The "Female-Friendly" Workplace
October 1, 2002Christine Stolba
Shame is a powerful emotion—a “condition of humiliating disgrace or disrepute” according to a standard dictionary definition—and has always been a useful weapon in the arsenal of those who seek to expose wrongdoing. In colonial times, offenders were placed in public stocks in the town square as penance for their misdeeds; during the Progressive Era, muckraking journalists exposed the wrongdoings of corporate titans in print. Modern versions of public shaming are more creative: the city of Denver, Colorado uses its public-access cable channel for “sin bin” programming that broadcasts the mug shots of prostitutes and johns collared by the local police. Judges in Wisconsin, Florida, and Texas have employed shaming tactics such as making minor offenders stand in heavily trafficked public spaces wearing signs that declare their sins.