Stigma & How It Ruins Lives

I’ll be honest; this is my heaviest blog to date and I have no idea how to approach it, but something in me is yearning to do it. I’m touching on a subject that is wildly opinionated and oh so sensitive. I’m nervous, you’re nervous. Let’s see if I can royally mess it up.

 

I want to talk about a silent killer. No not the hidden sugar in ketchup, but stigma.

 

There is always a reason why I write a blog. So let me give you the back-story. I was recently speaking with a girlfriend and I wanted to share with her something, something about myself, something intimate. **cue vulnerability. But before I had the opportunity to, she made a remark about a unrelated topic, I’m not going to tell you but lets just call her Suzy and for the sake of this blog lets just say she said something like “yeah but that’s what gay men do.”

 

Instantly I thought:

  1. Suzy, you are ignorant.
  2. If my eyes don’t deceive me, you are not a gay man so how do you know.
  3. And lastly, now I know that I will never share with you, because you have listened to gossip, media, hearsay, and mean opinions and guess what – you’ve applied stigma. You’re small-minded and now I think less of you.

 

Disclaimer: Suzy doesn’t exist and she never said that. I sometimes create mean friends for the impact of this blog.

 

Stigma is a mark, a blemish, and a scar that cannot be removed.

 

But you know what gets me fired up the most? Stigma isn’t you (or me) thinking. It’s not an autonomous thought. Stigma is a brainwashed, snow balled effect of misinformed Chinese whispers.

 

I don’t believe we create our ideas from thin air; Stigma is a mob mentality.

 

Mob mentality, describes how people are influenced by their peers to adopt certain behaviours. Examples of mob mentality include nationalism, globalism, stock market trends, superstition, home décor, festivals, and clothing trends. And then we have mental mob mentality – people influenced by their peers to adopt certain thoughts, here we go…

  • Stigma around women who show their gorgeous bodies off and have a lot of sex (slut shaming)
  • Stigma around gay men and HIV
  • Stigma around sex workers
  • Stigma around single mums
  • Stigma around people that went to a high profile elite university
  • Stigma around women that are 40 and childless and/or marriage-less
  • Stigma around men that are 40 and bachelors
  • Stigma around people that go to the gym a lot
  • Stigma around people that don’t go the gym
  • Stigma around alcoholics
  • Stigma around addicts
  • Stigma around people who live in low income suburbs
  • Stigma around children from domestic or sexual abuse.

 

To only name a few….

 

But how do I know that there is stigma? Because as you’re reading those words, you instinctively conjure up previous associations of what we know (or think we know) about them. We can’t help it. Our whole lives and the way we think sometimes is, and has been a mob mentality.

 

I think that if you have NOT experienced any of the above, you actually don’t have an educated opinion on it, would I be right? (For example: if you have stigma about alcoholism for example, make sure you’ve been a full blown alcoholic to be able to speak up so well informed on the matter)

 

I don’t even know why I’m writing this blog or where it’s going. I started it with an optimistic oomph and now it seems to be dying on its derriere. I’m a woman aware of stigma around her and a voice to say I see it, but no suggestions on how to change it. If anything, lets just start to talk about it with ourselves and our loved ones and see where we have been placing stigma and judging people close to us because of it.

 

I’ll leave you with this – I feel that the more stigma we place on people and their circumstances, the more we:

a) Shame them into not sharing with us their lives, their troubles and even their joys.

b) We narrow the scope of people we can relate to, connect with and learn from.

c) We are ultimately small minded and annoying to be around.

 

Over and out

Pen