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People being discredited or looked down upon for belonging to a certain category or seen as behaving in a way associated with that category. It is a matter of social norms for how people are supposed to behave and what categories it is considered acceptable to belong to. The same category or behavior that is preferred in one social context may be stigmatized in another. (In Swedish: stigmatisering)

Stigmatization as a facet of categorism

Something is a facet of categorism when it on some level and based on a categorization of people is an expression of prejudice, bigotry, discrimination, or some combination thereof. When Stigmatization based on a categorization of people, it is a matter of bigotry or prejudice. Or both. It is also often used to justify further prejudice, bigotry and discrimination.

  • Stigmatization as bigotry: Letting feelings of disgust run wild. establishing your targets as deserving all kinds of negative adjectives. Of course, nobody likes to feel like a bigot. Which is why they will try to justify their unjust stigmatization, which lead us to...
  • Stigmatization as prejudice: Clinging on to, or actively creating misconceptions which makes the bigotry seem valid. Establishing beliefs which, if they were true, would make it legitimate to hate the targeted group.
  • Stigmatization fueling prejudice, bigotry and discrimination: Once you have established that a group deserves to be discredited or looked down upon, it opens the door for other things.

SO, what about valid stigmatization? Surely there are some behaviors and beliefs that truly deserve to be stigmatized? Well, only if it still bad enough for that when portrayed and categorized in a fair and balanced way. Generally speaking, the burden of proof is on the accuser.

Interactions with other facets and abstractions

This facet of categorism is likely to intersect with facets such as:

  • Hate-crimes: Low level hate-crimes are often a matter of stigmatizing people.
  • Marginalization: Those who are not given a chance to participate and contribute are then looked down upon for not participating and contributing.
  • Monolithization: Taking an actually blame-worthy behavior, and then pretend that an entire (and actually much wider) category of people are like that. For example - find a man who has unprotected sex with as many men as he can in spite of being HIV positive and refusing to take medicine, and then pretend that "this is how gay people are".
  • Unchecked Aversion: Pouring disgust over whatever group of people you have an emotional bias against.
  • Incomprehensibilization: Making the stigmatized group "unmentionable".

As well as with abstractions such as:

  • Loosely defined abyss-category: Letting the stigma define itself.
  • Equivocation: Take one blame-worthy behavior and one superficially similar very different behavior, pretend that they are the same thing and stigmatize the later as if it were the former. For example, expand the concept of "murderer" to include games where no actual person actually gets hurt - then look down on teens as if they were "murderers" simply for playing "violent" computer games.

Stigmatization as expression of different foci

Examples of applying this facet to a particular foci of categorism can include:

  • Afrophobia: Associating dark skin or African ancestry with all kinds of negative traits.
  • Homophobia: Portraying gay people as being "unclean".
  • Kinkophobia: Portraying kinky people as being "unclean", "perverted" or "unhealthy".
  • Whorephobia: People constructing sex workers as being "dirty" harms sex workers in many ways. Including, ironically, making it harder for them to quit because thy fear they might get fired from any other job if their background gets outed.
  • Misogyny: The idea that a man would somehow be unable to control himself when he's sexually attracted to a woman, thus making male-on-female rape the woman's responsibility. Note that while this attitude is extremely misogynistic, it is also very misandrist as well... although in different ways.

Stigmatization in example texts

  • Adam's homophobia: Adam doing stigmatization on the individual level by expressing his bigotry and on the dogmatic level by promoting a worldview that has no room for gay people.
  • A frivolous arrest: On the individual and systemic level: To be arrested is shameful for the individual as well as for the category.
  • Mr Garrison's Homophobia: The teacher's rant stigmatizes gay people in many different ways.