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Why Are Conservative Men Harder to Insult than Liberal Women?

 

This morning, on another thread, I made a joke with @docjay. This joke, like many jokes between men, took the form of an insult. Now, DocJay is a friend of mine, but regardless, I knew that he would not take offense at this joke because (a) he is a man and, (b) he is a conservative.

That struck me as odd. Why is it that men in general, and conservatives in particular, are less sensitive to insults? When a man insults another, it is generally harmless ribbing, they laugh, and get back to whatever they were doing.

I have a lot of liberal friends on Facebook. When they insult someone, it is generally mean-spirited, and intended to hurt. As opposed to my liberal friends interacting with one another, where hurtful words are verboten, you should be in a safe space free from hateful speech, and we should all support one another all the time. Meanwhile, the conservative men are over in the corner drinking and joking about how fat one another are. If a liberal insults someone, it is not a joke.

At this point, I would like to ask the moderator to cut any comments asking for data or studies to back up my assertions. I am also uninterested in individual anecdotes about your aunt who is a drill instructor in the Marine Corps. I am generalizing, and as is often the case when I generalize, I don’t care (to paraphrase Dave Barry). But these are stereotypes that I think most of us recognize. So, why? Any theories on the different approaches to insults and humor among different groups?

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There are 63 comments.

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  1. Member

    It’s probably because of how emotionally stunted you are. This contributes directly to toxic masculinity. We need to teach boys to have sensitive feelings like girls do.

    • #1
    • December 3, 2017 at 7:26 am
    • 27 likes
  2. Moderator

    Dr. Bastiat: If a liberal insults someone, it is not a joke.

    Alternate hypothesis:

    If a liberal insults a conservative, it’s unlikely to be a joke. Just like
    If a conservative insults a liberal, it’s less likely to be a joke.

    Insults are most likely to be jokes when you know they’re coming from a friendly place. If you watch liberals in their natural habitat, they, too, use deprecating humor toward one another. In any situation where trust is low, though, insults are less likely to be taken as jokes – and less likely to be meant as just jokes.

    • #2
    • December 3, 2017 at 7:31 am
    • 20 likes
  3. Member

    In our office, if you misstep, you’ll be mocked mercilessly. But the women take it and dish it out just as much as the men. @concretevol is regularly “Dummy” to one of the women.

    • #3
    • December 3, 2017 at 7:37 am
    • 4 likes
  4. Member
    Dr. Bastiat Post author

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat: If a liberal insults someone, it is not a joke.

    Alternate hypothesis:

    If a liberal insults a conservative, it’s unlikely to be a joke. Just like
    If a conservative insults a liberal, it’s less likely to be a joke.

    Insults are most likely to be jokes when you know they’re coming from a friendly place. If you watch liberals in their natural habitat, they, too, use deprecating humor toward one another. In any situation where trust is low, though, insults are less likely to be taken as jokes – and less likely to be meant as just jokes.

    This was my initial hypothesis, but it just has not been my experience. The conversation in social settings in liberal groups is just so different from what I hear in more conservative groups. Until recently I taught part time at the medical school of a local university. I kept my mouth shut, as you might imagine, and no one knew I was conservative. Whether hanging out and drinking coffee, or at after work get togethers, the difference was striking. Liberals are generally so sweet and nice to each other – it’s really kind of refreshing. Whereas when I get together with my conservative friends the humor is generally more, ah, sharp. But we have a great time.

    I’m not really arguing. You make a fair point, and it’s hard to argue about such subjective impressions. In particular, your point, “In any situation where trust is low, though, insults are less likely to be taken as jokes – and less likely to be meant as just jokes.” is absolutely true. Brilliant point.

    But your other point, “If you watch liberals in their natural habitat, they, too, use deprecating humor toward one another.” – that has not been my experience, in general.

    • #4
    • December 3, 2017 at 7:41 am
    • 14 likes
  5. Member

    The core belief of conservative men is that all of Mankind is inherently flawed.

    The core belief of liberal women is that all of Womankind is inherently perfect.

    • #5
    • December 3, 2017 at 7:51 am
    • 23 likes
  6. Inactive
    MLH

    Joan Rivers

    Don Rickles

    discuss. . .

    • #6
    • December 3, 2017 at 7:52 am
    • 4 likes
  7. Member

    Some of it is a “guy” thing. We are emotionally stunted. So, we can’t say, “I love you, man,” without turning it into a ridiculous insult, guaranteed to draw laughter.

    And some of it is that True Liberals today are a bunch of scolds. Their humor is based on meanness, rather than funniness. It’s hilarious when their opponent slips on the banana, but it’s a tragedy requiring any available diversion when one of their own does.

    • #7
    • December 3, 2017 at 7:56 am
    • 12 likes
  8. Member

    Why is it that men in general, and conservatives in particular, are less sensitive to insults?

    Chicken and egg? I’m going with people (I’m not sure gender enters in) who recognize the occasional insult is part of daily life end up conservative. The hypersensitive tend to go the other way because they find common ground with many others in the “you can’t say that” or “that’s not funny” club.

    • #8
    • December 3, 2017 at 8:01 am
    • 9 likes
  9. Member

    Progressive culture discourages masculinity. Conservative cultures applauds it. Ribbing is practiced by both sexes, but is more common among men. So it is more common among conservatives. Maybe.

    Play is practice. Wolf cubs bite, stalk, pounce, and wrestle because they will eventually need to employ those skills without holding back. Perhaps sparring by jokes is also practice for various forms of confrontation.

    • #9
    • December 3, 2017 at 8:24 am
    • 17 likes
  10. Member

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):
    Progressive culture discourages masculinity. Conservative cultures applauds it. Ribbing is practiced by both sexes, but is more common among men. So it is more common among conservatives. Maybe.

    Play is practice. Wolf cubs bite, stalk, pounce, and wrestle because they will eventually need to employ those skills without holding back. Perhaps sparring by jokes is also practice for various forms of confrontation.

    Interesting thesis – insults and “trash talking” as a species of battle preparation, toughening up for the world out there and associated with the masculine instinct of protection.

    • #10
    • December 3, 2017 at 8:56 am
    • 5 likes
  11. Member

    Afternoon Dr. Bastiat,

    Is it possible that in the area of gender men are more overt and direct about their expressions in general? Is it also possible that conservatives as a group do not take criticism as an attack on their honor? As an exception note WFB’s response to Vidal calling him a cryto-nazi. Concerning the chronic put-downs which males shower upon each other, these put-downs become part of the way males are always competing, another way of standing out by being clever with your mockery. Also perhaps women are more sly about their put-downs and the way in which they compete with each other.

    • #11
    • December 3, 2017 at 9:11 am
    • 3 likes
  12. Member

    I suppose there’s an aspect of male bonding through good natured derision of a friend or even acquaintance. Even something brutal is ok if you smile. I learned that from The Virginian.

    • #12
    • December 3, 2017 at 9:21 am
    • 4 likes
  13. Member

    I have no insight into the question posed in the original post, but I too see something going on that makes these two groups of people distinctly different.

    My Irish father-in-law was fond of saying, “Live in hope. Die in despair.” I think many men have a sardonic and resigned view of life on this earth. And that’s why they enjoy Saturday night and go to church on Sunday. What will be will be. :)

    • #13
    • December 3, 2017 at 9:26 am
    • 3 likes
  14. Member

    Good post by the way. For once.

    PS I almost said for once, ya fairy. Straight men (at least of my ggggg generation) have long used gay slurs to rib each other. It’s part ribbing and part affirming. How to reconcile this common humor with being sensitive to group that’s had plenty of abuse?

    Oh doc B , the answer to the question you asked me is that yes, just once does make you gay. Sorry.

    • #14
    • December 3, 2017 at 9:29 am
    • 24 likes
  15. Member
    Dr. Bastiat Post author

    DocJay (View Comment):
    Good post by the way. For once.

    I was waiting for something clever from you.

    Still waiting…

    • #15
    • December 3, 2017 at 9:45 am
    • 20 likes
  16. Member

    Jim Beck (View Comment):
    Concerning the chronic put-downs which males shower upon each other, these put-downs become part of the way males are always competing, another way of standing out by being clever with your mockery.

    This seems right. Put-downs are a non-violent form of competition by which traits other than physical prowess can be pressed to establish dominance. I’m not suggesting that men consciously insult friends to dominate them, but rather that it is a common instinct which is mitigated by concious concerns like friendship.

    A friend and I debated once whether or not it is instinctual for men to size each other up even when there is no expectation of confrontation and there is mutual respect. What do you think?

    I think what modern effeminates chalk up to insecurity is more typically just failure to control natural impulses. Sometimes this exhibits a lack of intelligence or discipline, but it can also reflect a powerfully emotional personality in which the drive to dare and accomplish is also a drive to dominate people. The bad is often corruption of the good.

    Similarly, women seem to instinctively compare each other by beauty; perhaps by motherly skills as well. Again, intelligent and disciplined women balance these competitive instincts with conscious interests. But in spite of oneself one’s guard might be raised in the presence of a superior specimen.

    As a Christian, I attribute instincts not to biological happenstance but to deliberate design; a good design. But all that is good can be corrupted.

    • #16
    • December 3, 2017 at 9:48 am
    • 6 likes
  17. Member

    MarciN (View Comment):
    My Irish father-in-law was fond of saying, “Live in hope. Die in despair.” I think many men have a sardonic and resigned view of life on this earth

    That’s like the song played at the beginning of the Commentary podcasts.

    • #17
    • December 3, 2017 at 9:57 am
    • 1 like
  18. Member

    DocJay (View Comment):
    Good post by the way. For once.

    PS I almost said for once, ya fairy. Straight men (at least of my ggggg generation) have long used gay slurs to rib each other. It’s part ribbing and part affirming. How to reconcile this common humor with being sensitive to group that’s had plenty of abuse?

    Oh doc B , the answer to the question you asked me is that yes, just once does make you gay. Sorry.

    That’s what he said.

    • #18
    • December 3, 2017 at 10:43 am
    • 3 likes
  19. Member
    Dr. Bastiat Post author

    DocJay (View Comment):
    Good post by the way. For once.

    PS I almost said for once, ya fairy. Straight men (at least of my ggggg generation) have long used gay slurs to rib each other. It’s part ribbing and part affirming. How to reconcile this common humor with being sensitive to group that’s had plenty of abuse?

    Oh doc B , the answer to the question you asked me is that yes, just once does make you gay. Sorry.

    Let’s keep our private relationship private, shall we?

    • #19
    • December 3, 2017 at 11:09 am
    • 7 likes
  20. Member

    Afternoon Aaron and Dr. Bastiat,

    As a bit of an aside, a couple of anthropologists, Richerson and Boyd (in “Not by Genes Alone”) noted that the homicide rate in the South from 1865 to 1915 was 10x the rate in the US as a whole and twice the rate of the most violent cities. They also referenced the work of Nisbett and Cohen (“Culture of Honor”), who suggested that in many cultures it is beneficial to be known as someone not to be messed with, herders, settlers. They noted that arguments among acquaintances in small rural towns were the source of many killings and that killings during thefts or other crimes were low.

    I am not sure how any of the above info fits with this useless post but as we used to say in the factory “[Expletive] you, if you can’t take a joke.”

    • #20
    • December 3, 2017 at 11:10 am
    • 6 likes
  21. Member

    DocJay (View Comment):
    Straight men (at least of my ggggg generation) have long used gay slurs to rib each other. It’s part ribbing and part affirming. How to reconcile this common humor with being sensitive to group that’s had plenty of abuse?

    Generally, I’d tell gay men to suck it up. We tease fellow guys for weakness without cruelty to weak men. We tease people for stupidity while befriending truly stupid folks.

    “That’s gay” is little worse than “That’s stupid” — which, incidentally, my young niece often reprimands me for saying. I don’t know how “stupid” became bad manners. At least objections to “That sucks” are easy to understand… but only when you stop to think about it.

    To some extent, all of this might more reflect common Irish and German heritage than universal masculinity.

    • #21
    • December 3, 2017 at 11:12 am
    • 7 likes
  22. Member

    First of all, only a man with a diminutive nose, thumbs, whatever, would take offense when I mention their shortcomings. It is best to mention a friend’s less attractive parts, you know, the guy with the gorilla sweater, the guy who missed the target altogether at the shooting range, the guy who missed eight putts in a row. We actually name these events after they are achieved, so that they can be memorialized. There is the Lenny mulligan; that’s when your hand is in your pocket after calling a mulligan before the first T-shot has stopped moving. There is also the Oatman; if a mulligan is called, however the second shot is worse than the first hence the first shot is used in the round, the mulligan (limited to one per nine holes) is renamed an Oatman and can be evoked a second time. Then there is the Rudy Valley shot otherwise referred to as the gutterball. There is a corollary Rudy Valley golf shot where the ball ends up in a depression on another fairway. There is the Ritchie rule, invoked at the entrance to any casino, where Ritchie is asked to burn all his cash before entering to bring luck to everyone else (he’s never agreed though and is no better off as he leaves his cash at the casino in any case. You’d think he’d have the decency to help his friends.) There is the JL rule, which states no player can leave the black-jack table until one friend/player at the same table is out of cash. The opposite rule applies at the craps table; if one friend wants to leave the table, everyone else must also leave (but only when the table is clear after a craps throw.) I could go on and on. These insults are invoked again and again along with the story of origin, including naming the person after whom the insult is named, thus the infamy continues. Lenny, Oatman, Rudy, Ritchie, JL and others live on even after their original insults. We should all be so lucky.

    • #22
    • December 3, 2017 at 11:20 am
    • 6 likes
  23. Member

    Comedians like Jerry Seinfield have said that political correctness is ruining comedy.

    As noted above, conservatives know we are fallabile, and that laughing and teasing is a good release and share of commaradarie. Men in general are more apt to be team players than women. Men work shoulder to shoulder to get the mission done. Women are about relationships. I noticed that women in the working world generally do not work well together. They seem to know every error a coworker makes, and let the boss know. I’d hate to be a male boss with female workers. I work in a male dominated field. I thought drafting would be a quiet, gentle profession, and found out construction workers are high energy, rough and tough. I have a lot of contractors and subs I get along well with, but don’t really think any of them are my friends that I would go shopping with, or bake Christmas cookies with. I don’t believe men and women can be friends the way same sex friends do.

    Men can be blunt and obnoxious because they filter all the crap out. Men are about the mission, and women the relationship. Joyce Brothers used to say a man’s identity was first by his job, and for a woman it was her family. Still true today. Feminists don’t want to admit it. Many women are working who want to be home. Hard to justify a hundred thousand dollars of education by staying home and raising your own kids. So you have to toughen up buttercup, and that includes using the f word and becoming humorless.

    • #23
    • December 3, 2017 at 11:32 am
    • 12 likes
  24. Member
    Dr. Bastiat Post author

    DocJay (View Comment):
    PS I almost said for once, ya fairy. Straight men (at least of my ggggg generation) have long used gay slurs to rib each other. It’s part ribbing and part affirming. How to reconcile this common humor with being sensitive to group that’s had plenty of abuse?

    This thought has crossed my mind as well. I played football, and the things we yelled at our opponents (and more often, each other) were, well, extremely anti-gay. We of course did not mean to offend gay people. We only meant to offend each other. But this is a problem, I think.

    On other hand, once in medical school my girlfriend and I were watching a football game with two of my closest friends. One of them yelled at the TV, “You tackle like a [email protected]$$&# (… rhymes with maggot…)! I responded, “Strong words, coming from a gay man with a white sweater tied around his neck sitting next to his boyfriend…”. He smiled, shrugged his shoulders, & said, “Relax – it’s just an expression.”. For some reason, my girlfriend found all this just hysterical.

    I’m not sure what to make of all this. But I agree with your point, Docjay. It’s a problem.

    • #24
    • December 3, 2017 at 11:33 am
    • 5 likes
  25. Moderator

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):
    Play is practice. Wolf cubs bite, stalk, pounce, and wrestle because they will eventually need to employ those skills without holding back. Perhaps sparring by jokes is also practice for various forms of confrontation.

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):
    This seems right. Put-downs are a non-violent form of competition by which traits other than physical prowess can be pressed to establish dominance. I’m not suggesting that men consciously insult friends to dominate them, but rather that it is a common instinct which is mitigated by conscious concerns like friendship.

    This may be, although perhaps I’m woman enough to be very suspicious of those who appear to use “just joking” as cover for “establishing dominance” when there seems no need for it. That parents dominate children and bosses employees, etc, is the natural order of things. But among peers? To me, this kind of teasing is only fun when there’s tacit agreement it’s not about establishing dominance. Fortunately, I do think this kind of teasing can be used to acknowledge equality and trust, too – where friends are “giving as good as they get” because they’re friends and they all can, rather than the teasing being used as a “humorous” way to “cut others down to size”.

    • #25
    • December 3, 2017 at 12:12 pm
    • 6 likes
  26. Moderator

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):
    Generally, I’d tell gay men to suck it up.

    Phrasing… ;-P

    • #26
    • December 3, 2017 at 12:15 pm
    • 10 likes
  27. Member

    I think it’s just about degrees of power. The more powerful a person is, the less a wound troubles him. Remember Colin from The Secret Garden? When he first appears, the slightest ache sends him into hysterics.

    That’s the situation that liberals are in, emotionally. And weak people are petty, as well as vengeful.

    By contrast, when you are strong, you can handle a paper cut, or even a parasite (lions and wild boars are full of those) without suffering.

    • #27
    • December 3, 2017 at 12:42 pm
    • 3 likes
  28. Coolidge

    I have observed over the years that men in general take themselves less seriously than women. They don’t take personally remarks which would seriously rile a woman, and it is therefore easier to exchange barbed comments with males than with females.

    • #28
    • December 3, 2017 at 1:08 pm
    • 5 likes
  29. Moderator

    fidelio102 (View Comment):
    I have observed over the years that men in general take themselves less seriously than women. They don’t take personally remarks which would seriously rile a woman, and it is therefore easier to exchange barbed comments with males than with females.

    I dunno. Men are more thumotic – and in that sense more easily insulted, in my experience.

    Though women’s feelings may be more delicate, a woman loses no honor if she doesn’t “fight back” when she’s “insulted”. A man can – indeed, that’s why, when the banter isn’t strictly friendly, the man has to answer a barbed comment with a barbed comment. His honor demands it.

    A woman who, when the banter isn’t strictly friendly, dishes it right back out again the way a man does is simply being shrewish. Far better, then, for a woman to not dish it right back out again, even if the price is a sad end to the repartee.

    • #29
    • December 3, 2017 at 1:39 pm
    • 2 likes
  30. Member
    Dr. Bastiat Post author

    fidelio102 (View Comment):
    I have observed over the years that men in general take themselves less seriously than women.

    Very good point. Men may take life in general less seriously than women. A previous commenter who mentioned men’s fatalistic view of life may have a point.

    I think one reason men tend to reach the highest levels of business & finance more often than women is not necessarily their willingness to work more hours – it’s their willingness to gamble. To bet everything on a hunch. A woman thinks, “Is this a good idea? Could this fail? What if things go wrong?” Meanwhile, a man thinks, “Well, why the [expletive] not?”

    My youngest daughter once asked me why sports that involve helmets are generally boy’s sports. I told her that once she figured that out, she would understand boys.

    • #30
    • December 3, 2017 at 1:41 pm
    • 6 likes
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