Sweetness & Light

The Various Shades of Shame

Though painful to endure, shame and embarrassment are nevertheless extremely useful. They helpfully inform us that certain activities should not be repeated, and that particular attitudes and ideas should at the very least be reconsidered. It would have been quite shame-inducing, for example, for a man to disguise himself with woman’s clothing in order to secure a seat on a life-raft leaving the Titanic. Sure, such a strategy may have ensured survival, but only at a profound and possibly unbearable social cost. (Note: the above scenario is obviously era-dependent. A male attempting to pass himself off as female would have…

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