Shame != Embarrassment but Embarrassment -> Shame

For those of you who are not familiar with Bit-wise operations in C-programming, well the title above means “Shame doesn’t equal embarrassment, but embarrassment can point to shame.”

Recently, I’ve been taking a class that focuses on the concepts of world religion and how one is supposed to live their life according to the means of various religions–of course, without the contemporary context, but the abstract philosopher context (don’t worry, its the good stuff, I promise).

Where in a short moment, I asked my professor what was the purpose of shame and/or enlightenment (and really for me at the time, they had intrinsically meant the same thing) in post/pre- enlightenment and I was given an interesting anecdote.

“…well there is a difference between embarrassment and shame. Shame is something that happens when you feel when you haven’t completed your duty properly or your integrity has been compromised. Such as when Eve and Adam approached god after eating the fruit, they felt shame because they didn’t complete their duty. While embarrassment is something entirely different… recall when you ate all the chips yourself… Though I called you out on your action, you were not shamed because you owe nothing to the people around you, but you felt embarrassed because I brought attention to you.”


Now this was something that interested me vastly. Often many people do not learn words because they took their time to find their etymology or use an English dictionary–which is a serious no-no–rather instead we pick them up via context, this is pretty much how we create diversity in our diction using synonyms. Though there is an interesting effect that occurs when we do begin to mix and match words around in our sentences, especially in this case of Embarrassment and Shame.

For an example, let us examine the phenomena of Slut Shaming


Now, in the article above, there is a definition given to the concept of Slut-Shaming, as:

” Slut-shaming, also known as slut-bashing, is the idea of shaming and/or attacking a woman or a girl for being sexual, having one or more sexual partners, acknowledging sexual feelings, and/or acting on sexual feelings. Furthermore, it’s ‘about the implication that if a woman has sex that traditional society disapproves of, she should feel guilty and inferior’.”

So we are going to a quick test between with the first sentence, replacing “Shaming” used above with the concepts given in the anecdote I used earlier.

“Slut-shaming… is the idea of compromising integrity and/or attacking a woman or a girl for being sexual….

Now let us try the other context:

“Slut-shaming…is the idea of giving negative attention and/or attacking a woman or a girl, for being sexual…”

This is seemingly an interesting affect to these sentences, their connotations seem almost different when we begin to change the synonym that we first use, and I wish to make a statement when the members of the Queer People of Color (Q.P.O.C.) or allies and the various other circles that criss-cross and intertwine with one another, for when we begin to use shame in respect of our own disenfranchisement it is an actual disservice.



As stated above, that when the term of shame is being applied to the context of Slut-shaming, it feels as if there is an intrinsic means to acknowledge that we did not fulfill a duty that was expected of us within the main stream patriarchal society. There should be a greater recognition that we are not being shamed, but merely being embarrassed.

Because shame gives the connotation that we owe something to the society around us, that we owe something to the systems (cis-tems?) that oppress, that ultimately, we owe something to the oppressors that make equality a harder task than finding the holy grail.

Embarrassment feels very well recognized to be an attempt to humiliate us, but it is one thing where the idea of embarrassment is weaker than shame–or at least in my perception, it is. Because to embarrass someone is an attempt to humiliate them, and what have we already done with our humiliation? At one point, it had been a very effective tool to make us feel that our country demanded us to marry and have kids, that if we were of color that we make ourselves second-rate white men and women or be third-rate figments of our cultural past, and we do all in our power not to shame our communities and our country. Time has passed, and as many cultures have experienced, or still experience, embarrass the individuals in our community when we begin and have hit the road to recovering and reclaiming the words, cultures, and items that had at often times oppressed our very people in American culture.

As our culture has progressed, since the 1980’s, or so, the point of media and entertainment has become the means to ask that people be true to themselves. When you look up the average temperament of our current generation, those who are born between the 1980-1990 (a.k.a. the Millenials or Generation X) are known to be the most liberal of our predecessors, we are the most likely to want to have our identities recognized and respected. We as the new generation are here to make a clear statement that we do not abide by the patriarchy or stereotypes that were developed before us, we make it a very clear and conscionable effort to make it well known that people are not groups and circles of being black, white, gay, straight, trans*, poor, rich, east, or west.

We do not abide by a sense of duty that had never applied to us, but was merely forced on us.

We do not want to be recognized for the things that seperate us, but bring us together.

We want the means to recognize that we don’t need stereotypes anymore, but we simply respect ourselves and community.

We are not groups.



Nathan Thompson

I'm an engineer with a heart!... along with other interesting organs that do other interesting things. Currently I'm a freshman at the University of California, Santa Cruz and attempting to find a method to use my tech education to help out communities. I'll primarily report on alt, gaming, cartoon, and media culture's representation of LGBTQ(QIIAA) through the lens of a studious, queer, introverted, black, man-child, with a tendency to break out in song and dance.

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