"Shame and it's Relation to Violence" by Sandy Mac

The culture of shame, it's relation to violence, and the release of 'Animals' by Maroon 5.

Imagine you're taking a stroll through the park, when suddenly you come across a mother and her children. The children begin letting go of their mother's hand and tries to chase some nearby pigeons, when the mom quickly runs after them, exclaiming they are bad for running away, and to never do that again. Or, when we look at models and actors in the media that perpetuate a type of sexualised beauty that you yourself don't fit those standards. Then are often told by our peers we aren't “desirable” or “womanly/manly” enough. Imagine a rape victim being silenced and told that this crime was brought on by them, because it came from someone they had a relationship with at the time?

These scenarios all have one thing in common: they all focus on using shame, guilt, and the belief that our undesirable behaviour and label one attaches to each other as a result makes us inherent to that trait. It can leave us feeling unworthy. Depressed. Ashamed of who we are and unable to change. For many, this leads into the suppression of our whole selves, and numbing of our emotional landscapes. As a further result, this can leave many conflicts unresolved and violent patterns in thinking and behaviour. Not to mention, when we do fully learn to express ourselves emotionally, it will take a special individual capable of handling the full spectrum of our emotional being without reacting poorly. The culture of shame and it's relationship to violence is prevalent in our culture, and cyclical by nature. We learn early on what behaviours we possess through this type of focusing inward on one another, instead of  how our actions have negative impacts. When we are subjected to subtle micro aggressions of shame and guilt with the intent to elicit certain behaviours(If you can't think of any examples, just turn on the TV and sit through a few commercial segments. People in advertisement thrive on this tactic) it ultimately leads to the confinement of ourselves to cultural expectations. And with the slightest deviations from our cultural norms, or when we witness others trying to break our gender norms, we immediately condemn, ridicule, or punish them because of the threat they impose. How does that quote go?...”First they ignore you, then they ridicule you....”

What are these cultural norms, you ask? Perfect examples are any popularly accepted gender roles;  Women depicted as too demanding, crazy, home-makers, bossy, less-educated, etc. While men are seen as breadwinners, emotionally stagnant, sexually aggressive, predatory. This is a perfect segway to examine and discuss the awful, predatory, and downright offensive music video released by Maroon 5 recently, entitled Animals.

Maroon 5 - "Animals" Director: Samuel Bayer

Since we are all well aware of the collective influence popular media has on society and in our personal lives, how is this socially acceptable? How are we as a society in 2014, allowing this content to be readily available, accepted, digested, and in many cases reinforced in our lives? This type of music video glamorizes and glorifies unhealthy, stalker-like behaviour. This type of video enables photographers to think it is alright to take photos of someone without consent. It paints a highly sexualised, sub-dom fantasy that not only breaks privacy and harassment laws, but borders dangerously on being violent.(What would happen if he didn't get the girl he has been obsessing and taking photos of?) I can't help but think, when I watch this video, about how most rape cases are committed by acquaintances or friends of their victims. That most cases will go unreported because of fear, shame, humiliation, and lack of understanding from the public and their peers.  

Let's stop allowing popular media to call these types of music video's entertainment, and call it what it really is: Cheap exploitation of violence and criminal behaviour. Let's start learning how to identify the many micro aggressions of shame, guilt, and humiliation we are faced with in our lives. Let's start cultivating compassion for one another, acceptance of each other outside of our learned cultural expectations and gender roles, then, we can start eliminating violence in our day to day lives.