Unlike many other emotions, embarrassment must be learned. Infants know nothing of this emotion, and parents often use the threat of embarrassment to teach young children correct and incorrect behavior: “If you say that in public, you’ll embarrass yourself,” we say to the toddler with a penchant for scatological chitchat. Embarrassment is also a social emotion; its occurrence requires the real or imagined presence of others. Belch at a dinner party and you will likely feel embarrassed; do it while home alone and you’re unlikely to feel abashed. Because it is a learned behavior grounded in social relations, embarrassment is a kind of barometer for a society’s notions of civility.
There are the occasions that men – intellectual men, clever men, engaged men – insist on playing devil’s advocate, desirous of a debate on some aspect of feminist theory or reproductive rights or some other subject generally filed under the heading Women’s Issues. These intellectual, clever, engaged men want to endlessly probe my argument for weaknesses, wrestle over details, argue just for fun. And they wonder, these intellectual, clever, engaged men, why my voice keeps rising and why my face is flushed and why, after an hour of fighting my corner, hot tears burn the corners of my eyes.
Why do you have to take this stuff so personally? ask the intellectual, clever, and engaged men, who have never considered that the content of the abstract exercise that’s so much fun for them is the stuff of my life.
“Misogyny, up close and personal” by Melissa McEwan on the guardian
just a thought, perhaps a belated note to self:
we sell values. no matter what. and to do that, everything is reduced to stereotype.
so if we’re selling a school for example, and we’re looking for students who get what it means to truly learn, to get their hands deep in the muck.
see the Student at their best. [a concept always becomes a capital]
The Student will at their best have their head ajar. though they may not get subtleties of your icons of truth, integrity and creativity, they will find the flame hot, the shield an honorable sign and they will throw open the door that you’ve artfully put in. though you may laugh at their supposed ignorance,
you are counting on it to understand how a few scribbles on paper can bear the weight of a whole group.