I thought of would write a post on rejection and shame in the context of dating. I live in Toronto and Toronto is notoriously a difficult city to be on the dating scene. I find in Toronto men don’t do the hunting sort of speak. Men don’t approach women. Ive brought this up to a few guys and all Ive heard is “Ive stopped approaching women because all I get is attitude”. So if that’s the case, then the recourse is to give up? Yes, rejection is a part of life and no one wants to be rejected. However, since the dawn of time men have been the pursuers. Not everyone is going to be a home run but that should not discourage a man from going up to bat. I heard a quote recently from relationship expert Patti Stanger which said “men don’t know how to be men and women don’t know how to be women”. I think that is a big part of what I’ll call a dating crisis in today’s society. In my opinion, everyone must learn to deal with rejection as it’s a part of life. But especially for all of those singles out there (especially men) have got to get over rejection if they’d ever like to settle down and meet “the one”.
Shame on occasion can be a good thing. Shame in some respects keeps us in line. I was recently watching a documentary called Fed Up on the obesity crisis in the States. They were mentioning lobbyists for food manufacturers and soda companies make it their job to convince congress that their products are healthy. One member of congress actually said “have you got no shame?”.
Then that made me think that on some level of shame is a good thing. It helps to keep us morally sound. The idea for all of us is to realize the role shame plays in our lives and to not let it get out of hand. To use shame in the capacity of keeping our behaviour in line for example as opposed to us letting shame cripple our lives or letting the effects of shame take its toll on our self esteem.
Life is about balance – not enough shame can contribute to a lack of humanity and too much shame can cause depression, anxiety and hopelessness. Our emotions are part of us and have a right to be heard and felt. Let us also be cognizant of the role our emotions play and both the positive and negative effects. Let us use our emotions and not let our emotions use us.
Career is an area where intense shame can occur. Shame can come from well-meaning parents who are not satisfied with their children’s career choice. Shame can come from self judgement; not feeling like you’re as advanced in your career as you ‘should’ be or feeling like you’re stuck in a dead end job.
Some people may be blaming themselves for things related to their career that is beyond their control ie job insecurity. Some of us feel like we should have full time permanent jobs with benefits like our parents’ generation did. When in fact, many people have precarious employment, working part time or contract with no benefits or job security because the economy has changed and companies no longer want to invest in human resources. This also can be a source of shame for people. Though people must realise this is a systemic issue not an individual issue.
The reality is we are not our careers. We are so much more than that. Yes, fulfilling work does contribute to quality of life; however, we can learn to accept ourselves and our lives from this place right here regardless of where this place is. It all starts with self compassion and self acceptance. Feeling shame won’t change the situation you feel shame about. If you begin to have self compassion and acceptance then things can begin to flow from there. Perhaps you will be led to a new calling, perhaps you may serendipitously meet someone who will connect you to another opportunity or maybe you may get the energy to start that business you’ve always dreamed of.
At the end of the day, we live in uncertain economic times. This affects us all. Even those who we perceive to have the so called perfect career. Let’s learn to accept the things we cannot change and have the courage to change the things we can. Shame doesn’t have a place in any of that.
How comfortable do you feel asking for what you need or want? Do you feel shame when asking for help? Do others make you feel ashamed when you ask?
We all need one another. We all need help. We can’t do it alone.
If you’re surrounded by people who make you feel ashamed when you ask for help then ditch those people and find people who are happy to help you in your time of need.
It takes courage and vulnerability to ask for what you need. It takes courage and vulnerability to put yourself out there and ask for help.
Some of the things we may ask for:
– Your partner’s time and attention
– A friend to listen to you without judgement
– A much deserved raise from your boss
– To be respected
It’s only in the asking can you get to where you need to go or be.
Click here to watch a wonderful Ted Talk called The Art of Asking.
I recently watched Monica Lewinsky’s Ted Talk called The Price of Shame. She spoke of her experience with online humiliation and shame based on her own experiences. I won’t rehash the situation – if you’re unfamiliar with it you can look it up if interested.
She spoke of how the Internet has helped to fuel a culture of shame in our society. We as the consumer feed into this industry every time we search a headline or participate in mean spirited comments.
One thing we need to realise is that we now live in a cyber world. Anything we do or say can end up online by ourselves or others. Once it’s online it takes on a life of its own and lives on forever.
Now new terms have been created to address the shaming activities that are now taking place such as:
Troll – to make a deliberately offensive or provocative online posting with the aim of upsetting someone or eliciting an angry response from them.
Cyber Bully – the use of cell phones, instant messaging, e-mail, chat rooms or social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter to harass, threaten or intimidate someone.
The Internet allows people to remain faceless and nameless and to contribute in the hateful shaming of others. We all make mistakes, none among us are perfect; we have no right to judge one another. Let’s show some compassion. Let’s do our part to mitigate online shaming by speaking up against it. For every post a troll puts out there shaming someone let us voice some support and positivity for the person they are shaming.
What is the price of this trolling, cyber bullying behaviour? People taking their lives. Monica Lewinsky mentioned she felt suicidal during that time. There was a case of a student at Rutgers University. His roommate tried to shame him by videotaping an intimate encounter he had with his partner and posted it online. This public act of shaming resulted in this student taking his own life. Let’s no longer stand idly by and do or say nothing when this abhorrent behaviour takes place.
To watch Monica Lewinsky’s Ted Talk click below
Western culture is a culture of various taboos. We have cultural norms of things such as acceptable vs unacceptable conversation and acceptable vs unacceptable views on sexuality. There’s this unspoken belief that ‘sex is dirty’. For example “good girls don’t…….” and fill in the blank with any number of things. We have inner conflicts with puritanism vs hedonism.
Even women’s bodies are hypersexualized; breasts, nipples, bottom’s. In other parts of the world such as Brazil, women wear less clothing and men don’t ogle them like they do in North America.
Many North American’s (especially those of the Baby Boomer generation) believe that providing sex education in schools will encourage young people to have sex. Therefore, they have the belief of preaching abstinence which is very unrealistic in this day and age. However, Europeans in contrast view adolescent sexuality as part of development and have a much more open view about sex. It also should be noted that there is considerably less incidences of teenage pregnancy in Europe than in North America.
Is it possible that the more taboo we make sex the more excess driven sexuality becomes?
Being that Western culture has its roots in Catholism that lends itself to this discussion. As many religions reinforce the belief that ‘sex is dirty’, not for enjoyment or pleasure (especially for women), done in the context of marriage and only done to procreate. Anything other than that is sinful.
Sexuality is as much a part of us as anything else. We are sexual beings. The sooner we start to own that and be unapologetic about it and look at it is as our need to eat, sleep or breathe then I think we stand a chance of reclaiming our sexuality as a culture in a healthy way. I do understand that some may take issue with my comparison to the need for sex to our other needs like air, food, water etc as we wont die if we don’t have sex; however, I am simply making the point that it is a primitive part of us as natural as our need for those other things. How can a natural act that is primal and innate to us as human beings be dirty? We need to start having a healthy view and attitude towards sex and stop being so judgemental of one another! Let’s take a page out of the book of the European’s as they seem to have it right.
Good reading on this topic is a book called Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski.
This is a rant! A rant about how women have been taught by society to experience shame around our own sexuality. In parts of Africa, women go thru a very painful rite of passage known as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) which completely removes all external female genitalia for the purpose of allowing for “decent sexual behavior” as FGM is linked to virginity and being faithful during marriage.
This backwards torturous practice and other such practices done with the intent to keep women “pure” stems from the narrative of the “prize of virginity”. Throughout history a man’s virginity was never cherished as such as a woman’s. Through that cherishing of virginity have come so many systemic societal and cultural beliefs around women and their sexuality that cause shame.
Even in 2015, women are shamed by the number of sexual partners they’ve had; the higher the number, the more likely the increase in shame. When men have had many sexual partners they’re looked at as a stud. However, women are judged as sluts. But heterosexual men are having sex with heterosexual women? So why are the standards different?
There are still places around the world including in North America that deny a women’s right to abortion. Regardless of where you stand on the issue, a woman or anyone else for that matter should have the right to do with their body what they want; without religion, society, culture or government telling her what is appropriate.
We as women need to start defining what our own sexuality means to us as opposed to what it means to society. We need to start a new conversation. We need to change the rules on this. We need to own our own sexuality and define it for ourselves without fear of judgment and shame. We are still living under the ‘rules’ of a patriarchal, misogynistic and antiquated rule book.