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Public and Private Shaming

Sex Ed

Public and Private Shaming

Singapore (and possibly not unlike other societies) really does a good job in public shaming.

  • Every year in the weeks leading up to March when it is time to declare our income tax, you’d read media reports of individuals or companies who were penalised for trying to evade paying taxes. Coincidence or deterrence?
  • In school, punishment was meted out in the form of standing at a corner, outside the classroom, or even public caning. Did it happen to you? Or were you too scared to ever be on the wrong side of “law” because you would just “die from shame”?
  • When you misbehaved growing up, did your parents go “shame, shame”? Was that enough for you to blush and wish a hole would appear to swallow you alone?

Is there any wonder we get worried and anxious about being embarrassed, or get things wrong – as if it is the worst thing that can happen to us as adults?

There was a piece of news that caught my eye in the social media over the weekend…

For some years now, some Singaporeans have taken much delight in shaming supposedly undeserving people who are occupying the SMRT (Singapore Mass Rapid Transit) train carriage’s “reserved” seats for the needy. They don’t think twice about such public shaming because they are just angry. They can’t let things rest and instead decide to take matters into their own hands. Essentially they want to have a form of justice and exert revenge.

When the story broke about how the seemingly fit man refused to give up his seat on the train for her, one woman might be shame him. She might be regreting her post because she removed it. The man explained he refused to give up his seat had a heart condition.

I am not going to go into who’s right or wrong (especially since I wasn’t there). I am not trying to fan more hatred or get you to choose sides.

If we turned this into a teachable moment, I like to point out we tend to associate ‪‎health‬ conditions with visible ones. People who don’t appear to be in pain can be in great suffering without appearing so. Also disability‬ is not just physical, there is also mental disability.

If all of us (myself included) can have more ‪compassion‬ for the ‪‎suffering‬ of others and be less quick to jump into conclusions and ‪judgment, the world will be a better place. Let’s seek to understand, not persecute.

Read about it here and here.

Shame is very real when it comes to sex and sexuality as well.

Women who have as much sex as men are often regarded with mistrust and called sluts; while men are considered studs.

We might start wondering if we are acting “normal”, behaving things “correctly”, and constantly comparing ourselves against others without any real basis (and instead make up stories of what his, her or their sex lives must be like).

This is a fun video which might trigger some of your judgments.

Watch it here.

This article has been republished with permission by Dr Martha Lee. To view the original post, read it here

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock

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Dr. Martha Tara Lee

Dr Martha Tara Lee is Clinical Sexologist of Eros Coaching in Singapore. She holds a Doctorate in Human Sexuality from Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality as well as certificates in practical counselling, life coaching and sex therapy. She is available to provide sexuality and intimacy coaching for individuals and couples, conduct sexual education workshops and speak at public events in Asia and beyond.

Get in touch with Martha via email at


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