wexler using the metaphor the broken mirror. This is a term used in psychology to explain why shame happens.He says that like a mirror and it’s reflection, a person’s response to you is like the reflection. If someone has a negative response to something you’ve done, then you see yourself as less than before. It is like a blow to your self-esteem. He goes further to say that even small things, like when a woman makes a small comment about something a man has done, in his head it’s viewed as failing the woman.

I think it is important to note that men have these self conscious emotions and worries, just as women often do. It is sad that society has put so much pressure to fill the role of what our gender tells us to be. Luckily, things today are becoming a little more progressive. More and more people are becoming more accepting of people going against this norm, and doing different things.


1 Comment

  1. ninazm21 says:

    Our society really does place a great amount of pressure on us to fit the mold of the socially constructed ideal male or female. This article was a particularly interesting account of the reality of that extreme pressure. Being a female member of society, sometimes its difficult to imagine the societal pressure that males face as there is a conception that males tend to face far less societal pressure than females. When in actuality in some cases there is more ridicule against men who stray from the ideal “masculine” figure than there is against women who stray from the ideal “feminine” figure. A women wearing mens clothing would be far less ridiculed than a man wearing women’s clothing.

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