“You know what’s the male-equivalent of calling a girl a slut? Calling a guy a creep.”
These are actual words my ex-boyfriend once said to me. And he was wrong, of course. Like, dead wrong, you can't even compare the damage of the of the two - what are you even talking about? But I can kind of see the parallel, and it’s something I’ve thought about since. In fact, I've discussed this at length over many mojitos: What defines a creep?
According to a recent article in The Atlantic, attractiveness plays a role in determining whether a man is creepy or not, but not for superficial reasons.
Huh? Let me explain.
On their way to Happy Hour at Applebees.
The Atlantic article argues that "creepy" by definition, implies a sense of fear, of feeling unsafe. It says that it's understandable that a young barista would be more repulsed about being hit on by her middle-aged assistant manager than her attractive day-shift co-worker. That's just logic.
“And also,” Says Papa Garis, sitting across from me as I type this out, “Couldn’t a man just physically look creepy? If you were at a party and a guy was staring at you from across the room, wouldn’t he literally look like a creep?”
Hmm. Well, maybe that’s valid. Then again, I probably would be into that guy.
How much you’re into vampires probably helps determine if you find a guy creepy or not.
Although I think we can all agree that this is unacceptable.
And that’s another thing to consider, which the article brings up: attractiveness is subjective. I like my men pale, dark-haired and emaciated. I think “corpse-like” is the term I usually use. So the people I would be receptive to (basically early 90’s Trent Reznor) are not the same people my best friend would be receptive to (New England hipsters with ironic mustaches).
It's a matter of preference, everyone. It's a matter of choice. The Atlantic says:
"Men's rage about sexual harassment regulations and 'creep-shaming' may well be rooted in an unwillingness to accept these cultural changes that have given women unprecedented power to say "no" to the lecherous and the predatory."
And for the record, women can get called creepy, too. It's not as prevalent, of course, but rest assured when a woman get called a "creep" it's pretty devastating. But we don't get angry about it; instead it's said to be internalized more often, and we wonder what's wrong with us. Not what's wrong with them. What's wrong with us.
So, back to our question: what truly defines a creep? Well, for me, a lot of it has to do with context.
If I’m just waiting in line for my blonde roast at Starbucks at 7:30 in the morning and you’re trying ask for my number, you are being a creep.
If I’m standing on a corner waiting to cross the street to get to work, and you start talking to me about how nice my legs are, you are being a creep.
If I’m about to leave my train, and you’re shouting from 5 seats down, “HEY! HEY YOU! HEY, I’M TALKING TO YOU! Whatever, you’re ugly anyway.” THEN YOU ARE BEING A FUCKING CREEP. And yeah, you are missing a few teeth and probably homeless. But even if Jared Leto himself pulled that shit, I would not go for it.
And there's also always these two guys at a Rutgers bar who define the word "creep."
Basically, if you are being persistent and I am clearly uncomfortable, you are being fucking creepy. And no, it does not help your case if you’re actually physically unappealing and doing it on public transportation (like, what kind of story would we tell our grandkids) but it’s not necessarily the only factor. Get it?
What about you? What do you think determines someone’s creepiness? Because I really think we need a solid definition once and for all.
Thanks to The Atlantic.
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