I was reading an article online a couple of weeks ago where a man took a photo of a breastfeeding mum, posted it on Facebook expressing his disgust at her and then asked others to join in. This particular mum found out and came back with a very lengthy letter to this guy, expressing her disgust at his behaviour and ended up knocking him down a few pegs. What this guy did to this mum was way out of line and she had every right to fight back. The whole time I read this article I found myself thinking “what is our world coming to?”
I’ve noticed a marked increase in this kind of thing lately, and not just online. People seem to be very free and easy about publicly humiliating those they see as less worthy or objectionable.
Now don’t get me wrong. I think we all can admit to having a gossip or bitch session with our friends about others we may find fault with. I am the first to admit to being very judgemental and I’m highly opinionated to boot. But in my book, there is a line that you just should never intentionally cross, and that is to purposefully aim to humiliate someone, particularly publicly.
It’s fair enough to voice your opinions and engage in discussions about those opinions. My blog is proof of my belief in that right. I may cite actual examples of things that annoy me in my posts as well, but there’s one thing I will always try very hard to do. I won’t publicly name and shame anybody other than myself in any of my posts. And why? Because you can get a heated, opinion fuelled debate happening very quickly just by using the example of what happened instead of having to use the person’s identity.
One particular example springs to mind. Once upon a time I was enjoying a quiet coffee with a friend. In walked a male cyclist in all his lycra clad glory. As he walked past me, he shot me a look like he’d just seen the most disgusting, confronting thing in his life. Ever. Now, since I’m certainly not a raving beauty queen plus I was born a woman, I’ve experienced this (and much worse) before. He then proceeded to mutter under his breath extremely loudly his disapproval at my appearance. In a crowded café where everyone heard him say it. Righto.
So what you need to know dear reader, is that this remarkable male specimen was not exactly a svelte, toned super athlete in the cycling circles. No. Try more like a squishy, balding, “I only ride my bike on weekends” kind of physique. And let’s not forget that since I was sitting and he was standing – literally – in his judgement of me, I had a clear and unobstructed view of him from the waist down. Boys let me just be clear when I say that just like a jilted ex-lover, lycra keeps absolutely no secrets about your manhood – or lack thereof. And this charming gent certainly fell into the “lack” category.
Here’s what I could have done. I could have stood up to him and belittled him right back by pointing out his very obvious physical flaws. Or I could have taken a picture of him on my phone, posted it on social media and humiliated him on an even wider scale. Or even named him in this blog, since he loudly gave his name for his take away coffee to the café’s barista. But what would that actually achieve?
I felt that his actions (plus his outfit) had proven how small both his minds were. He did a great job of looking like a complete tool without me having to contribute anything other than my presence. And that was more than enough for me.
Plus there was the other obvious point. Why would it matter to me what he thought of me or my appearance? That would only matter if I thought for one second that he was my type wouldn’t it? Because that’s the only time I’ve actually ever cared if someone found me attractive. And he certainly was not my type.
So on that day I did nothing, and I am very happy with that. Otherwise I think we both would have shown horrible sides of ourselves. Now I’ve written about this guy and how his nastiness was out of line, but without naming and shaming him. I think that using the example of his actions is enough. Also I have a sneaking suspicion that if I did name and shame him I would be the only one who would end up feeling small since I would be no better than him.
We as a society really need to learn how to live and let live. OK, so we are certainly going to come across people who tick us off and whose lifestyles we don’t agree with but what gives us the right to publically shame that person because they chose to be different to our ideals? We don’t. If you don’t like what you see, be it breastfeeding, fuller figured people or anything in between, then look away.
After all we all have a right to an opinion but that doesn’t make our opinion right.
And you’re free to think anything you like about other people but you don’t have to speak it out loud.