Passage Paper

Passage Paper

NAME 1 STUDENT NAME

English 1302

Nadya Pittendrigh

November 2, 2017

“An ethical response to the problem of shame should not require us to pretend that

shame doesn’t exist. That, essentially, is what Diogenes wanted to do. Most defenders of

sexual freedom still try some version of this response. …. So, the difficult question is not:

how do we get rid of sexual shame? The answer is that one will inevitably: get rid of sex.

The question, rather, is this: what will we do with our shame? And the usual response is:

pin it on someone else.” From The Trouble With Normal by Michael Warner

In The Trouble With Normal, Michal Warner writes about homosexual rights and

treatment. Michal Warner is a Professor of English at Rutgers University, where he teaches

American Literature and Queer Studies. This book argues against the treatment of homosexuals

by modern society using the concept of sexual shame to bring the concept of homosexuality to

the trenches of mainstream media. Warner attempts to show that we all have shame and to not

treat people differently because of their sexuality.

In the above passage, Warner suggests every person on the planet experiences sexual

shame and chooses to ignore it. For example, when Warner writes “An ethical response to the

problem of shame should not require us to pretend that shame doesn’t exist.” That means

according to Warner we all have shame we just chose to project our shame on the homosexual,

bisexual, transgender, and quer communities. Projection is a form of psychological self defense,

in which unwanted feelings are displaced onto another person instead of yourself. This is what

NAME 2 Warner is saying that society does in discriminating against sexuality that is not totally

mainstream or “normal.” Warner is trying to persuade the population to not ignore their own

shame or uneasiness when it comes to sex. He is saying that the population projecting their own

shame on to the LGBQ community has to lead to an unnecessary hate for those who are

different.

Another important idea in the passage is people pinning their shame on others. For

example, when Warner states “The question, rather, is this: what will we do with our shame?

And the usual response is: pin it on someone else.” He is saying that the LGBTQ community

became a scapegoat for everyone to project negativity onto. This projection is significant because

we tend to put the blame on the LGBTQ community for many of society’s issues. Take HIV for

example, back in the 70s and 80s the common misconception was that only gays could be

infected. This is an example of the many times society has tried to push something off onto the

LGBTQ community like it made the mainstream people sage. This same thing can happen in

other areas of society. When there is a problem in the world we tend to say he’s a Muslim or he’s

gay but we’re all people. That is the problem with projection is that we make it seem like we are

so different from the person who carries the stigma. Therefore, we need to put an end to the hate

and deal with our shame. Once we do that humanity will be all the better for it.

In The Trouble with Normal, Warner uses rhetoric to persuade the audience to be more

accepting of the LGBTQ community. He uses pathos to persuade people to feel for the LGBTQ

community. For example, when Warner says. “An ethical response to the problem of shame

should not require us to pretend that shame doesn’t exist.” He says this to try to bring the two

groups together. By introducing the idea of “sexual shame” in this passage, Warner attempts to

impact society into bridging the gap. The passage functions as a way of bringing people into his

NAME 3 story by giving them a topic to hold on to will he begins to intensify the story and talk about

concepts that they may not comprehend. The passage tells us something important about his

bigger argument because it is the essence of his bigger argument, just in miniature.


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