Feminist Friday–Creepy Behavior Is Creepy

Yes, I’m Going Rogue. The Transatlantic Blonde is on vacation, and without a deadline I got behind. True, it’s Sunday, but “Feminist Sunday” lacks a certain panache.  Besides, I didn’t really have a post topic specific enough to write about until basically today, and I was tired of glurging all over the computer. And then a few things that have been brewing in the skepticism movement about sexism and feminism bubbled to a pitch heated enough for me to actually sign in and comment on the Pharyngula blog and so I realized I did have some simple points to make about men and women and behavior in general.

Can't Help Being Creepy

At the end of this post is the wordy explanation for what convoluted path through the Internet inspired me to write today. Long story short, I am interested today in the simultaneous denial and justification of creepy behavior of men towards women, which is a topic I feel lends itself towards a numbered list.

We’ll start with a handy definition from a respectable dictionary:

creep (noun)
5. an unpleasant or obnoxious person

And here’s a follow-up from a less respectable dictionary:

Urban Dictionary
creep (noun)
3. a dude that trys way to hard with chicks, usually younger chicks. Also usually waits till the chicks are fucked up to take advantage of them

The Numbered List
1. If the very first thing you say to a stranger is something in the category of “I would like to isolate you,” you are being creepy (no matter where you are or what time it is). Examples from the category I Would Like to Isolate You include “Come to my hotel room for coffee” and “You wanna go out sometime?”

2. If the very first thing you say to a stranger is that you would like to isolate him or her and you say it when the two of you are alone, you are being creepy and aggressive.

3. If you both are alone and the person has no immediate avenue of escape, you are being creepy and aggressive and scary.

4. If your modus operandi has been to be creepy and yet you still have gotten results, you have been lucky enough to encounter people whose tolerance for creepy is very high, for any number of possible reasons that honestly you can’t know unless you asked. It doesn’t mean retroactively that you weren’t being creepy because the person didn’t call you out for it at the time.

5. If you perceive that the risk of being labeled “creepy” is outweighed by the benefits of possibly meeting someone via creepy tactics, at least gracefully accept the label of “creepy” when it is used to describe something you have done. If you don’t care about the opinions of the people who call you creepy, then don’t worry about it and don’t complain when they use the term. If you do care about the opinions of the people who call you “creepy” and if “creepy” is not a description that matches up with your self-image, reevaluate what you are doing. Ask the people whose opinions you care about for advice. Change your behavior.

In Conclusion
That’s it! That’s all I have to say about that. Thank you for reading.

(The Explanation of My Inspiration for This Post)
It all started a few weeks ago at the Skepchick blog, with this post: “About Mythbusters, Robot Eyes, Feminism, and Jokes.” Skepchick Rebecca Watson described an experience she had as a speaker at a conference in which she was cornered alone in a hotel elevator by a guy she’d never talked to before, who invited her up to his room. Stef McGraw of the UNI Freethinkers and Inquirers blog, addressed the Watson video here: “Fursdays wif Stef #32.” Rebecca Watson then mentioned McGraw by name and critiqued her blog post during a presentation at the CFI Student Leadership conference; Watson wrote about it here: “On Naming Names at the CFI Student Leadership Conference.” Discussion of this name naming has appeared in a lot of other places, too, and it was the Pharyngula (PZ Myers) blog post “Always Name Names!” that led to the blog post “The Decent Human Beings’ Guide to Getting Laid at Atheist Conferences” that led to me signing up and commenting there, and then posting about it here.

Although the conversation about whether or not it is appropriate to use keynote addresses to continue an Internet discussion is the primary topic among the bloggers writing about it, the conversation among the commenters of the various blog posts consistently devolves to whether it was appropriate for some stranger to hit on some other stranger in an elevator at 4:00 AM in the morning, and whether Watson is overreacting by sharing that anecdote in the first place. And there’s an awful lot of defense of anonymous Elevator Guy for being creepy, and a lot of denial that hitting on strangers in enclosed spaces is creepy, and a lot of accusations that feminists object to men being men and that if people can’t get dates the species will die out. There are the usual declarations of Bitches Be Hysterical and American Women Are Uptight and Shy Guys Have No Other Choice, and the requisite derailing and exceptions to the ruling and all kinds of other complications, and it is being argued as a case far more complicated than it is.

Part of what is complicating the discussion is that Feminist 102 topics of misogyny and rape culture are being misunderstood by people who do not comprehend Feminism 101 topics, and so even though the background of misogyny and rape culture are very, very relevant to the discussion of creepy behavior (from men towards women), I kept it simple and focused only on creepy behavior from one person to another. Yes, anyone can be a creep. But usually, it is men who are creepy, because it is men–thanks to aforementioned misogyny and rape culture–who move through life with the unacknowledged expectation that women owe them attention, and that they should not be criticized for asking for attention from any women at any time.

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  • chionactis  On July 3, 2011 at 7:11 pm

    I honestly hadn’t realized how creepy it could be for a guy to ask a girl out for a drink. But I can see the truth in what you say, especially if it is the very first thing the guy says. I guess the best bet is always to just strike up a conversation, try to determine from that if she is interested, and then ask her out.

    With one exception, the relationships I’ve been in have started as friendships and then quickly escalated from there. But the idea of going to a party and having a spontaneous fling with someone who is looking for casual sex is also appealing. Of course many guys in a party situation read things into a girl’s behavior that just aren’t there. It’s wishful/lustful thinking on the guy’s part and it results in creepy behavior. I guess girls can be creepy too, but not as often as guys. Some people seem to just naturally know if a member of the opposite sex is interested, and their degree of interest.

    I, however, can be socially inept (how do speed daters do it?), so thank you for sharing your perspective on this.

  • Karen  On July 3, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    Honestly, I don’t know how speed daters do it, either. They probably don’t overthink everything like I do!

  • STOPDcastration  On July 19, 2013 at 2:20 am

    Please clarify “trying to too hard.” Because I’m a guy and I’ve seen other men just state that a girl looks good in the clothing she wears or how good she smells and are called creep. Of course, they aren’t men you’d normally find in a Cosmo mag., GQ, or any other host of mags with handsome, chizeled models in them. Yet, the guys that fit the bill can say the same and worse…still have a chance. So, why tell men to have confidence to approach a women, if you find it creepy to even break the ice? I think creepy has been taken way out of context. UGLY or pointing out that your not attracted to them would have been less painful then to state that he was creep. Did I mention HONEST? Frankly, your not fooling anyone but yourselves. Yoiu know that if it were a man that you wanted the attention from saying the same cheap lines..you’d bite.

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