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#41 Overstreet

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Posted 19 May 2010 - 10:29 PM

Jesus Christ and His true followers?


Jesus and his followers were very different. I would characterize them very differently.

What do you mean by "true followers"?

If the left set is meant to represent a definition of masculinity, I think the test is flawed from the outset.

The greatest command we have is love, but most of the values on this list play parts in following that command in on circumstance or another. Any attempt to set them up in some kind of hierarchy feels like an attempt to define Christian values on some kind of grid - a process that will lead to all kinds of trouble.

And some of these choices are far too vague and open to interpretation. "Power"? Is power a value? What kind of power? Communication is a kind of power. So how am I to choose which one characterizes "Jesus and his true followers"?

Edited by Overstreet, 19 May 2010 - 10:39 PM.


#42 J.A.A. Purves

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Posted 19 May 2010 - 10:52 PM

I kind of hope you do write this book, because I am frequently puzzled by the frequency with which your central thesis is invoked by the Driscoll/Eldridge crowd. As a male feminist, I look around and I have no idea what these people are talking about.

The examples you have shared and the ways they appear persuasive to you but make no sense at all to the rest of us suggest that a an attempt at a comprehensive argument might be a useful step towards debunking this myth of feminization once and for all.

Thank you.

We'll also see what we can do about adding other names to the list of the John Eldredge/Mark Driscoll/David Murrow crowd.

"We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and then bid the geldings to be fruitful."
- C.S. Lewis

“We live in an effeminate age ... Not only are we up against the pietistic foppery that has been present in the Church in every age, we are also up against a prevailing feminism. This feminism is very dangerous because one wing of it is pervasive in the conservative wing of the Church and is disguised as 'traditional values.'"
- Douglas Wilson

"There has got abroad a notion, somehow, that if you become a Christian you must sink your manliness and turn milksop."
- Charles H. Spurgeon

Edited by J.A.A. Purves, 06 September 2012 - 11:24 AM.


#43 Overstreet

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Posted 19 May 2010 - 11:25 PM

Ah, but in that last quote "manliness" is set in opposition to "milksop" ... not what is feminine. Milksops are wimps, not women.

"Men without chests" is set in opposition to something feeble and gutless. The antithesis of "men without chests" is not something feminine, but something foolish.

Christ was fully human, as human beings were meant to be. He wasn't a milksop. Neither was Mary. Neither men or women are meant to be "milksops".

If anyone wants to see the Spurgeon quote in contest, here it is. What he's writing there does not scorn women or their behavior, but speaks against cowardliness and weakness.

Nobody here is saying that the church should not be courageous. For me, I cringe at the idea that courage and boldness would be seen as manly, implying that cowardliness and weakness be equated with "feminine."

Many of the values you are implying are "feminine" are essential, in my opinion, for anyone to be fully human as we were meant to be. In the case of the C.S. Lewis quote, I believe he's basically saying, "We need men with guts." I don't think he means to imply that men without guts are women. Because clearly, he admired women with guts. Joy was one gutsy woman. She had, if you will, a chest. :)

"Feminine" and "feminism" are two very different things.

"Men without chests"* are, indeed, sad and incomplete. To equate "sad" and "incomplete" with "feminine" is a sexist statement. But men *with* chests have the courage to communicate, to care, to cooperate, to value beauty, etc... so many of the things you are giving over as "feminine."

Consider Jesus' behavior: Tenderly washing his disciples' feet, committing to memory the songs of poets, speaking quietly and intimately with women as well as men... this, the very same Christ who drove moneychangers from the temple with a whip. Fully human. Behaving in ways that might be considered "un-manly" by those who define things too narrowly.

Remember - the same Solomon credited with being a great king also wrote the most beautiful, erotic, communicative love poetry. The same David who slew Goliath wrote the Psalms and was known for singing songs that would calm the heart of a king.

* (And to be fair, C.S. Lewis and many other Christian scholars have been men of their times, betraying some insensitivity in their diction, just as others will see our own insensitivity in generations after us.)


Thank you. If I write the book, and it's really that bad, I can always go cry about it later. Afterwards, I'll just go to the local Barbershop, um Hair Cutterie, I mean Hair Style Salon (where they even offer men's facials) and get the emotional support I need from my relationship with the barber, well I mean the ... oh, never mind.


Wow. Just... wow.

I don't know how to continue this conversation in the face of that. I'm not sure what person or social group you're attacking with that outburst. So some men are into fashion, and others aren't. It would be easy to read this and conclude that you're stereotyping and judging with a broad brush.

Are you saying it's "feminine" to compulsively gossip at salons? Many women do, I'm sure. And I know plenty of contexts in which I hear men gossiping and speaking inappropriately of others as well. Where it happens is a cultural detail.

You are painting things in such extremes, I don't know how to respond. There is a huge range between macho badass tough-guy and blithering co-dependent emotional weakling. And if you're suggesting that one end of that range is "feminine" is really unfair.

Edited by Overstreet, 20 May 2010 - 10:09 AM.


#44 Overstreet

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Posted 19 May 2010 - 11:57 PM

By the way, perusing your list of favorite movies was very interesting in view of this conversation. I mean, it's just a list of favorites, and I don't want to jump to any conclusions. But the list does suggest that I'm unlikely to understand what's driving your argument, because it suggests that our values are very different.

1 - Die Hard
2 - Braveheart
3 - Gladiator
4 - Master and Commander
5 - Cinderella Man
6 - Tears of the Sun
7 - Fight Club
8 - The Passion of the Christ
9 - The Nativity Story
10 - Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
11 - L.A. Confidential
12 - The Patriot
13 - Pulp Fiction
14 - Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang
15 - Thank You For Smoking


Edited by Overstreet, 20 May 2010 - 12:18 AM.


#45 Holy Moly!

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Posted 20 May 2010 - 01:25 AM

I'm getting really interested in the psychology of this. Persiflage, not to get too personal, but are you single? Married? Do you have much success in the romantic sphere?

#46 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 20 May 2010 - 01:32 AM

Overstreet wrote:
: In the case of the C.S. Lewis quote, I believe he's basically saying, "We need men with guts." I don't think he means to imply that men without guts are women. Because clearly, he admired women with guts. Joy was one gutsy woman. She had, if you will, a chest. :)

Hmmm. I know Lewis held to the traditional view that women shouldn't be priests, partly on the basis that male and female are "not merely . . . facts of nature but . . . the live and awful shadows of realities utterly beyond our control and largely beyond our direct knowledge". I wonder if that would have any bearing on this discussion. More from Lewis:

Suppose the reformer stops saying that a good woman may be like God and begins saying that God is like a good woman. Suppose he says that we might just as well pray to 'Our Mother which art in heaven' as to 'Our Father'. Suppose he suggests that the Incarnation might just as well have taken a female as a male form, and the Second Person of the Trinity be as well called the Daughter as the Son. Suppose, finally, that the mystical marriage were reversed, that the Church were the Bridegroom and Christ the Bride. All this, as it seems to me, in involved in the claim that a woman can represent God as a priest does.

Now it is surely the case that if all these supposals were ever carried into effect we should be embarked on a different religion. Goddesses have, of course, been worshipped: many religions have priestesses. But they are religions quite different in character from Christianity. Common sense, disregarding the discomfort, or even the horror, which the idea of turning all our theological language into the feminine gender arouses in most Christians, will ask 'Why not? Since God is in fact not a biological being and has no sex, what can it matter whether we say He or She, Father or Mother, Son or Daughter?'

But Christians think that God Himself has taught us how to speak of Him. To say that it does not matter is to say either that all the masculine imagery is not inspired, is merely human in origin, or else that, though inspired, it is quite arbitrary and unessential. And this is surely intolerable: or, if tolerable, it is an argument not in favour of Christian priestesses but against Christianity. . . .

: Consider Jesus' behavior: Tenderly washing his disciples' feet . . .

Heh. As John Dominic Crossan has said, before Jesus became the Host, he was the Hostess. ;)

: . . . committing to memory the songs of a poets . . .

Eh? Which passage is this?

Edited by Peter T Chattaway, 20 May 2010 - 01:32 AM.


#47 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 20 May 2010 - 01:53 AM

BTW, there may or may not be some points relevant to this thread in our earlier thread on 'Is modern P&W 'feminized?' Are paintings of Jesus 'feminized?'" (Aug 2006 - Oct 2007).

#48 Thom Wade

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Posted 20 May 2010 - 07:33 AM

It also occurs to me that I used to be one of those people who believed you should never gender-stereotype, but then I had fraternal twins -- one boy and one girl -- and as they got older, it became very apparent that the boy was behaving more boyishly and the girl was behaving more girlishly. They are the exact same age, raised within the exact same environment, and yet they turned out rather differently, and precisely on the lines that some people might have found "typical" for their genders.



I don't know if I have much to contribute to this topic, but my ME ME ME nature compels me to add a me too to this statement. Our fraternal twins are only 14 months old and it is staggering to watch our son chase the ball and our daughter hold the doll. This is not something we would encourage or try to force, it's just happening.


I know people who have come to the opposite conclusion because their daughter prefers "boy toys" and vice versa. So, basing one's concepts of what is natural for genders on anectdotal evidence is not very conclusive.

#49 Thom Wade

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Posted 20 May 2010 - 07:38 AM

I'm now in the difficult position of trying to explain to my friends at the Calvary Chapel I started attending that (1) it's not a sin to go hang out at bars drinking with my nonbelieving friends, and (2) making nonbelieving friends who you actually socialize with, invite over to your place for dinner, and hang around is not the same as encouraging temptation. I've been asking almost everyone I get to know about these ideas for the last 5 years or so now, and I'm getting fascinating responses back - but, besides a one time unproductive mistake of mentioning them to a feminist in lawschool once, it's white/evangelicals who react to this the most negatively.



I fail to see the ties between opposition to alcohol and any notion of feminization. Abstaining from alcohol fits your thesis only if you presume the issue of feminization goes back to the early church.

#50 J.A.A. Purves

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Posted 20 May 2010 - 08:19 AM

Other recent notes,

Ah, but in that last quote "manliness" is set in opposition to "milksop" ... not what is feminine. Milksops are wimps, not women. "Men without chests" is set in opposition to something feeble and gutless. The antithesis of "men without chests" is not something feminine, but something foolish. Christ was fully human, as human beings were meant to be. He wasn't a milksop. Neither was Mary. Neither men or women are meant to be "milksops". If anyone wants to see the Spurgeon quote in contest, here it is. What he's writing there does not scorn women or their behavior, but speaks against cowardliness and weakness.

So, if you are willing to continue this discussion when you have the time, do you (and others here) actually think it is scornful to women to say that it's bad for the culture to be effeminized?

I'll admit that in the military, it's taken for granted that the culture is feminized, while in the civilian world, obviously, the idea that our culture has been/is being feminized is still up for debate. I was in the army and attended law school at the same time, so the contrast between my two groups of friends was pretty significant. I was deployed to Iraq for a year and then came back to live in Washington D.C. for one more year. I realize there's a period of adjustment you go through after that, but I'd been thinking through some ideas already, and hanging out with the D.C. crowd only kept confirming them. Then I got a temporary job with a moving company in D.C. (and suddenly found myself around guys, some of whom were from other cultures, who weren't exhibiting as many feminine traits), I found myself enjoying the blue collar circle more than the lawschool circles I used to be around before.

"Feminine" and "feminism" are two very different things. "Men without chests"* are, indeed, sad and incomplete. To equate "sad" and "incomplete" with "feminine" is a sexist statement. But men *with* chests have the courage to communicate, to care, to cooperate, to value beauty, etc... so many of the things you are giving over as "feminine." Consider Jesus' behavior: Tenderly washing his disciples' feet, committing to memory the songs of a poets, speaking quietly and intimately with women as well as men... this, the very same Christ who drove moneychangers from the temple with a whip. Fully human. Behaving in ways that might be considered "un-manly" by those who define things too narrowly.

So no, I'm not trying to equate adjectives like sad, incomplete, weak, etc. to women or to the feminine. What I'm trying to do is discourage guys from acting in a certain way. I believe that our culture has done something to guys - they are being raised and taught things that are against their masculinity and more in line with femininity (which is a good and healthy thing if you're a woman). There are a whole number of Christian virtues that everyone possesses - men and women alike. The claim that I'm having problems making here apparently is that there are also certain traits that are primarily masculine and some that are primarily feminine. So what I'm working on figuring out is how to make this claim without apparently implying that what is bad is what is feminine, or to be implying that women are somehow inferior.

Are you saying it's "feminine" to compulsively gossip at salons? ... You are painting things in such extremes, I don't know how to respond. There is a huge range between macho badass tough-guy and blithering co-dependent emotional weakling. And if you're suggesting that one end of that range is "feminine" is really unfair.

So nope, wasn't being serious with that one. But no one thought it was funny, so I'll stop it.

Nezpop - I fail to see the ties between opposition to alcohol and any notion of feminization. Abstaining from alcohol fits your thesis only if you presume the issue of feminization goes back to the early church.

I wasn't make that tie in modern day times. And you're right, I wouldn't make the claim except for once in a while it being a relic of the old women's temperance leagues that we can talk more about later. The only thing I was doing on that was distinguishing myself a little from only being in the white, middle class, evangelical culture - my friends outside that culture are often the friends I meet in bars.

Edited by J.A.A. Purves, 06 September 2012 - 11:31 AM.


#51 J.A.A. Purves

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Posted 20 May 2010 - 08:46 AM

And I have a couple minutes before walking out the door today, and because thinking about this is bothering me I wanted to -

I don't want to respond gracelessly. If I have, forgive me.

You haven't. And I apologize if I have.

Perhaps I'm reacting against a "Christian men should be Braveheart" campaign that I see trending in the church, rather than to Persiflage's premise. If so, I am sorry. I have been writing and speaking frequently recently against the idea of The Christian as Overcoming Hero Who Smacks the World Into Shape, in favor of The Christian as Saint, who meekly and humbly takes up his cross and leads by the example of the grace-loving suffering servant. Because Saints and Heroes are, by their popular Western-mythology definitions, two very different things.

But as I remain puzzled by Persiflage's premise, I am certainly interested in seeing him describe it more thoroughly.

My premise is essentially that we live in a culture that encourages men to act like women, and, this is undesirable, for both men and women. The question then becomes that when men start acting like women, how does one distinguish between what is bad about this without implying that women act badly.

I haven't read or heard very much about Driscoll and his church actually. In fact, I first became acquainted with him a year or so ago only because of the controversy caused by some of the things he had said, or that it was at least reported that he had said.

Edited by Persiflage, 20 May 2010 - 08:47 AM.


#52 J.A.A. Purves

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Posted 20 May 2010 - 08:55 AM

There is something very powerful in knowing that Jesus took all the physical blows - and the verbal/emotional ones - for me. His forgiveness of those who harmed him spurred me to seek to forgive those who had done (in some cases, were still trying to do) harm to me ...

For the record, I pretty much agree with this entire particular post of yours.

As a not-so-parenthetical note, I grew up during the most intense days of the Civil Rights movement. The people who put themselves in harm's way in order to assert their humanity - to demand equal treatment under the law, the right to vote, redress of wrongs - were not violent. They deliberately chose another way, even in the face of intensely violent reprisals. (Bombings of churches - that killed children; police dogs and fire hoses being turned on them, horrific physical beatings, reprisals against families, wrongful - and brutal - imprisonment, murders - including lynchings - etc. etc. etc.) I do not think much would have changed had they fought those who oppressed them (with violent actions of their own, that is). The images of non-violence being met with violence were pervasive, on TV, in the newspapers.

Still agreed. Although I wish they could have had some sort of more organized violence/protection to defend themselves from lynchings. Even though they often fought separately, the stories of WWII and Korean War veterans coming back home to the South, and the violence that resulted a couple times when guys found their black military buddies being told to sit at the back of the bus, or being refused service at the bar - warm the heart. But there was nothing unmasculine about nonviolent, civil disobedience in the Civil Rights movement.

It is, I think, very much a living out of what Thomas a Kempis called "the imitation of Christ." And it's hardly coincidental that so many of the people involved in the Civil Rights movement were committed Christians. They knew they were taking huge risks - that they might be faced with their own deaths, and the deaths of those they loved, by simply walking across a bridge (knowing that police were poised to attack them when they got to the other side), by sitting at "whites only" lunch counters, by using public restrooms and drinking fountains - and all the rest.

Completely agreed.

Edited by J.A.A. Purves, 06 September 2012 - 11:33 AM.


#53 Thom Wade

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Posted 20 May 2010 - 09:42 AM

Nezpop - I fail to see the ties between opposition to alcohol and any notion of feminization. Abstaining from alcohol fits your thesis only if you presume the issue of feminization goes back to the early church.

I wasn't make that tie in modern day times. And you're right, I wouldn't make the claim except for once in a while it being a relic of the old women's temperance leagues that we can talk more about later. The only thing I was doing on that was distinguishing myself a little from only being in the white, middle class, evangelical culture - my friends outside that culture are often the friends I meet in bars.


A-ha. I understand now. Thanks for the clarification! :)

#54 Overstreet

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Posted 20 May 2010 - 10:09 AM

: . . . committing to memory the songs of poets . . .

Eh? Which passage is this?


Just a way of saying that he knew the Psalms inside and out.

Edited by Overstreet, 20 May 2010 - 10:09 AM.


#55 Phill Lytle

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Posted 20 May 2010 - 10:36 AM


Thank you. If I write the book, and it's really that bad, I can always go cry about it later. Afterwards, I'll just go to the local Barbershop, um Hair Cutterie, I mean Hair Style Salon (where they even offer men's facials) and get the emotional support I need from my relationship with the barber, well I mean the ... oh, never mind.


Wow. Just... wow.

I don't know how to continue this conversation in the face of that. I'm not sure what person or social group you're attacking with that outburst. So some men are into fashion, and others aren't. It would be easy to read this and conclude that you're stereotyping and judging with a broad brush.

So ... I finally allowed myself my first joke in the thread. And apparently the joke's on me, because no one could tell that it wasn't serious and instead looked at it as an "attack." I've been resisting a number of jokes coming to mind for a while now because I was surprised to discover that this subject seemed to be so sensitive to people. But I gave in to temptation, and now look where it's got me. So I didn't mean it as a personal attack on anyone - I didn't mean to insult anyone (I feel like I'm repeating this a lot lately). And, I was referring to the trend some of my friends told me they noticed, and that is the trend of the disappearing regular ol' barbershops (being systematically replaced by Cuttery's and Salon's and whatnot).

My $0.02.

Thanks. I'm honestly considering this discussion a learning experience.


FWIW, I got the joke. It didn't feel like an attack at all.

#56 Holy Moly!

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Posted 20 May 2010 - 01:46 PM

So ... I finally allowed myself my first joke in the thread. And apparently the joke's on me, because no one could tell that it wasn't serious and instead looked at it as an "attack."


I saw it as an attempt at humor. I didn't see it as successfully funny, at least not in the intentional ways. Because...

What I'm trying to do is discourage guys from acting in a certain way.


I'm sure you'd agree that humor is often a force of social control, a means of enforcing social norms. For those of us who find the prescribed ideas of what it means to be masculine or feminine don't always neatly align with our interests, behavior, etc, we've heard it all before. There's nothing fresh about this type of humor. It's unfunny, but it's not even offensive, exactly. It's just embarassing, and makes you look less intelligent than you clearly are, like Hans&Frans mocking "girly men" on SNL.

I apologize for the presumptuousness of armchair psychology, but the behavior you're displaying and the ideas you're expressing seem to suggest a pretty classic textbook case of masculine overcompensation. If you're not familiar with that term, it's a particular brand of what Freud called "reaction formation", where strident opposition masks a deep insecurity. Indeed, everything you've told us about your experience growing up coupled with your military background would suggest a set of circumstances where this kind of reaction formation would develop and be positively reinforced. Here's a pretty decent paper that explains the theory.

Edited by Holy Moly!, 20 May 2010 - 01:50 PM.


#57 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 20 May 2010 - 02:59 PM

Overstreet wrote:
: Just a way of saying that he knew the Psalms inside and out.

Well, that would be scripture, not poetry per se. Jews, like Christians, sang psalms in the Temple and the synagogue as part of their regular worship. Whether Jesus knew the Psalms "inside and out" or knew only some of them really, really well, I couldn't say -- I don't think the gospels indicate one way or the other -- but this isn't quite the same thing as saying that he was a sensitive artiste, as it were.

On a quasi-related note, with regard to that thread I linked to earlier, I note that I already quoted in there some thoughts that have been recurring to me during this thread, courtesy of Frederica Mathewes-Green:

Western and Eastern Christianity have so much overtly in common that the underlying differences in approach are easy to miss. To use archetypal terms, the eastern interest in challenge and rigor could be described as masculine. . . .

Western Christianity, I find, has a comparatively feminine flavor. The emphasis is on nurturing and comfort; reunion with God occurs as he heals our inner wounds. In the West, we want God to console and reassure us; in the East, we want God to help us grow up and stop acting like jerks. . . .

Author Leon Podles traces this situation all the way back to the thirteenth century and the writings of St. Bernard of Clairvaux. St. Bernard's mysticism was based on imagining oneself the Bride of Christ, which made it immensely popular with women though less accessible to men. As this emotional, individualized, and self-focused spirituality spread, there arose in reaction the dry and deliberate Scholastic theology epitomized by St. Thomas Aquinas. The outcome was an enduring and unfortunate split in the West between heart and head. In annoying confirmation of stereotypes, women generally preferred and patronized heart-based spirituality, while men went for the head. . . .

It's not religion that's feminine, but specifically western Christianity of recent centuries. Islam and Judaism, rigorous and demanding faiths, are balanced the other way, with more active men than women. Eastern Orthodoxy, likewise, is strongly attractive to men, and church attendance is more gender balanced. As Podles points out, among Christians only the Orthodox write basso profundo church music. . . .

Make of that what y'all will, but I like Mathewes-Green's use of "archetype" as opposed to the more polemical "stereotype".

#58 Phill Lytle

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Posted 20 May 2010 - 03:00 PM


So ... I finally allowed myself my first joke in the thread. And apparently the joke's on me, because no one could tell that it wasn't serious and instead looked at it as an "attack."


I saw it as an attempt at humor. I didn't see it as successfully funny, at least not in the intentional ways. Because...

What I'm trying to do is discourage guys from acting in a certain way.


I'm sure you'd agree that humor is often a force of social control, a means of enforcing social norms. For those of us who find the prescribed ideas of what it means to be masculine or feminine don't always neatly align with our interests, behavior, etc, we've heard it all before. There's nothing fresh about this type of humor. It's unfunny, but it's not even offensive, exactly. It's just embarassing, and makes you look less intelligent than you clearly are, like Hans&Frans mocking "girly men" on SNL.

I apologize for the presumptuousness of armchair psychology, but the behavior you're displaying and the ideas you're expressing seem to suggest a pretty classic textbook case of masculine overcompensation. If you're not familiar with that term, it's a particular brand of what Freud called "reaction formation", where strident opposition masks a deep insecurity. Indeed, everything you've told us about your experience growing up coupled with your military background would suggest a set of circumstances where this kind of reaction formation would develop and be positively reinforced. Here's a pretty decent paper that explains the theory.


Now this is really not funny. I've always been bothered when people will say things like "I am so sorry for attacking your character but I'm going to do it anyway because I have something to say and...oh yeah...I am really not sorry." Perisflage is too nice to speak so I feel compelled to respond. Up to this point, he has kept the conversation free from personal attacks. Who cares though, right? Let's just label him as "unfunny", "a textbook case of masculine overcompensation", and the forever enjoyable "embarrasing." I'm glad we can keep this civil. Should I add an empty apology to the beginning of this paragraph to make it go down easier?

#59 Holy Moly!

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Posted 20 May 2010 - 05:24 PM

:blink:

I'm certainly not attacking anyone's character. I'm trying to make plain the reasons that people wouldn't respond positively to that kind of humor. If explaining to someone why a joke was in poor taste and made us all wince and suggesting some resources for further study qualifies as an "attack", well...I guess some people just need to feel persecuted.

#60 Phill Lytle

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Posted 20 May 2010 - 08:18 PM

:blink:

I'm certainly not attacking anyone's character. I'm trying to make plain the reasons that people wouldn't respond positively to that kind of humor. If explaining to someone why a joke was in poor taste and made us all wince and suggesting some resources for further study qualifies as an "attack", well...I guess some people just need to feel persecuted.


The joke didn't "make us all wince." No one here feels the need to be persecuted - why even make that statement unless you are trying to get people on the defensive? I didn't feel the joke was in poor taste. After reading pages of spirited discussion I thought the joke was useful in lightening the mood. I'm sorry everyone didn't feel that way...get it? I'm sorry...That was probably in poor taste as well.