Some people use their words to bully and intimidate others into agreeing with their position. When people use their words like this it’s called Shaming Language.
The goal of shaming language is to take power away from the individual who is disagreeing with them. To make them back down from their position. To silence them and keep them from presenting their point of view to others.
Or it’s used to embarrass an individual into conforming to perceived social norms that will make their actions acceptable to the group. The old “everyone is doing it so there must be something wrong with you argument.”
This form of verbal intimidation is often used by men and women boys and girls. Usually adolescents start using shaming language to put pressure on their peers.
Masters of Shaming language use their words to trap their targets in paradoxes. These are arguments that the target can’t win because to win those arguments mean earning the validation and approval of the person using the shaming language.
What the target doesn’t understand is that in order to win that argument is to give the person using the shaming language power. And as long as the target makes efforts to please the person using the shaming language, they’ll keep raising the standard needed to earn their approval.
For example a boy likes computers. While his peers are into girls. Because he doesn’t have a girlfriend, the boys will use shaming language to get him to conform to their norms. They’ll attack his sexuality calling him gay.
If he falls into the trap of their paradox he’ll make efforts to prove to those boys that he’s heterosexual. And the leaders of the group will continue to escalate the standard to make this young man meet their standard of heterosexuality. These efforts may include buying pornographic magazines for his peers, watching pornographic movies with his peers or even talking to girls brought to him by his peers. In some cases he may have sex with these girls in an effort to please the members of his peer group.
What makes this a paradox is that the boy has bought into another person’s standard of heterosexuality. He has given up his power over his own sexuality in an effort to prove to the members of his peer group that he isn’t gay. But one can prove to anyone that they’re not gay. Sexual desire is an internal trait not an external one. The only person who truly knows one’s sexual desires are themselves.
What’s happening is that this young man externally by buying into the paradox created by shaming language is that losing control over himself and his body. In his efforts to accommodate and please others he’s chasing an ever-changing standard. Giving the members of his peer group power over him. And when he conforms to that standard, he becomes a follower instead of a leader, a slave to the standard of the group.
Worse, he loses his interest in computers, something he could have used to define himself and establish his identity as a man.
Usually Shaming Language is the first line of attack by a bully. The bully hopes that by using their words they can make the target feel of their abuse feel inadequate about themselves. By making the target feel inadequate about themselves they gain power over them.
As stated before, the individual who uses shaming language uses their words to silence the person they feel threatened by. To take away their voice. To prevent them from standing out. To make them feel powerless. To eliminate them from social interactions with others.
Because to the bully the person who they’re targeting represents a view different from their experiences.
And they don’t want that point of view heard. Because they want their social and personal experiences to be the norms for the group.
Shaming language is a form of verbal abuse and emotional abuse. It’s not common for a person who utilizes shaming language to combine it with yelling and screaming to shout a target down. This is done so they can embarrass an individual by manipulating the group to make the target feel their position is wrong.
How does a person combat shaming language?
The first way is to remain calm. A Bully is looking for a response, any response. And any facial expression or look reacting to their shaming language is enough to keep them coming back. Bullies live for getting power over someone and the main tool they use to overpower opponents are their mouths.
Second is to stand firm and maintain one’s position. Believe in what you say. The people who use shaming language are looking for weakness. Remember, their goal is to silence opposing points of view. To shut people down.
Keep talking. Keep being who you are.
Let them know you’re not going anywhere. Counter their attacks with counterattacks. Root all your arguments in logic. Most people who use shaming language are running on emotion; they usually don’t have any facts to back up their arguments. They’re more scared of you than you are of them.
When confronted with hard facts these cowards will quickly devolve from their shaming language to ad-hominem attacks, verbal assaults that someone personally instead of their position. It’s these attacks that reveal their true character and show others how much of a bully they are.
Ad hominem attacks include attacks on someone’s sexuality, marital status, or even their emotional state. These include:
You don’t have a girlfriend.
You can’t get a woman.
All of these are deflections to take the focus off the fact that the bully’s shaming language just isn’t working and to goad the target into an argument where they can shame and embarrass them on perceived personal flaws.
Keep the focus on the topic. Let the bully know they can’t refute your arguments on the merits of the facts.
At this stage it’s not common to watch someone who uses shaming language quickly switch to yelling, screaming and going into extreme ad-hominem attacks like calling the target racial and ethnic slurs. This is a sign that the bully is losing control over the target and losing control over themselves. Bullies can’t stand logic and they can’t stand facts. It makes them explode in a fit of rage.
Once a Bully is made to go into a fit like this, it’s game over. People now see the truth about this bully. Moreover, it shows all how they use shaming language to manipulate and control others.
Also note; some bullies who use Shaming Language may get violent when they see themselves losing an argument. Others may get violent when they realize they’re confronted with arguments that are just too logical and filled with irrefutable facts. When they lose a verbal argument, they start throwing punches. While this is rare, a target has to watch themselves. If you are ever assaulted by someone, do not hesitate to defend yourself. Afterward, contact law enforcement and press charges. No one has the right to put their hands on you for having a difference of opinion.
Another strategy to combat Shaming Language is to walk away. It takes two people to argue. And the person who continues to argue is the one who appears to be the fool. This strategy is quite effective at countering shaming language because it takes power away from the bully and gives it to the target. If the target is unfazed by the shaming language the bully loses their perceived leverage over the target. This will make the bully eventually lose control over themselves.
Shaming language is what insecure people use to control others. Moreover, it’s what they use to silence those who are speaking on positions that these people don’t like. Don’t ever let anyone take away your voice, stand up, speak out, and fight back.