Shame Is Why We Fight

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About Vironika Tugaleva

Vironika Tugaleva is an author, speaker, reformed cynic, people lover, and a very different kind of spiritual teacher. Inspiring and wise beyond her years, Vironika helps people heal their minds and discover their inner strength. You're invited to read more about Vironika and her inspiring new book The Love Mindset .


  1. @Vironika:For me, the issue is not the shaming that is done subconcously that is the problem.It is thje in your face knd of shaming that is a part of the fabric of relationships that is the problem.To be sure, the two are related, as the former wouldn’t exist without the latter.Nonetheless, there is hardly need to hide shaming in American culture. I beleieve that there is a connection to this shaming and dv

    I also don’t beleive the damage that can be done psychologically to a man when he under the constant threat of shamhg from his love interest. I am careful about letting the woman I love know what my vulneralbilities are around masculinity because too often, even after I have described in full detail to her thr possible consequences of her shaming me through emasculation usually—-depression and anger from me–it has failed to impress most women I have known. Many have used the knowledge to hurt me in the most egregious ways.

  2. @Vironika: In the black community that I know and grew up in the shaming of men is a common feature of the culture. The anxiety that white males are starting to note in a big way has, to my knowledge and personal experience, always been present in the black community. He has been expected to achieve at an almost unnatural rate of accomplishment, relative to his challemges.

    An historical example would be the Civl War.Not only did blackmen have to compete to achieve the prevailing standard of masculnity with those with whom his practical status was unequal, he had to do it on terms that further put his future at risk; by fighting in the war itself.Frederick Douglas championed the role of blacks-slaves- fighting in the war to prove themselves worthy of being judged men. Remember they were considered animals by the government and the populace.
    Shaimng goes way back

  3. @The connection to shaming and dv , in my view works like this. Take a man who is under constant pressures, from the time he is a child, that the culture he lives in doesn’t express or acknowledge or allow him openly deal with or question, and put him in a situation where his identiy-status in the social order is challenged.

    Then, the woman who he trusts and loves and knows his vulnerablities pushes him too far is when problems can come up that lead to an esculation of hostilities. I am not saying it is right, I am just saying I think there’s a connection. For instance,(just one of many examples) it is probably not a good thing to a say to a man who is strugglimg to find work,” If you were a real man you ‘d have a job.”This kind of use of shaming by a man’s woman or his community can have devastating consequences that he probably won’t even realize are taking place until he has lashed out verbally or physically. As I said before, I can’t afford to have a woman in my life who doesn’t understand this, it puts me and her at risk.

  4. Thank you for sharing. Your insight is remarkable. You know, your comment that your authentic sharing of your vulnerabilities has caused women to hurt you feels really familiar. It hurts me to see this happening so often to men and, unfortunately, this pattern is really prevalent.

    I’m a big believer that patriarchy really hurts men too. In the process of researching this, I’ve come across the PHMT (it’s an acronym, it’s so well-known) “tactic” is referred to as a “silencing tactic” for feminist discourse. This further saddens me because … how can we ever get rid of this thing called patriarchy, this thing called centralized power, this thing called oppression that hurts EVERYONE involved… if we keep fighting about who’s hurt more? Really, justice is justice. Equality is equality. We all deserve to feel it, give it, and uphold it in every moment we’re alive on this planet.

    • The thing about the PHMT tactic is that it is often used as a proxy for talking about the ways in which men are harmed. Rather than get into the ways that men are mistreated in the criminal justice system just chirp that PHMT. Instead of talking about the ways fathers are unfairly treated just say PHMT. It’s the feminist version of YOLO (You only live once).

      It is true that everyone is hurting but when you can’t even talk about the harm that is being inflicted upon some people without ALWAYS having to quantify it in relation to how harm is inflicted upon others it is no wonder that people get bogged down in who has it worse, as unproductive as it might be.

      • Danny,
        ” The thing about the PHMT tactic is that it is often used as a proxy for talking about the ways in which men are harmed.”

        That is very often, most often the case when PHMT is used, but not here. In this case when a woman shames a man this way,s he is acting as a tool of the patriarchy.

        In fact women are so heavily invested in and active in and supportive of the patriarchy that the term “patriarchy” is a misnomer.

        • That is very often, most often the case when PHMT is used, but not here. In this case when a woman shames a man this way,s he is acting as a tool of the patriarchy.

          Of there are cases when it actually holds true Ginkgo. Merely addressing why it is referred to as a silencing tactic.

          It’s about the same as a boy crying wolf. Yes there are cases when there really is a wolf, but certainly that doesn’t make it okay to just turn it into a rubber stamp and act as if all cries of wolf actually mean there is a wolf about.

  5. Hank Vandenburgh says:

    Nice article! I do think much of the shaming is tacit– not expressed verbally or even consciously– but projected. That’s why many men don’t agree that men “slut shame,” for example, because we and our male friends don’t do it– but women may project that this is happening anyway, and it be be occuring on a deep level

  6. This is an interesting article! I do see the cycle of blame and shame daily; I admit that I’ve been a part of it in many cases. It exhausts me though to seek to acknowledge another’s perspective and have my perspective devalued. I’ve had to learn to distance myself from too much access to people in pain (and there are many of them); you can only take them so far. Share what you can but let them make the decisions that are best for them.

    I’ll be more mindful to not create shame in my own son’s life but the ability to bear responsibility in a given circumstance.

  7. @Vironika:True story: Tell me what you think.I told the woman that I’d hoped to ride off into a thoroughly,romantic sunset with my girl,replendent and enriched with creativity and joy of life.She insisted that be vulnerable since,of course,love depends on it. I told because of my past, she needed to be clear about boundaries among men in our social circle. I didn’t restrict her behavior–she wouldn’t allow that anyway– nor was I jealous. She proceeded to stomp on that wound by 1)Restarting a private relationship with her ex who was a known mutual acquaitance.I was not allowed to go out with them.I told her repeatedly how much it hurt and how much I felt anxious and that my self-esteem was suffering.2)While at a wedding,I was talking to a mutual friend and she came over to join us.I offered her a seat next to me and he offered her a seat on his lap,she sat on his lap. I fell slowly into a hole so deep light could neither get in or out.Get this, when I told her that her behavior was having the already discussed negative consequences,she said she wasn’t purposely shaming me?! Whether that’s true or not I can’t take the chance,the stakes are too high.To top it off, this woman was extremely jealous. I left her AND she wanted to remain friends;not a chance.

    • “she said she wasn’t purposely shaming me?! ”

      Even if that lie wsas true, that she wasn’t doing it intentionally, what would it matter? What diference does her intent make? She was not intentional? – fine, she was negligent, and not only that, she insisted on continuing to act in her negligent way.

      Would have tolerated similar behavior from you for even an instnat, or would yoyu have been a “dog” for acting the way she did?

  8. @Vironika:I don’t believe for moment that my pain–even being the great grandson of former slaves–is more less important than anyone else’s. At the same time,I don’t believe the patriarchy is THE problem either,it is a mask.Social contructs like socialism,democracy etc. don’t prevent humans from commiting horrific atrocities. But they do help to mask the brutality.Why isn’t equality common to democracy and in feminism?It ain’t the patriarchy,it’s the people.

  9. @Vironika:Oppression and the patriarchy. I looked up the definition of oppression and it has nothing to do with the patriarchy or the sex of the person. Your language is somewhat confusing because it is contradictory to me. You say that everyone is equal and everyone’s pain should be acknowledged, then you link the very meaning of oppression to men only. I believe we should validate the feelings of another, to a point. Absolutism, in most situations, is usually a bad thing. Some will use validation as an excuse to hurt people and not responsibility for it. Others will use it to control. In theory, validation sounds great, but in reality it only addresses part of the problem.

    I have been controlled by women who use her emotions to keep me on the defensive, always wary about how she may be feeling or perceiving the world about any number of issues. When men have to do this, they subconsciously learn to repress their own feelings because her’s are more important…happy wife, happy life. And as you noted, females on average, have heightened emotional sense that are triggered easier than a males. The problem is women don’t perceive it that way. Many times,this results in a woman’s emotional world dominating the relationship. For instance, it was noted by Jules on another post that men should concern themselves with the little things that upset a woman’s world. He said that he noticed that a woman who was sitting with her legs open( she was wearing pants) crossed her legs because he came into the room. This was framed as a big deal and as something that men should be sensitive too.Wow! There isn’t enough time in the day?!

  10. @ogwriter

    Thank you for your engagement!! I love readers like you who read, think, ask, and share with curiosity, openness, and respect. :o)

    The way I see it, patriarchy is simply the giving of power to men. Without a long winded discussion about why it happens, where it came from, or when it started, I see it as a process that has been and still is occurring and that is detrimentally affecting us as human beings in the same way as any imbalance of power (fascism, slavery, etc.) has.

    It hurts all women by depriving them of power and in correlation hurts many men by expecting them to consistently exhibit it, want it, and work for it. That is not to say that some don’t benefit from it. Anyone who 1) values only power and 2) has power…. Wins. This has happened in various types of oppression (if not all). So, to fight it, everyone who DOES not qualify for both criteria in that they value other things such as compassion, love, honesty, happiness or who does not have power, those people, I think, must come together! Not to use the power back against the benefactors of an oppressive regime. Not to fight violence with violence, but to balance the power dynamics so that everyone can have their own share of the power without anyone having more or less. This is my dream. De-centralized, widespread justice for everyone. The redistribution of power so that power becomes EMPOWER and the power we have is in how our individual actions fuel each others’ happiness.

    • “The way I see it, patriarchy is simply the giving of power to men.”

      This identifies a key flaw in the theory. “Given”? Really?

      Who gave this power to men? Thtis formulation presuppsoes some paternalistic influence in the uiniverse granting and withholding power. That is not a very adult or useful worldview.

      Men ahve power because they take it, because they have to. Women don’t because they don’t have to, they can rely on some man’s power . That’s the gender dance in a nutshell.

      And it sucks. It infantilizes women and it enslaves men. Either gender has to power to stop the dance – women by being truly independent – no rape whistles for self-defense, which is really just calling a man to defend them – and men by simply refusing to have anything to do with dependent, high-maintenance women – and that means *any* maintenance.

      Men have to develop the self-respect to demand equal partnership. It’s out there and more will be available as supply follows demand. That’s what cultural change is all about.

      • Thank you for sharing.

        I certainly do NOT mean by “giving” what you’ve suggested. And that would most definitely not be a useful world view, I agree. Patriarchy is a social construct. It doesn’t exist without people. It’s been constructed by people, long ago. It continues to affect us now. Social constructs don’t just immediately disappear. They are built and they can be de-constructed.

        The families and couples I know that really subscribe to a patriarchal system… the women really do give the power to men. Because they’re told to. They’re not given any other options. They don’t see any way out. Maybe some see a way out, but they don’t know where to go. In any case, women are taught, in patriarchy, to give power to men. And men are taught to take it.

        The harm of this is quite evident, but to repeat something I’ve said before, unless you 1) only care about power, and 2) have power, then oppressive systems are not of benefit to you. Those who do not benefit from oppressive systems, like patriarchy, should get together and seek to de-construct this social construct.

  11. @Vironika:Well I hear your point but it fails to address many issues around the causations of abuse. Besides,it is rare when one answer solves a widespread complex problem.

  12. It’s funny…but your point- it doesn’t matter if her behavior was intentionally meant to hurt me,it was still very wrong- was lost on her.

  13. @Vironika: How does your theory explain that the women of Rome found the gladiators- trained remorseless killers- to be the most sexually desirable of all men.For rich Roman women bedding- not marrying- gladiators was a positive marker of their status.The more deadly and dangerous the man,the better.

  14. This has been a great trip down the nature/nurture rabbit hole.

    The recurring problem I see with this hole is that nature is used as an excuse for ‘that’s how things have always been, so that’s how they’ll have to be’ cowardice, while nurture is thrown back and forth across the lines, both parties saying ‘we need to change’ and both saying ‘but you first’.

    Yes, patriarchy rewards greed in men and sloth in women, shaming everyone in the process, but we don’t have to erase the forward thrust and the inward draw altogether. We don’t need to be amoebas to keep from being apes.

    I’m not saying this to shame the author or the commentators into anything. I want to validate the exploration of this territory. It really IS as new to our society as it is ancient to our species.

    • Thanks for your comment! You know, it’s funny – personally, nature or nurture, I’m not really AS concerned as I am concerned with getting us out of this warfare. It seems like, regardless of the origins of our patterns of conflict with one another, the way out is the same – validation, acceptance, compassion.

  15. To my knowledge,there is no major religion-Judaism,Islam,Christianity- or political party that has spared humanity from consequences of it base nature. It is historical fact that feminism has had its problems with structual racism,sexism and classism.They blew it on dv and rape.There is a history in feminists circles of suppressing the fact that they knew as early as 1970 that women were violent also to their families.Why trust people like this?Not because they hurt people but because they deny it while blaming others.There is no excuse for this.

    • Technically, there is no Judaism, Islam, or Christianity without people. These are just constructs. Perhaps struggle has been ingrained in the history of many people and then blamed on constructs to keep us all from the responsibility of fixing the problem.

      I feel like everyone needs validation. Validation for how they feel, think, and act. Maybe all I’ve written about about is actually complete load of bull and is going to be proven to have been a major hoax in the history of social sciences. However, as long as this information inspires people to accept their current states and set off to do better, to practice compassion and validation, then it has value.

      A few days ago, I got a letter from a man who said that this article gave him and his wife the insight they needed and made them understand the importance of validating each other. He said he wanted to teach this to his children to make a better world tomorrow. I feel like, for me at least, that makes it worth it. Some of us are validated by science, some by fictional pieces, and others by music. However it happens, it’s important for people to accept that there are reasons for their behaviour, especially if the behaviour is negative, in order to move onto seeking to change their behaviour for the better.


  1. [...] Read more: Shame Is Why We Fight [...]

  2. [...] If women and children die, men are not only culpable for being the aggressors, but also culpable of letting down the women and children.  As men are doubly culpable, why should we care how many get [...]

  3. [...] article The Shames That Blind Us which has also been published on Good Men Project under the title Shame Is Why We Fight Share this: Pin ItDiggPrintEmailMoreShare on TumblrLike this:LikeBe the first to like this.« [...]

  4. [...] article The Shames That Blind Us which has also been published on Good Men Project under the title Shame Is Why We Fight Share this:FacebookTwitterStumbleUponGoogle [...]

  5. [...] It’s interesting that we are so willing to be kind to victims, but not to bullies. Every bully was a victim once. Maybe I’ll get a lot of flak for saying that. But I really believe it. Shame is the prerequisite to violence. [...]

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