Shame is something that society has taught us to feel when we don’t conform to what it expects from us. In many aspects it’s good. It’s what regulates our behavior and stops us from becoming too deviant, but on the other hand shame has also been used to restrict people and block progress taking it too far on more than one occasion.

I find the concept of shame in the culture of my land very frustrating as a woman. It’s a culture of not telling the truth because the truth is shameful if that makes sense (I much rather a blunt culture). For example, I used to get quite confused when people who I’d never heard of getting married or engaged were suddenly being referred to as husband and wife. “When was the wedding?” I’d ask and they’d give me the eye. The stank eye would grow bigger as I then rationalized that if they were living together unmarried then they were girlfriend and boyfriend, not spouses. But according to the culture it was too shameful to mention the fact that someone in the family was living with someone unmarried. Which was ridiculous. No amount of sugar coating could suddenly make a marriage appear. It was what it was. A hoe is a hoe and will never be a spade.

Perhaps that why I like Jews, Nigerians and South Africans quite a lot, they don’t mince words and are quite shameless in expressing their opinions. If you’re fat, they’ll tell you you’re fat with a twinkle in their eye and laughter. If they’re angry with you they’ll express it rather than going behind your back and telling everyone else before you know. At first the trait was rather irritating until I began to appreciate that one knew where you stood with them all the time. I appreciated it all the more returning to a culture where everyone complains that you never know what’s on their minds. Whether they’re friend or foe. I suppose where shame is used excessively for even the most simple things people lose respect and freedom. When I look around me that’s what I see, a lack or respect for everything…but no one truly does anything about it because we’ve all been taught that to speak the truth is shameful and in a sense we’ve all been shamed anyway…

1 thought on “Shameless?”

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