Chrissy Teigen and the Usefulness of Shame


Last night, the delightful Chrissy Teigen pointed out something totally reasonable on Twitter: The Teen Mom Porn Star is terrible.

Needless to say, the scolding scolds came out in full force.

The feminists were not pleased.

The real reason the scolds were so angry, however, is this tweet:

So, I understand, if I don't entirely agree with, the argument against "slut-shaming." The feminists are angry that there is a double standard between men and women when it comes to sex. I get it. (I tend to think we'd be better off with everyone showing a little more restraint rather than everyone letting loose all the time, but I can't get too worked up about people hooking up.)

But nobody's criticizing Teen Mom Porn Star for having sex. They're criticizing her for being a fame-hungry idiot who capitalized on getting knocked up at an absurdly young age and is now selling her body while simultaneously expecting us to think she's a victim of some sort.

The problem with the slut-shaming argument, at least as it applies to Teen Mom Porn Star, is that the goal is not necessarily to make Teen Mom Porn Star feel ashamed. Rather, her shame is to serve as a reminder to the rest of society that what she did was wrong and that there are social consequences for terrible behavior. Making fun of Teen Mom Porn Star isn't the goal; the goal is to avoid the creation of future Teen Mom Porn Stars.

Shame is a powerful tool, one that society should wield more frequently and, frankly, more brutally. We might have nipped all of this in the bud if we had shamed, rather than rewarded with TV shows, Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian. We, as a society, would be better off with fewer single, pregnant 16-year-olds who dabble in pornography to sate their unquenchable thirst for fame.

But it doesn't make any sense for us to use the coercive powers of the state to avoid the creation of future Teen Mom Porn Stars—what are we going to do, imprison every knocked up moron teenager? What does make sense is to use the coercive powers of society. And society has few tools more powerful than shame. Pretending that an action is value-neutral to spare the feelings of a miscreant will only create more miscreants. I, for one, would prefer a society with fewer miscreants.

Anyway, Chrissy Teigen is a hero for pointing out that some people deserve to be shamed. Shine on, you crazy diamond!

(Photos from Chrissy Teigen's Esquire photo shoot.)

Chrissy Teigen