Many moons ago — almost exactly three years back, in fact — I wrote about AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) using shame as a tactic to moralize a “Yes” vote for LA County’s 2013 Measure B, which called for mandatory condoms in porn (here).
Via a series of billboards located around LA, AHF’s *shameful* campaign basically stated: “Pornographers think this, so you should think that!” — the heavy-handed implication being that you, moral and refined voter, *definitely* don’t want to be associated with and/or support pornographers …or their interests. So vote in way that the adult entertainment community will not.
And Measure B passed.
This voting cycle, AHF has taken its condom crusade statewide with Proposition 60 — a bigger iteration of Measure B. And today I learned that AHF is up to their same old tricks via a shaming campaign almost identical to the one they ran in 2013.
(pictured: image via Jiz Lee here, click to enlarge)
(pictured: deja vu, brought to you by AHF’s LA-area campaign from 2013)
In honor of using shame as a campaign tool again — and the deep, deep irony embedded in a presumably public health/wellness/rights organization shaming other marginalized, often fragile communities — here is my original post. It’s from 2013. It still works today.
Never in all my days…
Never in all my days as a researcher, scholar, professor, mentor, organizer, community member, activist, volunteer, friend, and ally fighting for civil rights and social justice have I ever seen a more egregious and problematic example of shaming.
Shaming is when you attempt to dishonor and/or condemn an individual (individuals, entities) via guilt, embarrassment, unworthiness, or disgrace.
Put simply, for example, when two people are arguing and one (probably the one who is losing) says something like – “Whatever, you know nothing because you’re so [insert mean attack about any number of unrelated personal characteristics, perceived failures, etc here]!” – that’s shaming. That’s also acting like a sore loser asshole who’s lashing out rather than growing, yielding, and/or opting to try again another day (perhaps after doing some work to be better prepared/informed). It’s unnecessary.
Sometimes shaming just (just?) makes you look like a total douche. But other times, when you take it up a notch, shaming can make you look like a bully… like someone who’s simply outright evil or narcissistic or egomaniacal (or all three). In addition to indicating that you’re a person who doesn’t know how to “use their words,” this level of shaming can also reveal one as outright underhanded and cruel.
Trust me: I’ve seen a lot, but never in all my days have I seen an example of shaming quite as blatant as this one:
Really? The “pornographers” say? That’s the game you’re gonna play, AHF? Reeeeally?
Thank you, AIDS Healthcare Foundation for shaming “pornographers” in this way. Thank you for using donor funds – monies that I’m sure were given to your “own self-created social enterprises” under the auspices of working to “rid the world of AIDS” (quotes from AHF mission statement here) — to shame “pornographers” in this way.
Because I know that’s what you’re doing! I know what you’re really saying with this ad is “Eww look at these evil nasty people who say ‘No on B’ – pornographers!! Ewwwwwww!! They’re too gross and awful to know anything about what they know, and you don’t want to be associated with Them, do you?”
How dare you?
How dare you, an organization that claims to want to help so many oft-shamed-throughout-history and continuously marginalized communities, how dare you behave in this manner?
How dare you rely on stereotype, myth, and urban-legend horrors born from decades of speculation and misinformation about “pornographers”? How dare you engage those cultural fictions in such a manipulative manner? How dare you pass judgement on working, tax-paying members of LA County (and the human community as a whole)? How dare you dole out shame-by-proxy to everyone even obliquely associated with porn? How dare you?!
You know what they say: you can talk shit when you’re perfect (or something like that)… and I’m far from perfect… So guess what I’m gonna go ahead and do right now, AHF? Without engaging stereotypes or slurs, I’m calling attention to the fact that I know what you’re up to.
Shame on you.
Be like a sociologist, and be like a pornographer. Be like a person who cares about civil rights, worker rights, and free speech. Be like a person who cares about the state of California.
Vote No on Prop 60 this November — #NoProp60
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Got a sociology question? Need some social justice informed life advice? Contact Dr. Chauntelle right here.
Get Exposure: A Sociologist Explores Sex, Society, and Adult Entertainment on Amazon and CT.com.