Contempt is a form of lack of respect. In terms of interpersonal relationships, it describes an aspect of how a person feels about someone else. It also can describe how someone feels about something inanimate such as an institution, rule, or law. The key point here is that contempt is an emotion. It is not necessarily tied to logic or reason.
When a person doesn’t enforce his or her personal boundaries, desires, or beliefs, it is common for other people to feel contempt for him or her. The question of whether or not they should feel contempt is a separate issue. How a person should feel about something is a moral issue. How they actually do feel about something is a human issue.
Here are some words that describe people who engage in under-enforcement:
Unassertive, passive, doormat, timid, sheepish, self-conscious, constrained, shrinking, weak, powerless, spineless, force-less, wavering, feeble, and more.
These words are not compliments. They are not words we use for someone we respect. These are words we use to characterize someone we don’t respect. Someone we feel contempt for.
The more a person is perceived as having the ability but not the willingness to enforce, the more his or her under-enforcement creates contempt. There is no formula that accurately spells out this process. Each person sees it differently. Each situation is unique. But as a general rule, regardless of your gender, race, politics or tribe, when you encounter an under-enforcer, you are likely to feel some level of contempt for him or her. Or maybe you feel pity which is just another type of lack of respect.
Many times those that habitually engage in under-enforcement will say that it’s not their fault. That it is too dangerous or too difficult to enforce their personal boundaries, desires, and beliefs. That there is nothing they could or can do. That they are too disadvantaged to be able to enforce. That they shouldn’t have to enforce in the first place. And they may be correct. But, this appeal to logic doesn’t change the real negative human emotions bred by their lack of enforcement. These emotions are created in others and sometimes in the inner-feelings of the under-enforcer himself or herself which then turns into lower self-esteem.
There are many people in society who look to take advantage of and victimize those that under-enforce. Even those that engage in under-enforcement will have contempt for others who under-enforce in other areas. They have contempt for institutions that under-enforce. They also don’t respect rules and laws that are not appropriately enforced.
Just as Under-enforcement leads to a lack of respect so does Over-enforcement, but through the different mechanism of the Backlash. You may not like it. It may not be fair. But if you want to create respect in your life, you need to enforce your personal boundaries, desires,and beliefs at an effective level. Or at the very least, you need to give the appearance of doing so.