Thursday, September 07, 2006

Appropriate/ Inappropriate

Every collective has a sense of which practices are considered appropriate and which practices are considered inappropriate. Practices may include behavior but also include decisions on what to wear or even posture.

I think that there are various levels of inappropriateness.
  1. The first level is the mildest of all and may easily be converted into a joke. Let us say you fart (an embarassingly inappropriate topic for a blog, I know) but you are among friends. That will most likely elicit laughter or feigned derision which ends up in laughter. Mildly inappropriate behavior is noticed and talked about quite openly.
  2. The second level of inappropriateness includes embarassing practices, in Tagalog, nakakahiya. Those kinds of practices are rarely brought into the public sphere. When I graduated from my M.A., my cap fell off when I bowed and elicited laughter but after that, no one joked about it. Or sometimes I have a great big pimple right on the tip of my nose and very few people mention it. Embarassment is public but the public holds back on making it public. Sometimes good friends whisper to you that your practice is inappropriate but even that is made privately. Some time ago my polo was hanging out from its tuck-in and a friend embarassingly whispered to me to fix it.
  3. The third level of inappropriateness elicits shock and often leads to tsimis. Someone takes on a mistress o di kaya, may nagwala in public. People talk about it but not in front of the offending party.
  4. The fourth level of inappropriateness elicits an instant reaction which others cannot help but display to the offending party but there is no follow through. The act of the offender is considered madness.
  5. The fifth and highest level of inappropriateness is associated with scandal. It leads to revulsion and often elicits a very negative reaction. Angry words are thrown at the offending person verbally or through a scathing letter. That person is often ostracized.

Next post: Monday, September 11; Deportment

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