When women say “don’t be a creeper” a surprising number of people – men mostly -object. Who could object to decent behavior right?
Here are a few things that men should do when the subject of creepiness comes up:
- don’t derail
- change your behavior if applicable
First, stop trying to derail. The subject of conversation is “Don’t be a creeper!” This stuff comes up boringly often.
Second, now that you’re not attempting to derail, listen.
Listen to what people say. When we say Behavior X is creepy, believe it. If you’ve done behavior X, stop. Don’t hunt down the poor victims of your X-ing and force an apology on them. That’s only about you. Just stop doing the creepy stuff.
Third, don’t do it again. Take it upon yourself to be an adult. Behave like an adult.
Here are some examples of derailing:
– Behavior X, is it creepy?
The answer is: If someone told you they find it creepy, yes, it is creepy. It doesn’t matter that your intentions were sweet, stop doing it.
– Good looking boys get to do X, why can’t I? (Aka “It’s only creepy from normal boys, Brad Pitt gets to do it!” and also “But Aspergers!” )
The answer is twofold: 1) what attractive people do actually isn’t behavior X; 2) good looking boys who do behavior X also get shot down, and the subject is creepy behavior and don’t do it. Again, if someone told you it’s creepy, stop doing it. And to derail myself: why oh why is autism brought up as an explanation for bad behavior on boys’ part, but not scared behavior from girls? That was rhetorical, I know why: actual autistic people – if they are nice – want to learn, and do learn polite social behavior.
Creepy behavior comes from people who know they are being creepy.
– But popular media say Try Try Try, the girl will eventually realize how wonderful the boy is!
At some point we will have a long discussion about how popular media is sometimes wrong – but not right now – right now please accept that if someone tells you no, they meant it. If they change their mind, they will tell you
– But men experience behavior X too, so it can’t be gendered.
That’s simply wrong, but even if it were correct, it is an attempt to derail. The point here is that groping, staring, sexual comments, propositioning people in elevators at 4am, etc are behaviors that women are telling men they don’t like. So stop it.
– I know a lady who likes behavior X so why can’t I do behavior X all the time?
Because women are not a monolith, and you don’t lose anything by not doing lousy thing X.
– How can I possibly know that behavior X is creepy? How how how?!
You can interrogate your own behavior. Would you do behavior X to a higher ranking person at work? Would you do it to someone in whom you have no sexual interest? Do you want an unattractive person to do behavior X to you? Ah ha! you noticed that you wouldn’t offer massages to someone at work. You noticed you certainly wouldn’t walk up to your boss and start rubbing their shoulders. Good. Don’t do it to anyone else who doesn’t want it.
– But behavior X is part of my social group! my culture! my nature!
If that were true, all that that means is your social group, culture, and nature are all lousy and you shouldn’t be out in public until you have this under control. (But it isn’t true. Behavior X happens in your social group, because you perform behavior X, but no one likes it. As for your culture and nature? I won’t even comment further.) It’s an attempt to derail, yet again.
– But if behavior X is creepy, that means I’m a creeper, and that makes me feel lousy!
As it should. Now stop behavior X and you won’t have to feel lousy again. Notice that this too is an attempt to derail. The issue isn’t your feelings, but someone else’s feelings.
– Why can’t we talk about all the bad things men go through?
Because they aren’t this discussion. There is a whole world of discussion of the bad things men go through. This conversation is don’t be a creeper.
Please note only two things from above are really part of the don’t be a creeper discussion:
– Is behavior X creepy?
– If behavior X is creepy, and you’ve done behavior X, you’ve been a creeper.
The rest of the topics are either boil down to those two, or they are attempts to change the subject and turn it into a disquisition on something else. It’s not appropriate.