Shame is weaponized. Insecure people feel the need to justify their life choices, and to do so they shame or attempt to embarrass their peers into making the same choices that they’ve made.

I’ve always marched to the beat of my own drum, as a result I have been subject to shaming for the majority of my life. From the time I was 6, I remember being embarrassed or humiliated for being gay, or at that time, effeminate. The message was clear, it was wrong to be anything other than what others thought you should be.

Back in the 1980s Madonna’s ex-boyfriend made public nude photographs he had taken of her because he needed money. By today’s standards, the photographs are tame, but that didn’t stop the media from attempting to shame and embarrass Madonna. What I loved about her at that time is that she didn’t care. Instead of kowtowing to pressure she remained defiant, publicly stating that she was not ashamed of her body, her sexuality, or — what really irked her critics — intimidated by their opinions about her image.

To this day what I find most interesting about that incident was that no one bothered to try and shame the man who made clearly private photographs, public. To make money. The emphasis was that Madonna was a whore because she embraced her body, her breasts, her legs, her desire to be sensual and sexual.

I’ve always felt some compulsion to shock people because I find that those who are more provincially minded are the problem, not those who think outside of convention. I continue to maintain that it is fine if they want to limit and restrict themselves, that they want to fit in. Go ahead. Do it. But don’t tell others who don’t want to make the same choices, that they should be embarrassed or somehow humiliated for being different. Or for exploring avenues that they want to explore.

Regardless, whenever we put ourselves out there, we are giving someone something to talk about. There is a belief that if I personally could not do something, like show my body, that no one should be able to.

Shame is the reason why religions are able to flourish. And it’s why people lead boring lives. But it’s also why people try to break out of the shackles of convention and clear a path for themselves.

Throughout my life there have been countless attempts to humiliate or shame me to behave in a manner others find appropriate; I simply don’t listen to them. That doesn’t mean their attempts don’t bother me. There’s always going to be someone who will tell me I can’t or shouldn’t do something that they find strange or weird, or taboo. Okay, so what I tell them is don’t do it. I will.

It’s always been alien to me that people feel that I should be like them. I prefer to be like me.

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