In defense of the word “creep”
Because of Hugo, I found myself last night reading this article by Clarisse Thorn at Alternet titled “Why Do We Demonize Men Who Are Honest About Their Sexual Needs?” As soon as I read Clarisse write, “So how can a man express his sexual needs without being tarred as a creep?”, I knew immediately that her eager desire to argue that male creepiness is a rarer phenomenon than people assumed would be disproved with haste in comments. Nothing—absolutely nothing—brings out creepy dudes like suggesting that men are victims of sexual oppression that restrains them from fully expressing themselves, particularly if they can lay blame on the evil feminist matriarchy. I don’t think Clarisse was trying to suggest such a thing, but one thing creepy dudes all have in common is they only hear what they want to hear. So even though Clarisse actually writes, “It’s also incumbent upon us to honor each others’ boundaries.”, creepy dudes are going to hear, “See, this lady agrees with me that it’s perfectly fine for me to use ‘pick-up artist’ techniques to put women that are 15 years younger than me and who don’t want to talk to me in situations where they have trouble finding a polite way to escape conversation with me. And I’m entitled to be such a miserable fuckhead, because men are so oppressed because they don’t get to have sex with whoever they want whenever they want.” Also, there would be lots of use of the word “females” and “male” instead of “women” and “men”, which is always a red flag for creepiness.
Men spend their lives being expected to make the first move but risking rejection and, in today’s politically correct world, risking vile accusations however timid or gentle their approach might be……
Being fat, short, and prematurely balding, I’ve just accepted that the creep label is going to be affixed to me, no matter what I do…….
There is a double standard. For example…ever hear anyone referred to as “a dirty old woman?” No…….
I liked the guy who used the comment section to practice a line to be rolled out to women he’s hitting on who notice his wedding ring tan line:
The problem lies in the fact that we no longer have anything in common. We have grown in different directions. As we are no longer friends, the desire to have sexual relations has disappeared at the same time.
And so on:
But our society says no. We cannot put our honest sexuality out there.
And for a guy to do it — he better be handsome, charismatic, and or wealthy or else he will be tagged a creep and loser…..
Well, it certainly took Alternet long enough, but this was a really good article on issues of male sexuality that focused on the impact of sexuality and society’s views of it on males… rather than the raft of articles on issues of male sexuality and how it impacts females…..
Nice Guys®, complete with elaborate theories that show their inability to get laid all the time are strictly the result of women’s toxic combination of stupidity and vanity, were well-represented.
One especially grating thing that I’ve noticed is a very old fashioned belief among women that “the man who really wants you is the one who keeps trying.” So for example, 2 men ask out a woman in one week, and she automatically says no to both of them just to see what happens.
One man politely accepts her rejection and never calls again, but the other man asks her out 5 more times until she says yes. The woman thinks she has chosen wisely, because the guy she’s now dating is the one who REALLY wanted her. In my experience she’s filtered for the sociopathic mysogynist, the good guy is the one she’ll never hear from again!
Or, at least that’s what he’s decided happens after he asked that woman out and she turned him down. Concocting elaborate fantasies about what someone does after they reject you, wherein you aren’t really rejected, but were just being tested, though of course you’re not actually going to test this theory and find out that you were bona fide rejected? Kind of creepy, though admittedly less creepy than repeatedly calling and insisting that you’re just being tested.
I could go on, but you get the picture. Clarisse is critical of the word “creep”, and she compares it to “slut”, which is to say a term used to police sexuality. Her evidence for this is that she got an email from a dude offering to fuck her in specific kinky ways after she wrote an article about her struggles to come to terms with desires she was deliberately vague about. The guy correctly guessed what those were and offered to fuck her, sight unseen, and she blew him off and determined he was creepy. Then millennia of patriarchal training kicked in, and she started to feel guilty about getting a weird feeling from it. He hadn’t been overtly rude and he took no for an answer—so she was the bad guy for thinking he’s creepy, right?
I disagree. He overstepped basic boundaries of respect. I’m sure the “pick-up artist” community will claim that I’m demanding that men play elaborate games or feign interest in a relationship to get laid, and I’m not. But writing a woman you don’t know and offering to fuck her with a rider about how you have her all figured out is creepy, for two major reasons:
1) It indicates that your definition of “woman” doesn’t include women that are unattractive to you. Said women are so invisible to you that it never even occurs to you that a woman whose writing was interesting and arousing to you might actually not be physically attractive to you. Offering to fuck someone sight unseen demonstrates an alarming inability to even perceive the diversity of women out there.
2) Telling a woman what she wants instead of asking is fucked up and entitled. That he guessed correctly doesn’t change this, though I can see why that fact made the encounter more confusing.
This is where I think Clarisse’s idea of who gets called a creep flies off the rails. She thinks it has something to do with male desire and men being honest about it—functioning the same way “slut” does.
The stud vs. slut dichotomy is worth discussing, but it has one flaw: it entirely ignores the word “creep,” whose function appears to be restricting male sexuality to a limited, contradictory set of behaviors.
She does make really good points about how male sexuality is constructed as predatory, and how this needs to be changed, but I don’t think that means the word “creep” is invalid. If anything, the fact that the term exists shows that our society has evolved a highly imperfect restraint on predatory behavior. I do agree with Clarisse that this creates a confusing contradiction for some men—a lot of creepy dudes aren’t out to hurt anyone, but act out of cluelessness (though this doesn’t let them off the hook, as I’ll get back to)—and I agree with her that a world where male sexuality was more about pleasure and less about point-scoring would be one where there was less creepy behavior. But that world is a long time coming, and in the meantime, the word “creep” is a useful, commonly understood term for a set of behaviors that absolutely are a problem. It’s not that male sexual desires are the problem; male entitlement is the problem.
There are many flavors of creep:
*Nice Guys®. Since a definition is always angrily (and creepily) demanded when the term is whipped out, here is a definition in comic form.
*The dude who whistled at me or perhaps some woman standing near me last night—whoever was the target, she had to be close, since he did it under his breath to avoid detection from the non-creepy dudes. Bullying women while being a coward around other men is its own specific brand of creepiness.
*Men who feel that their cock’s opinion should be injected into as many conversations about women as possible, no matter how inappropriate. This behavior can verge from the not-too-big-a-deal-and-easily-corrected (say, if women are talking about body issues on a feminist thread, and a guy offers that he’s not opposed to pronging someone who’s got a little extra meat on her bones) to really obnoxious (some discussion of a woman’s professional work is on hand, and the willingness to prong said lady comes up, even though no one asked and her prongability wasn’t even remotely on the table as a topic of conversation).
*Men’s rights activists, like the real exemplars of humanity that Thomas collected thoughts from here. Thoughts like: “Many women (subconsciously) realize that they bring very little value to the relationship other than sex. It is akin to a wealthy man who lavishes gifts on a girl to get her into bed. Women use their pussy (at least in the initial phase of the relationship) to artificially create a bond (and get the guy to commit)… This is why many women fear male sexual independence, because they realize that other than sex, they can not a mate, because they have no other value.” Also, lots and lots of discussion of “foreign” women, who are presumed to exhibit the proper subservience to men. (Elaborate fantasies where they get everything they think they’re entitled to from women—where they aren’t ever rejected and totally get sandwiches made before they even know they want them—are common with creeps.)
There are probably categories I’m not thinking of, and there’s a lot of overlap between these categories. Some creeps are openly predatory, and some fall more into the “clueless” category. (Though the problem is that men hide behind “clueless” in order to excuse being creepy. When they whine that they Just Don’t Know, and women go out of their way to educate them, the response is going to be a tantrum 99% of the time. They could change, but they don’t want to. But they don’t want to be responsible for being creepy, so instead they just choose cluelessness as a strategy to avoid having to change.) But the thing that holds them all together isn’t that they’re just too honest about their sexual desires; it’s that they have a really heightened sense of entitlement and they put that on women. In fact, some of them aren’t honest about their sexual desires at all, but instead are game players and passive-aggressive creeps, like Nice Guys® who think that trying to wear someone down until she sleeps with you is cool. It’s still exploitation of male privilege used for sexual means, particularly if a Nice Guy® attaches himself to a woman who has been well-trained by the patriarchy not to establish firm boundaries. (Again, see the cartoon above.) The common theme is entitlement, and objectifying women—seeing them strictly in terms of what they can do (or aren’t doing) for you, instead of seeing them as subjective people who have their own motivations that may or may not dovetail with your own.
Which is why I think Clarisse’s ideas, which are good on their own (people should be taken at their word, having non-vanilla desires shouldn’t be used to demonize someone, the point-scoring model of male sexuality has to go), don’t have much to do with creepiness. For instance, Clarisse says this:
Of course there are inappropriate ways for men to express their desire, just as there are inappropriate ways for women to express their desire.
But of course, one of the hallmarks of being a creep isn’t that you have desires that you express, but that you do it in inappropriate ways, and that you feel entitled to do so because you’re a man. It’s one thing to see a good-looking woman out in public and think to yourself that she’s hot. Or even, depending on the situation, to flirt with her a little and maybe gauge her interest. It’s quite another to leer at her, keep on making a pass when she goes into “I’m going to be very polite and super quiet and hope he takes a hint” mode, or say inappropriate things like speculating about her sexual interests or dwelling on her looks in some place like a grocery store. Sending signals that her personality is of no matter to you as long as her ass is tight will probably not be welcome. The problem of dudes being creepy way surpasses the problem of women occasionally mislabeling someone as being creepy who was actually respecting boundaries, so I don’t really have a problem with the word “creep”.
By the way, this may have been the most thigh-slappingly hilarious creepy comment from the collection Thomas gathered from the MRA website:
btw, I notice that a lot of females here think the clitoris is what makes a female orgasm. You hear all of this feminist propaganda about how superior the clitoris is to the penis blah blah blah but if that were so than all females would have orgasm every time they had sex. Few do.The females who can orgasm like deep penetration. Feminists like the clit idea because most of them are lesbians but it’s funny because even lesbians resort to dildoes, sometimes double headed ones so the instinct to be penetrated must be deep rooted when even man hating dykes want something in them.
You couldn’t find a better distillation of the assumption that women simply can’t have subjective experiences outside of their usefulness to men as sexual receptacles.