In the face of patriarchy, it is a brave act indeed for both men and women to embrace, rather than shame or attempt to eradicate, the feminine.—Alanis Morissette
[one_half padding=”4px 10px 0 4px”]I grew up being taught that everyone had a responsibility to work hard. Both my parents worked long hours. I had my first paycheck at 14. Sitting around idly isn’t something I do well. I fail to understand this act of binge-watching television series because after about an hour everything in my body tells me I need to be up being productive. We were taught that it didn’t matter what you did, that all jobs contributed to the greater good and deserved people’s respect. Looking down on, or shaming someone, just because of their occupation was about as rude and ignorant a thing one could do.
So, as I’ve grown up and gotten a taste for how the world actually is, I am continually disappointed when this particular sin of shaming other people shows up, typically denigrating a friend for something they’ve done to feed themselves and/or their family, complete with name-calling and harassment. As this has happened within my circle of friends three times in the past five days, I’m calling bullshit on the shame patrol. There is no shame in working hard, no shame in getting one’s hands (and body) dirty, no shame in sweating hard, and certainly no shame in doing jobs you don’t especially like just to keep the lights on and food on the table.
One of the earliest impacts on my sense of work ethic was a WWII veteran named Warren Hartsocks. A short, stocky man who never lost his buzz cut, Hartsocks had dropped out of school to join the military. The US Army taught him to be a mechanic and that’s what he proceeded to do the rest of his life. If you came across Hartsocks during the day, he was likely wearing a well-stained wife-beater t-shirt and baggy grey pants, equally stained. He was missing most his teeth, eternally had an unlit stogie in the corner of his mouth, had a vocabulary that would make a sailor blush, and in the summer his body odor could get pretty strong. People called him a dirty, foul-mouthed mechanic and tried to avoid him, but he worked hard for every dime he made, was a gentle soul, and took the time to teach me how to fish. [/one_half]
[one_half_last padding=”4px 4px 0 10px”]The list of occupations society often shames is too long, but here’s a list of the ones that I see most often:
- Retail workers, because, you know, those clothes at the mall just jump on the rack by themselves.
- Construction laborers; that house you live in just built itself.
- Mechanics, like you can change a fucking tire by yourself.
- Strippers, cam girls, etc., one of the truest forms of capitalism’s supply and demand.
- Grocery baggers, who carry your chips and ice cream so you won’t snag a nail.
- Janitors, because lord knows you’re too busy to empty the damn trash yourself.
- Farm workers, laboring sunup to sundown because you just have to have strawberries in December.
- Meat packers, constantly covered in blood.
- Food service employees, because minimum wage would make them too rich.
- Truck drivers, on the road too long to get you those damn strawberries.
I can only think of one occupation that deserves shame: Politicians. Our country’s founders envisioned elected office to be one of public service, not privilege or power, and certainly not one that led to wealth. The concept was that a person would give a period of time to serve the people from their elected districts, not pander to ridiculous ideologues and corporations with deep pockets. Politicians inherently serve only their own interests at the expense of the rest of us. They have taken us from being a democracy to an oligarchy. Public office was never designed to be a position of profit, but one of giving to one’s country.
Too many days I go to bed totally disappointed in the human race. We shame those who work the hardest and praise those who contribute to our demise. Perhaps the real shame is on us all.[/one_half_last]