Shocking Truth: 50 Facts About Global Social Stigmas

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26Apple III Failure

Apple III Failure

The Apple III computer was supposed to replace the very successful Apple II. However, it was such a failure that Steve Jobs said that the company lost "infinite, incalculable amounts" of money. The association with the III caused such a stigma that most employees who worked on the product left Apple.

27. The only Japanese passenger on the Titanic, Masabumi Hosono, survived the tragedy but was called a coward by his fellow countrymen for acting dishonorably and immorally, which carried a social stigma.

28. Bangkok police officers used to use striped armbands on their officers as a badge of shame for minor infractions, but the striped armbands began to be viewed as collectibles by offending officers. As a result, since 2007, the police have been using Hello Kitty armbands to avoid the perverse incentives associated with the previous system.

29. The Earl of Oxford let out a fart when he bowed down to Queen Elizabeth I and left the country for seven years in shame. Upon his return to court, the Queen commented, "My lord, I had forgotten the fart!"

30. When Beijing fell to the Qing, the last Ming Emperor murdered two of his daughters and his consort, sliced another daughter's arm off, and then he and his wife hanged themselves "unable to face [his] ancestors" in shame due to the social stigma of losing their throne.

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31Magical Stigma Against Albinism

Magical Stigma Against Albinism

In East Africa, people with albinism are stigmatized and persecuted due to the belief that they possess magical powers. Witch doctors kidnap them and use their body parts as ingredients in magical potions, resulting in the killing of at least 75 albinos in Tanzania since 2006. Myths suggest that their hair, teeth, skin, and genitals bring good health.

32. NMDA-receptor encephalitis, an autoimmune disease that mimics the symptoms of demonic possession, is stigmatized due to its lack of awareness and understanding. It primarily affects young women and can manifest suddenly without any prior warning.

33. The 1981 trial of Arne Cheyenne Johnson, also known as the "Devil Made Me Do It" case, is the first known court case in the US where the defense sought to prove innocence based on the defendant's claim of demonic possession and denial of personal responsibility for the crime.

34. In India, unconvicted prisoners are protected from the stigma of being handcuffed, as the Supreme Court ruled that it violates their fundamental rights and dignity. Instead, policemen hold hands with the prisoners as they are escorted, preventing the added stigma of being publicly restrained.

35. Sushruta of ancient India was the first known plastic surgeon in the world who specialized in rhinoplasty. Convicted criminals and women accused of adultery had their noses amputated back then as a mark of untrustworthiness, causing stigma. Rhinoplasty offered them a chance to escape this stigma.

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36Obesity as Status Symbol

Obesity as Status Symbol

In some Pacific Island cultures, obesity is viewed as a sign of wealth and status, which can lead to a lack of awareness and prevention of associated health issues, perpetuating the stigma surrounding obesity. As a result, over 70% of citizens aged 15 and over in the Pacific are obese, making it a significant problem.

37. Until 1979, deaf students in Nicaragua were stigmatized and barred from attending school. With deaf schools opening but no experienced teachers, teens developed a unique sign language. In just six years, younger students joining were fluent and well-versed in the new sign language, stunning linguists.

38. The tendency to see Vincent van Gogh's mental illness in his work began as a rebuke by critics who hated it during a time when mental illness was highly stigmatized. Van Gogh was only seriously ill during the final two years of his life.

39. During the Irish Famine, some Protestants offered to feed children, but only if they received Protestant teachings. This forced Catholics to choose between their children and their faith, resulting in the stigmatization of all Protestant charity. "Souper" remained an insult into the 20th century.

40. In Japan, houses whose former tenants died from unnatural causes are called "jiko bukken," meaning stigmatized property. Such events may lead to a massive devaluation of the property, and failing to disclose them can void the rental contract, as it is mandatory under Japanese law.

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41Stigma of "Christmas Cakes"

Stigma of

Unmarried women in their late 20s were stigmatized in Japan as "Christmas Cakes" because they were seen as undesirable after the 25th.

42. Dissecting human bodies was stigmatized in antiquity up until the 16th century, with the only people to systematically do it before then being Erasistratus and Herophilus from Alexandria. Despite pioneering medicine and anatomy, their work was heavily criticized by contemporaries, particularly their practice of vivisections.

43. In ancient Rome, cunnilingus was stigmatized, and men who performed it were subject to mockery, as evidenced by humorous graffiti such as the insult "c*nt licker" aimed at a local candidate for office.

44. In ancient Hawaii, there was a stigma attached to men eating with women and women consuming certain foods. Breaking this taboo was considered inappropriate until King Kamehameha II held a dinner party with women in 1819, which marked the end of the stigma. The festive dinner was named Luau, and it became a popular cultural practice.

45. Sleepwalking once carried a stigma in old Germany and was believed to be a curse that could ruin entire families. A cure was desperately sought.

46Stigma of Western Fashion

Stigma of Western Fashion

North Korean millennials who wear forbidden Western fashion, such as denim, jewelry, and hair dye, face stigmatization by women's unions and youth groups that monitor the streets to shame and beat rule-breakers, even cutting off ponytails and destroying tight trousers.

47. In Liberia, where cremation is culturally taboo, 30 men were drafted to burn the bodies of those who died from Ebola, playing a significant role in stopping the outbreak. However, the "Ebola burners" are still stigmatized in their communities and even by their own families.

48. Using an umbrella was once stigmatized in England. In the early 1750s, Jonas Hanway became the first man to use an umbrella in England and was met with insults and trash pelting. Many Brits believed that using an umbrella was a sign of weakness of character and too French.

49. Humans are not the only primates that use taboo language. In Project Washoe, which aimed to teach chimpanzees sign language, the chimps internalized certain taboos, including one around the toilet. The sign for "dirty" was used to represent something shameful, and the chimps eventually began using that sign as an admonition or to express anger, much like a curse word, demonstrating the existence of a form of stigma within their social behavior.

50. Masturbation carried no stigma in ancient Egypt, and it was even believed that Ra masturbated two other gods into existence.


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