As I remember the story, Noah Webster was caught by his wife making love to the maid. “I’m surprised,” she said angrily. “No,” he replied, being a well-known stickler for definitions, “I’m surprised by your entry. You’re shocked by my behavior.”
To be surprised is to be startled, or taken unaware. To be shocked involves judgment.
The first time I saw a bearded man in a dress was 40 years ago. There were four of them in what was called “Skag Drag” at the time. I was speaking on gay issues at the University of Michigan, and they walked in dramatically, and sat on the floor in front of me. I was startled by their entry, and I was shocked by their appearance. I had never seen hairy drag queens before, so it took a little while for me to sort through my thoughts on their gender expression.
A handsome, young, bearded man just won a major European singing competition. I was surprised that he won, because of what he wore, but not shocked by his appearance. He sang in a dress. Read more…