noun1. the feeling with which a person regards anything considered mean, vile, or worthless; disdain; scorn.2. the state of being despised; dishonor; disgrace.
I’m sure you all understand what contempt is but I used a dictionary reference to define it just in case. Contempt is a very strong emotion, and its not one that many of us can easily control. How does it creep into our psyche? Do people simply wake up one day thinking, “I hate feminists!”, or “I can’t stand Mexicans!”, or “Black people disgust me!”, or even “White people are the devil!” Perhaps they do if they have been indoctrinated to think such things either from an early age by their parents, or in school – elementary all the way through college. In this blog I’m going to be sharing my thoughts on how contempt is born organically, and over time.
After reading the blog hosted here about Multiculturalism, I sensed the writer (someone I know personally) was struggling trying to explain how over time she slowly began to lose interest and respect for people from different races and cultures. Due to her being constantly bombarded with everything related to the multicult, she slowly started actually harboring contempt for those who are unlike her. Those are my thoughts and words, not hers, although I feel similar to the way she does on the subject of multiculturalism. She isn’t a hateful person, just an exasperated one. Its hard to maintain any amount of love and respect for a certain person, or group, or even ideology when one is repeatedly exposed to realities which manifest in direct negative consequences for the person who is the outlier to those people, groups, or ideologies.
As blacks became (rightfully) angered back when they were being oppressed, and discriminated against, they undoubtedly developed contempt for those who they perceived as their oppressors. Was it their contempt for oppressors that caused them to rise up and demand equal rights under the law? Or was it that they had become angered to the point that they weren’t going to take it any more and demanded to be treated equally? I believe its probably a combination of the two. In fact, it would be hard to distinguish between those two possible causes.
I see white people beginning to feel the same way as the writer, and perhaps similar to the way that blacks did back when they were actually being oppressed. I believe the squelching of white culture(s), and the systematic exclusion of people with white skin from mainstream culture are causing white people to develop contempt for those who are now being championed, many times unfairly so, over them. Did all the whites who are currently feeling the negative effects of multiculturalism just wake up one day and decide, “I just can’t stand black people!”? I don’t think they did. Its been a slow process, or awakening if you will, that’s been taking shape for at least a decade that I’ve been aware of.
Its troubling that any of us would be feeling contempt for anyone. Its not something that we should allow ourselves to feel, and act on. Its my hope that one day the writer will be able to appreciate those who are different from her again.
Does Familiarity Breed Contempt? I believe that it can. From the article [edited to suit the purposes of this blog – but please do read the whole article which references contempt in relationships and marriage]:
We might consider whether it’s familiarity that’s the culprit or whether something else is provoking the contempt…
In relationships, the problem is not with familiarity, but more about that to which we’re acclimating. For example, disrespectful, dishonoring, and negative energy all too often become familiar territory in relationships….
The difficulties… are caused by a turning away from each other. When we do so, we begin to take each other for granted. This typically happens after we’ve become comfortable enough and the conquest of love has been achieved. This may signal the beginning of that negative familiarity…
Contempt is the emotional reaction to not feeling cared for and perhaps disrespected. When we feel valued…, our relationships are inclined to thrive. At the least, this feeling of being valued tends to limit hostility and scorn. When we devalue…, contempt becomes very prevalent.
We must pay close attention to the slide into the devaluing of one another. …for as soon as one feels denigrated, it’s likely that they will react negatively and impart the same negativity upon their partner. One solution rests in learning to authentically communicate your feelings rather than acting them out. Tell… how you feel, rather than behaving contentiously. “I feel angry and let me explain why” may provide a different response that acting out angrily. Not doing so will assure that the pattern of contempt begins.
I agree with all of that, but there is a problem with the last paragraph. If one is feeling contempt for a “protected” group because they’ve been denigrated, devalued, or disrespected by that group, one is not at liberty to express their thoughts freely – especially if they are white. The same goes for speaking out against other things that go against one’s beliefs, or ideals such as homosexuality. You just aren’t allowed to speak your mind. You are forced to go along with the crowd of popularity, or suffer consequences. I would urge people however, to try to soothe their contempt, and not place everyone of said group, ideology, etc. into one category, and continue trying to give them a chance. I know there are times that I have trouble following that advice myself, but we are all works in progress here.
I suppose that contempt can happen spontaneously when confronted with something so objectionable that it inspires such deep feelings of disgust that immediate feelings of contempt towards the source of that disgust are quick and unavoidable. The writer sent me a link to a website, and video someone had sent to her suggesting that we feature the topic here. I agree, that the subject will not be featured here aside from in this paragraph because it refers to something too unpalatable to give attention to. The video was of a very young feminist college girl (women’s studies major) who resorted to adult entertainment to pay her college tuition. I watched the entire video and was filled with such deep disgust and revulsion of what I saw that I immediately developed contempt for not only the woman – who claims she did the video voluntarily, but for the men who created the video. It was a quick spontaneous response to something so horrible that it would have been impossible for me to not feel contempt.
I believe that the contempt that (I assume) the writer feels for others not in her race or culture has developed slowly over a period of time after having been subjected to persistent negative consequences or stimuli as a result of multiculturalism, or more precisely, diversity programs, which select various races or cultures over another. In her case, contempt was born when she realized whites are the recipients of such negativity. I see it too, although I’m not quite as effected by it as she is. I’ve seen this happening to people all over though. Many people who would have never even had it in their mind to speak out about white identity are now coming out of the woodwork. I think this can be a good thing, but I also think it can be very bad. Not all black people, Mexicans, or other protected groups are bad. Not all of them hate white people. There may be those out there who will tell me differently, but to them I can only say that I must believe this. I can’t go about my day and still be happy if I can’t hold onto the belief that there is good in everyone.
The problem I see with people who are slowly becoming contemptuous of others, is that when an emotion like this really sets in, all love and tenderness is gone. Also, if one side is going to free themselves from the contempt they feel, the other side has to as well. How can any of us expect to accept and love others, if those “others” refuse to accept and love us too? Who is going to be the first to throw the towel down on the mat and say, “I’m done feeling contempt towards you. Lets work together to solve this.”? I’ve discussed this several times with her, and the conversation has so far always ended with, “Who has been trying the hardest, and for the longest, to bring equality for people of all colors?”
I would like to give you all the opportunity to answer that question for yourselves.
In closing, what I believe, is that the kind of emotion that forms as a result of a slow, negative process, which eventually gives birth to contempt, is the worst of all emotions. Its become too solid and impenetrable to soothe or change. Its occurred because someone, or a group, has been subjected to a persistent and long standing persecution to the extent that to feel any other emotion would feel foreign to them. I believe that this is part of the reason why blacks are unable to let go of their hatred towards whites. Now we have whites who are developing that same kind of contempt towards blacks and other protected groups as a result of the same kind of prejudice. I have no answers on what we can do to solve this. Once contempt is born, it almost seems as there is no turning back. God help us all.