I’ve been thinking a lot about the use of the word “allowed” in debate. As in when comedians told feminist Lindy West, “So we’re not allowed to tell rape jokes now?!” People, in response to my appearance on ABC, have been saying, “So Gaby, we’re not allowed to make fun of people for screwing up publicly now? Huh? We’re not allowed.”
No one said anything about “allowed.” I don’t have any sort of power to make things legal or illegal. I can’t come to your house and “allow” or “disallow” you to do anything.
It’s funny how people are told to “buck up” but then when you say, “Hey, maybe you’re being a bit harsh to this person. Maybe consider their position and think about how your criticism of them might be affecting a real, complex fellow human being,” the person you say that to is ironically so offended and thin-skinned that they defensively tell you you’re not “allowing” them to do something. The only reason to react this way is if you’re aware, in some small part of you, that what you’re doing is incorrect. Otherwise, my opinion is irrelevant to you.
You’re allowed to do and think whatever you want. And I am allowed to go on national television and tell you you’re being unnecessarily mean. Look at that! Everyone is allowed to do any of those things.
That’s true, but it misses the point: when you feel guilt, it sucks. So you turn the guilt - that inward-facing self-hate - into shame. And if anyone else agrees with you, shame evaporates.
You make loud public statements that draw the hate of other people, until the force of the shame overpowers the force of the guilt (which is really easy, because no matter how well a person can hate themselves, you just can’t beat volume).
BUT once you make it public, you’ll also, invariably, find at least a few other people who have the same guilt, the same unwillingness to address that guilt, and the same willingness to pick a fight.
“Everyone is famous to 15 people, and that’s just enough people to help you sleep at night.
It is, in effect, crowdsourcing the superego…”