Tag Archives: shame

Creating space to talk about the politics of shame

By Rebecca Helman and Neziswa Titi In their interview with Elspeth Probyn, Vivienne Bozalek, Tamara Shefer and Ronelle Carolissen argue that “[s]hame has typically been understood as a negative emotion, a view which is prevalent in individualist, psychologising discourses about human experience”. Conversely Probyn argues that shame can be a generative force, one which is…

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Reattributing shame as an act of social justice

By Rebecca Helman I remember the first time I gave a talk to a group of strangers about that fact that I had been raped. The shame of it felt like a weight, trying to crush me into the floor as I attempted to stand up tall and look unblinkingly out into the room. In…

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Gardening, religion and the magic of sex

I shove my filthy hands into the soil and claw out roots and weeds, savouring the mess. A waft of mulch, half-dead weeds, decomposed worms and God knows what sweetens the air. Soon this muddle will be in order: scooped out flowerbeds surrounded by clipped squares of lawn which I will lay down on this…

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South Africa and other orphaning nations (Jani Allan Part II)

Even now, a quarter of a century later, here in Auckland, New Zealand, I have mentioned to other South Africans Jani Allan’s newly released memoir Jani Confidential and they respond, “so what was she doing with that idiot ET (Eugene Terre’Blanche)?” “For God’s sake,” I reply, “give the woman a break”. As Jani Allan says…

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Name and shame?

I got taken to the doctor. He sat opposite me and said exactly nothing, not even hello or how are you. Pale and discomforted, he looked everywhere. And then I saw his cold hand, white shirt cuff, soft beige jersey, slowly pushing one small white tranquiliser halfway across the polished desk. I asked what it…

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Whiteness, shame and “this strange place”

“The liberals must realise that they themselves are oppressed if they are true liberals and therefore they must fight for their own freedom and not that of the nebulous “they” with whom they can hardly claim identification.” – Steve Biko So much has been written on whiteness recently that it hardly seems worth adding to…

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On shame, apartheid, and being a white South African

We live in a constitutional democracy, where, apart from the high levels of crime, the co-existence of people of various races is relatively peaceful, judging by my everyday experiences at the university where I teach, in restaurants and coffee shops, and also on occasion at civic functions. I attended such a function tonight at Port…

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