Thinking About “Creep”

Mod Note: The topic of this post is problems with the term “creep,” using “creep” in a non-gendered manner and creating a reasonable person standard for creepiness. The topic of this post is not feminism. Please take anything about feminism to the Open Thread.   

There has been a lot of thought in the gendersphere about the word “creep.” I have a complicated position on the issue, insofar as I simultaneously agree with and disagree with everyone.

Creep is a term very often used in a kyriarchial way. In theory, it is non-gendered; in practice, it all-too-often is. Male sexuality is often viewed as predatory and degrading, which means that a man expressing his sexuality– even in a way that would be perfectly acceptable for a woman– is often viewed as “creepy” or “gross.” In addition, men are typically thought to be incapable of not wanting sex, which means that even gross invasions of boundaries by women are sometimes not recognized as creepy.

However, it’s problematic in way more ways than just gender. It’s a kinkphobic term; kinky people’s sexuality, even when safely, consensually and joyfully expressed, is often called “creepy.” It’s a classist term, because it’s often applied to people of lower or lower-middle classes who aren’t “respectable” (not to mention homeless people, who are almost universally considered creepy). It’s an ableist term, applied to people with, for example, autism and Asperger’s syndrome; strange facial tics and odd grooming habits, often considered creepy, may be a sign of a mental illness the person cannot help. Heck, I have a friend who has been called creepy for being trans, which makes absolutely no fucking sense whatsoever.

Nevertheless, I do support the continued existence of the word “creep.” Very simply, we do need a word to express the concept “a person who makes other people feel uncomfortable or unsafe, especially in a sexualized way.”

Western culture encourages people of both typically male and typically female socialization to not firmly enforce their boundaries. Straight women are pressured to be nice, to be polite, to give him a chance, to not make a fuss. Straight men are told that having any boundaries around physical contact with women is unmasculine, since a real man ought to want sex with every woman who wants sex with him. Eliminating use of the word “creep” entirely removes one of our only ways of saying “this behavior violates my boundaries and is seriously Not Okay” with social approval.

Admittedly, we could choose a different word, less laden with baggage, to discuss people who make other people feel uncomfortable or unsafe, especially in a sexualized way. However, I don’t think that will solve the problem. People will just use the new term to shame people in an ableist, classist, kinkphobic, sexist and kyriarchial way, because guess what? We live in an ableist, classist, kinkphobic, sexist and kyriarchal society! Changing the word is a Band-Aid solution.

Ultimately, the solution is to end the kyriarchy. For a more… short-term… solution, the thing to do is to examine your use of the term. Obviously, in the moment, “this person is creeping me out” is as far as you need to go; if you feel creeped out or afraid, leave the situation, don’t sit there examining your use of the term for traces of ableism. However, it’s a good idea to look for patterns in whom you call “creeps.” Have you called every homeless guy creepy, including the one who was sleeping on the bench and not interacting with you at all? Do you think that people with facial tics, even ones they cannot control, are creepy? Do you think the sexualities of some people, such as men or kinky people, are inherently creepy? Do you not describe women doing creepy behavior as creepy? That’s problematic.  

One critique that Hugh Ristik, among others, has made of “creep” that I think is actually valid is that it is a very vague term: creepy refers to any behavior that could make a person feel uncomfortable or unsafe. Unfortunately, nearly any behavior could theoretically make a person feel uncomfortable or unsafe. A survivor of horrific rape and abuse might feel uncomfortable or unsafe whenever a strange person talks to him or her, even if that person is just asking the time. That doesn’t mean the survivor has to keep talking to the time-asking person, or that the time-asking person should ignore the survivor’s negative body language, but it also doesn’t mean that no one should ever ask the time from anyone else.  

Therefore, I propose the Reasonable Person Standard of creepiness. A behavior is creepy if it would make a reasonable person with only an average amount of trauma feel uncomfortable or unsafe, especially in a sexual way. Behavior that would probably qualify as creepy under this scheme includes:

  • Continuing to talk to someone, especially a stranger or acquaintance, who has negative body language (closed up, frozen, shaking head, looking away, responding in monosyllables) or says they would not like to talk to you.
  • Hitting on a stranger in an enclosed environment (such as a moving vehicle), a deserted area or very late at night.
  • Telling a stranger how much you’d like to fuck them as your opening line.
  • Sending a person you went out on a date with thirty emails and ten phone calls.
  • Pressuring a person into physical contact (anything from a handshake to sex) they don’t want.
  • Hitting on people who are likely to feel pressured into saying yes, such as teenagers (if you are over the age of 21) or students or employees.
  • Taking someone out on something that is not a date, which you plan on turning into a date.
  • “Accidentally” turning up in the psychology class, coffeeshop or laundromat of the person you have a crush on.
  • Only talking to people you want to fuck at a party.
  • Poor social skills in general. (Have I recommended SucceedSocially enough yet?)

Et cetera.

In addition, I think there are attitudes that could probably be considered “creepy attitudes.” Viewing every conversation as a means to obtain sex. Thinking of potential romantic partners as games that if only you knew the secret code you could obtain. Being angry that you deserve sex with an attractive member of the correct gender and why is the universe not providing it. Some of these are totally natural attitudes (anger is natural when everyone around you seems to be in love and you’re still alone and lonely and if you died the only person who would notice was your cat, and that only as a food source); however, they are also not productive.

It’s important to note that this standard applies to people who are afraid of being creepy, not people who are currently creeped out. If your gut says “don’t trust this person,” don’t think “well, he hasn’t done anything on Ozy’s Creep List”; think “how can I communicate firmly to this person that I don’t want to talk to them/hug them/go home with them/get in their white van with the candy?” However, as a way to keep other people from being creeped out, I think my definition works the best.

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148 Responses to Thinking About “Creep”

  1. Taking someone out on something that is not a date, which you plan on turning into a date.

    So … what’s a date?

    “Accidentally” turning up in the psychology class, coffeeshop or laundromat of the person you have a crush on.
    Only talking to people you want to fuck at a party.

    Whoops.

    In seriousness, I think it’s cool to try and actually find some observed behaviors that are creepy, rather than continuing with the vague advice that’s been offered so far. But I think there’s probably going to be a lot of trouble coming up with a “reasonable person” standard.

  2. Don’t “Accidentally” turn up where someone is likely to be? Sounds Schroedinger-y to me…

  3. Sasha says:

    I think this can be a contentious topic, because we’re dealing with how people ~feel~. Telling someone they should not feel uncomfortable about something just doesn’t work. Emotions can be far removed from reality. This is where the logic of egalitarianism bumps again ingrained feelings and emotions about things we haven’t quite let go of. I certainly think that as an individual feeling uncomfortable about things is fine, and natural, and shouldn’t be fought/felt guilty about. I do think it’s essential to examine why something makes you feel uncomfortable honestly, though. Decide if it’s something you need to change or work through.

  4. f. says:

    I have so many Feelings about this issue, I don’t even know where to start.

    I’ll just say that personally I am unattached to the word “creepy” – it’s unspecific, and I think it serves as a marker for places in our lives where we really should feel comfortable explicitly saying “I don’t feel comfortable with this”; “I don’t think that person is safe to be around”; “I do not want to continue this conversation”; “stop touching me”. Creepy is a catch-all term for things that we should be parsing more carefully, but we don’t, because our culture teaches us that physical and emotional boundaries are unimportant and “no” is not a real word in our vocabulary.

    Maybe I’ll say more later, but that really depends on what direction this thread takes. I look forward to reading everyone’s thoughts.

  5. typhonblue says:

    @ Ozy

    I would add another to your list of ‘creepy attitudes’: Believing your sexuality or your touch is always wanted and a universal good.

  6. BlackHumor says:

    As usual the answer is to maintain the distinction between “you are acting creepy” and “you are a creep”.

    People are, as a rule, too complex to be reduced to nouns like “a creep” or “a racist”. People can act creepy or racist, but only very rarely is anyone so completely creepy that they can honestly be described as “a creep”.

  7. GemmaM says:

    I was never very good at using the word ‘creepy’, perhaps because it always felt like calling people names. But I can remember, as a teen, realising that ‘creepy’ was a really useful word for some of my peers, for precisely the reason you describe: it was a socially acceptable way of expressing discomfort with people who overstep boundaries. I like that you’ve acknowledged that, and I think that for some people, examining and unpacking the way they use the word ‘creepy’ could be a good way to question some of the more prejudiced ways the word can be used (or not used), while still keeping the ability to use it as a way of identifying and maintaining ones own boundaries.

  8. Pingback: Pressured and Told By Whom? « Clarissa's Blog

  9. Jim says:

    That’s a very important proviso, BH. I really, really hate the moral equivalent of the One Drop Rule. I do believe in the utter depravity of human nature; actually it’s not a belief but an observation. But we have to find a way to go on living, and with each other. That means we have to either be willing to cut a lot of slack or maybe just take the time to do what oyu ar esuggesting – look at the totality of the person.

  10. kenshiroit says:

    Creep is a subjective term, that applyes to a specific situation, a person coming out from a dark alley or a wood asking for direction can be labelled as a creep. But only in that particular situation. The term is not a stereotype for that said person (misunderstaning happens all the time) so in simtesis the C word is indicative of any caracter, since everybody in the arch of our lifes can have that term attached at least in one or more occasion (from the pope, to the president to your mother to yourself ect). Basically every action that moves out of the social norms can be labelled as creep. All depending by the situation.

    Personally I find a connection between mobbing, bullying and the social mark as creep. Its the way society try to enforce humans into narrow social rules. And perhaps is more indicative of the accusers caracter than the accused. But, carefull here, I agree on Ozys defense of the creep word, we all may find us in the position to use it, but there are some people who are so intollerant of differences, that every possible form for colorfull behaviour get pointed out as C (he wears red pants….creep! she looks like a man…creep! he loves cat’s creep and gay ect)…

  11. ozymandias42 says:

    Typhon: Good one!

    Simon: No, it’s not. Figuring out the public place where someone is going to be and then turning up there accidentally-on-purpose is creepy behavior; it’s low-level stalking. Admittedly it may sometimes be difficult for the stalkee to know they’re being stalked, but that doesn’t make the behavior less creepy.

    BlackHumor: An excellent point about the difference between “creepy” and “creep.”

  12. Danny says:

    Simon: “Don’t “Accidentally” turn up where someone is likely to be? Sounds Schroedinger-y to me…”

    Ozy: “No, it’s not. Figuring out the public place where someone is going to be and then turning up there accidentally-on-purpose is creepy behavior; it’s low-level stalking. Admittedly it may sometimes be difficult for the stalkee to know they’re being stalked, but that doesn’t make the behavior less creepy.”

    I think this might be an example of what Sasha was saying. Sure Ozy is right that there are circumstances in which it is creepy but just the same Simon is right that there are circumstances in which its Schroedinger-y. But when talking about how people feel how can you push through the idea that creepy and creep should not be used as a catch all description for the slightest bit of discomfort regardless of justification?

    I’ll have to marinate on your list of Reasonable Person Standards a bit more but at first look it seems to me that some of those items, from the perspective of someone that’s afraid of being creepy, may be a bit unreasonable.

  13. Schala says:

    Someone with less social skills?

    Saying I’m probably going to be creeping people is not really an incentive to want to meet people (for the record, I currently have 0 friends and 0 acquaintances if I don’t count my family, where I’m fairly close to one brother and my mother).

  14. f. says:

    @Danny, could you provide an example?

    I am a little uncomfortable with proposing lists of things that “are creepy” but ozy’s list appears to me to be a list of reasonable etiquette things.

  15. Sasha says:

    Sorry for double commenting, but a thought’s occured: what exactly is so wrong with using the phrase ““a person who makes other people feel uncomfortable or unsafe, especially in a sexualized way.” when that’s what you mean?

    Why isn’t “you’re making me uncomfortable, stop it.” as effective as “oh god, he’s such a creep.” ? As it’s been mentioned upthread, creep can assume a tone of insult in certain circumstances, can be used to back prejudice. In some ways the flexibility of the term can make it a less honest one. I’m still trying to put my finger on exactly why “he’s such a creep” is much more incisive than “you’re making me uncomfortable”.

  16. typhonblue says:

    ” I’m still trying to put my finger on exactly why “he’s such a creep” is much more incisive than “you’re making me uncomfortable”.”

    Because one is directly addressing the behavior when it happens and is an aspect of mature self respect and assertiveness.

    The other is gossiping about another human being which is a form of relational aggression. In itself a very, very creepy behavior.

  17. machina says:

    I agree that it appears to be a vague term. I think that is because calling someone a creep is expressing doubt. It is not expressing that someone is an unambiguous threat nor that they are simply awkward. Creep is generally used when something appears ambiguously threatening. Because it is expressing doubt and ambiguity it is very difficult to talk about reasonably.

  18. ozymandias42 says:

    Hmm… I actually don’t mind the shaming aspect of “creepy.” (I say this, full disclosure, as someone who has been called creepy). Being creepy is a bad thing. It makes other people feel bad. It is okay to shame people for doing bad things; it is not okay to shame people for doing things that harm no one. “Rapists can’t get laid” is very different from “Magic the Gathering players can’t get laid,” you know?

  19. Pingback: The Definition of Creepiness « Clarissa's Blog

  20. Sasha says:

    “Because one is directly addressing the behavior when it happens and is an aspect of mature self respect and assertiveness.

    The other is gossiping about another human being which is a form of relational aggression. In itself a very, very creepy behavior.”

    Exactly! Why is the latter behaviour taken…more seriously, I guess? More effective in getting someone to pay attention to their behaviour? If you want a closer comparison there’s “you’re being creepy” as opposed to the suggested “he’s such a creep”. I’m not sure if this means insults work better than rational thought, or that how you’re seen by people at large (creep) matters more than how you’re making a specific someone feel.

  21. Hugh Ristik says:

    Ozymandias, thanks for speaking up in a sensible way on this subject.

    However, it’s problematic in way more ways than just gender. It’s a kinkphobic term; kinky people’s sexuality, even when safely, consensually and joyfully expressed, is often called “creepy.”

    As I mentioned in this comment, I found it very strange that the Pervocracy creep article mentions how kinky people are seen as creepy, yet doesn’t consider that perception a reason to critique the word. Instead, she places the onus on men to avoid being creepy. Perhaps next we can get guides for kinky, queer, and trans people on how not to creep out mainstream people.

    Heck, I have a friend who has been called creepy for being trans, which makes absolutely no fucking sense whatsoever.

    Actually, it does make sense in the world of subjectivity uber alles that “creep” creates. The notion that trans people’s sexuality is gross is similar in some ways to the notion that an unattractive-but-harmless heterosexual man’s sexuality is gross. In both cases, someone can be uncomfortable about the idea of the person they are unattracted to (either a trans person, or heterosexual man) might make an advance on them, or they could even be uncomfortable looking at them.

    Of course, there are plenty of differences underlying transphobia and misandry: the point is that there is some overlap. For instance, look at the character Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs, where the evilness of his male sexuality is related to the portrayal of him as a “gender deviant.”

    There is a wide cultural discourse that links male sexuality, kinky sexuality, gender “deviancy”, and criminality together in various combinations. The word “creep” invokes this discourse.

    Someone might argue that the word “creep” is more justified when used by women towards men, because men are more likely to be pushy or to violate their boundaries. (If so, this only would potentially justify using the word creepy towards men who make women feel unsafe, which is much narrower than the current usage of the word.) Yet this same reasoning would justify heterosexual men calling queer men “creepy,” since some queer men do push heterosexual men’s boundaries.

    Nevertheless, I do support the continued existence of the word “creep.” Very simply, we do need a word to express the concept “a person who makes other people feel uncomfortable or unsafe, especially in a sexualized way.”

    We need two words, not one. The problem with the word “creep” is that it lumps “uncomfortable” and “unsafe” together. Yet those feelings are absolutely not the same thing! You can feel uncomfortable without feeling unsafe. We don’t really have a term for that.

    Perhaps the closest is the term “Average Frustrated Chump” (AFC) from pickup. It’s understood that if a woman is being hit on by an AFC, she will be uncomfortable because she won’t be attracted to him. AFC is still stigmatizing, but it’s less stigmatizing than “creep” because it doesn’t imply that the person being labeled is a potential harasser or molester waiting to happen.

    There is an inherent problem with placing a label on another person to describe our own reaction, when it’s a reaction that varies widely. As BlackHumor suggested, saying that “I felt creeped out” is less stigmatizing than saying “you were creepy.”

  22. Sasha says:

    “It is okay to shame people for doing bad things; it is not okay to shame people for doing things that harm no one.”

    In a world where the word creep can mean both of these things, is it fair that both groups tend to be tarred with the exact same brush, though? Moreover, is using the word “creep” promoting this? I myself am still trying to come to conclusion about these questions.

    Creep sort of reminds me of “pervert” in the way that the definition only really means: “A person whose behaviour deviates from what is acceptable especially in sexual behaviour.” something that can technically encompass completely awesome, cool and consensual kinky times, but the connotation on the word itself can get pretty negative.

  23. f. says:

    @typhon, Sasha, I completely agree.

    Gather round, it’s time for an anecdote from my part time bartending gig.

    So we had this customer who had been kind of a low level annoyance for a few months – the men on our team would describe him as “irritating” and the women as “kinda creepy”, but our discussions about him never went farther than that. We would all just agree that yes, this guy was creepy, we weren’t a big fan of his, but oh well amirite? Creepiness happens.

    Then we got together for last month’s employee meeting and our boss mentioned that he’d heard a few scattered complaints about that creepy guy, and wanted to hear what we had experienced (to clarify, we all work seperate shifts).

    Disturbingly enough a 15 minute series of anecdotes followed. He had harassed one of the barkeepers by publicly claiming they’d slept together, which was untrue. He’d offered foot massages to women he barely knew. He’d tried to pick a fight with another regular by making awful comments about the other guy’s girlfriend. Every time some sort of incident (raised voices, fight, belligerent customer) occured when he was there, he would try to gain control of the situation as if it were his own personal bar. He’d insisted on trying to buy drinks for people who had turned him down multiple times, all night.

    The thing was that each of us on the team had been witness to only one-sixth of the incidents, so all each of us had was a vague sense of “creepiness” about the guy, and no sense that action needed to be taken. Once all of the stories were actually articulated? We unanimously, permanently banned him from returning to the bar.

    There is power in specificity.

  24. Sasha says:

    @f.

    Aaah, yes, that is exactly it, thank you. When being a “creep” can range from looking shifty and having poor social skills, to one of the things on ozy’s list (some of which are pretty close to harrasment, context pending) to out-and-out harrasment, there is a problem. “You/they are making me uncomfortable.” is an opening for a conversation. A conversation to figure out if what you’re feeling is a reaction to legitimate problem or a deeply rooted bit of irrational or discrimintory thinking. It’s a conversation that is heading for a solution, while “creep” seems like an indirect and frankly juvenile way to deal with a range of behaviours.

    Since I’m feeling uncharitable, I can draw parallels to the use of the word “creep” to shame/change someone’s behaviours to Cosmopolitan like advice. Want your boyfriend to play with your breasts? Don’t actually tell him, dribble chocolate sauce on your chest and hope he gets the message!

  25. typhonblue says:

    @ Sasha

    “Don’t actually tell him, dribble chocolate sauce on your chest and hope he gets the message!”

    The stickiness! It burns!

    Are we sure that Cosmo isn’t just trolling its readers?

  26. Hugh Ristik says:

    @Ozymandias,

    “Rapists can’t get laid” is very different from “Magic the Gathering players can’t get laid,” you know?

    Yet men in both categories will get creep-shamed, as we learned from Bereznakgate. Alyssa Bereznak found herself on a date with a Magic world champion. She doesn’t use the word “creep” outright, but she shames him for having gone out with some of her co-workers, and because he failed to disclose that he was a Magic world champion:

    This is what happens, I thought, when you lie in your online profile. I was lured on a date thinking I’d met a normal finance guy, only to realise he was a champion dweeb in hedge funder’s clothing.

    I later found out that he infiltrated his way into OKCupid dates with at least two other people I sort of know, including one of my co-workers. Mothers, warn your daughters! This could happen to you. You’ll think you’ve found a normal bearded guy with a job, only to end up sharing goat cheese with a world champion of nerds. Maybe I’m an OKCupid arsehole for calling it that way. Maybe I’m shallow for not being able to see past his world title. But if everyone stopped lying in their profiles, maybe there also wouldn’t be quite as many OKCupid horror stories to tell.

    This is not an article from the Onion; it’s real. I’m not a fan of his choice in entertainment (a one-man play about Jeffrey Dahmer), but her main objection to him seems to be that he failed to disclose his horrible crime of being a “champion dweeb” before they even had their first date. “Mothers, warn your daughters!” is classic creep-shaming, which portrays him as a potential threat, even if it’s tongue-in-cheek.

    When the creep concept encompasses everything from a Magic champion to a rapist, maybe it’s a little too broad.

  27. Sasha says:

    I’ve had my suspicions. I mean, imagine the ideal Cosmo relationship. How is that not just a funny joke? 😛

  28. typhonblue says:

    Wow Hugh, that sounds like all the stuff I used to read about women being ‘stealth fatties’ in their online ads and somehow extorting dates out of normal guys.

  29. typhonblue says:

    @ Sasha

    >I mean, imagine the ideal Cosmo relationship.

    If they take the darkly abusive Cosmo advice seriously? Sociopaths.

  30. Titfortat says:

    Being creepy is a bad thing. It makes other people feel bad. (Ozy)

    You cant be serious? Obviously you are only thinking from what your perspective thinks is creepy. I know many people who would think transexuals are creepy. We both know that is not a good thing, right?

  31. L says:

    My vote is to bring back the word “rude”. It seems appropriate to use that word when it comes to “creepiness” that isn’t threatening, I guess. Someone above mentioned that there’s a difference between “uncomfortable” and “unsafe”, but I think using “uncomfortable” in that context is a little erroneous… don’t both of them have the connotation of being threatened, which is mostly what using the word creep alludes to? Maybe “put-off” would be more accurate.

    I agree with Sasha, though. It’s one thing to try and identify and clarify word usage, but it’s another thing entirely to tell people how to feel–if someone is threatened by something, then they’re threatened by it. They can come back later to analyze the whys and wherefores, but all the retroactive analysis isn’t going to change how they felt and what words seemed appropriate to describe it in the moment, nor is it guaranteed to change how they behave the next time they are put on the spot like that.

  32. Danny says:

    Heck, I have a friend who has been called creepy for being trans, which makes absolutely no fucking sense whatsoever.
    In addition to what Hugh said in a bigoted mind the “reason” is that a transgender person (especially a transgender woman) is really a man in disguise trying to prey on innocent women.

    @f:
    Only talking to people you want to fuck at a party.
    On one hand I can see how this can be perceived as creepy however on the other I’m not sure it could be said that its reasonable to say that one who only talks to people they want to fuck at a party really constitutes creepy. Or perhaps I should ask what’s the difference between being only interested in casual sex and being creepy? This behavior seems like it could be either. Maybe Ozy is talking about how that person is talking to those they want to fuck at a party and how they are being dismissive of the other people at the party?

    Poor social skills in general
    Maybe I’m jumping the gun on this one but its seems like calling socially awkwardness creepy is a bit preemptive. (That “unattractive-but-harmless heterosexual man” that Hugh speaks of comes to mind.)

  33. PsyConomics says:

    f. Said:
    “… There is power in specificity. …”
    Ozymandias42 Said:
    “… could probably be considered ‘creepy attitudes.’… Being angry that you deserve sex with an attractive member of the correct gender and why is the universe not providing it….”

    I guess, I find myself concerned that Ozymandias’ statement, as it is, lacks a certain specificity that could help better get at the construct that I *think* Ozymandias is trying to reach.

    In general, I find myself hesitant to call simple frustration or anger at a temporary/prolonged/whatever inability to satisfy one’s intimate needs “creepy.” Everyone (perhaps baring certain philosophical extremes) deserves a loving, fulfilling relationship. Feelings of depression, or anxiety, or anger, or hopelessness, or sadness if said relationship cannot be found are to be expected, and should be given a safe space within which to be worked through.

    What I would be happy to give the label “creepy” to is the sentiment “I am angry that I cannot get sex, therefore YOU should be providing me with it.” Once that anger is targeted at an individual and turns into a sense of “entitlement” then it is no longer a defendable emotion. I think this situation is what Ozymandias had in mind. Not just general frustration, anger, or sadness but the specific demand on an individual that might sometimes arise from it.

    Of course, if I am completely wrong, please correct me.

  34. Thrasymachus says:

    My main issue with the term is that it is too subjective. The same behavior that would get the average frustrated chump labeled as a creep can be viewed as wonderfully romantic if the woman is attracted to the man. It is essential to distinguish between people who are unattractive, those who lack social skills and those who pose a potential danger to others.

    For example, “only talking to people you want to fuck at a party” may be an indication of emotional shallowness, but it’s not obvious why it should be considered creepy. Similarly, I agree that “hitting on people who are likely to feel pressured into saying yes, such as teenagers (if you are over the age of 21) or students or employees” can be problematic. However, given (a) the inevitability of hierarchies in any complex society; and (b) the number of consensual long-term relationships, including marriage, between professors and students or managers and employees, we need to tread carefully before imposing blanket bans. All this suggests that we have to create a more flexible vocabulary to describe the range of actions listed in the OP.

  35. ballgame says:

    I agree with a lot of the comments here. Though I appreciate the intent behind ozy’s post, it seems to me — at first glance, at least — that the list in the OP is overly broad (particularly the last four items or so).

    To echo what a number of others have said, I think there’s need to be a strong distinction between:

    “I felt creeped-out by [X behavior].” Almost always justified. Your feelings are your own, and are never “wrong,” even though there may be occasions when such feelings are generated by attitudes you yourself may sense to be wrong in some way (i.e. a prejudice).

    “[X behavior] was/is a creepy thing to do.” Sometimes justified, but I feel like there should be some kind of litmus test to remove the objective creepiness of a particular behavior from the perception of the person doing it, i.e. “Would I still feel genuinely creeped out by this behavior if it were George Clooney or Tom Brady* doing it?” I strongly suspect that this question — answered honestly — would eliminate a lot of supposedly “creepy” behavior. Do people here really believe that the typical heterosexual cisgendered female would be creeped out to discover that Jake Gyllenhaal had “accidently” shown up at her laundromat?

    “That person is a creep.” Rarely justified, and is so tightly bound up with widely-prevalent and toxic anti-male attitudes that I think the attribution should be avoided by gender egalitarians in most instances.

    * Obviously I’m using stereotypical examples here … feel free to substitute David Bowie, Sheryl Swoopes, or whoever else floats your boat!

  36. Uncalledfor says:

    Yet another chance to link to the excellent and underappreciated Miguel Bloomfontosis:

    http://emporiasexus.wordpress.com/2011/07/17/hitting-on-women-in-elevators-and-subway-exits/

    Really, read the whole blog archive; it’s worth your time.

  37. ozymandias42 says:

    Hugh and TitforTat: Maybe it wasn’t obvious, but when I said that “creepy makes people feel bad, and so is bad” I was referring to the “would make a reasonable person feel uncomfortable and/or unsafe” definition of creepy, not the “what people call creepy” definition of creepy. I find it rather difficult to figure out a context in which the bare fact that someone is a world champion Magic player or a transsexual would make a reasonable person feel uncomfortable or unsafe. (For the record, my opinion on the Bereznak situation is basically this: http://www.starcitygames.com/magic/misc/22786_To_My_Someday_Daughter.html)

    I also think that Average Frustrated Chump is a really bad word for creepy, because creepy people are not average (the vast majority of the human race is not creepy), because it is even more strongly gendered masculine than creep is (there are female creeps! I was one!) and because it conflates creepy people and people who don’t get laid a lot (many people who don’t get laid as much as they’d like are not creepy, and some people who do get laid a lot are).

    L: Yeah, but rude also refers to “won’t eat with mouth closed” and “tells entire bus loudly about asshole boss on cell phone,” both of which are rather different from “this person won’t stop talking to me and ohmigodisthatahandreachingformyknee.”

    Danny: I think, in general, it’s pretty obvious and rather creepy if someone’s sole purpose in coming to a party is “getting in someone else’s pants.” If someone is into redheads with glasses, and only talks to redheads with glasses, and blows off the people of incompatible orientation at the party while paying a lot of attention to any redhead with glasses… yeah, that is kind of creepy, I think.

    Poor social skills is… problematic, I’ll admit, especially since there are lots of people with poor social skills who are awkward, but not creepy. I will say that, as a person with poor social skills myself, if you have them it’s a lot easier to misread a situation or accidentally creep someone out without meaning to.

    PsyConomics: Yes

    ballgame: Maybe I’m a weird female-bodied person, but I would be creeped out by even someone I found extremely attractive showing up in a bunch of places I was going to be, since that is basically low-level stalking behavior. That was also one of the things I did most when I was creepy (eavesdrop on conversation, discover Guy X is going to Club Meeting Y, show up at Club Y meeting purely because he was there).

    Otherwise, I do like your distinction.

  38. Darque says:

    Honestly Ozy, I don’t think there is a reasonable person’s standards of creepiness. Half the things on that list I wouldn’t find creepy if they were done to me, and a couple in particular (the final two) are evidence of poor social skills, but not creepiness.

    Also, by all means we should encourage people to use whatever language they want in these situations. If a woman describes me as creepy when I’ve done nothing to deserve that label, it’s just a good way of me knowing who the assholes are.

    By the way, what do we mean by “justifiable” feelings? Justifiable to me? Justifiable to you? To the majority of onlookers? Why do we take it as an axiom that, in this situation, all “feelings” are justified? More importantly, why should I care ?

  39. Hugh Ristik says:

    This is a decent article on sexism in gamer culture, but it’s a bad article on Bereznakgate. In his drive to show his superiority to the sorts of sexist male gamers that he used to be, he glosses over some of the factors that are genuinely objectionable about her original article.

    Bereznak rejection of Finkel was fair. She shouldn’t need to “give him a chance” if she doesn’t want to. That being said, her assessment of Finkel is not fair. Tait doesn’t acknowledge this unfairness, and even justifies it:

    “Did he still play? ‘Yes.’ Strike one. How often? ‘I’m preparing for a tournament this weekend.’ Strike two. Who did he hang out with? ‘I’ve met all my best friends through Magic.’ Strike three.”

    It was Anne Forsythe’s article that really crystallized in my mind the truth that these questions, and the conclusions Alyssa drew from them, are totally legitimate and within her rights. More than that, they don’t represent shallowness but a preemptive strike against being treated like a mere accessory.

    They would be legitimate… if her goal wasn’t to go out with hedge fund guys. Tait is projecting reasoning into Bereznak’s article that isn’t present. She doesn’t reject him because she thinks he’s going to be unavailable during dating, because she wants to date an equally unavailable and obsessed class of guys. She rejects him because she considers his occupation and hobby low status, so low status that she thinks he was a bad person for not disclosing it, and so sinister that other people need to be warned about him.

    Tait doesn’t really get it, because he is too busy White-Knighting. He does have a good point about sexism in gamer culture, and in some of the responses to Bereznak. Yet he inaccurately paints some of the objections to her article as sexism or denial of her right to determine her partners, when really they are criticizing the unfairness of her evaluation of Finkel.

  40. elementary_watson says:

    It’s interesting that ballgame mentioned Jake Gyllenhaal as “non-creepy”, because, well, Donnie Darko! (For those who haven’t seen the movie: Gyllenhaal is awesomely creepy in that movie.)

    It got me thinking a little bit about other actors playing creepy on screen, and how the character doesn’t have to *do* anything creepy, but just go into “creepy-mode” – turn on creepy gaze, creepy smile, creepy body language (or, for a totally other kind of creepy, behave completely emotionless; especially effective for children, think of the twin sisters in “The Shining”).

    Which made me realize that “creepiness” is often the counterpart to “charm” – many actors can simply switch on their charm or their creepiness, depending on what the situation calls for. When one approaches a stranger saying “Hi”, one can do so charmingly or creepily (of course, those aren’t the only ways to do so), and though the objective action is the same, the response will be totally different. In the end, however, both charm and (this kind of) creepiness are actually only skin deep and do not really reflect on the character.

  41. f. says:

    @ozy, I agree that average people are, in my experience, neither deeply sexually frustrated, nor chumps, nor creepy. That type of conflation really bothers me.

    @ballgame, the whole “but you’d be ok with it if attractive dreamboy x did it!” line of argument is really unconvincing. Personally, I kind of suspect that argument’s a stand-in for our sense that we saw someone do it in a movie, and everything worked out for that couple, so why isn’t it ok in real life? But so often, romantic plots contain behavior that seriously is not acceptable in real life…

    The other thing is that this goes back to something typhon mentioned earlier, the idea that one thing that’s creepy is when someone treats their sexuality as an absolute good and expects everyone to enjoy it. That rings very true to me – not least because that is a type of behavior I’ve seen from very attractive people of both genders. In fact, the guy that I mentioned in this thread who we ended up banning from the bar is a pretty good George Clooney stand-in… sharp dresser, appealing facial features, in shape, obviously well-off in the work world, full of interesting stories to tell. And yet I assure you that when he attempted to give me a 20€ bill as a tip, it wasn’t ok; when he tried for the third time to tell the cute college girls at the bar that he wanted to buy their next round, it wasn’t ok; when he texted my friend to say that he’d seen her arguing with her boyfriend and would be happy to lend her a sympathetic ear, it wasn’t ok. I mean, this guy did get phone numbers and probably pick up women during his escapades, he just made 80% of the “average hetero women” in the room deeply uncomfortable at the same time.

  42. f. says:

    @Danny, I’m with ozy on the “only talking to people you want to fuck” thing being rather transparent a lot of the time, and that it’s something I would personally find creepy. I mean, being interested in casual sex and going to a party in the hopes of something happening is completely fine! Entering the room and being completely on the prowl for dick/pussy though… well it may be ok in very specific types of bars or parties, but whenever I’m the target of that type of behavior, I take the nearest route to far, far away from the person who’s acting that way.

  43. Ampersand says:

    “Would I still feel genuinely creeped out by this behavior if it were George Clooney or Tom Brady* doing it?” I strongly suspect that this question — answered honestly — would eliminate a lot of supposedly “creepy” behavior. Do people here really believe that the typical heterosexual cisgendered female would be creeped out to discover that Jake Gyllenhaal had “accidently” shown up at her laundromat?

    Do you literally mean George Clooney, or do you just mean someone as good-looking as Clooney?

    I’m pretty sure virtually all of the women I know would be creeped out if they found out they were being stalked by even a really good-looking guy.

    * * *

    A lot of being genuinely creepy is being someone who either genuinely doesn’t pick up negative signals, or chooses to overlook negative signals. The situation of being stalked by a mega-star who you don’t even know is actually, in its way, even creepier.

    Person “A” (who is flirting with someone and getting positive signals) and person “B” (who is flirting with someone and getting negative signals) might be saying and doing exactly the same things. “B” is still being creepy because he’s ignoring the negative signals. So insofar as good-looking people get positive signals more often, they have fewer opportunities to act like creeps.

    That said, I’ve heard many good-looking people described as being creepy, so it’s not an absolute.

  44. Ampersand says:

    Man, I wish I could edit comments — the sentence about being stalked by a mega-star should have been in the previous paragraph. Oh well.

  45. ballgame says:

    ozy, f., & Amp: I feel like you’ve all shifted the goalposts on me here (a little with ozy, a lot with Amp). ozy’s original example was:

    “Accidentally” turning up in the psychology class, coffeeshop OR laundromat of the person you have a crush on.

    (Emphasis added.)

    I took that as a one-time thing, and I don’t think maneuvering once (or maybe twice?) to ‘accidentally” be in the same space as someone you’re attracted to is creepy. That definitely isn’t “stalking” as Amp has revised the scenario to be, or as ozy either revised or clarified her example later (“showing up in A BUNCH of places I was going to be”). I think, in fact, I’m close to being on the same page as ozy on this specific issue in terms of, if you are frequently maneuvering to “accidentally” be in the same space as your potential partner, then I do think that’s disconcerting and possibly ‘red flag’-type behavior (and becomes stalking at some point). But that wasn’t how the original example came across. Replace the original “OR” with “AND” and the situation looks different to me.

    @ballgame, the whole “but you’d be ok with it if attractive dreamboy x did it!” line of argument is really unconvincing. Personally, I kind of suspect that argument’s a stand-in for our sense that we saw someone do it in a movie, and everything worked out for that couple, so why isn’t it ok in real life? But so often, romantic plots contain behavior that seriously is not acceptable in real life…

    It’s got nothing to do with movies, f. I do, in fact, think that women’s standards of “creepiness” will vary with the perceived status/attractiveness of the man doing the behavior. But note, I am NOT saying that “high status males will never be thought to be creepy.” Your example from the bar was good one: an example of a conventionally attractive male whose behavior made people uncomfortable. I think your reaction was reasonable in that case. But I strongly suspect that a lot of women will label a low-status male’s initiating behavior with them to be “creepy” when they would have been OK with a high-status male doing the same thing, and that is not legitimate in my view.

  46. superglucose says:

    @F the more you post the more I want to know you. in a not creepy “hey this is my friend F” sort of way.

    Anyways. yeah that’s kind of dead on, though I will say that showing outside the psych class once (say you wanted to ask taht person out but that was the only connecition you had because youre’ me and you ALWAYS forget to ask their number) probably isn’t creepy.

  47. Adiabat says:

    “Therefore, I propose the Reasonable Person Standard of creepiness.”

    And no doubt you think that you know what this would entail. The problem is: so does everyone else. That’s why we have 12 people on a Jury who need to decide together whether there is or isn’t “reasonable doubt”.

    If you drew 12 people from the general population do you really believe they would form a consensus on a “Reasonable Person Standard of creepiness” when there is disagreement on this very thread of similarly minded people?

    Amp: “lot of being genuinely creepy is being someone who either genuinely doesn’t pick up negative signals…”

    So if you’re talking to someone from another culture which uses different signals that you don’t pick up can we call you a creep, when really there is merely a cultural difference?

    And how do you determine whose responsibility it is to ensure clear communication? (I know that in terms of the written word it is the writer’s responsibility and people who have trouble reading are not called offensive names by supposedly progressive people.)

  48. f. says:

    @ballgame, ah, I see what you mean about the ambiguous example. Yeah I don’t think a teensy amount of social engineering to show up at a place where you’ve seen someone before, is often creepy. Unless you grin, waggle your eyebrows, clasp your hands together, and declare, “Fancy seeing you…. HERE…. OF ALL PLACES!” because that would just be crossing a line, dude! 😉

    Dang I would just love to get to the bottom of this thing, as to whether women will tolerate more disturbing behavior from attractive, high-status men. It is one of the few topics left where there seems to be little to no cross-gender consensus even among people who are sticklers for egalitarianism. It also gets to me because I feel like I have a good level of self-monitoring when it comes to the topic of romantic interactions in general! And I bet the men who bring it up, with an equal confidence that women DO do this, feel that they know exactly what’s up as well. What is going on here!?

    @superglucose, lol, not creepy. I have to say I was not expecting to have actual fun posting on this blog, and yet! People here are awesome.

  49. Okay, so, here’s a classic from the SJB archives:

    Person 1: The Supermarkets are the worst (Discussion about a hilly part of America)
    Person 2: Do your supermarkets have hills?
    Person 1: (Who is female) Where I come from, everything has hills
    Me: (spotting an opportunity for a bad joke) Forgive me for saying this but – do you have hills?
    Crowd of Posters: BOOT TO THE HEAD!!!

    Now, was I creepy in asking if someone had hills, in the context of saying they lived in a hilly place? Was it that elusive Tao of Comedy slipping through my fingers yet again?

  50. ozymandias42 says:

    Adiabat: Well, the idea of this post is that we try to work out what a lot of people find creepy or don’t find creepy, so that people can avoid doing that. 🙂 I mean, obviously, you can’t avoid creeping out EVERYONE, but I do think a consensus is possible through discussion.

  51. f. says:

    @SJB, I have to say I likely would have been lacing up my boots and sizing up your head in that situation. Two reasons:

    – I’m assuming this was online interaction? There is a nasty-ass pattern of many women being told “SHOW ME YOUR TITS” on the Internet just because we admit to being female. There are, like, 2 non-gendersphere places on the web where I am not totally cagey and silent about my gender. What would’ve been tasteless, but harmless, in person can be side-eye inducing online for that reason.

    – Joke construction… “Forgive me for saying this” is an excellent way to ensure that everyone is bracing for something tasteless and TOTALLY uninclined to forgive you for saying it. It’s almost like an “I’m not racist, but” – I mean, when someone says that you’re just sitting there thinking, “oh no, this is going to be so racist

    But as ozy says, you can’t please everyone. I too have a sense of humor that can go to places that just are not funny to some people, not funny at all, and misjudging your crowd happens to all of us sometimes. Among other things I’ve learned that vagina dentata jokes are not universally popular… ahem…

  52. machina says:

    Clarisse said: So … what’s a date?

    I got into this doubt vortex last year. A women to agreed to meet me for drinks after work a few days later. However after this, while we were walking around after work, she said she hadn’t asked anyone to come along, and asked if I had. This threw the whole thing into the doubt vortex. I now didn’t know if she assumed we were going out on a casual date. Did she say this because she wanted to establish that she meant it was a date? That it wasn’t a date? Anyway, I hooked with coworkers straight after who were equally perplexed by her. In the end it was a date, but I had little idea what was going on beforehand.

  53. Adiabat says:

    Ozy: Ah, I thought you were suggesting a general principle. Where you (general you) judge other people’s behaviours by imaging whether a Reasonable Person would find it creepy. I didn’t see how that would work in the real world.

    As for reaching a consensus here: I agree with ballgame. That creepiness varies depending on someone’s attractiveness. But I’m unsure as to whether the behaviour is actually less creepy (doesn’t make us as uncomfortable) or whether the behaviour is just as creepy but we are more willing to put up with creepy behaviour from people that we are attracted to.

    If it’s that the behaviour is subjectively less creepy then your list is impossible to make, as it is dependant on whether the other person is attracted to you, which you won’t know until you risk being creepy by pushing boundaries (or use ineffective “nice guy” methods to find out if they are attracted to you first. By which point you’ll be in the “friend zone”). Attempting to put your arm around the girl at the cinema and assessing her reaction is one way to find out if she is interested. If she isn’t it’s creepy, if not then it’s not creepy.

    If it’s that we are more willing to put up with creepy behaviour from people that we are attracted to then you can make your list but it also implies that there’s no point in trying to avoid being creepy anyway, as a double standard is perpetrated by the creepee. If someone is willing to condemn one person for a behaviour but not another person for the same behaviour then they are two-faced and hypocritical. In effect it is Selective Justice.

  54. Adiabat says:

    P.S I’m not actually condoning being creepy. But I don’t think the situation is as simple as listing behaviours and telling people not to do them. To eliminate the behaviour requires an overhaul of the whole dynamic. Either convince people to treat behaviour the same, regardless of attractiveness, or change the need to push boundaries to find out if people like each other (For example, if people were more upfront with each other, but where’s the excitement in that?).

  55. Kaija says:

    Outside of some of the common examples in Ozy’s list, I think it’s really hard to define “creepy” behavior in a universal way because it is so subjective, HIGHLY dependent on the person or persons involved. For me personally, a lot of it has to do with intent and the vibe I get more than the words or behavior in and of themselves. For instance, one person can say something rather inappropriate to me in a way that totally cracks me up because it’s funny and does not feel creepy (in that I don’t feel skeeved out or cornered), while another person can say “good morning…how are you?” in a way that makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up and makes me look around for the nearest route to slink away. And it has nothing to do with the status or looks of the person…it’s my visceral and instinctive reaction to perceived boundary dangers (I’ve found the “hair on the back of my neck” reaction to be an excellent barometer).

    @f: “I would just love to get to the bottom of this thing, as to whether women will tolerate more disturbing behavior from attractive, high-status men. It is one of the few topics left where there seems to be little to no cross-gender consensus even among people who are sticklers for egalitarianism. It also gets to me because I feel like I have a good level of self-monitoring when it comes to the topic of romantic interactions in general! And I bet the men who bring it up, with an equal confidence that women DO do this, feel that they know exactly what’s up as well. What is going on here!?”
    I would love to dig into this as wel but I think it’s so individually variable that no generalizations can come of it (and I bristle when they do). I agree with Amp’s statement that it doesn’t matter if it’s George Clooney or Tom Brady (love that NLS skit though!) or John Doe hitting on me in a way that made me feel uncomfortable…”uncomfortable” = not happy with the interaction. But I think we’d find that this varies widely by individual and not necessarily by gender…some women will fawn over Hot Guy and put up with more from him, some men will put up with behavior from a hot chick that they wouldn’t from Any Woman, but that is not universal. I am one of those people who does not hold to attractiveness-trumps-all and can be quite blunt about it.

    Anecdote: I was once interrupted mid-conversation with a friend by a Famous Athlete who incorrectly and IMHO rudely assumed we would welcome his presence. I did not recognize this person or notice his attractiveness or whatever at the time (objectively and after the fact, I noted that he *is* quite an attractive guy), I was just very irritated by the interruption and quite pointedly asked, “Who are you and why are you interrupting our conversation?” and to his credit, he apologized and walked away. After which another bystander said “Don’t you KNOW who that IS?…it’s ______!!!!*” To which I replied, “I don’t care…that was really rude and inconsiderate.” It wasn’t creepy but it was inappropriate and made me feel uncomfortable. But then I place high value on manners (I blame my culture and family of origin) and low value on fame and fortune and status, but that’s just me and I don’t expect everyone shares MY point of view. Point being, we all have different levels of boundaries and different hierarchies of values, so our personal perceptions of “creepy” behavior are going to reflect that.

    *And to this day, whenever we see ______ on TV, my friend will tease me by reminding me of this event..kind of funny after the fact, I guess.

  56. Cheradenine says:

    I don’t think it’s about attractiveness, but about reciprocation and understanding (& respecting) boundaries. If someone “accidentally” turns up somewhere you’re going to be, then whether it’s cute or creepy isn’t about whether they’re hot-or-not, but rather, the context of your prior relationship*. If it’s your boyfriend/girlfriend arranging a romantic surprise for you, it’s a different kettle of fish than if it’s the ex you have filed for a restraining order against — regardless of their relative physical charms. Context matters.

    I think lists like Ozy’s, though well-meaning, are doomed because they aim to be rigid, unambiguous lists — and in my book, ambiguity is a huge part of “being a creep”. What commonly picks out “a creep” to me isn’t a list of rules or specific acts, but rather someone systematically exploiting the grey areas to “get away with” things that would otherwise be considered harassment or worse. It’s not the whole picture — but it’s a really major element of it.


    (*) “relationship” in the broad sense in which any two people relate to each other, rather than anything romantic/sexual/etc

  57. Arsepolitico says:

    the thing that Nice Guys need to understand is: there is absolutely nothing you can do to make someone else like you. And that any behavior is officially not creepy if the other person welcomes it; you are officially creepy if you still feel entitled to do it when they don’t.

  58. Arsepolitico says:

    And that “welcome” and context recognition skills are helpful

  59. AB says:

    I have 5 major problems with abandoning the word creep (that I can think of right now):

    1: It is currently about the only way women can express feeling unnerved by intruding sexual advances in a way that doesn’t put focus on themselves instead of on the problematic behaviour (such as the suggestions of replacing it with with things like “I’m uncomfortable” would do), or open them to accusations of hyperfemininity (I was going to write hypersensitivity, but I think my Freudian slip is pretty accurate too).

    If women, and men for that matter, could more easily express feelings of unsafety, and openly tell others if they were making the speaker feel threatened, without being considered weak and pathetic (primarily men) or manipulative and overly emotional (primarily women), things might look different. As it is, creepy is among the few adjectives which puts the focus on the behaviour of someone other than the person speaking out.

    2. Related to number 1, the people who object most to the word are also commonly the ones to show the least tolerance and the most distrust towards women who express discomfort. It feels like much of the focus is basically about giving women less ‘excuses’ to not react favourably towards come-ons, and some comments have even confirmed it.

    3: The frequent claims that because celebrities can get away with something, it’s somehow a right for everyone to do. “Other people do it so I should be able to do it too” is a terrible argument, and no matter what, if your standards for normal and reasonable treatment are people who have an immense amount of money, power, and admiration from fans, they’re just not realistic.

    4: Women are being completely erased from the equation. It’s most obvious in how often it’s mentioned that attractive men can get away with more, with no regards to the woman’s own attraction. It’s as if there is supposed to be a script which all men should be able to follow and get the exact same result regardless of women’s attraction to them, and any deviation from it is immediately interpreted as an injustice. Ironically, this attitude is often heavily linked to creepy behaviour in guys, resulting in the guy continuing his advances even though his target does not react positively, because he considers it his right to spend as much time courting a woman as the guy whom she has shown a sexual interest in.

    5: The word does not share the problematic aspects of the sexual and gendered insults it is compared with (slut, pussy, sissy, bitch, faggot, dyke), which are all about devaluing non-problematic behaviours (promiscuity, homosexuality, femininity), but is is actually closer to terms like racist, abuser, misogynist, or misandrist, which no one are in favour of abandoning despite how often they’re misused. I personally think it would be a lot better to borrow from the way we handle those words (e.g. the advice to replace “You’re racist” with “That’s racist”) instead of, through the choice comparisons, suggesting that creepy behaviour is as morally neutral as promiscuity or femininity.

  60. L says:

    @ozy: “L: Yeah, but rude also refers to “won’t eat with mouth closed” and “tells entire bus loudly about asshole boss on cell phone,” both of which are rather different from “this person won’t stop talking to me and ohmigodisthatahandreachingformyknee.””

    I don’t see why that’s a problem. Isn’t that the difference between being an irritating “creep” and a threatening “creep”? The point you were trying to make was that we should have a different vocabulary when it comes to acknowledging people that are threatening vs people who are just whatever else: lacking social skills (your chewing with mouth open example would fall under this), pressing conversation with someone exhibiting negative body language, etc.

  61. Jim says:

    This all comes down to transgressing borders. Creepy behavior is behavior that transgresses borders. The vagueness and double-binds people are noting and the arguments about “creepiness” all come down to a lack of consenssu about what constitutes a border violation.

    “My vote is to bring back the word “rude”. It seems appropriate to use that word when it comes to “creepiness” that isn’t threatening, I guess. ”

    Yes it does.

    Because eating with your mouth open, as someone objected above was an example of minor behavior covered by “rude” that wasn’t creepy – is creepy. It’s TMI. It’s a border violation. Putting your make-up on the train in the morning – in public yo – that’s TMI, it ‘s a border violation, it’s creepy. Continuing a conversation when the other person has made it clear they want out, approaching a stranger to chat her up when she’s busy doing something, like reading with a cup of coffee – those are border violations. Old women who think it’s cute to pester little boys about whether they have any girlfriends – that’s really creepy and a clear violation of boundaries.

  62. Adiabat says:

    Arsepolitico: “the thing that Nice Guys need to understand is: there is absolutely nothing you can do to make someone else like you. And that any behavior is officially not creepy if the other person welcomes it; you are officially creepy if you still feel entitled to do it when they don’t.”

    And how do you know if a behaviour would be welcome or not, or what a particular persons boundaries are?

    I can think of three ways: 1 – ask (very sexy, of course /sarcasm), 2 – Get to know the other person first by befriending them (nice guy method which virtually guarantees that even if they were interested at first they wouldn’t still be interested by the time you found anything out about them. Also a bit Nice Guy tm) or 3 – try it and see (and risk being either successful or a creep). I believe the only method that has any chance of success while still keeping the possibility of romance is number 3.

    And you are not creepy if you do a behaviour after you have been clearly told that they don’t like it; you are a jerk (and worse). It’s one thing to merely make a stranger uncomfortable (ie creepy), it quite another to do things you know they don’t like.

  63. Adiabat says:

    Of course there are behaviours which have a higher *probability* to be unwelcome border violations than others, and they can be discussed. But it seems a bit unfair to use the same, quite derogatory, label to describe something that has a 20% chance of being unwelcome and something that has a 80% chance of being unwelcome.

    This issue is so complex that the percentages are probably different for each person doing the behaviours.

  64. f. says:

    @ Cheradenine, Jim: Yes.

    @adiabat: I empathize with the fear of being perceived as creepy or forward! But I think one thing that needs to be said, is that no social act comes free of the risk of rejection. I can’t know, if I text a guy whose number I asked for, if he’ll respond. Or if I ask my friends if they want to have boardgame night, they might have something else going. Or if my boyfriend will tell me he’s too tired for sex. The less information we have about a person, the less we will know how they’ll respond to us. That’s why it can be helpful to have general rules of etiquette, things which most people would consider acceptable or unacceptable… but even knowing the majority opinion, you can’t know what will happen in a specific situation. Someone might misperceive you, they might be having the worst night of their life, they might be attracted to the complete opposite body type you have, or they might be in a monogamous relationship. Or they might just be a total jerk.

    I think the idea is, we have to be willing to put ourselves out there, we also have to be willing to withdraw, and we have to interact in basic good faith. That might help avoid the types of boundary violations Cheradenine is talking about, which I agree, is the stuff that “creepy” describes best.

  65. The Colour of Heartache says:

    Some items on the Reasonable Person Standard will definitely catch people with mental conditions. I’m thinking of requiring the ability to read body language and requiring good social skills.

  66. Uncalledfor says:

    Ozy: I think, in general, it’s pretty obvious and rather creepy if someone’s sole purpose in coming to a party is “getting in someone else’s pants.”

    That does it! My entire youth was now officially creepy, as was that of every other man I’ve ever known, seen, or heard about at that age.

  67. AB says:

    @Adiabat:

    “And how do you know if a behaviour would be welcome or not, or what a particular persons boundaries are?”

    Most of the cases I have experienced where someone has been caled creepy, the behaviour was indentified over a longer period of time, so it’s rarely as if the person in question have had no chance of getting to know the people they creep out, and developing a sense of social norms and boundaries.

  68. elementary_watson says:

    I think, in general, it’s pretty obvious and rather creepy if someone’s sole purpose in coming to a party is “getting in someone else’s pants.

    It’s only creepy if one doesn’t succeed …

  69. machina says:

    f. I empathize with the fear of being perceived as creepy or forward!

    I think “creepy” and “forward” are different things. There’s no ill intent implied in being forward whereas there is with creepy.

  70. dancinbojangles says:

    Looks like I’m getting in a bit late, but thought I’d add my two cents:

    Totally in agreement that “creep” can and should be used in certain situations, but in addition to all the “-ists” you listed, it’s ageist as well. I know several friends who have been called creepy simply for being old in an area. What the hell is up with that?

  71. So can we incorporate “boundary violation” into our Reasonable Person Standard for creepiness?

  72. machina says:

    AB: Women are being completely erased from the equation. It’s most obvious in how often it’s mentioned that attractive men can get away with more, with no regards to the woman’s own attraction. It’s as if there is supposed to be a script which all men should be able to follow and get the exact same result regardless of women’s attraction to them, and any deviation from it is immediately interpreted as an injustice. Ironically, this attitude is often heavily linked to creepy behaviour in guys, resulting in the guy continuing his advances even though his target does not react positively, because he considers it his right to spend as much time courting a woman as the guy whom she has shown a sexual interest in.

    I think I disagree here, but I’m not sure what you mean exactly.

    I think everyone should be expected to politely receive polite solicitations from anyone, and that everyone should be expected to politely accept polite rejections from anyone.

  73. Clarence says:

    machina:
    I agree one hundred per cent.

  74. f. says:

    @ machina, I agree, and yet one commenter has described… whatever it is that happens, I’m not sure if adiabat was talking about normal, politely expressed rejection exactly… as “Selective Justice”. The problem being that engaging in conversation and getting laid are not “justice”, they are a thing that people do together when we are interested in each other. There’s no “injustice” if someone is unattracted to us.

    This is also why I’ve worded my comments such that they talk about more attractive people being able to get away with more disturbing behavior, not less attractive people not being able to get away with normally acceptable behavior… Let’s be clear, if a celebrity can go up to someone and say “Hey I’m x, wanna fuck?” that is not something everyone can and should expect will get a good result when they try it out. Extreme example I know, but mostly when people use the argument that “if a dreamboy did that, you’d love it!” it makes my skin crawl because it sounds to me like they are saying they don’t get to act like a jerk and get rewarded for it. Augh, that’s really uncharitable, isn’t it… but I don’t know how to word this properly.

  75. AB says:

    @machina:

    “I think I disagree here, but I’m not sure what you mean exactly.

    I think everyone should be expected to politely receive polite solicitations from anyone, and that everyone should be expected to politely accept polite rejections from anyone.”

    The first example that came to mind for me, was when a guy from my gaming group indignantly asked me at a party why I let some other guys give me massage and not him (he incorretly referred to ‘the other guys’, as if he was the only guy in the group who’d never given me a massage, which is typical for guys like that). I told him that he’d never offered it (it was the easier explanation, and it would have been inappropriate of me to start making a bigger deal out of it), so he asked me, I let him massage my shoulders, and while he did, he told me about how he was secretly afraid of me, and called me ‘a strong woman’ in that tone which can both be honest and condescending. Now, I didn’t feel threatened at the time because I felt I had the situation under control, but I would find it completely natural if someone else did.

    The difference between him and the guys who usually gave me a massage was that I had interacted much more with them. We had been friendly with each other, talked in private, smiled, flirted, and built a more casual physical relationship (e.g. hugged, patted each other’s shoulders in support). It was pretty natural that we gave each other massages. But this guy had never interacted positively with me. He’d made some sexist remarks he knew I disapproved of, but besides that, he’d spent most of his time staring at me from the other side of the table, while never interesting directly with me or the other girl in the group, except to make said sexist remarks, and once angrily asking why women never liked him. And yet he expected to immediately be able to share same level of physical intimacy with me as the guys I actually liked, because if they got it, he was entitled to it too.

    The thing about creepy guys is that a lot of them run by a script about how you’re supposed to act. The guys I’ll typically label creepy feel that they have as much right to progress to the next stage (in intimacy, forwardness, familiarity) and get as much time with me as guys whose company I want, regardless of the difference in my feedback to the two groups. And any failure to treat them alike is attributed to unfairness, or alternatively, misandry.

  76. Jim says:

    “That’s why it can be helpful to have general rules of etiquette,….”

    And here we come to a big issue – cultural conventions. General rules means common rules. Comments ot women on the street may not be considerd boundary violations in Italy, but in the US they are, even in heavily Italianized cities like New York . Asking pointed questions about a young person’s marital status my be perfectly acceptable for a midle-aged woman in India, but here it’s just rude as shit. this is always going to be a problem in amulticultural scoiety such as we have had for a good century and a half, and we had better get used to dealing with it.

    “AB: Women are being completely erased from the equation. It’s most obvious in how often it’s mentioned that attractive men can get away with more, with no regards to the woman’s own attraction….”

    This is a good objection, and not just in the vein you continue in, although what you go on to say is valid too. Women are also erased as being capable of creepy behavior, as TB pointed out. A woman’s approaches can be cross the legal line into sexual assault and the culture says the man is supposed to feel flattered! Rather than repulsed.

  77. Schala says:

    “@ machina, I agree, and yet one commenter has described… whatever it is that happens, I’m not sure if adiabat was talking about normal, politely expressed rejection exactly… as “Selective Justice”. The problem being that engaging in conversation and getting laid are not “justice”, they are a thing that people do together when we are interested in each other. There’s no “injustice” if someone is unattracted to us.”

    Being called a creep for having a normal politely expressed approach. Because she’s not attracted, and “you should’ve known”, because ‘everyone knows’ geeky people are useless eternal-children who are worth having a registry for to prevent them dating others.

  78. Jim says:

    “The first example that came to mind for me, was when a guy from my gaming group indignantly asked me at a party why I let some other guys give me massage and not him (he incorretly referred to ‘the other guys’, as if he was the only guy in the group who’d never given me a massage, which is typical for guys like that).”

    Just asking the question alredy croassed a line. He’s making it sound like some kind of sibling rivalry.

    “I told him that he’d never offered it (it was the easier explanation, and it would have been inappropriate of me to start making a bigger deal out of it),…”

    Which was a lot more than you owed him. That’s what people mean by giving a polite rejection. You didn’t feel threatened directly, but this guy sounds like he is going to be an on-going annoyance. You felt that you had the situation under control, but people like this can fester for a while and then turn into real problems.

  79. f. says:

    @Jim, very true. I have to say that in most multicultural groups in which I’ve participated, “I don’t want to, because I don’t do that” is a totally complete and legit explanation, and I think it’s because people are more aware that they don’t know what is normal for each member of the group. I would describe that as part of cosmopolitanism.

  80. f. says:

    Oh and cosign on women definitely being able to get away with more boundary violations than should be acceptable. Ugh.

    @ Schala, if he was talking about being called a creep for a normal type of interaction, well geez – that supports my point about how we should get way more specific about what bothers us. Deploying the word “creep” in that way is clearly b.s., but I still have serious trouble talking about romantic encounters happening in a realm of “justice” and “injustice”.

  81. Erl says:

    I do believe in the utter depravity of human nature; actually it’s not a belief but an observation.

    Total depravity, not utter depravity.

    To quote Fred Clark, “The Calvinist/Augustinian idea of ‘total depravity’ holds that humanity’s sinful nature is pervasive — infusing every aspect of our being, but it does not hold that this pervasive fallenness is absolute. The idea, in other words, is that we humans are rotten to the core, but not that our core consists entirely and exclusively of rot,” which the phrase “utter depravity” would signify.

    I know this may seem like a minor point, but I think it’s actually vital to the distinction that you’re trying to make.

  82. f. says:

    I have a comment in moderation, could it be erased? On second thoughts it just isn’t something that is relevant I think, and I’d rather not share it. thx

  83. Skidd says:

    A lot of being genuinely creepy is being someone who either genuinely doesn’t pick up negative signals, or chooses to overlook negative signals.

    Sooo… many Autism Spectrum Disorder people are genuinely creepy? …Actually, that’s a lot of the rationale behind bullying of ASD folks. “If only they didn’t act so WEIRD!”

    I’m just extra, extra leery of that sort of definition. Being able to pick up signals isn’t an ability that everyone has. Do ASD people need to constantly check their behavior for creepiness?

    Anecdote time! I had a guy in college that made me feel “creeped out” (I do not call him a “Creep”, though) – he basically was waaay friendly and constantly tried to get me to high-five him, asked me why I wasn’t smiling, and just invaded my personal space (Also his sax playing was a little too screechy for my taste, but that’s just my aesthetics. :P) — I don’t think that’s worthy of “creep”, though. He was just a jovial guy who wanted to make people happy – he just didn’t know the right way to do it without making people uncomfortable. Intentions were good, execution was not-so-much.

    But I believe people are not Creeps. You can feel creeped out, there can be creepy behavior, but people are not simply “creeps”.

    I feel like that can potentially be REALLY hurtful to people who simply don’t know better. The more I interact with ASD folk or other people with cognitive disorders or developmental disorders, the more I dislike the term “creepy”. My brother literally can’t maintain eyecontact, through combination of ASD and having a lazy eye – some people probably find that uncomfortable, to have him constantly looking at a space right over their shoulder. But he literally can’t HELP it.

    And you literally CANNOT TELL who is ASD and who is not nowadays. There’s no sign, there’s no outward difference.

    Man, sometimes I sincerely wish that middle schools or high schools did a Social Skills class of some sort. It’s not all that innate to everyone.

    The thing about creepy guys is that a lot of them run by a script about how you’re supposed to act.

    Oddly enough, learning scripts IS how many ASD folk learn social interaction. There are literally books (with pictures!) Because they can’t learn it from just interacting with people.

    Roughly one in 100 people are on the Autism Spectrum. (Possibly higher, and much more likely for men/boys)

    So yeah, “Creep” as a term, especially when it means “people (especially men) who have poor social skills” is pretty darn ableist, as Ozy says in the OP. And “creepy behavior” in ASD folks has been used as a reason to persecute them.

  84. Jim says:

    “I know this may seem like a minor point, but I think it’s actually vital to the distinction that you’re trying to make.”

    It is important, which is why “Total depravity, not utter depravity. ” – No.

    “The idea, in other words, is that we humans are rotten to the core, but not that our core consists entirely and exclusively of rot,”

    It’s not that I believe that we are “rotten” to the core, or exclusively, it’s that I observe that at our core we are empty, nothing but insubstantial structure, but rather than enjoy the freedom that offers, we insist on reifiying that core into something solid and defending it at all costs, against all these non-existent threats we see all around us, and that leads us to commit horrible crimes aginst others. And that tendency is profound and ineradicable if every effort to eradicate comes out of that delusionally refied core or ego.

  85. AB says:

    @Jim:

    “This is a good objection, and not just in the vein you continue in, although what you go on to say is valid too. Women are also erased as being capable of creepy behavior, as TB pointed out. A woman’s approaches can be cross the legal line into sexual assault and the culture says the man is supposed to feel flattered! Rather than repulsed.”

    In regards to the people who object to the word, I’m not actually sure that’s the case. Some of the female posters (at least Holly and Ozy) have spoken out from the perspective of someone who have engaged in creepy behaviour, so they’re obviously not denying it.

    But the male posters who object to the word on the grounds that it’s gendered pretty much exclusively use the argument that it’s not used so much about women. They DON’T use the argument that they have been in situations where they felt frightened and creeped out by a woman’s behaviour and hated that, even though they could call her a creep, it wouldn’t have the same sting. That’s probably because it’s a really bad argument, but I think it’s interesting how so many women find the word descriptive of a certain feeling, while it doesn’t seem like men do, even men who have no problem talking about other sorts of abuse at the hands of women.

    It’s a bit like Warren Farell (I believe) arguing that false rape accusations are the male equivalent of rape. He’s so convinced he will never be the target of rape that he’s mostly interested in preventing others from making the accusation against him. I can’t help feeling that’s not actually the use of the word that’s gendered, it’s the experiences of the emotion of being creeped out. Men don’t appear to experience be creeped out very often, while women are, so women identify with the caller and men with target, though I don’t know if it’s because the sexes feel differently or because they find themselves in different situations.

  86. machina says:

    f. @ 12:51 P: Well I think that the celebrity actually is creepy in the sense that they’re ignoring social conventions of politeness, which can be seen as a minor boundary violation, which could then imply they may be dangerous, but that their desirability may outweigh their creepiness.

    I think the “justice” point of view might be the impression that creepiness is a moral judgement (such as: this person is capable of rape, others are assumed not to be) based on fairly arbitrary traits, as in the OP. At least that’s how I often see it. And if you’re in the creepy category then the assumption is that you’re excluded from sex. I figure this is why there is continues to be such a strong reaction to the Shroedinger’s rapist idea, for lots of men they feel like they’re being placed in an inescapable category of sexual denial. In reality anyone you meet could be a rapist, and initiating is some kind of balance.

    AB @ 1.05 PM: Following on from the above, I suppose the problem here is the sensitivity to being categorised as creepy prejudicially. This sensitivity then compels them to push boundaries in order to determine whether they are actually in that category, which makes them seem dangerous and… yeah.

  87. Jim says:

    AB, that’s what i thought you meant. It makes sense to me.

    But this bit:
    “They DON’T use the argument that they have been in situations where they felt frightened and creeped out by a woman’s behaviour and hated that, even though they could call her a creep, it wouldn’t have the same sting. That’s probably because it’s a really bad argument,…”

    I don’t agree with. Do you see what you are doing here? These men are relating thier experiences, and oyu presume to know more than they do about them. They know how much in their culture, which you are external to, this or that accusation is going to believed. So you cannot know ehther or not it’s a bad argument because you cannot have the necessary information. We are talking about matters that are very culture specific, not universal.

    This also is faulty reasoning:
    “It’s a bit like Warren Farell (I believe) arguing that false rape accusations are the male equivalent of rape. He’s so convinced he will never be the target of rape that he’s mostly interested in preventing others from making the accusation against him.”

    You are trying to say what Farrell is thinking. that’s mind-reading , and you are failing at it. A more plausible reading is that he knows as a man he is vulnerable to rape, but that is not the main rape-related threat he faces; he considers years of imprisonment based on a false accusation to be a worse threat than being raped, and I agree with him – I would much, much rather be raped once that imprisoned for years.

    You might want to consider why that explanation didn’t occur to you. could it be because the chances of you ever being flasely accused of rape, and then on top of that actually being convicted, and then on top of that drawing a senstice anywhere as long as what a man would draw for that, are vanishingly small?

    A pioece of general advice which you cna ignore – I have observed in your comments a pattern of assuming you understand us – us as a cluster of cultures and us as men. You seem unaware that both of these endeavors require effort on your part, because I see you making erroneous assumption after erroneous assumption that a little reflection and actual empthy with a situation alien to yours would prevent.

  88. AB says:

    @Jim:

    “I don’t agree with. Do you see what you are doing here? These men are relating thier experiences, and oyu presume to know more than they do about them. They know how much in their culture, which you are external to, this or that accusation is going to believed. So you cannot know ehther or not it’s a bad argument because you cannot have the necessary information. We are talking about matters that are very culture specific, not universal.”

    The basis for the argument is that because someone else was allowed to get away with a boundary violation, then it makes sense that no one should be called out on those boundary violations, and it is a bad argument. Even sexually judgemental people know that, which is why so many of them use terms like man-whore, or call men sluts too, rather than arguing that the terms should abandoned because they don’t yet have the same sting when used against men.

    “You are trying to say what Farrell is thinking. that’s mind-reading , and you are failing at it. A more plausible reading is that he knows as a man he is vulnerable to rape, but that is not the main rape-related threat he faces; he considers years of imprisonment based on a false accusation to be a worse threat than being raped, and I agree with him – I would much, much rather be raped once that imprisoned for years.”

    But the numbers don’t back that up. According to a lot of people here, a low estimate is that one in 33 men have been sexually abused, but I seriously doubt that over 1 in 33 men have been imprisoned for committing rape, let alone (considering how few cases even make it to court) falsely imprisoned.

    “You might want to consider why that explanation didn’t occur to you. could it be because the chances of you ever being flasely accused of rape, and then on top of that actually being convicted, and then on top of that drawing a senstice anywhere as long as what a man would draw for that, are vanishingly small?”

    It also is for men. Even assuming half of all reported accusations of rape are false, a good deal of them don’t implement anyone else (i.e. describe an unknown assailant which will probably never be found). Furthermore, less than half of them end in a conviction, and unless the chance of conviction is completely random, the majority of these convictions will be of actual rapists.

    The point I was making is that when discussing rape, there two kinds of argument among masculists and MRAs. The first is that it’s something women commonly lie about in order to hurt men, just like sexual harassment, stalking, and being a creep. But the second are men who have actually been raped and who believe their assailants got away with it because it is not recognised that men can get raped or that women can be rapists. But when it comes to feeling creeped out, only the equivalent of the former is represented, and I wonder why that is.

    “A pioece of general advice which you cna ignore – I have observed in your comments a pattern of assuming you understand us – us as a cluster of cultures and us as men. You seem unaware that both of these endeavors require effort on your part, because I see you making erroneous assumption after erroneous assumption that a little reflection and actual empthy with a situation alien to yours would prevent.”

    No offence but: Says the guy who assume women are shit-testing and can make men go away any time.

  89. AB says:

    @Skidd:

    “Sooo… many Autism Spectrum Disorder people are genuinely creepy? …Actually, that’s a lot of the rationale behind bullying of ASD folks. “If only they didn’t act so WEIRD!”

    I’m just extra, extra leery of that sort of definition. Being able to pick up signals isn’t an ability that everyone has. Do ASD people need to constantly check their behavior for creepiness?”

    In a word, yes. Or rather, those who genuinely have problems with social conduct do. And fortunately, a lot of them know that most people communicate through facial expressions, body-language, and reading between the lines, and that if they can’t communicate on that level, they need to make people aware of it.

    “Anecdote time! I had a guy in college that made me feel “creeped out” (I do not call him a “Creep”, though) – he basically was waaay friendly and constantly tried to get me to high-five him, asked me why I wasn’t smiling, and just invaded my personal space (Also his sax playing was a little too screechy for my taste, but that’s just my aesthetics. 😛 ) — I don’t think that’s worthy of “creep”, though. He was just a jovial guy who wanted to make people happy – he just didn’t know the right way to do it without making people uncomfortable. Intentions were good, execution was not-so-much.”

    Good intentions are not enough, people have to be humble enough to consider that maybe they’re not making people happy just because they think so, and that no everybody feel the way they do or like the same things.

    But I believe people are not Creeps. You can feel creeped out, there can be creepy behavior, but people are not simply “creeps”.

    “I feel like that can potentially be REALLY hurtful to people who simply don’t know better. The more I interact with ASD folk or other people with cognitive disorders or developmental disorders, the more I dislike the term “creepy”. My brother literally can’t maintain eyecontact, through combination of ASD and having a lazy eye – some people probably find that uncomfortable, to have him constantly looking at a space right over their shoulder. But he literally can’t HELP it.

    And you literally CANNOT TELL who is ASD and who is not nowadays. There’s no sign, there’s no outward difference.”

    This is why a lot of these people, not being entitled assholes, learn to inform others of their situation.

    “Oddly enough, learning scripts IS how many ASD folk learn social interaction. There are literally books (with pictures!) Because they can’t learn it from just interacting with people.”

    And anybody who taught these people that they didn’t need consent would be irresponsible. Seriously, you make people on the autism spectrum sound like Cosmo readers, determined to never talk about anything. If you’re not capable of figuring out yourself if the person you’re being friendly with is reacting positively to that friendliness, you ask. If they dump you because you asked, they would have dumped you eventually for not living up to their high social demands.

    “Roughly one in 100 people are on the Autism Spectrum. (Possibly higher, and much more likely for men/boys)

    So yeah, “Creep” as a term, especially when it means “people (especially men) who have poor social skills” is pretty darn ableist, as Ozy says in the OP. And “creepy behavior” in ASD folks has been used as a reason to persecute them.”

    Here’s the deal: People are often socially punished for rejecting others too directly. Some supposed autists or autism advocates believe it it also fair to not respect people (especially women, since they’re usually the targets) if they reject people in a way which is obvious to most of the people who care, but not to some people on the autism spectrum.

    The people who’re punished if they reject too directly, but risk not having their rejections respected if they don’t act directly, can’t really do anything in the current situation, because both options available to them can result in punishment. On the other hand, the people without social skills, who are at risk of violating other people’s boundaries, have the option to inform people of their disability from the beginning. Most people are pretty tolerant if you tell them that because of this or that condition, you would really appreciate if they told you honestly when you were going too far.

    But the one thing you shouldn’t do, is to send people with social disabilities to PUA sites where they can learn that women don’t really mean it if they freeze and tell you they don’t want sex, and that it’s completely OK to treat people in a way which, under different circumstances, could be considered considered insulting or hurtful, but are OK because the woman is attractive enough to take it. Honestly, if people cared so much about men with bad social skills, they would do more to keep them away from scripts which border the line between assertive and abusive, or between charming and insulting, and rely on the personal evaluation of the user to work.

  90. Lamech says:

    @AB:
    About your five major problems, I have some disagreements with them
    1) A lot of time they really should be placing the focus on them. I’m unnerved when people talk to me from their car. This applies even to things like people asking for directions. Should I say “People asking for directions from cars are creepy”, or would it be more accurate to say “I am unnerved when people ask for directions from cars.”?
    If the behavior isn’t objectively bad, that it wouldn’t matter who the person was doing it, and it wouldn’t matter who the person responding was the burden is on them, but IMO if it’s something like the above behavior with cars then the focus is on the person who has the problem with said behavior.
    2) You don’t need an “excuse”. Just say something to the effect of “I’m not interested in [your offer].” Furthermore coming up with excuses is often going to end poorly. Anything to the effect of “I can’t since I have other plans.” fails to convey the key point that one is not interested, which means as soon as the excuse is no longer valid said person will try to ask again. Excuses to the effect of “You are a [creep/wrong-bad/dweeb].” is rude, and insulting. Second, if this isn’t true (see above) that is another strike against it. Worse, they imply that if you only weren’t a [creep/dweeb/whatever] they would accept; that is a huge problem if false. Mainly that they will eventually find out the implication is not true, and they can conclude all those people who turned them down were deceptive.
    3) Strawman. get-away-with=!acceptable. If a celebrity/attractive can do something and have it be not [creepy/wrong-bad/whatever], I or anyone else can do the same. Being attractive/a-celebrity does not make your actions more or less acceptable.
    4) As many have pointed out women are being erased in that they are viewed as never creepy. But I also thinks this needs to be said. When judging someone’s actions, OTHER PEOPLE’S FEELINGS DO NOT MATTER. It does not matter that she thinks one person is attractive and the other unattractive. It does not matter if one of them is making her feel uncomfortable. It does not matter that she wants one to not talk with her. What DOES matter is what the person we’re judging believes. If the person we want to judge believes any of the above and continues with advances we can say that person is acting badly. But if the person doesn’t know he is view as unattractive, we can’t use the fact that she views him as unattractive in judging him.
    Also of note, hints are a terrible way to communicate. Use words. They work a LOT better.
    5) It does in many ways. It has the connotations of classism, homeless=creepy. It is assigned to people who can’t read body language. Its assigned to a guy looks at the wrong kind of porn. It ALSO has similar connotations to abuser/racist/similar, but it has problematic associations as well.

    P.S. In order to make this wall of text more understandable, I used a male for the person being judged creepy, and female for the person being approached/being unnerved.

    “It’s a bit like Warren Farell (I believe) arguing that false rape accusations are the male equivalent of rape.” They’re seriously bad if they’re reported to the police. You are attempting to: kidnap someone, and branding them with a criminal record. Furthermore you are destroying large amounts of their assets, playing Russian Roulette with their lives via vigilantes, risking causing great abuse in jail and causing great mental anguish due to the stress of being arrested and the trial, and finally a massive slander. If not made to the police it is simply a massive slander, and playing Russian Roulette with their lives. I remember reading an article about a guy who was falsely accused (of murder I think), and despite the fact that he got found not guilty, he now engages in blatantly paranoid behavior.

    At this point we’re comparing to massively nasty offenses something I would prefer not to do. Can we please all agree anything on the level of, risking someone’s life, mutilation, torture, long-term kidnapping and rape are all huge offensives and not try to rate them?
    P.S. It seemed you were implying one was worse than the other. I suppose you could have been trying to make a number of other points, (they are different in many ways, men can be raped ect.) that aer really good ones.

  91. superglucose says:

    Please delete my comment in moderation. I was using notepad to store some physics homework stuff on it and accidentally copypastad that with my comment. Following is the comment I meant to post:

    “@SJB, I have to say I likely would have been lacing up my boots and sizing up your head in that situation. Two reasons:”

    One thing I learned is that there are just some people who can’t make those jokes. I was on cam in a group-chat with some people from around the world. Both of the ladies decided they didn’t want to get on cam if some other guy (who wasn’t invited for other reasons) was there. They would feel as though the situation were creepy.

    Of course my buddy and I were free to make jokes about cleavage all day long because we’d established that we aren’t threatening.

    “Extreme example I know, but mostly when people use the argument that “if a dreamboy did that, you’d love it!” it makes my skin crawl because it sounds to me like they are saying they don’t get to act like a jerk and get rewarded for it. Augh, that’s really uncharitable, isn’t it… but I don’t know how to word this properly.”

    But that’s exactly what it is… and speaking as someone who doesn’t live in the “dreamboy” world it can be how it’s perceived. I fuck up and act like a jerk at times… if I were sexy enough people would be ok with that. This is my perception of the world and it’s really annoying.

    Mod note: I accidentally let through a comment by F. she didn’t want to appear on the blog; you replied to it in this bit, so I had to delete it. Sorry! 😦

  92. F. Thankyou for the reply. And yes, my transgression was online. It led to a downward spiral that resulted in my bannage from the Freedom Reborn Forums. In my defence, (now there’s a weasel phrase) this was six years ago, and I am Easily not the person now that I was then.

  93. superglucose says:

    Meh there was a girl in a chat room who would say, “i’m leaving to take a shower and go to work!” or things like that to which I would always reply “Pix or it didn’t happen!” It became a running joke. She would post pictures of other people in showers or even pictures of her shower, but never her IN the shower (which she could’ve just gone in fully clothed and said, “Se? I’m in my shower!” and the whole thing would’ve dropped but it was fun banter). I would then claim that she’d never taken a shower in her life and therefore she must be really stinky.

    Creep is, again, in the eye of the beholder and I find that what makes a particular statement creepy isn’t what the statement has, but who’s stating it.

    Mod: can you please delete the post of mine that contains the info about the whole “p607.” etc?

  94. Adi says:

    This is such a stupid discussion. “Creepiness” depends mostly on two things: 1) who is using the word and 2) who they’re applying it to. What has actually been done is pretty much irrelevant.

    Don’t believe me? Then imagine a situation in which the hottest young blond woman approaching some lonely dropout of a man in a dark corner at night and him calling her creepy because of that. Hard isn’t it? Well now imagine what she would have to do in order to get him to find her creepy. Feel free to tell us what it is. Note that it cannot be illegal or obviously pathological because that’s not what we’re talking about.

  95. f. says:

    Thx for the deletions mods. Like I said at the start of this thread, I have a lot of Feelings. Some of them have to do with actual bad things that I’m still processing. One of these days I’ll figure things out far enough to be able to talk about them without tripping all over myself. Today is not that day!

  96. dungone says:

    Maybe I’m just crazy, but this doesn’t seem all that complicated to me. I’m throwing this entire discussion into the same category as the kind of talk that people often have about when it’s okay to use the N-word. Is it okay for black people to say it to each other? Is it okay for white kids who are wrapped up in hip hop culture to say it to each other? Answer – if you have to ask, just don’t.

    Speaking of hip hop, Tupac Shakur had a song called Wonder Why They Call You. How do feminists feel about that song? Does it justify the use of the word “bitch”? Is it without controversy? He claims it’s because of a certain set of self destructive behaviors that make men lose their respect for women, and that women who get called “bitch” should really think about how their actions resulted in them being referred to as such. It’s all about love, you see? Really! So is this how men are to react to situations where women call them creeps? Should they start off by asking themselves what they did to deserve being called a creep, and perhaps log onto feminist websites to read long lists of justifications for when the term is perfectly applicable?

    If that doesn’t jolt some of you to your senses, then let’s talk about White Feather feminism. There may be a perfectly valid reason to use a certain term, but we have to recognize that in practice there are always going to be sassy young “flappers” hell bent on abusing the shaming technique. It doesn’t matter if there are really some men that are creepy, just as it didn’t really matter that some men in the early 1900’s may have been pacifists. What matters is that there are some women who will use it as a clever way to make themselves feel empowered by manipulating and bullying men. Just as ignorant women used to hand out white feathers to war veterans who lost their legs in battle, or as a way to dump their boyfriends when they got tired of them, the word “creep” gets used against old men, shy men, kinky men, depressed men, aspie men, trans men/women, low status men, all kinds of men. Even if in one particular case one guy was doing something that fits right into Ozy’s list, that same guy was probably called a creep 1000 other times just because of who he is, what he looks like, things that he can’t help.

    Let’s do one more analogy. Some people think that spanking your kids or making them stand in a corner with their pants down is an appropriate way to shame them into behaving how we would like. But it doesn’t mean that we should trust our teachers to use these shaming techniques at their discretion, even if they did get a graduate degree in education. So do we really want to task 15 year old girls with the job of bringing up our boys via psychological warfare? It’s a shaming technique and the entire premise of using it against a guy is that it will embarrass him into adjusting his behavior. Whether the term is accurate or not, the mechanism being used is shame. I’m sure some kids also “deserve” to stand in a corner facing the wall with their pants down (something that my preschool teacher used to make me do for kissing a girl, by the way)? Name one shaming technique that feminists feel is perfectly okay for men to use against women at their discretion as a means to control their behavior in order to create an environment that is more comfortable for men.

  97. superglucose says:

    *offers hugs for F*

    My username is at gmail if you ever need a place to vent, talk, or even just wanna say hi.

  98. Skidd says:

    In a word, yes. Or rather, those who genuinely have problems with social conduct do. And fortunately, a lot of them know that most people communicate through facial expressions, body-language, and reading between the lines, and that if they can’t communicate on that level, they need to make people aware of it.

    This is why a lot of these people, not being entitled assholes, learn to inform others of their situation.

    I’ll agree, to an extent. ASD pride is still a rather new notion. Most often when growing up, ASD folks strive HARD to maintain some kind of normalcy. Coming out as ASD has it’s repercussions in a lot of ways. I haven’t read it, but there’s a book on the subject and when and where is the right time to disclose. I ought to try and get it sometime… ( http://www.amazon.com/Coming-Out-Asperger-Disclosure-Self-confidence/dp/1843102404/ )

    Even now my brother is fearful of telling other people he’s ASD. It’s nothing to do with feeling entitled or assholeish. It’s FEAR akin to what a LGBT person in the closet feels. (But with less physical violence and more dehumanizing and threat of being institutionalized)

    So no, I don’t think ASD folk are necessarily obligated to come out or wear a name tag.

    As for the rest: well, I think you’re kind of going at a strawman. I didn’t say to encourage bad scripts at all. Merely that that’s how some aspies learn social skills because there’s not much resource otherwise. I talked about how I think it would be good to have a social skills class required in the education system. Most often, though, scripts are picked up from the media, unfortunately. (Speaking of the media, holy hell, screw Glee for their messed up portrayal of Asperger’s Syndrome in their season opener. I can only hope she doesn’t become a reoccuring character.)

  99. f. says:

    Skidd, thanks for all of the stuff about ableism, I find it really clarifies some things, and gives me some stuff to think about when it comes to initial interactions. I know that, as AB says, it can be complicated to interact with people who just aren’t on top of all the subtle social signaling we tend to do. But what you say is so important to consider. You sound like an awesome sibling btw.

    And thanks, SG.

  100. AB says:

    @Lamech:

    “About your five major problems, I have some disagreements with them
    1) A lot of time they really should be placing the focus on them.”

    And a lot of times, it is not. You can make that judgement yourself as you please, but you shouldn’t try to rob people of the option to choose.

    “2) You don’t need an “excuse”. Just say something to the effect of “I’m not interested in [your offer].””

    That’s where you’re wrong. A lot of the guys who’re objecting to the word are actually objecting to the judgement. That is, if guy a approaches me, and I think something is off about him and he makes me uncomfortable, and I say to him “I’m not interested in talking”, I am, according to these people, committing a grave injustice by finding him creepy. If people decide that creep is a slur on par with slut or nigger (which many people seem to argue for), they’re not going to be satisfied with people just thinking it, feeling it, or saying it in private, they’re going to try to make that unacceptable too. I have already been told by an indignant man over at Clarisse’s that if I reject a guy without knowing him, I’m as bad as someone who refuse to hire people because of their race.

    “3) Strawman. get-away-with=!acceptable. If a celebrity/attractive can do something and have it be not [creepy/wrong-bad/whatever], I or anyone else can do the same. Being attractive/a-celebrity does not make your actions more or less acceptable.”

    Exactly, which is why I’m right. Accepted in some people=!should be acceptable for everyone. That celebrities act badly and are not called out for it does not mean the behaviour is, or should be, acceptable.

    “4) As many have pointed out women are being erased in that they are viewed as never creepy. But I also thinks this needs to be said. When judging someone’s actions, OTHER PEOPLE’S FEELINGS DO NOT MATTER. It does not matter that she thinks one person is attractive and the other unattractive. It does not matter if one of them is making her feel uncomfortable. It does not matter that she wants one to not talk with her.”

    That’s nice. So when I flirt with a guy and let him grab me, I am being unreasonable if I act upset when someone else cops a feel? After all, my feelings don’t matter, only the act, and if the act of someone I want to grab me and the act of someone I don’t want to grab me are identical, I should react identically to it, right?

    “What DOES matter is what the person we’re judging believes.”

    No. I know it’s a pleasant thought, but there is something to the notion of personal responsibility. If you do not pay attention to your target’s words and body-language, if you presume to know what they really feel deep down inside, if you progress via a script and do not adjust your behaviour according to the reactions you receive, then it doesn’t matter what you think. You can think you’re a great driver who doesn’t need to focus on the traffic, but such thoughts (especially in conjunction with being a bad driver) makes you a danger to yourself and others, and it is not unreasonable for people to judge you as an irresponsible fool, even before you end up in accident.

    I’ve seen an inexperienced girl basically go from guy to guy in search of validation, often ending up going further sexually than she really wanted, and very often, something peculiar happened: Practically every single guy EXCEPT the one who was currently hitting on her could see that she was ultimately uncomfortable with the situation. Of course, she was always blamed for getting herself in trouble, but eventually, I had to wonder if this convenient blindness on behalf of the guys who stood to get sex from her was really a result of their (lacking) social abilities, or of a choice to let wishful thinking get in the ways of the realities. Perhaps my judgement is coloured by the fact that she started having sex with a 19 year old (who later tried to cheat on her with me, and then dumped her for being immature) at the age of 13, and that some of the guys she was with were in their twenties, but still found the difference in attitude between the guys who were viewing her from the outside, and the guys who tried to get in her pants, to be very disconcerting.

    “They’re seriously bad if they’re reported to the police. You are attempting to: ”

    First off, a lot of false accusations do not mention any perpetrator, so all those things you mentioned are not actually being categorically attempted the way you make it out to be. Secondly, since I have yet to see any of the people who care so about those being falsely accused of rape extend the same courtesy to the many people who’re falsely accused of fraud because they report real assaults (probably because these people are prone to making those very same accusations themselves), I have a hard time believing their sincerity.

    But I’m not going to discuss this further. I was using it as a simple comparison, that while there are a lot of men who would like nothing better than for it to be even harder for women to report being raped by a man (because being called a liar and a slut is not bad enough), there are also men who actually worries about when men are the victims of sexual abuse (which is a good idea, since the numbers suggest it’s considerably more common than being false accused) because they have been victims of it themselves. But when it comes to discussions like this one, no men are talking about having felt creeped out themselves, which is an interesting difference. Then again, I haven’t heard that many men talk about actually being called creeps themselves, so perhaps it’s more a case of these debates being more theoretical.

  101. Credit says:

    @ Skidd:
    “Anecdote time! I had a guy in college that made me feel “creeped out” (I do not call him a “Creep”, though) – he basically was waaay friendly and constantly tried to get me to high-five him, asked me why I wasn’t smiling, and just invaded my personal space (Also his sax playing was a little too screechy for my taste, but that’s just my aesthetics. 😛 ) — I don’t think that’s worthy of “creep”, though. He was just a jovial guy who wanted to make people happy – he just didn’t know the right way to do it without making people uncomfortable. Intentions were good, execution was not-so-much.”

    It’s probably more accurate to say his execution wasn’t the right way to do it with you. Other people respond differently to that kind of behavior and some of them appreciate it.

    I’m the same way when it comes to new people, physical contact and personal space. But I’ve seen the touchy “hey buddy” high-five playbook work within my circle of friends. It’s all personal preference.

  102. superglucose says:

    @AB, I just want to point out that your post definitely made me, a third party with no real interest, feel verbally assaulted by you on account of my gender. I’m not saying you’re wrong, I’m saying you may want to clean up how you verbalize what you’re trying to say.

    Also:

    ““4) As many have pointed out women are being erased in that they are viewed as never creepy. But I also thinks this needs to be said. When judging someone’s actions, OTHER PEOPLE’S FEELINGS DO NOT MATTER. It does not matter that she thinks one person is attractive and the other unattractive. It does not matter if one of them is making her feel uncomfortable. It does not matter that she wants one to not talk with her.”

    That’s nice. So when I flirt with a guy and let him grab me, I am being unreasonable if I act upset when someone else cops a feel? After all, my feelings don’t matter, only the act, and if the act of someone I want to grab me and the act of someone I don’t want to grab me are identical, I should react identically to it, right?”

    That feels like a non-sequiter. I read point 4 as basically, “it doesn’t matter that she thinks one person is attractive or the other isn’t” as in, it’s ok for her to choose which one she finds attractive.

    Also also: you wanted to hear about men feeling creeped out? I definitely know there was a guy hanging outside an In’N’Out waiting for me to leave. I felt creeped out. Or the time when two girls, both really drunk, decided to make out while leaning against me? I felt violated, as if my personal space didn’t matter, and I definitely felt as though I couldn’t SAY anything because I was *supposed* to enjoy this, right? Then when I later recanted the story there was a girl who was like, “No, that’s actually just hot when chicks make out and lean on you.” I felt creeped out THERE too, like oh cool here’s another girl who thinks that the rules of personal boundaries don’t apply if you meet some arbitrary minimum hotness quotient! Or the time that I was trying to do my lab work and a girl kept touching me hanging on my arm and “please please please you’re so smart plleeeaaasseee help me with my lab work”? Yeah that was creepy and annoying as well.

    There have been many times I’ve overheard girls tell stories that make me think, “… uuugh *shudder*” just out of the pure fear of people who think like they did.

  103. AB says:

    @Skidd:

    “I’ll agree, to an extent. ASD pride is still a rather new notion. Most often when growing up, ASD folks strive HARD to maintain some kind of normalcy.”

    Actually, most of them will strive to live a good life and to not hurt others. One of the problems is when NTs (neurotypicals) assume that what the people on the autism spectrum want is normalcy. Or worse, the tendency of guys on the internet to use the poor oppressed autists to argue that women better act real nice to guys acting rude or committing boundary violations, or risk oppressing the poor, poor socially awkward geeks who totally can’t help it. This is in sharp contrast to the actual behaviour I’ve observed in guys with Asperger’s syndrome, who can be surprisingly interested in NOT being used as other people’s excuse for bad behaviour.

    “Even now my brother is fearful of telling other people he’s ASD. It’s nothing to do with feeling entitled or assholeish. It’s FEAR akin to what a LGBT person in the closet feels. (But with less physical violence and more dehumanizing and threat of being institutionalized)”

    That’s interesting, because the behaviour you allude to (acting as if you were normal and capable of judging whether or not other people were comfortable with you) is exactly what a lot of aspies in Denmark try to avoid. In my experience, Danes in this situation usually try to go along with what other people do/want when they don’t want to be discovered, and actually refrain from activities which could reveal their situation (e.g. starting conversations with strangers).

    Your idea of someone trying not show that they have social difficulties sounds like a blind person walking as if they could see, and then getting really offended when they bump into people who couldn’t see that they were blind and therefore wouldn’t think of moving. Or deaf people acting as if they knew what another person was saying even though they couldn’t read the lips, and then talk about oppression when people get mad over being misunderstood. In contrast, there are many people in that situation who would just not go outside to bump into people, or who would do most of their communication over the web.

    “So no, I don’t think ASD folk are necessarily obligated to come out or wear a name tag.”

    If you require others to take special considerations (e.g. you want a girl to forgive you even though 95% of the guys who acted towards her as you did would be doing it to harass her, because you didn’t know what the behaviour meant), you have to be forward, or stop expecting them to adjust to what you’re not telling them.

    Whether you like it or not, the human species use non-verbal and indirect communication just as much as we use our eyes and ears, and if you’re one of the people on the autism spectrum who lack that ability (and not all of us do, btw), you’re going to bump into people and not understand what they’re saying. This is not just a problem for you, this can be a problem for everyone in your surroundings too, especially if you don’t give them a chance to adapt.

  104. Ferris says:

    I can only speak to my experience and my peer group, but for me “creep” is a stand in for “I don’t like him, but I don’t have a valid reason why.” When there is something genuinely problematic with a guy, that attribute is usually singled out. “He scares me” or “He’s an asshole” or “He slept with so and so and never called her” or “He wouldn’t leave me alone.” “Creep” on the other hand, is purposely vague, because by keeping it vague the woman in question never has to justify a particular complaint; it’s an impugn-with-impunity card.

    This idea is further buttressed by the fact that the word is almost always used for an audience. Whether a woman is describing a guy to her friends, or whether she’s saying it loudly in order to publicly shame someone, the use of the word is almost always about third party communication, which again speaks to social positioning and shaming.

    It is purely a shaming technique used to keep the “undesirables” where they belong: out of sight and out of mind.

  105. Danny says:

    Ozy: I think, in general, it’s pretty obvious and rather creepy if someone’s sole purpose in coming to a party is “getting in someone else’s pants.” If someone is into redheads with glasses, and only talks to redheads with glasses, and blows off the people of incompatible orientation at the party while paying a lot of attention to any redhead with glasses… yeah, that is kind of creepy, I think.
    The reason I objected to that a bit is because of gender. It seems that once you inject gender into that situation then it comes down to women who do this being called sluts (which is a side track perhaps best left for another day) and men being called creeps. Now about those men being called creeps what seems to happen is that some of them are being creepy while others are just being called that in an effort to demonize male sexuality.

    Which leads me to…

    AB:5: The word does not share the problematic aspects of the sexual and gendered insults it is compared with (slut, pussy, sissy, bitch, faggot, dyke), which are all about devaluing non-problematic behaviours (promiscuity, homosexuality, femininity), but is is actually closer to terms like racist, abuser, misogynist, or misandrist, which no one are in favour of abandoning despite how often they’re misused.

    While the original intent and use of the word may not have been about devaluing non-problematic behaviors its use has been warped to the point where it does just that at times. A grown man in a San Rio store shopping for himself? A man at the park taking pictures while his kids play? And its not just limited to men, namely transgender women as mentioned above. But for the most part those uses are indeed gendered. (People may call a grown woman childish for shopping in San Rio store for herself but I doubt “creepy” would come up, most people won’t bat an eye at a women taking pictures of her kids in the park, and most women wouldn’t be alarmed at something they think is a cisgender woman going into the women’s bathroom.)

    I personally think it would be a lot better to borrow from the way we handle those words (e.g. the advice to replace “You’re racist” with “That’s racist”) instead of, through the choice comparisons, suggesting that creepy behaviour is as morally neutral as promiscuity or femininity.
    For me at least its not an attempt at trying to say that creepy behavior is morally neutral but rather a matter of what exactly could be considered creepy behavior when at times morally neutral behavior is being called creepy when it shouldn’t be.

  106. Ampersand says:

    This idea is further buttressed by the fact that the word is almost always used for an audience.

    How do you know how often people use the word privately — say, in their journals, or in their heads?

  107. Ferris says:

    Cause I’ve never been called a creep, and I’m a creepy dude.

  108. Ampersand says:

    Superglucose wrote:

    I read point 4 as basically, “it doesn’t matter that she thinks one person is attractive or the other isn’t” as in, it’s ok for her to choose which one she finds attractive.

    You read point 4 incorrectly. Here’s the entire paragraph:

    4) As many have pointed out women are being erased in that they are viewed as never creepy. But I also thinks this needs to be said. When judging someone’s actions, OTHER PEOPLE’S FEELINGS DO NOT MATTER. It does not matter that she thinks one person is attractive and the other unattractive. It does not matter if one of them is making her feel uncomfortable. It does not matter that she wants one to not talk with her. What DOES matter is what the person we’re judging believes. If the person we want to judge believes any of the above and continues with advances we can say that person is acting badly. But if the person doesn’t know he is view as unattractive, we can’t use the fact that she views him as unattractive in judging him.

    The point was clearly that her feelings (“that she views him as unattractive”) “DO NOT MATTER.” As long as his intent was pure and his heart was good, we can’t judge him, according to Lamech.

  109. AB says:

    @superglucose:

    “That feels like a non-sequiter. I read point 4 as basically, “it doesn’t matter that she thinks one person is attractive or the other isn’t” as in, it’s ok for her to choose which one she finds attractive.”

    In this case, we were talking about when it’s OK for someone to feel creeped out. As in “if this behaviour is acceptable for one person, it should be acceptable for another”. The obvious problem is that creepiness is an unwelcome behaviour, and that whether or not people welcome a behaviour is highly dependant on the situation.

    “Also also: you wanted to hear about men feeling creeped out?”

    Actually, I wanted to hear what they thought should be done about it. As it is now, most seem to suggest that the solution to guys not being as able to call people out on boundary-violations should be to make women even less able to do the same, and I was curious if that was just the view of guys who hadn’t experienced a lot of behaviour they found creepy, or if it was more general.

    It seems from your examples that the type of creepiness you have experienced was more connected to single instances, whereas the type I have experienced and heard most women tell about is the kind where you can’t quite put a finger on it, where the creep is skirting just on the edge of the acceptable, and where minor instances that aren’t too disturbing on their own add up to a pattern of problematic behaviour. I don’t know if that’s a general pattern though.

  110. AB says:

    @Ferris:

    I can only speak to my experience and my peer group, but for me “creep” is a stand in for “I don’t like him, but I don’t have a valid reason why.” When there is something genuinely problematic with a guy, that attribute is usually singled out. “He scares me” or “He’s an asshole” or “He slept with so and so and never called her” or “He wouldn’t leave me alone.” “Creep” on the other hand, is purposely vague, because by keeping it vague the woman in question never has to justify a particular complaint”

    See, this is what I’m talking about when I say women often have to justify themselves for not liking a guy. No matter if it never has any negative consequences for the guy except that you wont be his friend, you’re not allowed to feel what you feel unless you can justify it.

    The guy I mentioned, who wanted me to justify why he’d never gotten to give me a massage, was a typical creep. Even though the girls in the group he’s part of are very different and have different kinds of tolerances, he’s never gotten favourable reactions from either of us. Of the two girls I’ve talked about him with, one of them just expressed general dislike, while another explained that she didn’t feel safe with him (the third girl ignores him, but we haven’t talked about why). As for me, the guy makes my inner alarm go off like Uma Thurman’s in Kill Bill.

    But it wasn’t until one of the girls and I talked about it that we actually managed to explain why the guy was such a creep. It was a combination of so many factors, scattered across a variety of situations. Because a lot of it had been specifically directed against us (either in the form of sexist remarks, or him talking to us while the others weren’t listening), we noticed it a lot more than the guys, but it wasn’t just that. When we actually listed it, we became quite astounded over the sheer amount of instances of him behaving inappropriately. To me, that’s what creepy is.

    “This idea is further buttressed by the fact that the word is almost always used for an audience. Whether a woman is describing a guy to her friends, or whether she’s saying it loudly in order to publicly shame someone, the use of the word is almost always about third party communication, which again speaks to social positioning and shaming.”

    I’m not sure what you mean. Under which circumstances could you otherwise talk about a guy being creepy, if not in public or privately with your friends?

  111. Ferris says:

    @AB
    “while another explained that she didn’t feel safe with him”

    This is kind of my point, and this exact example was included in my original comment. This girl had a valid problem with the guy, and as a result was able to identify exactly what that was. She didn’t need to fall back onto some vague “well he’s a creeper” type evasion, she was able to say “he makes me feel unsafe.” You yourself were able to come up with a laundry list of things he had done.

    Now I’m not saying you owe every guy an explanation of why you don’t like them or anything like that, but I do think that if you’re going to speak ill of someone, you should have something valid to speak ill of.

    As for the audience thing, what I was saying is that the use of “creep” is about creating an impression of the person in the minds of a third party, not about communicating anything with the person in question.

    Again I maintain the caveat that these are only my experiences and the social circles I have run in.

  112. elementary_watson says:

    Randomly replying to random posts:

    AB:

    See, this is what I’m talking about when I say women often have to justify themselves for not liking a guy.

    I guess this is true, and it is a problem; one should be free to say “There’s something about this person I don’t like which I can’t really put my finger on”, and leave it at that (without someone else pressuring her into “giving that guy a chance”).

    Blaming one’s own feelings on some metaphysical quality (“just creepiness”) is, of course, the easier, but ultimately wrong route to go.

    Adi: Re your “hot blonde approaches lonely guy, how can she be creepy”: This one is easy, if she has something like “Hi, my pussy is shaved” as an opening line, it’s creepy (as creepy as “Hi, I’ve got a nice and fluffy bush”, even though I’d be likelier to continue a conversation with a woman using that as her opening line than …)

    Okay, scrap it, opening lines like “Hi, I’ve had a colonoscopy last week” are absolutely creepy, kill every motivation to continue the conversation and spark a strong urge to get away from the woman, no matter how hot she is.

  113. f. says:

    @AB, that situation is exactly like the one I explained earlier! Everyone was vaguely annoyed at the guy’s “creepiness” but shrugged it off and tolerated it until we sat down and listed concrete examples, at which point it was like, holy shit we have an actual problem here.

    Maybe “creepy” is the description that is socially acceptable because it’s mean, but also kind of toothless – it makes the “creepy person” feel bad about themselves, but it doesn’t seem to be worth taking action about. You always suspect it isn’t actually justified, and you’ll encounter skepticism from others if you are not able to properly explain the troubling behavior.

    @Ferris, does it help explain what’s going on here if I mention, a lot of the time women will have the feeling that just an instinct or a feeling like “I feel unsafe” or “He touched me in a way that made me uncomfortable”… is actually not that valid? Personally, I’ve experienced that my boundaries will not be respected, and that not even my sense that a line has been crossed will be respected by third parties. Second-guessing my own impressions, giving someone “just one more chance”, or “just trying to get along” is socially encouraged. I don’t know if it’s the same for men, but I do know that that type of “but wait… am I actually just being a mean harpy who hates people?” second-guessing and doubt is something women do a lot. Maybe it’s in the type of environment where “I feel uncomfortable around him” is not respected, that “He’s just such a creep” is often deployed?

  114. “Hershele Ostropoler says:
    September 22, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    So can we incorporate “boundary violation” into our Reasonable Person Standard for creepiness?”
    I don’t know exactly what I think of this idea of “reasonable person standard for creepiness”, but if we accept it, yes, I even think that “boundary violation” is one of the most important and relevant point.

    “The Colour of Heartache says:
    September 22, 2011 at 11:35 am

    Some items on the Reasonable Person Standard will definitely catch people with mental conditions. I’m thinking of requiring the ability to read body language and requiring good social skills.”
    Thank you Colour of Heartache for pointing it.

    @Skidd: and thank you Skidd for all your comments.
    @those I already named, and AB and Ozy: I would love to developp more, but I’ts late (In Switzerland) and I am emotionnaly exhausted (not your fault, this times I’m not going very well)… all I can mention here is that while I agree completely about boundaries being something that everyone should learn and there should be no excuses for people who violates them.
    There is an inherent problem with assuming that everyone should know and/or learn body language lecture and/or “social skills” It is not possible not being ableist while doing so… I can’t develop very much but I know what I’m talking about (About social skills, I’l suggest you this post serie from Amanda-Forrest Vivian: http://adeepercountry.blogspot.com/2010/11/social-skills-dont-exist_12.html )

  115. Lamech says:

    @AB: “And a lot of times, it is not. You can make that judgement yourself as you please, but you shouldn’t try to rob people of the option to choose.”
    You didn’t answer the question. Is the person in the car creepy? If its an objective statement they either are or they aren’t. If its a subjective statement then the correct thing to say is “I feel the person in the car is unnerving.” If someone calls someone creepy when said person is doing nothing objectively creepy that someone is wrong.
    I’m not sure what you mean by the right to choose. Each person can not decide for themselves something that is objective. That is completely inane.

    “‘2) You don’t need an “excuse”. Just say something to the effect of “I’m not interested in [your offer].”‘

    That’s where you’re wrong. A lot of the guys who’re objecting to the word are actually objecting to the judgement. That is, if guy a approaches me, and I think something is off about him and he makes me uncomfortable, and I say to him “I’m not interested in talking”, I am, according to these people, committing a grave injustice by finding him creepy.”
    What? So when someone objects to a word you can actually read their minds over the internet and determine that they are lying? I doubt anyone here believes that your internal thought process causes a grave injustice. You might be wrong if you think its objective, but there is no injustice. Even if they did think that it has what exactly to do with not needing an excuse?

    “Exactly, which is why I’m right. Accepted in some people=!should be acceptable for everyone. That celebrities act badly and are not called out for it does not mean the behaviour is, or should be, acceptable.”
    Acceptable in some people does mean acceptable for everyone. Being attractive or famous doesn’t mean that approaching someone in a certain way is any more or less good. If someone thinks that a certain behavior would be okay if an attractive/famous person did it, but bad if a normal person did it they are incorrect.

    “‘“What DOES matter is what the person we’re judging believes.’

    No.”
    You are still wrong. If we take a scenario were person A approaches person B and the only difference is in person B’s are you seriously claiming that in one person A could be doing something wrong and in the other person A is just fine? Should our judgement differ even the slightest bit if the only difference is person A’s thoughts and feelings? You think it is okay to judge A on things that A has no possible way of knowing?
    Or perhaps you think that beliefs don’t matter in judgement?
    Which part do you disagree with?

    “First off, a lot of false accusations do not mention any perpetrator, so all those things you mentioned are not actually being categorically attempted the way you make it out to be.”
    A false accusation does sort of need to name someone. It wouldn’t be an accusation otherwise. Its straight up tautological.

    Ampersand: “The point was clearly that her feelings (“that she views him as unattractive”) “DO NOT MATTER.” As long as his intent was pure and his heart was good, we can’t judge him, according to Lamech.” You’re misinterpreting it on several levels. First you’re reading things that aren’t there. The only way your statement makes sense if you exclude everything else from the judgement. Consider “Not A. Also B.” This says nothing about C. Second you excluded many things that are beliefs from that category. For example, the belief in the fact that you are seeing a computer, would not fall under intent or heart.

  116. Lamech says:

    This: “If we take a scenario were person A approaches person B and the only difference is in person B’s are you seriously claiming that in one person A could be doing something wrong and in the other person A is just fine?”
    Should have thoughts added after B’s so it reads like
    “If we take a scenario were person A approaches person B and the only difference is in person B’s thoughts are you seriously claiming that in one person A could be doing something wrong and in the other person A is just fine?”
    Probably should have proofed first…

  117. Schala says:

    @AB

    “In my experience, Danes in this situation usually try to go along with what other people do/want when they don’t want to be discovered, and actually refrain from activities which could reveal their situation (e.g. starting conversations with strangers).”

    So the solution is to socially isolate themselves, check.

    @Danny

    “San Rio”

    Sanrio. It’s a company name, not Rio de Janeiro

  118. Ferris says:

    Perhaps you’re operating in qualitatively different social circles than I am. In my experience “creep” has been deployed from a position of power. An example that comes to mind was two girls I overheard talking on campus, where one had given her number to a guy at a party, and was now deriding him as a “creeper” for breaking the “never text twice” rule. The entire conversation was basically them laughing at how socially inferior he was.

    My point isn’t that “he scares me” or “I don’t feel safe” are invalid feelings, they are not, they are perfectly valid, but rather that in my experience “creep” doesn’t stand in for them, but stands in for something different.

  119. f. says:

    Ah, Ferris, I see. Yeah, maybe it’s because I am a bit older than you, but that is completely different than any thing I’ve experienced.

    At least the so-called “creeper” dodged a bullet there…

  120. Jim:

    Comments ot women on the street may not be considerd boundary violations in Italy,

    How do Italian women feel about this? I’m seriously asking. Do they actually enjoy it — it’s possible, there’s nothing inherently, Platonically wrong with the behavior — or do they feel they have to put up with it?

    Skidd:

    But I believe people are not Creeps. You can feel creeped out, there can be creepy behavior, but people are not simply “creeps”.

    Perhaps people who engage in creepy behavior constantly, knowing it’s creepy, and who are capable of not being creepy but choose to do so anyway … but it’s hard to tell from the outside.

    AB:

    Men don’t appear to experience be creeped out very often, while women are

    Speculation: boys are raised to not admit to fear, and “being creeped out” is, at its root, a feeling of fear.

    Ferris:

    I can only speak to my experience and my peer group, but for me “creep” is a stand in for “I don’t like him, but I don’t have a valid reason why.”

    But that in turn can mean “I don’t like hir, but if I explained my reasoning I’d seem stuck-up or paranoid.” And that encompasses “zie’s a creep because zie plays M:tG” (and the speaker would seem stuck-up because it would, in fact, be the case) but it also encompasses legitimate reasons — and the fact that I couldn’t think of any unambiguously legitimate situations (I feel) underscores my point.

  121. AB says:

    @Ferris:

    “This is kind of my point, and this exact example was included in my original comment. This girl had a valid problem with the guy, and as a result was able to identify exactly what that was. She didn’t need to fall back onto some vague “well he’s a creeper” type evasion, she was able to say “he makes me feel unsafe.” You yourself were able to come up with a laundry list of things he had done.”

    Actually, when she said that, her boyfriend looked at her with disbelief, because putting it that way is extremely dramatic, and since the guy hadn’t threatened her at any point, it is also unjustified. I had to help her along by explaining “What you’re basically saying is that he activates your creep-dar, correct? There’s just something about him which tells you “This guy is completely indifferent towards my comfort and safety”. You can’t exactly tell why, and it’s not like you can usually pick out dangerous people on sight or anything, but for some reason, we seem to all pick it up from him.”

    And it helped. The boyfriend seemed to understand the concept of feeling apprehensive and unnerved by someone giving off an eerie vibe a lot better than just not feeling safe, which for him was more connected to an immediate threat. Saying “he makes me feel unsafe” seemed to conjure the image of expecting an attack at any time, whereas “he shows up on my creep-dar” gave the sense that he evoked a sort of general alertness in you, which is closer to the truth and not quite a accusatory as saying he’s a direct threat. Not to mention that the girl herself thanked me for providing her with a vocabulary to better express her feelings.

    Also, we didn’t have that laundry list to begin with. It actually started with the boyfriend expressing annoyance over this guy, and us girls just sort of took over. Eventually, when I told about the way he’d hit on me, the boyfriend even said “That’s creepy even for me!” and the girlfriend immediately answered “That’s what I’ve been saying, he’s different around you!” (I had a feeling that she’d tried telling him it before). We’d both felt that way about the guy long before that, but we hadn’t spoken much about it or compared observations, because every time we’d tried to bring it up, it had been dismissed by the guys. The only way were able to confirm, both to ourselves and to her boyfriend, that he actually was a problem, was by doing what you so despise, sit in a small group and privately talk about him.

    “As for the audience thing, what I was saying is that the use of “creep” is about creating an impression of the person in the minds of a third party, not about communicating anything with the person in question.”

    That’s actually exactly what we did. We would never tell him to his face because there would be no use. We probably wont tell it to the rest of our surroundings either. He stays largely within the boundaries of accepted (if not acceptable) behaviour, and he’s acknowledged as socially awkward by the group. We’ve gotten to react hostile to him on the occasions where he’s slipped, we’ve learned to act more dismissively than upset towards him which helps a lot, and because he’s starting to annoy the guys more, he doesn’t get as much leeway as he used to. But that’s a far cry from being able to tell the others that the socially awkward guy whom they are so proud of accepting despite his social awkwardness is making us feeling threatened, especially when all we got is a ton of anecdotes about hostility, sexist remarks, and come-ons.

  122. Danny says:

    Schala:
    Sanrio. It’s a company name, not Rio de Janeiro
    Yes I know its a company. I just hadn’t seen it spelled in so long.

  123. Sam says:

    Ozy,

    I think both you and Clarisse (in the first comment are right), which may sound strange at first. What can bridge the apparent contradiction is two words: feel vs. are or, in other words, subjective vs. objectified reality.

    When someone *feels* creeped out, they have all the right to do say so as long as it’s contextually appropriate. IE, kicking a guy in the balls for clumsily saying hi at a bar is disproportional, and, well, creepy in return. On the other hand, when people are talking abstractly about what constitutes “creepy”, your suggestion of a sane person recipient is very much necessary (and not rarely assumed).

    That said, I’m not sure I agree with all the points you mention. I would say that you cover some of “ineffective”, or merely annoying, dating behaviour and classify it as “creepy”. I think those are not the same, creepy is more than merely annoying.

    As such,

    “Continuing to talk to someone, especially a stranger or acquaintance, who has negative body language (closed up, frozen, shaking head, looking away, responding in monosyllables) or says they would not like to talk to you.

    can very well be merely annoying, but not creepy.

    As for this –

    “Telling a stranger how much you’d like to fuck them as your opening line.”

    I don’t know, but I’d say that also depends on contextual variables. As I’ve come to understand recently due to an experience I told a number of my female friends, something like this – kissing strange guys withtout introducing themselves – seems to be not uncommon among women. I was stunned when I saw this behaviour, but apparently it’s something (some) women do. And for some reason or another, be it that the guys wanted it or the women’s performance, this wasn’t considered creepy. So, well, I think performance is a huge aspect in this respect, and I’m pretty sure that line *could* be pulled off in a non-creepy way.

    “Pressuring a person into physical contact (anything from a handshake to sex) they don’t want.”

    I don’t know, some things are culturally required. If you say goodbye and the other person doesn’t want to shake hands, I’d say it’s creepier to not want to shake hands than to do it, but that’s just me.

    “Taking someone out on something that is not a date, which you plan on turning into a date.”

    Like Clarisse, I don’t know what that means. There’s not too much of an explicit “dating” culture going on in my country. The nature of the interaction is often decided on spot.

    “Accidentally” turning up in the psychology class, coffeeshop or laundromat of the person you have a crush on.

    was deemed romantic by most women I once asked about this when a friend did it. But I’m also sure they would have called it creepy had they seen a picture of him. You get my reservation…

    “Only talking to people you want to fuck at a party.”

    You do see a slight contradiction to the date thing, don’t you? In this case you may actually develop an interest in someone by talking to them at a party, which would make the interaction an instant date…

    “Poor social skills in general. (Have I recommended SucceedSocially enough yet?)”

    … are creepy? Don’t think that’s a fair assessment.

    I know this is a really tough issue, and also one which seems to annoy a lot of guys. Something a friend once did when we talked about guys, girls and flirting was, even though it involved me doing something not perfectly, very good.

    She said, you know, at that point, you came on a little too strong for me – you know, I don’t want you to feel like it was a big deal or something, I don’t want you to feel bad about it, and I suppose would have been perfect for any other woman, but it was too much for me at that point. Her phrasing it this way allowed me to apologize for my coming on a little too strong without feeling like a creep. I understand that this kind of nuanced conversation is not usually available, but I’d like to use it to highlight the conversational approach I think is helpful both in specific instances and in general.

    Furthermore, here’s the beginning of a creep-taxonomy which I attempted in one of Clarisse Thorn’s manliness threads –

    http://clarissethorn.com/blog/2010/10/15/manliness-and-feminism-2-judgment-day/#comment-7965

    “a) “premature sexualisation” – this is actually what Strauss in the game says puas should avoid at all costs: hitting on a woman without having established the reasonable assumption of attraction on her part. So thinking about the guy from last weekend [a guy at a party who went from one girl to the next always causing the same creeped out reaction to his touch their, say, arm], I think this is what he was mostly doing – when he was touching the girls, in the way he did it, there seemed to be something at least implied sexual, and it was, I’d say, that much more than the touch itself that creeped the women out. I think the initial touching can be difficult to get right, as it should be safe, but masculine, firm, but friendly, potentially sexual, but not actually sexual. But I think that this is a particularly important aspect, as most people, certainly most women seem to have a finely tuned radar for good and bad touching. So, in order to avoid that kind of creepiness, avoid premature sexualisation of conversation or the touch.

    b) “insecurity induced creepiness” – this is probably the most “unfair” kind of creepiness. Some of the guys I’d call creepy are so because they are insecure in what they do. When they say “hello” it comes across as “I’m sorry, may I say hello please” and their insecurity leads them to be awkward in most interactions – and – since that insecurity is so unattractive to most women, they will likely fall into the premature sexualisation creepiness cluster regardless of how much effort they expended on any particular interaction.”

  124. Asking people about their genitals (if they didn’t talk about their genitals in the first place, and obv if you aren’t friends and you alrdy know they have a comfort level w/ it xD)

  125. superglucose says:

    Wait so asking people about their genitals is creepy? SO THAT’S WHAT I’VE BEEN DOING WRONG!

  126. Having poor social skills isn’t creepy in and of itself, but it can lead you to act in creepy ways without realizing it, and can prevent you from knowing something is creepy before you do it.

  127. anniceris says:

    I had to consider this dilemma in a very practical context recently. On a whim, I organised a meet-up, on Twitter, for deviant/swinger/sex-ed type Twitter people in my city. I just put the details out on Twitter, invited people to re-tweet it, and didn’t give it much more thought. Closer to the day of the event I had a couple of people (females) contact me and say they wanted to come but were worried that there’d be sleazy/creepy (males) there coming on to them – which hadn’t even really ocurred to me before that. I wanted everyone who came to be comfortable, and for the event to be a social event for people interested in sex, not a sexual event for people interested in sex. I ended up tweeting a final open invite saying something like “ALL WELCOME – Just don’t be creepy. It’s a friendly chat over drinks, not a convenient gathering of prey.” I didn’t want anybody to come who’d make others uncomfortable, but I didn’t want anyone decent to be worried about being perceived as creepy, and discouraged from coming. And my tweet might have done that – but after much thought I couldn’t really come up with a better way of conveying my meaning in 140chs. It’s a difficult one. (In any case, the event was great in the end)

  128. anniceris says:

    Great post, btw 🙂

  129. Tamen says:

    Anniceris: You actually stated a better worded version earlier in you comment: “a social event for people interested in sex, not a sexual event for people interested in sex” without the use of the word creep and the effects that word may have had on decent people as you said.

  130. Tamen says:

    AB: About ASD people:

    In a word, yes. Or rather, those who genuinely have problems with social conduct do. And fortunately, a lot of them know that most people communicate through facial expressions, body-language, and reading between the lines, and that if they can’t communicate on that level, they need to make people aware of it.

    Hm…how could we go about that, perhaps having them wear a yellow star or a pink triangle on their lapels. Wait, those are already taken. Perhaps a boogey-green square lapel pin would suffice? If there was a notion which deserved being Goodwin’ed in this thread it’s the notion that ASD people are obliged to tell people they meet that they are ASD to ensure that those people are not offended, unconfortable or creeped out. I mean, come on!

    And then there’s been some arguments that being creeped out is always an objectively truth although it is an subjective experience. What matters is that a person was creeped out – there is no reason at all to second-guess that feeling. When one considers that many homophobes are feeling creeped out if they’re approached in any way by a gay person then I for one would hesitate to put that subjectively creeped out feeling as a objectively truth. Perhaps a pink lapel pin is warranted after all…

    I will say (as Jim also have a number of times) that if you’re ever creeped out then by all means extratc yourself from that situation/person as soon as you can. But please take som time to reflect on why you were creeped out before you run to all your friends and say “Oh my God, so-and-so is such a creep!”.

    Someone pointed out that men don’t feel creeped out as often as women. Of course, only recenty have society started to begin to recognize that behaviour which are considered rape, sexual harassment and molestation when done by men to women are also wrong when one reverse the gender. I guess it’ll still take some time before the recognizion that behaviour considered creepy when done by men will be considered creepy when done by women. But that time will come, in part because women are being more and more sexually assertive.

  131. Tamen says:

    Aw, fuck. Could any moderators have mercy on me and edit my above comment and insert a end blockquote tag after the first paragraph which ends with “…they need to make people aware of it.”? I wish for an edit functionality for X-mas by the way.

  132. AB says:

    @Tamen:

    “Hm…how could we go about that, perhaps having them wear a yellow star or a pink triangle on their lapels. Wait, those are already taken. Perhaps a boogey-green square lapel pin would suffice? If there was a notion which deserved being Goodwin’ed in this thread it’s the notion that ASD people are obliged to tell people they meet that they are ASD to ensure that those people are not offended, unconfortable or creeped out. I mean, come on!”

    Listen, I AM one of those ‘ASD people’, and the reason I usually don’t tell people in places like here (though I have no problem telling about it in real life where people aren’t pretending to be activists on behalf of me) is because people like you presume to speak for all of us and to have the answer to what would be best for us. (BTW, I’m sick to the death about the ‘D’ for ‘disorder’. How the hell can people claim to defend people like me while using that word? I usually don’t complain about it because it’s just a word, but when people start to make a big deal out of the welfare and comfort of a group of people I’m part of, while at the same time not even bothering to use a more neutral language, it’s just too much.)

    And I’m even more sick of people white-knighting some undefinable group of ‘ASDs’ while conveniently forgetting about every single member of that group whose wishes do not fit what they want to fight for. Do you know what I and many of my aspie friends think about the type of people who go “I should be allowed to act exactly as I feel like, because I’m autistic and I can’t help it”? We think they’re a fucking disgrace!

    And what’s worse, we’re the ones to get to feel the consequences of their behaviour and the advocates who support them. We’re the ones being met with distrust and disgust, and having to dispel people’s prejudice that being on the autism spectrum (and especially having Asperger’s syndrome) is just a made-up diagnose that privileged jerkass nerds with no sense of social responsibility use to excuse themselves. And it’s even more tragic because a lot of us actually have a heightened sense of responsibility compared to NTs, and yet that’s rarely acknowledged (which gives us further problems because we’re often distrusted when we tell about our problems), at least partly because so many people propose that our diagnosis causes us to act irresponsibly.

    If you have Tourette’s syndrome which can cause you to spontaneously scream “YOU FUCKING CUNT!” to women you’re talking to, you have a choice: You can either not inform them of it and take the consequences of having just called them a fucking cunt for no reason, or you can inform them of it to let them know it’s not personal. You should NOT have the option to expect them to guess it and act offended when they don’t. Similarly if you have ticks causing you to slap other people. When you’re asking people to do something for you they would not normally be expected to do, and put up with a behaviour they’re not normally supposed to accept, you have to give them a reason.

    That’s a major difference from the groups you erroneously compared them to: I don’t care if someone chooses to eat kosher because they’re Jewish or because they feel like it (unless they expect me to serve them kosher food, in which case they would need to inform me), because there’s nothing wrong with eating kosher. I also don’t care about whether someone has sex with people of the same sex because they’re homosexual or because they’re curious, because there’s nothing wrong with having sex with people of the same sex as you.

    But if someone acts rude and dismissively towards me, it will make a WORLD of difference whether they say from the beginning that they have poor social skills, or whether they act as if everything was normal, and then become offended when called out on their behaviour and make accusations of ableism against people for not figuring out that they were a special case. In this case, it’s not their objective behaviour which is acceptable (such as it would be acceptable for someone to choose to not eat pork), it is their motivation for engaging in it (poor social skills vs. disregard), and in order to figure out their reason, you have to know about their special circumstances.

    For instance, a male aspie once told me to excuse him for starring at my breasts. It wasn’t that he wasn’t listening, but he had trouble keeping eye contact and his eyes were drawn to that area. This made it much easier for me to accommodate him, and it spared me a lot of uncomfortable questions about his motivations. He engaged in a behaviour which is usually a sign of a lack of interest and respect, but because of his honesty, I was aware of the need to see it in a different light. But if he hadn’t been open and honest with me about his behaviour, there’s no way in hell I would accept it as easily, because I’ve met enough guys who were more than able to not stare at women’s breasts but chose to do it anyway, regardless of the women’s discomfort. I was not accepting the behaviour because it was an objectively friendly and respectful behaviour which I had no reason to be dissatisfied with, I accepted it because I knew of the need to interpret his actions differently than I would a normal guy. It did it because I accepted HIM, not the behaviour.

    In the same way, when I tell my fellow students that it’s not that I don’t like them, but that because of my AS, I prefer to sit alone during the lectures, I give them the opportunity to interpret my actions the way they’re supposed to. They don’t get upset because they think I’m ignoring them, they don’t stop inviting me places because they think I’m uninterested, and they don’t take special pains to draw me into the group because they’re afraid something is wrong. Instead, I get the reaction I want while sparring a lot of well-meaning students a lot of concerns. But it is completely unrealistic, and completely unfair, for me to expect them to interpret my actions the way I want them to if I don’t give them the context they need to make that interpretation.

  133. @ami Angelwings So the “hills” crack (and a subsequent reference to “shirt potatoes”) was actually legitimately creepy? Or is this a case of “5 folks, 10 opinions”?

  134. Schala says:

    “Do you know what I and many of my aspie friends think about the type of people who go “I should be allowed to act exactly as I feel like, because I’m autistic and I can’t help it”? We think they’re a fucking disgrace!”

    This isn’t what Tamen said. I don’t condone willfull ignorance either, but saying “Yeah, you’re creepy, live with the taint” is just ableist – and it doesn’t matter if it comes from a fellow aspie. I’ve seen transphobic trans people.

    Also, aspie here, trans woman aspie. Seems common amongst trans folk, or just more looked at (usually by ourselves, because in my experience with psychologists and psychiatrists, they wouldn’t know if someone was aspie, unless they had already been diagnosed at 3).

  135. Jay Generally says:

    It’s a little odd for me that Clarisse Thorn’s initial (and fantastic) article prompted so many of people to defend the very existence of ‘creep.’ The way I read the original article: people might want to reflect on their own personal use, and possible abuse, of the term and how the word is so frequently used in a gendered way that we may very well be creating, or have created, a masculine-gendered sexual pejorative (similar to ‘slut’ and a modern day equivalent to ‘masher’ or ‘cad.’) If we have come up with such a thing, it could do a lot to turn the conventional slut/stud narrative on its ear and possibly force many people to review any theories they may personally hold where our society supports a unidirectional sexually oppressive system. I didn’t see a suggestion in Thorn’s article to drop the word from the language or to begin directing ire towards people who use it, but that some men may have unfairly fallen victim to it. Some of the reflexive defensiveness is a little encouraging for me, it seems to stem more from people’s disgust they could have been doing anything as nasty as slut-shaming, rather than an attempt to defend a favored moral cudgel. I guess, some of the less well-formed arguments have sounded like someone afraid they’ll lose the inside track at the Oppression Olympics, or something.

    Nevertheless, I do support the continued existence of the word “creep.” Very simply, we do need a word to express the concept “a person who makes other people feel uncomfortable or unsafe, especially in a sexualized way.”

    I would argue that ‘creep’ does not technically mean that. I present the following:
    Creep
    Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary
    5 : an unpleasant or obnoxious person
    Dictionary.com
    14. Slang . a boring, disturbingly eccentric, painfully introverted, or obnoxious person.
    Oxford Dictionaries Online
    1. informal a detestable person.
    *a person who behaves in an obsequious way in the hope of advancement.
    (Oxford’s definition is particularly fascinating because how very appropriate the creep label would be for the proverbial Nice Guy ™. Heck, Dictionary.com’s definition is practically a perfect fit even if you replace the ‘or’ with an ‘and.’)

    Note that there’s no “esp. in a sexualized way” in these definitions. (There is actually no “unsafe” in these person oriented definitions either, but anyone who skims over the other definitions of the word will see enough references to discomfort and crawling skin that I think pointing that out would be specious.) The term is (was?) also already gender neutral. I’m not cracking open the dictionary( uh, dot… com) in an attempt to shut down discussion with some despotic adherence to an academic technicality. I believe that Thorn, Ozy, and co. are accurately presenting the term as the popular narrative, well– narrates it. This is where our, (as Ozy aptly deems it) ableist, classist, kinkphobic, sexist and kyriarchal society wants this word to be. It’s a little disturbing for me was that said society took something bad and coded it masculine and then took “bad + masculine” and tacked on “…so probably something sexual,” but I definitely think we may be better off with a word that denotes an abhorrent sexual presentation that (fairly or not) is more frequently applied to men because for some people the word for ‘abhorrent sexual presentation’ would just be ‘men.’ I actually like ‘creep’; unlike many other pejoratives, it doesn’t hinge on some anatomical bits that the subject presumably possesses (e.g., dick, pussy, cunt, asshole, etc.). ‘Creep’ helps people to codify and discuss their unease with another person without a third party interrogating them for specifics (e.g., Did they assault you? Insult you? Threaten you? Even touch you?) and then the failure to provide specifics being weaponized as an excuse to disregard their feelings and dissolve their situation. For the flip side of the coin acknowledging and allowing ‘creep’ lets people identify and condemn improper Creep-shaming when they see it used.

    “Hitting on people who are likely to feel pressured into saying yes, such as teenagers (if you are over the age of 21) or students or employees.”

    Or… men? . (>.>) – “In addition, men are typically thought to be incapable of not wanting sex, which means that even gross invasions of boundaries by women are sometimes not recognized as creepy. Straight men are told that having any boundaries around physical contact with women is unmasculine, since a real man ought to want sex with every woman who wants sex with him.”

    Seriously, I kid. 🙂 It’s just funny to think of how hard it would be to creatre a Creep or Creep-shaming litmus test.

    tl;dr Discussion is good. Slander is bad. ‘Creep’ is a perfectly cromulent word. Have some funny. *TRIGGER WARNING* Very creepy behavior TheCreep

  136. AB says:

    @Schala:

    “This isn’t what Tamen said. I don’t condone willfull ignorance either, but saying “Yeah, you’re creepy, live with the taint” is just ableist – and it doesn’t matter if it comes from a fellow aspie. I’ve seen transphobic trans people.”

    Tamen compared my suggestion that if you know you’re not capable of judging if your behaviour is inappropriate or not, you should inform people of your problems rather than expecting to have the rules of appropriateness adjusted exactly to your behaviour, to the way Nazis forced Jews and homosexuals to identify themselves. And that’s disgusting.

    Also, I’m not saying to live with any taint. Don’t put words in my mouth.

  137. noahbrand says:

    This seems like the point in a decent and civilized conversation where folks need to take a deep breath and recenter themselves, so that it can continue being a decent and civilized conversation. If you don’t know what “recenter” means, ask some poor bastard who grew up in Northern California like I did. 🙂

  138. Schala says:

    @AB

    So, if I’m not good, and don’t know what or how I did something wrong, I should pre-emptively warn people to avoid social contact with me, unless they like being stepped on their metaphorical toes? I should also tell all transphobic radfems that I’m trans so they don’t get attracted to me and then call me a man.

  139. AB says:

    @Jay Generally:

    “It’s a little odd for me that Clarisse Thorn’s initial (and fantastic) article prompted so many of people to defend the very existence of ‘creep.’”

    It’s not that odd, given that the behaviour of the people who agreed with her caused Clarisse herself to become upset. Here’s her last post before she closed the original thread, dealing with the way people have used her article to defend attitudes and behaviours which she herself is against: “When I read this article over now, I feel angry at myself for how I wrote it. No one else had written anything quite like it (as far as I know), and I was struggling to express a pattern that I still think is important, so I try to cut myself slack. But the way these points have been co-opted just makes me feel tired, cynical and depressed about the whole debate … and it puts me on a hair trigger whenever any guy mentions these issues, because I’m just waiting for his next sentence to be something like “And this just goes to show how feminism has ruined everything” … or, worse, “And this really demonstrates why women shouldn’t be allowed to set boundaries.””

    What I discovered at Clarisse’s (and note that I was originally in agreement with the article) was the there was a disturbing tendency for the guys who most strongly opposed the word to see it mainly as something which limited their sexual options than as a shameful slur. The way they saw it, if women would just stop feeling uncomfortable about anyone, then they would distribute their attention and attraction more equally, thus giving the guys who’re mostly considered creepy a a more equal opportunity to get sex. And since the inequality of sexual opportunities for men (no mention of women) was a civil rights issue on par with apartheid, so was women’s feeling of being creeped out, and both should be eradicated.

    “The way I read the original article: people might want to reflect on their own personal use, and possible abuse, of the term and how the word is so frequently used in a gendered way that we may very well be creating, or have created, a masculine-gendered sexual pejorative (similar to ‘slut’ and a modern day equivalent to ‘masher’ or ‘cad.’)”

    You do realise the major difference in these words?

    “I didn’t see a suggestion in Thorn’s article to drop the word from the language or to begin directing ire towards people who use it, but that some men may have unfairly fallen victim to it.”

    The part you’re missing is that there is already ire directed towards people who use it (at least if they’re women using it about a man), and that articles like Clarisse’s can be used to further justify and legitimize that anger. It’s easy, if you’ve never really felt threatened or attacked by creepy behaviour, and is a man who’s only seen the cases where women have felt secure enough to use the word, but there are plenty of times where women feel scared or freaked out but do not allow themselves to act on the feeling or talk about it, because they’re afraid of being shamed.

    “Some of the reflexive defensiveness is a little encouraging for me, it seems to stem more from people’s disgust they could have been doing anything as nasty as slut-shaming, rather than an attempt to defend a favored moral cudgel.”

    The reason for is that it is disingenuous to compare the two, and unfair to shame women who’re expressing (potentially legitimate) fear and discomfort by claiming that they have as little right to those feelings as men have to call them sluts. Notice the moral difference between these sentences: “I’m so sorry I called him a creep. Now that I’ve found out what a nice guy he is, I feel bad for having compared him to the kind of guys who grope you without permission” and “I’m so sorry I called her a slut. Now that I know she’s a virgin, I feel bad for having compared her to the cheap whores who sleep with men on the first date”.

    In the first case, the speaker is expressing that a genuinely hurtful behaviour, groping someone without permission, is unacceptable, and that it is OK to speak badly about those who engage in, it which is something most of us can agree with. In the second, the speaker is expressing that it is wrong for women (but most likely not men) to have casual sex, and that it is OK to shame them for engaging in it. That makes it a much more clear-cut case of being wrong and oppressive.

  140. Schala says:

    Note that in France, the French word equivalent of slut is so widespread in usage, that it means basically anything, and applies to men as well (and yes, it’s a grammatically gendered term, they still don’t care). Slut for them basically means anyone who even annoys them. It has lost all relevance to measure anything sexual by this, too.

  141. AB says:

    @Schala:

    “So, if I’m not good, and don’t know what or how I did something wrong, I should pre-emptively warn people to avoid social contact with me, unless they like being stepped on their metaphorical toes?”

    If you want people to accept a behaviour coming from you which would be unacceptable if coming from anyone else, you should give them a reason. If a guy interrupts me 5 times during a conversation, and repeatedly tell demeaning jokes about women, I’ll normally consider his behaviour to be sexist and act accordingly. If someone goes too close to me physically, and shows up without warning at my house even though we don’t have a close enough relationship for those kinds of visits, I’ll normally start to consider them a potential stalker, and react accordingly.

  142. AB says:

    One of the things I’ve learned as an aspie, is that your feelings and motivations are often invalidated because of teh label. If you say something brutally honest because you truly feel it needs to be said, you’ll be assumed to just not know the value of discretion, rather than having a damn good reason for bringing up the subject. If you feel uncomfortable with some of the social norms around you, you’ll be told there’s something wrong with you and that you need to accept it (one of the most obvious cases are aspie children who’re bullied by being given unwanted hugs – because hugs are not considered hostile, teachers can refuse to acknowledge the discomfort of the aspies as being valid).

    When I say to my boyfriend that I’m exhausted, and that I would be OK with talking for 10 minutes, but that I want some time afterwards to just relax without being bothered, and he chooses to keep the conversation going after more than 15 minutes, even though I show obvious discomfort and don’t respond, he’s not considered to have done anything wrong. At least not enough that me shouting “STOPITSTOPITSTOPIT! STOP TALKING AT ME!” wont be seen as a ridiculous overreaction (luckily, my boyfriend understood why I became upset).

    In many ways, these experiences are almost identical to the way I’m treated as a woman. The constant assumptions that because what you say about your feelings does not match what other people think you’re supposed to feel you must be dishonest, the dismissals that you’re just being hypersensitive, being expected to justify yourself and the way you feel, being called inconsiderate for not wanting to do certain things to please others, being called demanding and unreasonable for only wanting to be with people who’re willing to adhere to certain standards of behaviour, being shamed and criticised for not ‘just knowing’ something which no one has ever told you etc., all because you’re an overly emotional and thin-skinned woman. Or an aspie.

    I’ve often experienced being told that if I don’t understand an NT it’s because of my lack of ability to relate to others, but when an NT doesn’t understand me it’s because of my lacking ability to communicate. Even though, according to both professionals and people who don’t know I’m an aspie, those problems communicating and relating to others don’t exist (except perhaps the kinds that come from being intelligent and androgynous, which few seem to notice), this has been a constant technique for people to eschew responsibility when dealing with me and other aspies I know – they’re normal, and thus they must er definition by doing the perfectly normal and accepted thing (often they really aren’t, they just see themselves as the norm), and they have a perfectly acceptable level of understanding towards others (often, this is more a case of them never having needed a deeper understanding of anyone before), so if something goes wrong, it must be your fault.

    This is actually very similar to when men claim that they, as men, are rational, straightforward, and easy to understand, while women play games, have constant irrational mood swings, aren’t clear about what they want at all, and also happen to control all of the courting. This can mean, for instance, that when a man ignores a woman’s rejection, she clearly didn’t reject him the right way, and thus it’s really her fault. After all, his behaviour was completely reasonable (after guy standards, or his friends’ standards, or his own standards. Whatever it is, it’s usually claimed to be an objectively logical behaviour which no people should have any trouble understanding), so she must have been the irrational and unreasonable one for not following them.

    I can’t count the number of times I’ve been told by guys that I ought to have known that this or that behaviour would have encouraged a guy. I ought to have known that I needed to make myself clear to guys, because guys didn’t pick up on those subtle girly signals of mine. I ought to have known that saying directly to a guy that I didn’t want to date him while remaining friendly with him would only be construed as sending mixed signals, because guys were experts at picking up subtle girly signals like that. I should have been more considerate in breaking up with a guy, acting more friendly with him, to take away the sting of rejection. I should have known the secret motives of guys who weren’t forward about them. I should have known how guys would perceive my behaviour, I should have known how they would perceive my words, I should have known how I was supposed to perceive them, I should have been less attracted to this guy, I should have been more attracted to this guy. All the time, there was a constant stream of “we’re reasonable, you’re supposed to know how to act towards us” and “you’re not reasonable, you’re not responding to us the way our actions should have made you respond”. It got better as the guys got older, but still, it was the constant background noise of my teenage years, together with similar claims from clueless therapists.

    The guys I find the most creepy still behaves like that. Guys who have clear rules for social conduct, and expect you to adhere to them no matter how much you don’t want to. For instance, if they politely say hello to you, you are obligated to put away whatever you’re doing in order to talk to them and get to know them. If you fail to ‘give them a chance’ as this is usually called, you’re committing a grave injustice, just like the aspie children who don’t want hugs, and who have the nerve to yell and make a fuss when people continue to hug them after they’ve said no. It’s no wonder reasonable and empathic people get angry at them.

    Likewise with the guy who wanted to know why he never got to give me a massage. In his mind, if I ended up getting a massage by one guy, I was obliged to present him with a chance to similarly touch me, for the sake of fairness. He didn’t inform me of this rule, but he was quick enough to blame me for not following it. And of course, if you don’t find some of their humour funny, or don’t think they respect your boundaries, no matter how politely you say it, you’re obviously just being irrational and hypersensitive (I spent a year in a special school by mistake, were the teachers used this reasoning, and to this day, I have yet to meet a single aspie who felt like they benefited from it). If you try to explain the deeper reasons for your discomfort, you’re demanding too much, and being too emotional, and making too big a deal out of if.

    So while aspies are typically portrayed as the ones committing border violations and making people feel uncomfortable, my experience is that normalcy and the pretence of legitimacy is often used as an excuse to commit border violations and make people feel uncomfortable. I’m not the guy who thought he was acting friendly and got yelled at for making others uncomfortable, I was the girl who was the target of a behaviour which made me uncomfortable, but was told that I didn’t have the right to expect people to stop it once I expressed my discomfort, because their behaviour was reasonable and my feelings were not legit.

    So the people who suggest that those on the autism spectrum who have trouble noticing when others are uncomfortable and threatened should not inform them of this disability, and the people who act as if the mere act of THINKING you’re doing something acceptable and inoffensive it means you can’t be blamed for it and that other people have no right to object, are not fighting ableism in my opinion, they’re being ableist themselves. And by putting it in gendered contexts, sexist too.

  143. Schala says:

    Interrupting is a pretty gender-neutral (if rude) behavior.

    Well, I don’t do the kind of behavior you object to anyways. I don’t tell demeaning jokes about men, or women, or gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, atheists, but I might voice contempt for Christian and Muslim fundies or concepts (not a generalization of those in those faith), simply because they entrench on legal life (ie the concept of marriage is very much steeped in Christian stuff in the West, even if not ‘officially’ – same for how gay people are ‘sinful’).

    I tend to stay too distant, rather than come too close – with everyone. Because I’m genuinely afraid of being actively disliked if I go too close (it’s my personal experience of being generally disliked, period – but at least it’s passive dislike).

    And no one invites me to their house, or them to mine, unless they already happen to be there (at my house). This only happened in my teen years, and I was only invited there once. I never go unless invited, and if someone wants to come to my place THEY have to propose it – because I’m going to assume general disinterest, at best tolerating-my-presence. Unless stated otherwise, I won’t assume friendship.

    I can invite my immediate family members to my place because closeness is defacto established with those I’m even in contact with (not my father, but all my brothers and my mother are ok).

    With all that in mind, I’m conversationally very open to speak about any and all topics, pretty much at all times, barring very gross stuff and toilet humor while eating or near people who are eating. This can make me seem overly friendly. I’m not. I just don’t have social taboos, so I’ll be TMI if the convo goes this way.

    Last Christmas the convo went to sex and I brought up bondage and BDSM with my mother and his boyfriend and my brothers present. It didn’t seem out of place, and no one sounded offended about it. It was perfectly natural for me though.

  144. Schala says:

    @AB

    It seems I’m both more cynical about the world, and more equal opportunity about blaming people in that world. I don’t blame men, or women, or whites, etc. I blame everyone who supports it, and whatever color or bits they have, I don’t care.

    Might be about being trans and seeing that injustice against men don’t make up for injustice against women, and in fact, only perpetuate the whole deal (and always have, since immemorial times, it seems).

    Also, even if I didn’t date much (once in my life) as someone perceived to be male. I can be more sympathetic to a point of view I actually saw.

    The fact that I gained massive social cred points by transitioning should tell you that men can be oppressed as men (I was asexual, so it wasn’t exactly homophobia – I’m also not exactly the image of feminity, even if I don’t qualify as butch).

  145. Darque says:

    @AB

    I can understand what you mean . Maybe creep might be a useful term in the context of telling off guys who don’t know how to take “no” for an answer.

    In the context of someone who has politely made an advance (one time) though, I think a polite rejection is the appropriate response.

    In other words, let us use this term for those who deserve it. It would be better if women felt more comfortable saying “Sorry, you’re just not my type.”, and that answer were truly respected by men.

  146. Developers! Developers! Developers! says:

    However, it’s problematic in way more ways than just gender. It’s a kinkphobic term; kinky people’s sexuality, even when safely, consensually and joyfully expressed, is often called “creepy.”

    I think it goes the other way as well. I do suspect that a man who openly admits that he is actively looking for a wife is widely considered creepy. (Not to say that the effect is non-existent for women. Consider the term babies rabies).

    One critique that Hugh Ristik, among others, has made of “creep” that I think is actually valid is that it is a very vague term: creepy refers to any behavior that could make a person feel uncomfortable or unsafe. Unfortunately, nearly any behavior could theoretically make a person feel uncomfortable or unsafe. A survivor of horrific rape and abuse might feel uncomfortable or unsafe whenever a strange person talks to him or her, even if that person is just asking the time. That doesn’t mean the survivor has to keep talking to the time-asking person, or that the time-asking person should ignore the survivor’s negative body language, but it also doesn’t mean that no one should ever ask the time from anyone else.

    Yes, but… The horse has already left the barn at that point. You are still a “creep” for failing to foresee that your presence would offend someone else, even if you recognize that and run the other way after the fact. If you make that offense a moral wrong, the only ethical lifestyle would be living in a small, tight-knight community that is isolated from the outside… Which is utterly unworkable these days, unfortunately.

    Behavior that would probably qualify as creepy under this scheme includes:

    * Continuing to talk to someone, especially a stranger or acquaintance, who has negative body language (closed up, frozen, shaking head, looking away, responding in monosyllables) or says they would not like to talk to you.

    I hate to say it, but when I display the body language you describe, it usually has nothing to do with whomever I’m talking to. For one, body language is culturally dependent. For another, “sometimes a cigar is just a cigar”. I might be looking away because there’s something I want to look at that’s away.

    * Hitting on a stranger in an enclosed environment (such as a moving vehicle), a deserted area or very late at night.

    Define “hitting on”. What if innocent conservation is misinterpreted as “hitting on”?

    * Pressuring a person into physical contact (anything from a handshake to sex) they don’t want.

    * Hitting on people who are likely to feel pressured into saying yes, such as teenagers (if you are over the age of 21) or students or employees.

    An age difference of two years is excessive pressure? I have a bit of a problem with this. If you mean “if you say yes I can do X and Y for you with my wealth/power/age/whatever”, then every job you work at and transaction you agree to results in you feeling pressured. If I don’t go to work next week, I might not be able to afford rent, tuition, or a Yaesu FT-7900. If that is okay, than why is this a problem with personal relationships?
    On the flip side, your point makes perfect sense if by pressure you mean “if don’t say yes, I will actively deprive you of life, liberty or property”.

    * “Accidentally” turning up in the psychology class, coffeeshop or laundromat of the person you have a crush on.

    Psychology class? I thought the whole point of a class is that you attend a set of regularly scheduled meetings. Why should I have to change my schedule to appease someone who feels uncomfortable when their discomfort is not my responsibility.

    * Only talking to people you want to fuck at a party.

    So, talking to someone who doesn’t want to talk to you is creepy, and not talking to people you don’t want to talk to is also creepy. This strikes me as a contradiction.

  147. AB says:

    @Schala:

    “It seems I’m both more cynical about the world, and more equal opportunity about blaming people in that world. I don’t blame men, or women, or whites, etc. I blame everyone who supports it, and whatever color or bits they have, I don’t care.”

    You do not have the basis to conclude that I am not equal opportunity about blaming people. Equal opportunity is not the same as equal distribution. I have experienced certain types of injustice more from certain groups than others, often due to in-group/out-group mechanisms, but this does not make me an unreasonable person, or less of an egalitarian. Most of the people who made me feel inadequate for not living up to their demands in the area of flirting and romance were male. But most of the therapists who abused me were women, while most of the people who’ve helped me were men, and believe me, I don’t blame the women any less.

    But in this context, my perspective is going to be on situations concerning the word ‘creep’ because that happens to be the subject of this thread, and in that context, my experiences are with men trying to invalidate my feelings of discomfort, just as certain people have done in regards to my AS, portraying themselves as well-meaning and reasonable and demanding to be judged only in that framework, while denying it to others.

    Hugh Ristik, for instance, has previously made claims that women’s needs are inherently more confusing and diverse than men’s, and are therefore objectively harder to understand for everyone. It’s little different from therapists claiming that I shouldn’t expect people to understand me because I didn’t make sense, but that it was a fault in me whenever I didn’t understand anyone who was normal, because they were all so reasonable. It’s impossible to defend yourself against, because it’s basically people who don’t understand you, share none of your experiences, and can’t empathise with you, saying that their lack of understanding is nothing but the reasonable consequence of you not being understandable, while feeling free to blame you for any lack of empathy you show them.

    “Might be about being trans and seeing that injustice against men don’t make up for injustice against women, and in fact, only perpetuate the whole deal (and always have, since immemorial times, it seems).”

    Injustice against men have nothing to do with it. If you want me to tell some stories about women doing bad things which have nothing to do with the topic, or things that were unfair to men in ways that do not relate to the topic, just ask. Don’t assume I have none, or see none, just because I do not consider them to have much bearing on the topic I’m discussing. And perhaps you could do me the favour to try to look at more people’s posts with the same scrutiny as mine.

    But in the concrete discussion, we’re talking about the word creep and whether it’s OK to use it, and in that context, it is a lot more relevant to discuss to which degree believing yourself to be reasonable and having good motivations justifies making accusations of thin skin and overreactions towards people who are bothered by your behaviour.

    And in that context, the most relevant of my experiences have been the high levels of blame I have experienced both as an aspie and as a girl, and the assumptions of normalcy/reason I have seen many guys and NTs make almost without thinking, leading them to conclude that they deserve to be judged on their motivations alone (since that will surely be understandable just from their actions alone), but that they can not be held responsible for not understanding the actions of others.

  148. Jay Generally says:

    @ AB

    It’s not that odd, given that the behaviour of the people who agreed with her caused Clarisse herself to become upset.

    It’s always frustrating when people agreeing with us for all the wrong reasons. I think it was Amanda Marcotte who pointed out in one of the links in the OP that ( I’m really, really paraphrasing) the immoral people who read Thorn’s article will hear what they want to hear and then use that which they hear to endorse their own immorality. She was definitely correct. Life’s full of examples: Stalin advocated Communism, Toquemada advocated Christianity, Charles Manson (or at least someone in his group) was evidently a Beatles fan. “You can’t just feed the poor; think of how many criminals will get a free meal,” doesn’t feel like a sound argument to me, even if you could divorce it from the classism, but I do recognize the difference between food for the stomach and food for the mind. Still, if ‘creep’ is weaponized into some morphic, unattainable meter for masculine sexuality rather than a way to empower discourse used to curb toxic sexuality, I will have been wrong to defend it and I can count myself as an ally for everyone who would prefer the word to operate as a simple slur. Is there such a thing as too much truth? The right truth at the wrong time? Or does wrong=wrong and that’s what I am now? Adversity makes for strange bedfellows; I’d be amazed if there weren’t times Noah and Ozymandias don’t go to bed feeling like they’re covered in leeches because of the their good (very good 🙂 ) work on this blog.

    “The way I read the original article: people might want to reflect on their own personal use, and possible abuse, of the term and how the word is so frequently used in a gendered way that we may very well be creating, or have created, a masculine-gendered sexual pejorative (similar to ‘slut’ and a modern day equivalent to ‘masher’ or ‘cad.’)”

    You do realise the major difference in these words?

    I realize many major differences in these words. I think what’s most important is my proposed similarity. ‘Slut’, which once simply meant a woman who was slovenly, or low class (there’s even a little evidence that it was gender-neutral if you go back far enough) but it was subsequently sexualized and then maliciously and indiscriminately applied as a slur. It could be used against: a woman having sex outside of marriage, being attracted to people of different race, aligning herself with a particular political movement, dancing, wearing the color red, and so on, ad nauseam, and regardless of what her actual sexual experiences are down to and including the number zero. The word exists as nothing more than a verbal whip to keep women moving in the “right” direction. Even if one argues that words that sting should exist, ‘slut’ can be picked up by anyone and thuggishly used to attempt drive people anywhere. I’d rather not help make creep into another word like that so I do think people who contribute to that deserve being spoken to. Even if the word ‘creep’ is already there I would not equate it to ‘slut’ outside being gendered sexual pejoratives and that they could be abused. ‘Slut’ has had centuries of being warped into something toxic, ‘creep’ may not even be there, yet, and it’s why I’d never advocate the former.

    Notice the moral difference between these sentences: “I’m so sorry I called him a creep. Now that I’ve found out what a nice guy he is, I feel bad for having compared him to the kind of guys who grope you without permission” and “I’m so sorry I called her a slut. Now that I know she’s a virgin, I feel bad for having compared her to the cheap whores who sleep with men on the first date”.

    In the first case, the speaker is expressing that a genuinely hurtful behaviour, groping someone without permission, is unacceptable, and that it is OK to speak badly about those who engage in, it which is something most of us can agree with. In the second, the speaker is expressing that it is wrong for women (but most likely not men) to have casual sex, and that it is OK to shame them for engaging in it. That makes it a much more clear-cut case of being wrong and oppressive.

    The first sentence has also accused its target of a genuinely hurtful behavior if ‘creep’ means groping someone without permission. (It doesn’t; groping someone without permission would make you a creep, all creeps are not necessarily unpermitted gropers.) The second sentence’s accusation is less serious because it’s something most of us can’t agree with. Assuming good faith of the speaker in both statements, the first sentence was a charge and may make the speaker guilty of defamation, the second is an expressed opinion and while you could make a case for defamation the speaker is primarily guilty of being insanely insensitive and misogynistic. All of this would argue a case for even more discretion in the use of the word ‘creep,’ not less. So:

    “I’m so sorry I called him a creep. Now that I’ve found out what a nice guy he is (a subjective defense), I feel bad for having compared him to the kind of guys who grope you without permission (an objective offense)” and “I’m so sorry I called her a slut. Now that I know she’s a virgin (an objective defense), I feel bad for having compared her to the cheap whores who sleep with men on the first date (a subjective offense)”.

    The first sentence sets up the perfect scenario for Witch-hunts, Mccarthyism, Insquisitions, etc. I can’t really endorse that but I don’t think it’s what people are trying for. Let me try something else:

    Notice the moral difference between these sentences: “I’m so sorry I called him a creep. Now that I’ve found out what a nice guy he is, I feel bad for having compared him to the kind of guys who do not bathe frequently” and “I’m so sorry I called her a slut. Now that I know she’s a virgin, I feel bad for having compared her to a woman who promised somone sexual favors if they would promote her interests over the interests of someone who genuinely deserved such favor”.

    Our respective speakers have very different internalized definitions for these words. That’s why external definitions are important. There does not, and should not, have to be a presumption of malice on the part of the creep to allow for the emotions of the creeped out. It’s why Ozymandias post is that much more important; she’s establishing a definition (w/ props to Hugh Ristik) that seems very helpful, reasonably restricted, but largely open while providing a list of scenarios that fit into this definition rather neatly. I posted the dictionary definition, because it was vague, a complaint I noticed a lot of people having with the word; Ozy’s definition isn’t. People should know that what they want a word to mean isn’t what that word means until the general consensus overrides the original academic intent (i.e., until the Urban Dictionary trumps Webster’s). Regardless, Ozymandias doesn’t control general consensus, NSWATM doesn’t control general consensus, and there has been a theory forwarded that right now the general consensus seems to lean towards your earlier suggestion of Creep (n): Someone who wants to hurt you; esp. sexually. If that’s true the word should be used even more judiciously not less. If it just means Creep (n): Someone who makes you feel uncomfortable, or unsafe; esp. sexually then one’s feelings define the creep and not the potency of which harmful specter one evokes with the word (e.g., rape, molestation, nose-picking, pencil-thin moustaches, etc.).

    tl;dr More ‘creep’s, less ‘slut’s. (I never thought I’d type that.) Slander is still bad. The OP was great.

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