July 9, 2012

-image-the mindset of the foc male

I occasionally visit the FB page of a dude from Maybe Church who was one of the worship leaders when we were there. Actually, he was the one I wrote about who literally could not sing — he was tone deaf, I’m pretty sure of it — and it fascinated me that he was given that position simply because of the penis in his pants when there were women singing behind him who were clearly better singers.

As a bit of a background here, I’ve seen him around the various FOC “survivor” blogs — using his full name because FOCers think a screen name is a form of dishonesty — and he’s generally been mocking and condescending towards the people abused or traumatized by the FOC who are still deeply hurting. At one point, after my patience with him had completely frayed, I gave him a well-deserved (but fairly controlled) smackdown because I have zero tolerance for people who are cruel and dismissive about other’s pain just because it hasn’t happened to them. It is the essence of ungrace to me and the antithesis of Christian compassion.

His FB page is open to anyone, it seems, or at least many of the posts are public, so I check in on him about once a month. He’s a curiosity to me because, well, most FOCers are curiosities to me at this point and because he’s in a leadership position at his church that I don’t think he’s mature enough or sensitive enough to manage. My opinion.

I visited him this morning and found this thread. I believe most of the commenters here are also FOC men from his church.

I’m putting it up with no commentary from me — which is an act of extreme will power on my part, let me tell you. I think this exchange gives an interesting glimpse into the mindset of the FOC male. Worship leader starts the thread, so he’s “Poster” here:

POSTER: Just watched a girl at the gym, who was basically wearing nothing, go to the locker room and put on sweats and a shirt. Why? Because she noticed how many guys were constantly staring at her. I think this is a first…

MAN 2: One of them being you.

MAN 3: What?! No pic?!

POSTER: I looked at her with the look of, “Where is her dad at?” 😉

MAN 3: I would’ve given her a dollar. 😉

POSTER: And please no one jump to any sinful conclusions here. During the few minutes I was stretching I saw this girl and noticed the guys, and within a few minutes this girl changed. It wasn’t a workout long obsession…plus my wife is hotter anyways!

‎RANDOM CHICK: “Mission accomplished.” –that girl.

MAN 4: Do push ups at home.

MAN 5: I agree with Man 4. :) Home is much safer for the mans inherited wandering eyes.

POSTER: The point of this thread is that a girl who I would think that desires men’s attention like a whore, strangely changed her clothes in order to reject men’s attention. I thought that it was awesome. Secondly, I don’t think that God created females for us to make an effort to not be around them, except for one. Finding women attractive is not a bad thing. The sin is coveting someone else. Thoughts?

POSTER: Again, the point of this thread is to say that I thought that a girl changing her clothes instead of desiring men’s attention was awesome. I’d be a proud dad of that girl!

POSTER: We as men need to not be afraid of attraction. We need to flee the thought that we wished that our wives WERE these other women. Thoughts?

MAN 6: (ed.: He leaves a link to this video by celebrity pastor Mark Driscoll.)

MAN 4: There are some women we should make efforts not to be around. Especially if we don’t have to be around them. We might have to be around scantily clad females in our neighborhoods or at work. A gym is an elective.

MAN 7: It’s not easy being in the world but not of the world. When I see a beautiful woman I remind myself that (A) She is a co/Image bearer of God, (B) She is someone’s daughter, (C) she could be someone’s wife, (D) She doesn’t belong to me. Plus frankly often they are not so beautiful after they open their mouths…

MAN 8: Hey Man 7, one thing you said that always stuck with me. You said every time you see a beautiful woman you would think to yourself, “wow, good job God”. That always put things in perspective for me.

So I throw it back to you, pippa. Does anything in particular stick out to you?

As “Poster” said, “Thoughts?”

(Okay. I can’t hold it in. I can’t. I have to say it: I notice they’re using emoticons in their manly communications. Wasn’t this labeled “verboten” by ol’ Baldy, head of the FOC?)


  1. I’m going to guess she changed because of the “creepy old guy at the gym”. Poor girl.

    As for the men…they’ve got some serious issues, especially talking about this on fb where the world can see it. Gross.

    Comment by MamaTod — July 9, 2012 @ 2:14 pm

  2. Sooooooooooooo many thoughts.

    Well, first, FB conversations can be pretty schizophrenic anyway, because every one of your friends is going to pick up on something different in your post that strikes an individual chord with him or her, and each will basically wander off in his or her own direction thereafter.

    Ex: I just posted something about being proud to be an alum of my undergrad institution. Guaranteed somebody’s going to talk about how they met a Totally Random Stranger just the other day who graduated from there 20 years ago, somebody’s going to talk about how they ran into Mutual Friend last week, somebody’s going to comment (either positively or negatively) on the religious affiliation of said school, someone else will offer up that they were just thinking about Professor So-and-So this morning, and all of a sudden there’s like 18 conversations going on.

    Which is I think – partially – what’s going on here in Maybe Church Man’s post.

    Second: I think what really bothers me about this is the assumption that this man – who apparently didn’t know this girl or speak to her at all – knows her motivation for changing clothes. Most gyms I’ve been in are air-conditioned to within an inch of their lives, and even if you’re working out, it’s possible to be cold. Maybe she’s doing different sorts of exercising, and for some of her workout wants to wear more clothing (like those wrestlers who practice in 90-degree gyms wearing parkas). Maybe it’s not actually all about you, dude, and she has body image issues and felt ok when she left the house but looked at herself in the gym mirror and hated what she saw so she went to change.

    Third: Is “Maybe Church” a large church? Is it possible that she could have recognized him, but he might not recognize her? Maybe he actually was staring at her creepily and he was the reason she changed.

    Fourth: In general: I think women (um, and men) have a basic responsibility to dress reasonably modestly, whatever that means for the particular occasion. Nobody needs to be all Amish’ed up, but…I’m as heterosexual as they come, and there’s a female preaching professor at my school who lets it all hang out, and it’s distracting, okay? We ladies need to remember that we’re going to attract attention regardless of what we wear (because we’re awesome, duh, and we have boobs), but that what we choose to wear can have some degree of impact on what type of attention it is that we attract. Is it fair? Maybe not. Is it true? Yep.

    BUT: all of that said, it does, in fact, fall to the men of the world to, as my Catholic priest friend says, “maintain custody of your eyes.” It’s one thing to notice that someone is attractive, or even that they are dressed nicely or immodestly or whatever. I mean, our eyes, they work, and the neurons in the brain, they fire, and whatever. But if you don’t have the ability to take note of those sorts of facts and then move on , then (this still applies to men AND women) stay out of “dangerous situations” so that you aren’t lusting, and they aren’t having to deal with your creepy leering.

    And also, since I’m busy writing a novel in your comments section here, Tracey, how old is this dude? Because my dad, who is not on FB (Deo gratias), will sometimes say stuff like this. “This morning I was at Starbucks and the girl in line in front of me was wearing jeans that looked like they had been painted on, and a top that was this low [here he will gesture with his hands on his own body to demonstrate how low it was] and she was on the phone having what appeared to be an extremely professional conversation and I just couldn’t quite understand how she planned to go to work in those clothes and….” And I just sort of stare at him and go, “Huh”, because, what? So, maybe it’s a generational thing?

    Comment by Katie — July 9, 2012 @ 2:41 pm

  3. I hate his “proud dad” commentary. Pretty much the definition of paternalistic, with additional creepy incestuous overtones.

    Apparently standard workout gear requires a woman to desire men’s attention “like a whore.” That’s why everyone was looking at her (really! It wasn’t just him! Plus his wife is hotter! And yes, the more he scrambles the fuller of bullshit he sounds!)

    I guess working out in a burqua is really the way to go. It’s hot, and it’s inconvenient, but hey, at least you don’t look like a whore.

    He should find a men’s only gym, if he finds his wandering eyes so shameful but he can’t control them without a woman’s assistance.

    Comment by roo — July 9, 2012 @ 3:26 pm

  4. Just ugh. UGH. One would you EVER find a woman having this conversation with another woman? His mom would be proud…
    Two-My wife is hotter? So it’s a contest? And if your wife wasn’t “hotter”? What then?You’re at the gym for crying out loud. The whole thing screams of skeeve. Just sayin.

    Comment by Jess — July 9, 2012 @ 4:44 pm

  5. MamaTod — I love how you just say “Gross.” Hahaha. But yes. Gross.

    Katie — Hi! I love your comment. “Maintain custody of your eyes.” Yes, good thought. I hate that the preponderance of the modesty issue tends to fall on the woman.

    As far as how old the guy is — I’d guess he’s somewhere in his early 30s actually. So he’s not your dad’s age. 😉 (emoticon)

    roo — I noticed “Poster” was pointedly ignoring the suggestions from one of the men to basically NOT GO TO THE GYM. Seemed like a reasonable idea so why ignore it unless ….. you LIKE going to the gym and complaining about the half-dressed women and how they’re making you lust? I mean, if half-dressed women at the gym are a problem for you, then don’t go to the gym where there are half-dressed women, right? I notice he seems to talk regularly about being at the gym. He’s married with kids, so I’m curious why his wife doesn’t call him on it. Oh, wait. Yes. Patriarchy. She probably can’t call him on it.

    And, yes, I thought that that he really sounded like he was scrambling too. Methinks he doth protest …. yadda yadda.

    Jess — Yes, thank God, his wife is hotter and he can throw that disclaimer in there. PHEWWW. Saved by his wife’s hotness. If she were a total bow-wow, then all bets are off, I guess?

    You know, I was REALLY bugged by the condescending tone here with some of the men. Like, “Oh, good for HER, putting some clothes back on, the little whore” and “Mission accomplished” (although that was the chick that said that, I guess.) How nice of you to judge her as a whore and then do an about face to “yay, she eventually did the right thing.” Condescending.

    The whore comment really bothered me. He assumed because of the way she was dressed, she would naturally “desire men’s attention like a whore.” I’m not sure if he’s trying to be funny with that or what. I’m not good at gauging FOC humor. So she’s dressed in a way that this particular man labeled — subjectively — as immodest, but does that necessarily make her a “whore”? That’s some pretty stern judgment of a heart he doesn’t even know (but a body he seemed pretty interested in.)

    His protestation that no one should jump to sinful conclusions here — come on, dude. You WERE looking yet you want everyone to extend you grace about your heart’s motives for looking while simultaneously denying her grace about her heart’s motive in dressing the way she did.

    I just love the attitude of the man who said, “frankly often they are not so beautiful after they open their mouths …” It strikes me as a convenient rationalization. “Well, she might be beautiful, but she’s probably a jerk when she opens her mouth.”

    So beauty probably equals jerk? Well, if that’s what you need to think to keep you from … uh ….. self-completing in the locker room, fine. But now that I think of it, does that thought actually stop a man from … such a thing? “Check out that hot chick! Wow! She’s probably a real skank, though. Ohhhhh … uh-oh … shrinkage …..” I mean, does that work? (I don’t have one of those so I don’t know. My guess would be in the heat of the moment, no, it doesn’t work.)

    Does every attractive woman automatically need to be transformed into some Betty Beyotch so Christian men don’t lust after her??

    Well, that’s great, isn’t it? You’re no longing lusting after her for her beautiful body or face, no; you’ve neutralized that threat by replacing it with judgment of her entire person.

    Comment by tracey — July 9, 2012 @ 5:39 pm

  6. Good point on the “dressing like a whore” thing, Tracey. I’m a little bit of a What Not To Wear addict, and it amazes me how often Clinton and Stacey say to someone, “When you wear that, what kind of men pay attention to you? The kind you want?” “No, not usually…” “Why do you think that is?” “I don’t really know…” Some people actually just don’t get it, and better to educate them and give them some self-esteem than run around calling them whores. But that’s a lot less fun, and a lot less self-righteous. 😀

    Comment by Katie — July 9, 2012 @ 9:12 pm

  7. “Strangely changed her clothes”? So at first it was strange that she was “basically wearing nothing,” but then strange that she wasn’t? Consider me confused. I am curious as to what constitutes “basically wearing nothing.” Because it very could be a tall gal wearing shorts and her “upper leg was showing” (as one of the nuns at my mother’s high school used to say).

    As far as I’m concerned, Poster did violate this woman by trying to get into her head/heart. I think that’s what annoys me about this conversation, that they are trying to analyze her to death. Isn’t it St. Paul who said we ought to keep our heads down and do our work, and stay out of others’ business?

    BTW depending on how crowded my gym is–and we just went through an 11-day-long heat wave–the AC isn’t always nice and cool.

    Comment by Kate P — July 9, 2012 @ 9:27 pm

  8. So, just because a woman is working out at the gym, poster assumes that she is seeking attention like a whore. Grrr…. Yes, I agree that some women should dress a bit better when they go to the gym. But, they’re at the gym! Men (and women) should expect this kind of dress at the gym. I’m sure it’s not the first time poster has seen this kind of outfit. I wonder how many times he sinned by looking at the women and not confessing he saw them.

    Also, Man 7’s comment: “Plus frankly often they are not so beautiful after they open their mouths…” What a bastard! I wonder what he would think if someone said the same of him, which I will say of him. I’m sure he’s a great guy, until he opens his mouth!

    It is this male-dominated mindset of this type of church that just makes me sick. And, the fact that they see nothing wrong with it is even more sickening.

    Comment by Kathi — July 10, 2012 @ 7:31 am

  9. Tracey – I loved : //Well, that’s great, isn’t it? You’re no longing lusting after her for her beautiful body or face, no; you’ve neutralized that threat by replacing it with judgment of her entire person.//

    So, yeah. I had so many feelings about this, but I guess the main one is this:
    These men do not think women are people.

    If you asked them they would say they do, but they don’t.

    To them, Women are what they are in relation to men: a man’s wife, daughter, whore, object of temptation. Women are, to them, inherently evil. Because they react to our bodies and they take no responsibility for controlling that or reaching a more sophisticated level of personal development, what WE DO TO THEM makes us agents of wrongdoing.

    The line “D) She doesn’t belong to me.” says it right there. Even the man who is trying to reason out a less vicious way of looking at women sees them as something to own or not own.

    That the young woman in question was aware that exercising was likely to be hot and sweaty and uncomfortable and, therefore, initially wore clothing that would be lighter and cause less physical discomfort? Never considered.

    That referring to a woman as desirable and a potential temptress and then as a daughter he would be proud of in the same discussion is demeaning and disgusting? Never occurred to him.

    That he feels the need to say his wife is more attractive underlines the basic sentiments repeated again and again in both subtle and loud ways by this kind of man: A woman’s value in life is based on her appearance. A woman’s inherent evil is based in her appearance. A woman is a thing, not a person.

    Apparently we are supposed to a) be beautiful. b) cover our bodies completely. c) not be in the presence of any man but our husband lest we cause temptation. and d) heaven forbid we open our mouths to speak.

    Which country did you say this gym was in again?

    I was raised in a religious environment created by men like this. Taught to feel ashamed of my body and cover myself as completely as possible for religious reasons. For a girl who is amply developed by the age of 10? This was a constant struggle and source of fear and self-loathing. But I slowly realized that – SURPRISE! – I am a person. And I can wear what I want to. And my body isn’t something to be ashamed of. And I wasn’t put on this earth to belong to someone or be an object.

    And you know what? My boobs aren’t evil.

    Man, I kind of feel like hitting something. But in a productive, it’s-good-to-remember-there-are-morons-out-there way. I hope they DO decide that going to the gym is too much temptation. Women shouldn’t be subjected to the presence of men like that.

    Comment by Marisa — July 10, 2012 @ 7:35 am

  10. And to clarify, I blame this on people, not God. I don’t think God gave me my body so that it should cause me fear and misery and the constant stress of how to make certain that it never be seen. It’s not there for creepy misogynist men to leer at and judge, either. It gets me through my life; my legs take me to amazing places in this gorgeous world, my arms allow me to help the people I love carry their burdens, my mind helps me make choices and actively engage in my world and try to contribute something. Our bodies are not objects to be judged by those men. They are a gift. And they are ours. And we are people, not belongings. And what we do with our bodies, and how we honor the gift of our lives by utilizing them in our journey? Should never, ever, have anything to do with what a bunch of ignorant, judgmental, and mentally underdeveloped men dictate.

    Men like that attempt to cheapen God’s creation by their limited view of it.

    Comment by Marisa — July 10, 2012 @ 7:45 am

  11. I want to be clear here myself because I’m waiting for the random stranger who comes along telling me I’m judging these men as much as they’re judging that woman.

    No, I’m not. And no, my readers are not. We’re not judging character or motives. We don’t know these men. We’re judging/analyzing what their comments seem to imply. They made them in public — all of them using their full identities — so one has to assume they’re fine taking ownership of their comments. Sometimes that means taking heat for things we say.

    To women, their comments imply certain things that they may not imply to many men, although I’d like to think that some men could also see that comment thread the way women see it. It’s a kind of soft-pedal, condescending misogyny at work here, applauding the “whore” for “strangely” changing her clothes. They can justify their judgment of her motives by pointing out their endorsement of her change of clothes, which to their minds, must necessarily equal a change of heart: “Look at us! We’re pro-her! We’re pro-her … umm … second choice!”

    As Kate P pointed out, she may well have put on more clothes because she was cold and for no other reason. It’s just condescending to assume the girl had a come-to-Jesus moment in her widdle whore heart and changed her clothes posthaste. It could have been motivated by something as simple as temperature. But regardless of how she’s dressed/not dressed, no man gets to regard her as a whore. NO man. Especially one who calls himself a Christian. And, again, why is his wife not calling him on this attitude? Since he seems to post regularly about women at the gym, if he were my husband, I’d be saying, “Uh, time to buy a weight set or an elliptical and work out at home because you’ve got some serious issues, Slappy.”

    If a man is regularly making fun of women at the gym in his FB posts, maybe he needs to check his heart and, duh, not go to the gym. Although, changing his physical location may not necessarily change his heart.

    And can I just say I want to say “AMEN!!” to every thing Marisa just said? It’s freakin’ brilliant.

    Comment by tracey — July 10, 2012 @ 2:23 pm

  12. Thanks. :) I appreciate that you never discourage how absurdly verbose I am.

    The other thing that I thought about after this sank in? People often communicate differently on Facebook. Because of the format, people will see and comment on threads from many different people in rapid fire. And they are careless. They don’t ask themselves, “Do I really MEAN this? Or do I just think I’m being funny or provocative – which will get me attention?”

    A lot of what these men wrote probably IS indicative of the unfortunate and rather ugly limitations of how they see women. But I wouldn’t be surprised if someone amongst them who had made an offhand comment would, later faced with an explanation as to how this sounds from the “outside,” be horrified.

    I have seen friends (who I know are good people) repost an ugly sentiment or joke and had to ask them, “Do you really think XYZ? Because this post implies that you do.” And almost invariably I find that they have rapid-fire reposted something and didn’t actually think about it and don’t wish to support the sentiment.

    I try (and sometimes fail, but I try) to imagine being a room full of the people who I have given access to my Facebook page when I post a status. And saying the status out loud to all of them.

    I would really like to see those men have the same exchange in a room with 200 or so of the people who COULD access and read that exchange on Facebook – their wives, sisters, daughters, neighbors. I’d really like to see the discomfort some (sadly not all) of them would experience if they were forced to face that. And perhaps some people in their lives would call them on their unbecoming attitude if these words were said in person – while it is easier to ignore and try to pretend they didn’t see it on Facebook?

    Comment by Marisa — July 11, 2012 @ 8:49 am

  13. Marisa — Good point, which I think dovetails nicely with what Katie said. There’s just a kind of randomness to FB interactions that allows people to …. I don’t know …. suffer from premature verbal ejaculation or something. So maybe that’s part of what’s going on here.

    Your last paragraph is a really good thing to keep in mind: Imagine saying those same things in person to a roomful of people. Would you say these things the same way? Would you even say them?

    And you are not “absurdly verbose”! You always add a lot to the conversation and I love that.

    Comment by tracey — July 11, 2012 @ 10:56 am

  14. That’s it! I’ve been holding out long enough and it seems like now is the right time to make this announcement. I will be soon releasing my Burka inspired workout clothing line for women. The release party will be epic, all FOC’ers are welcome.

    Comment by Brian — July 12, 2012 @ 11:36 am

  15. Brian — Hahahahahaha! You could put up a FB page with awesome Brian Photo-shopped creations that we could “Like.”

    Ohpleaseohplease do this. :-) (emoticon!!!)

    Comment by tracey — July 12, 2012 @ 11:46 am

  16. It makes me feel dirty just reading that. I know I’ve said this before, but here is what I hear from these men: They are phobic. Phobic about sex, certainly – but more specifically – phobic about women and how women are built. Our parts, etc.

    To me, this does not sound like a bunch of straight men.

    It sounds like a bunch of closeted gay men. Men so twisted by religion and self-hatred that they can never, ever, ever, be who they really are.

    Straight men, even those who try to resist temptation, don’t sound like this.

    Psychopaths sound like this. Vicious misogynists in Middle Eastern countries. And self-hating closeted gays who organize their lives around hiding their true identities.

    Comment by sheila — July 16, 2012 @ 9:38 am

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