April 20, 2012

So I Creep: Men Who Don't Like Being Called Creepy


According to an article at the site Jezebel, men’s rights activists (or MRA); a movement that surfaced in the 1970s to address inequities in reproductive rights, divorce settlements, domestic violence laws, sexual harassment laws, education, fathers’ rights, health care, and genital integrity among other issues-including ensuring that their entitlements stay intact by challenging the tenets of feminism – don’t like us women, hurling the word “creepy” at them in response to what is deemed, (more times than not) legitimately shifty behavior while in our presence and/or space. 
Apparently the ability to“creep shame” is a special power men seem to think women have; used to ostracize them in the worst way, because earth, wind, and fire forbid we have the unmitigated gall to exercise the right to say “no”, “I’m not interested”, shut down in response to elevated levels of unwanted attention, or even change our minds about wanting to date somebody for whatever reason.  

Writer Jeremy Paul Gordon wrote of creepiness in a 2010 article for The Hairpin;  
“Without a doubt, creepy is the worst casual insult that can be tossed at a guy. A guy can publicly scoff at something you say and be a “douchebag;" sleep with your best friend, never call her back and become an “asshole;" cry while listening to Neutral Milk Hotel and forever be a “pussy.” But creepy is not that simple. It doesn’t relate to someone’s appearance, actions, or behavior. More accurately, creepy is a vibe. You can’t define it — you just know it. It’s when a guy looks at a girl for a little too long, when he friends her on Facebook a little too quickly, when he doesn’t understand that no actually means no, not “Try harder.” It’s a tag that isn’t easily dispelled.” 
In any event, the Anti-Creep Shaming Brigade’s shoddy attempts at advocating against women who use their instincts to protect themselves against douche-like behavior, is an exercise in futility. And it's an unfair demand, to expect women to pacify the male id, particularly if she's protecting herself. But at least allows me the opportunity to share this excerpt from novelist, Phaedra Starling’s 2009 guest blog post, originally featured on the (now defunct) site"Shapely Prose", Schrödinger’s Rapist: or a guy’s guide to approaching strange women without being maced. (Which I was fortunate enough to come across via writer and cultural critic, Son of Baldwin's  Facebook page).
You want to say Hi to the cute girl on the subway. How will she react? Fortunately, I can tell you with some certainty, because she’s already sending messages to you. Looking out the window, reading a book, working on a computer, arms folded across chest, body away from you = do not disturb. So, y’know, don’t disturb her. Really. Even to say that you like her hair, shoes, or book. A compliment is not always a reason for women to smile and say thank you. You are a threat, remember? You are Schrödinger’s Rapist. Don’t assume that whatever you have to say will win her over with charm or flattery. Believe what she’s signaling, and back off.

If you speak, and she responds in a monosyllabic way without looking at you, she’s saying, “I don’t want to be rude, but please leave me alone.” You don’t know why. It could be “Please leave me alone because I am trying to memorize Beowulf.” It could be “Please leave me alone because you are a scary, scary man with breath like a water buffalo.” It could be “Please leave me alone because I am planning my assassination of a major geopolitical figure and I will have to kill you if you are able to recognize me and blow my cover.”

On the other hand, if she is turned towards you, making eye contact, and she responds in a friendly and talkative manner when you speak to her, you are getting a green light. You can continue the conversation until you start getting signals to back off.


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