September 18, 2006

Barbara's Blog: The Shame Game

Barbara Ehrenreich (author of Nickel and dimed, among other books) has been blogging sporadically for most of the past year. Her latest post, on shame, seemed like a good pretense to link to her.

Shaming can be a more effective means of social control than force. The peasant who stepped out of line could be derided for daring to question his “betters.” The woman who spoke out against patriarchal restrictions could be dismissed as a harridan or even a slut. It doesn’t always work, of course. In 1994, Dan Quayle and rightwing writer Charles Murray launched an initiative to “re-stigmatize” out-of-wedlock births by restoring the old pejorative term “illegitimate.” But somehow the country wasn’t ready to label millions of babies bastards.

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