Bel Mooney fears this is an indicator of the death of shame. Here lies Shame, buried under a mountain of Lucite stripper heels and prematurely shed pants.
Since we are on the subject of shame I should maybe confess something. When I was a little girl I wasn’t all sugar and spice. I was so naughty I was expelled from nursery school. I misbehaved so much my first teacher dreaded me reaching school age. My birthday party invitation list featured only the most ill-behaved boys. I used to be…troublesome.
A big part of this was that I did not have the tools to express my anger. I didn’t speak until I was quite old and I was the bad tempered younger sister.
Why the personal anecdote? Well I know they like them in the Daily Mail, an anecdote can be used as the sole evidence on which to base a journalist’s argument in a column. Bel Mooney’s stories about a little girl who said “no” all the time, who didn’t want to brush her teeth and who ate grass for tea showed me that there was a grown-up out there who understood. And no matter how badly I behaved, I never picked weeds from the garden and insisted my mother cooked them for my tea.
Through understanding and kindness from her parents Kitty becomes an increasingly inoffensive tom boy. At the time I kind of felt Kitty had sold out a little and so I stuck with the Kitty books I Don’t Want To and I Can’t Find It but at no point do Kitty’s parents or big brother try to make her feel shame. Because being 6 and misunderstood is hard!
When it comes to grown women, however, Mooney’s tack changes “The lack of shame in modern society is inextricably linked to our reluctance to judge others —– or ourselves. There seems to be a universal inability to condemn any action as wrong.” Perhaps. Perhaps there are some cases, Mooney’s example is forced marriage.
These scenes of morning treks home the Harvey Nichols advert makes us witness to, who is to say we know the story? It’s hard to keep a smile on your face when you have blisters on your feet and an inadequate jacket to keep you warm! Who is to say any of these girls portrayed in the advert feel shame and regret?
Bel Mooney, that’s who, “It’s well known that people are happiest when they value themselves. Girls who behave like — and are therefore treated as — ‘slappers’ make themselves feel used, low and unhappy.”
If these women, in the advert and on your morning commute (either they’ve yet to get home or that is some office mufti) really do feel as Mooney has decided for them. Then what good is slut-shaming going to do? Kitty would tell you where you could shove that, Mooney.
Where else do these young women have to go for acceptance and affection? Turning to the media they are told they are the wrong size and shape, also their hair is wrong and those clothes are unfashionable. Nobody wants to hear what a young woman has to say because we tell them and ourselves it will have no content. Mooney doesn’t seem to be worrying about the shameful behaviour of the men who have not offered these women a taxi fare home in these fictional Harvey Nichols scenarios.
It could be argued, using Mooney’s logic, that these girls feel too much shame. It’s not shame that drives you to any form of repentance or self-worth; it’s a shame that causes you to constantly confirm to yourself why you are right to feel this way and the media agrees!
When I think of what Bel Mooney’s creation, Kitty might be doing now I like to think she continued being a headstrong, foot stomping, dictionary reading (for when she couldn’t find the word – see?) woman who is always heard. And listened to.
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