It’s come to my attention that there exists among men a movement of sorts. A call to action against the wanton labeling of males as creeps. An outcry over the misandrist hypocrisy that is the casual acceptability of the term where the use of female directed insults like “slut” would be deemed inexcusable. A plea for the word “creep” to be regarded as a gender slur – a derogatory term no less damaging and hurtful to men.
There are two things I’m not interested in doing here. The first is debating the above. The second is making light of it. Instead, I’m interested in addressing what I consider to be the more pressing issue conveniently sidestepped by the aforementioned arguments: The fact that a disturbing number of men are, indeed, creeps.
Since there appears to be some confusion over when and why women apply that label, I’m going to spell things out for my dick-wielding counterparts in hopes that you’ll come away from this post examining your own behavior, not just deconstructing the way we categorize it. I suppose we should start with the basics…
What makes something creepy?
We all know what creepy means even if we can’t adequately describe it. Creepy things creep us out. They make us uncomfortable. They give us what most renowned scholars refer to as the heebie jeebies.
Creepy can be a very individual thing. It can also be a very cultural thing. You know what I find creepy? Buttons for eyes. Coraline gets it. You know what else I find creepy? Fame.
I find oodles of things inexplicably unnerving on a tangible level or abstract. Little girls jumping rope on a fine summer’s day while their parents look on from the porch? Not that creepy. Little girls jumping rope in slow motion while singing a saucy rhyme about a killer coming for you?
So let’s establish that while creepy can be subjective from one person to the next, it’s not necessarily entirely subjective to a society as a whole.
We typically measure qualities and behaviors relative to our cultural norms and – in a social context – look questioningly upon things that stray too far from them.
We also create an objective gauge by placing certain qualities and behaviors in an unfavorable light to begin with, prompting us to associate them with that negative context going forward until we just don’t anymore.
Think Columbine and trench coats.
All of that means that in the broadest sense, a guy is creepy because he bucks the positive norms or mirrors the negative ones. Granted, one can say that about any negative trait – that it’s negative to us because it goes against the grain or is in keeping with traits we’ve designated negative independent of any grain to go against.
But the nuance is found in the category of norms we measure creepiness by. Those pertaining to our interpersonal boundaries and sexuality.
Why is it gendered toward males?
You tell me.
I know what you’re thinking. Wasn’t this supposed to be a simple guide? It’s the internet! Where’s the arbitrary top ten list? Where are the stock photos peppering the screen because people can’t handle words without pictures anymore? Where’s the countdown broken up into an unloadable slideshow for shitty reasons?
There are still some basics left.
When a woman calls you creepy, it’s not random.
Many of you have a habit of brushing your creep designation off as a buzzword – an idle name women slap on you with little to no underlying provocation beyond you being male. Nope! We don’t call you creeps without some personal merit. We don’t see a guy walking down the street and think, “Oh my gerds. That guy is a guy! What a creep!”
And unlike men who turned the word “bitch” into a synonym for “female”, “creep” isn’t synonymous with “male”. We don’t walk into a club and say, “Daaaaamn, there are some fine ass creeps in here!”
My point is that if we call you a creep, you should regard it as a prompt for self-analysis as much as anything else because we don’t mindlessly toss that word around the way men seem to imply. Do we use it a lot? Perhaps.
If so, maybe the question shouldn’t only be why we say it so much. Maybe it should also be why you evoke it so often.
Much of this creep issue boils down to concerns about potential male behavior given past male behavior, so if you don’t want us to think you’re a creep, you probably shouldn’t do things that creeps do. That’s what this guide is all about. Helping you help yourselves to a life less creepy! As for the last of the basics…
Women don’t call you a creep because you’re ugly.
If I had a nickel for every time a guy says women only call men creeps when they’re unattractive, I could pay everyone to stop using if I had a coin phrases to make a point.
Can your appearance influence your creep factor? Of course! Would you consider Lurch from The Addams Family creepy? Yeah. They all were. That was kind of the point. Their theme song literally starts with the words they’re creepy.
True, I can’t say I’d bang Lurch, but it has nothing to do with why he’s a creepy character. How creepy you are and how attractive we find you are separate issues. It’s possible for them to overlap if looking creepy makes you unattractive, but it’s never the other way around. You’re never a creep just because you aren’t physically our cup of tea.
The takeaway here is that emphasis shouldn’t be placed on your looks, because unless you’re blessed like Lurch, it’s typically going to be your behavior and the way you carry yourself that earns you the creep title. Not your hotness.
In short, if you want to duck the c-word and engage women without being shunned, your focus should be on adopting a less creepy demeanor. Not sure where to start? No problem! Here are the top whatever things you need to know!
1) Staring is no.
You want simple? Here’s simple. Don’t fucking stare at us.
Agree or disagree, men are generally more violent and predatory in nature than women and are a greater threat to us as a whole than we are to them. We’re aware of this and it results in an environment wherein we’re generally leery of males for our own safety.
Being the object of unwanted or threatening behavior is unfortunately the norm for a lot of women. We’re in tune with it and react accordingly, having amassed an army of red flags we note to better protect ourselves from potentially harmful situations.
Whether you, as in individual, are dangerous or not isn’t the point because we have no way of knowing that if you’re a stranger. So if we don’t know you well enough to drop our defenses, the last thing you want to do is give us a reason to think you might target us – like staring at us with fevered intensity for a fucking hour.
Remember that whole thing about bucking the norm? Not staring at people intently – especially once they’re aware that you’re staring and make a face that clearly reads why the fuck are you staring at me like that – is the norm. Stop bucking it.
But what if I just can’t help myself because she’s so attractive and…
Let me stop you there. Saying you can’t help yourself is also a red flag. If you have so little self-control that you can’t avert your eyes because you’re overwhelmed by desire for me, what else can’t you do? Take no for an answer? This isn’t Twilight. If vampires were real, they’d be creeps. Don’t stare at me, Edward.
But how do I let her know I’m interested if I don’t look at her?
There’s this thing called a glance, see? It’s somewhere between not looking at us at all and having a full-on eye boner that won’t go down. When in doubt, glance it out!
Seriously, though, if you’re only staring at us for the purpose of making us aware that you’re interested, you wouldn’t try to hide the fact that you’re doing it. You’d try to make eye contact – which doesn’t mean your eyes making contact with our body. It means making contact with our eyes that we also have.
Creeps often try to conceal the fact that they’re staring because they’re aware that many if not most women will react negatively if we catch them, subsequently ruining their lookfest by moving out of their line of sight or uncomfortably calling them out for it.
I get that many of you are visual creatures who’d happily spend all day staring at titties and asses and legs and shoulders and faces and hair and whatever else you can get your grubby little ocular paws on. Just know when to look away.
Anything more than a glance here and there is Creepsville, Kentucky – and for Pete’s sake, smile a bit when you do it. Nothing says I might kill you today like an expressionless mug. Speaking of which…
2) Smiling is yes.
Taking a cue from that last statement, smiling is good. Smiling is life. Smiling makes most people more attractive and welcoming. Smiling tells the baby you’re not going to shake it. Yet many of you have adopted this notion that looking angry, dead, and cold is manly, deep, and cool and therefore strongly preferred over having a nice smile on your face.
I get it. Many women have fallen into this trap as well for disturbing reasons, regarding a man who isn’t smiling in a photograph to be more serious or intense and therefore sexier while perceiving a man who’s smiling as nice, soft, or marriage material.
And maybe you’d rather be seen as sexy because all you want is sex – or as strong because softness isn’t “masculine” – so you opt not to smile. But there’s a difference between a neutral expression and a mean or emotionless one.
If you’re posing for your MMA promo or a post-murder spree mugshot, fine. But when you approach a woman you don’t know and you look like prison just broke out of you, it’s scary. To the average female not socialized to find that likely prone to domestic violence vibe attractive, “intimidating” is only one misstep away from “creepy”.
My humble recommendation?
Show us that you’re a kind human being not wanted for rape in three states. Be inviting, not frightening. Smile casually and briefly, not wild and wide like a hungry shark. A quick, pleasant smile says, “I’m non-threatening and I noticed you!” A prolonged, whitening strips commercial smile says, “I’m psychotic! Where’s your house?”
Either way, if we don’t seem alarmed, it might be a sign that we won’t immediately flee when you come talk to us!
Just be aware that somewhere along the human timeline, a lot of men got it into their heads that if a woman so much as looks at them, she’s giving them the green light to get in her face or between her legs. The concept of us smiling at you as a pleasantry stopped registering.
This is why many of us actively avoid eye contact with men on the street and limit smiling once eye contact is made. Too often, it’s viewed as an invitation.
Understand, then, that if we respond positively to your friendly smile, it still may not mean we’re interested in you. It may just mean we’re being nice. The only way to know for sure is to strike up a conversation with us that’s not taking place only in your head.
3) Stalking is ew.
See that deer all up in that other deer’s bokeh? Don’t be that deer. That deer is a creep. Stalking may be the creepiest of all creeper antics next to heavy mouth breathing and smelling things we touched.
Whether you’re following me down the street or from one aisle to another at the grocery, if you’re that invested in keeping me in your line of sight, being where I am, or knowing where I’m going, that’s not just a red flag. It’s the country that flies it.
I don’t know which is worse: Trying to stalk us in secret or not giving a shit that we see you. I think I prefer a creep who hides. At least some part of him knows what he’s doing is wrong. A creep who’ll follow me in broad daylight like it’s normal is pure creep not from concentrate and it’s unnerving.
Want to up the creep ante? Follow us in a vehicle. Now, not only are you a stalker. You’re a stalker who might try to abduct us!
There isn’t anything clever or insightful to offer with this one. Only a rule. Don’t stalk us. Not offline. Not online. If you do and we catch you, you’ll have no one to blame for the creep designation but yourself.
4) Keep personal questions tame.
You know how you meet someone and you’re having a chat and five seconds into it, you ask where they live? Yeah. Don’t do that. It’s creepy. Normal guys beat around the bush. Oh, you just moved to Boston? Where are you from originally? Tampa? I’ve been down there. Nice place!
Creeps get straight to the point and are way too specific. I noticed you’re alone. Do you have a boyfriend? Do you live by yourself? Where? In a house or apartment? Do you work around here? Where is that? What days? Mornings or nights usually?
Strangers don’t need to know all of that. Remember that this is about us being wary of your intentions. If it sounds like you’re gathering intel for an invading rape force, you’re being a creep. Questions that may compromise our privacy and security make us uncomfortable and there’s rarely a good reason to ask them, so don’t.
5) Touching is stranger danger.
I wish I didn’t have to say this, but the number of male strangers who touch me inappropriately screams necessity. Don’t put your hands on us. Don’t make contact with our body with any part of your body.
Men who physically violate us are undoubtedly creeps, and touching us without our permission out of context will land you in that category swifter than Jonathan. Especially if you’re touching us in a way that’s sexual or aggressive.
Women’s bodies have been treated like public domain for far too long in many respects, and this one is perhaps the most disconcerting, so this bears repeating over and over again. We’re not yours to touch just because you want to.
We’re not toys. We’re not food.
We’re not interactive art.
We’re people with boundaries just like you, and we don’t appreciate you ignoring that as if your desire takes precedence over our personal comfort. You don’t have the right to say, “Ooh, gimme,” and reach for us because you think we’re hot.
So if I tap a woman’s shoulder to tell her she dropped her phone, I’m a creep?
Hey! I was wondering when you’d show up, inevitable asshole who uses examples that are obviously not what I meant to make a point! If you’re so oblivious that you have difficulty telling the difference between appropriate touching and inappropriate touching, here’s a hint:
If a man you don’t know touched you that way – or even a man you do know, since many of you still struggle with some homophobic undercurrents in your male/male relationships – would it make you uncomfortable?
If so, it would probably be ill-advised to touch a woman that way when you don’t know her like that. It may go over fine, but is it really worth the risk?
So unless you’re a glutton for punishment and fancy the idea of being labeled a creep and possibly having the authorities called on you, keep your hands to yourselves. Keep your legs and arms and bodies and feet to yourselves. Keep your genitals to yourselves. Keep your coffee and tea to yourselves.
We don’t want you to rub our shoulders when we’re working out at the gym or stroke our arm when we’re drinking at the bar or press your leg against our leg on public transportation or touch any part of our face and hair, or do anything generally requiring motor skills if it’s something we more than likely reserve for a person we’re dating or friends with instead of some random dude off the street.
6) Stop being so hard up for nana.
Men making passes at us when we’re anywhere and everywhere is a big part of the creep discussion. It relates to women wanting to exist in the environment without men trying to mate with us at every turn.
In terms of searching for or attracting a mate, women tend to have very specific moments and locations in mind where that’s an acceptable and/or expected goal, so being approached by men in a romantic or sexual capacity in settings that fall outside of those parameters is a nuisance. Even more so if you’re not a suitable candidate.
Men, on the other hand, seem to think the whole world is a dating site and everyone alive is a member, so they’re perfectly fine approaching us whenever they feel like it with little to no regard for whether or not we want to be approached.
I mention this one because I was reading over a discussion about creeps once and when the average woman’s aversion to being accosted “on the street” was introduced, one rebuttal was that men have needs. How else are they supposed to satisfy them if they’re not allowed to approach us? A fair question, no?
Men have needs. Women have needs. We’re just one, big, needy friggin’ species, aren’t we? The difference is that men can’t seem to put their needs away for, like, five fucking minutes. That’s a personal problem, even if prompted by “biology” and “nature”, and it’s not our job to accommodate it all hours of the day, every day, everywhere.
So how do I get a girl if I can’t walk up to one?
I’m sorry. I just realized you’re Vincent van Gogh and no hear so good. There’s a time and place for everything, including hitting on us, and we have just as much right to determine that time and place as you do. We don’t have to make ourselves available to you. We just don’t.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t talk to a woman you think is cute or find interesting. I’m only asking that you consider the environment you’re in, the moment in time, and ask yourself if there’s a chance she’d rather be left alone.
It’s not about reading our minds.
It’s about reading life.
If that’s still unclear, I’ll use a very simple parallel that’s been stolen from me several times because it’s an obvious one we can all likely relate to.
If you saw a celebrity you like out at dinner or shopping with their family or walking their dog or just alone buying a hot dog from a stand, you’d either be that person who thinks only of your desire to get a selfie with them or an autograph and tell them how much you love them…
… or you’d be that person who wonders if they might not want you to bother them given all the attention they probably get and how tiring it can be not to just have a private everyday experience to themselves without someone popping up around every corner wanting to bask in their glow.
If you can have that inner dialogue for them,
you can have it for us.
7) Rapey behavior is creepy behavior.
Rape sucks and I feel pretty confident saying that in spite of having never been raped, because unlike that exotic ice cream flavor you’re on the fence about, it’s not something you need to try before you can judge it.
I’ve met and been very close with many victims of varying degrees of sexual assault, and I can just about guarantee that anything that comes close to it physically or emotionally is a special kind of creepy only top shelf creeps can provide.
This may very well be the culmination of all that’s come before it. Of all the things women strive to protect themselves against, rape is the most prominent fear. We don’t want to be hit or robbed or kidnapped or killed, certainly, but the fear of being violated in that one way is a uniquely female concern.
When you make a woman feel trapped and powerless, when you speak and stare in a way that makes her feel invaded, you trigger a very real anxiety that something worse is yet to come because for many women, it has. Quickly and violently.
Don’t be aggressively close. Don’t corner us or block our path, forcing us to interact with you. Don’t grab us when we try to walk away. Don’t say vulgar, explicit things about our bodies or what you’d like to do to our bodies or what you think we do with our bodies. Don’t touch us in ways that are intimate when we are not intimate.
In short, don’t do things that make us think you have no control over your sexual urges or otherwise have no respect for our ownership of our own bodies, like sneaking pictures of us in compromising positions or trying to look up our skirts.
If you’re compelled to do that sort of thing, you might as well call yourself a creep and save us the trouble.
8) Crazy women aren’t reliable benchmarks.
I make a lot of generalizations, and if we’re honest about our existence, we’ll accept that generalizations are all anyone can make. I know there are exceptions to most every rule and I don’t purport to speak on behalf of all women here or even to be right about what I’ve written.
But I believe every exception has a reason for being an exception, and if that reason happens to be that a woman is out of her fucking mind, it’s irrelevant.
What I mean to say is that if you happen to meet a woman who doesn’t fit the mold I’ve cast, don’t deem her willingness to react positively to behaviors I’ve condemned here as proof that mine is but one lowly opinion most females don’t share. I don’t think I’m in the minority on this one, and if not being a creep is your wish, it’s best to err on the side of caution.
Still remember all that stuff about norms? Good. Because those norms and the way we interpret and define others through them applies to females too.
Frankly, if you come across a woman who thinks what I’ve said is a bunch of hootin’ tootin’ malarkey and she’d totally be into you if you did all the things I’ve said not to do, you might want to take a pass on that one.
It’s like that old joke of not wanting to belong to any place that’d have you as a member. A woman who enjoys the creepy things you do might also be a creep – or damaged in a way that draws her to men she should be running away from.
If a chick like that is your bowl of ramen, more power to you, but if it’s not, you might want to take what I’ve said here seriously. Otherwise you may end up like all the male acquaintances I’ve warned about certain women over the years who didn’t take my advice and have a bunch of broken windows, keyed up cars, psycho voicemails, and pending restraining orders to show for it.
9) Don’t be a creep by association.
This is my last point mainly because I don’t want to talk about this anymore and would like to break the internet by having a list of things that isn’t a multiple of five. Understand that even if you’re a great guy without a creepy bone in your body, associating with creeps will make us wonder if you’re a creep too and just better at hiding it.
Because only two kinds of people will abide a creep – cowards and other creeps – and that’s a whole mess of the letter “c” going on that you don’t want any part of.
It’s important that males take responsibility for improving their reputation both by aspiring to be better men themselves (i.e. better human beings who are self-aware and conscious of gender dynamics) and by denouncing the negative behaviors of others.
Every time you let another guy’s creepy behavior slide, you’re sending the message that being a creep is okay or, at the very least, not a big deal, which in turn sends the message that you don’t care about our safety or peace of mind. That may not make you a creep, but it does kind of make you an unappealing dick, which isn’t much better.
So what’s it gonna be?
Will you be the guy we smile at as we pass each other on the escalators or will you be the guy we whisper to our friend about as we scratch our necks awkwardly to obscure the fact that we’re pointing at you to make sure he/she knows exactly which creepy motherfucker we’re talking about?
I hope this entry helps you decide!