Saturday, April 21, 2012

Are You A Creep? (UPDATED)

Jezebel has a great article by Hugo Schwyzer about "creep-shaming." This is only one part of an expanding online discussion on the subject and is fantastically enlightening.

First, before going any further, let it be said that creep-shaming is total nonsense. It's yet another game for men's-righters to play, and as we all know, they are essentially a hate group. I will admit, though, that it would sting much more if someone called me a creep than any other particular name. Why that is is worth addressing.

If I call a black man an asshole, that's behavioral. But if I call him a "nigger," that is qualitative. Ignoring the fact that racial epithets have buckets more emotional baggage than simply a qualitative insult, and as such add to sting, there is nothing that a black man can do about being black, and I am insinuating that this fact makes him less-than.

I think that creep is the same thing. It's not just that "creep" communicates the mental state of a woman, but that it qualitatively jabs the man. A man who is an "asshole" simply knows to stop acting like an asshole, because the statement is generally about behavior. But "creep" is not something where a man can simply stop acting in a particular way. He is a creep.

They hit on something very important in the other articles, and that is the reason why the word "creep" is qualitative. It's because unlike "asshole," which has pretty well-defined behavioral patterns attached to it, "creep" does not. As such, the men who are called creeps may not even fully understand why, and thus, it becomes something they are as opposed to something that they do. In an absence of understanding, it's not surprising that many men become angry.

That doesn't mean that quantifying the behavior is entirely impossible. I think it can be done (I think it has to do with those who copy the gross aspects of confident behavior and those who behave in a certain way because they are confident), but for the sake of this article, we won't try to do that.

Moreover, men who are "creeps" are setting off warning bells with women. People are good at detecting micro-behaviors as a way to interpret someone else's mindset. Facial expression, body positioning, hand movements, eye contact: all of these things come into play in interactions not just for women, but for all of us. These are not things that are easily controlled, which is why when people go into an interaction with someone and try to be a particular way, it seems off. The gross behavior does not line up with the micro-behavior, and thus, we have a creep.

For men who don't want to be creeps, it requires more than behavioral changes, it requires a deep analysis of one's mindset at the beginning of an interaction. This is not easy, but the ease with which it can be done has nothing to do with men's anger. It is the fact that many of them aren't even aware that this is the case.


A study has been released essentially confirming this. "Creeps" elicit a physiological response that literally gives people shivers.

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