Shame leads to silence – the silence that keeps other people believing that we actually approve of the things that are done to women, to minorities, to gays and lesbians in our culture. The frightened silence as we scurry past a woman being hassled by men on the street. That furtive silence when men make sexist or racist jokes in a bar. That clammy-handed silence when guys in the office make gay-bashing jokes. Our fears are the sources of our silences, and men’s silence is what keeps the system running.
Michael Kimmel, Masculinity as Homophobia: Fear, Shame and Silence in the Construction of Gender Identity.