Sunday, August 12, 2012

defriend the creepers: kick the fuckers (out)


This insightful post from Captain Awkward highlights an all-too-common problem in even the best progressive and radical spaces and social circles: Creepy Dude Syndrome.

We all know or have known someone who fits this general description:
  • Makes awkward and unwanted sexual comments around/towards female-identified friends and strangers in/around the group
  • Propositions (often frequently) female friends and acquaintances for sex acts, including but certainly not limited to comments about their state of dress, revealing body parts or his mental image therein.
  • Touches people without their consent.
  • Dutifully ignores body language indicating that their presence, conversation, or physical contact are unwanted.
  • Reacts negatively and/or defensively when called out by someone for this behavior.
  • Touches people without their consent.
I know I'm leaving out other common factors but I'm sure you get the point and you've probably already thought of one or two people that you know. Now I know that male-identified people are also subject to harrasment, and female-identified people are capable of being creepers too, just like any human is capable of any human thoughts/feelings/conduct. But let's not split any fucking hairs, we live place dominated by a soul-crushing Patriarchy enforced primarily though Rape Culture

If by some chance you are reading my blog then you probably agree with that sentence wholeheartedly, and if you do not then you're probably an extremely deluded motherfucker who lives in the Plane of Eternal and Unending Cognitive Dissonance colloquially known as Western Society.

These writers I've linked to (besides myself, naturally) do a great job explaining all of the themes touched upon and I just wanted to make a comment and do a little signal amplification for a common and important issue.

If you know of a creeper in your circle you can be nice about if you want, but I wouldn't be. We've spent many decades (as a culture) being accommodating and apologist for this behavior, and to that I say "Fuck it, burn that fucking bridge to its moorings." We have no obligation to help the creepers be non-creepers; it is perfectly acceptable for them to just be excluded by society at every turn. They're adults and if they want back in they can adjust their behavior accordingly.

We have to eliminate the Missing Stair problem from our culture, and the best place to start is right at home in your own friend group (and workplace if at all possible). Quite simply the idea is that we become accustomed to even very dangerous and awful things if we are constantly exposed to them and forced to endure their existence. Humans are amazingly adaptable creatures and we learn to live with even horrible circumstances. When it comes to patriarchy and rape culture that needs to change and godsdamned fast.

So, my friends (or stalwart foes), eliminate the creepy, proto-rapist jerks from your life either by calling them out and forcing them to change their behavior, or by ejecting them entirely so they can go on to be rejected by other friend-groups for their fuckery.

If you think you may be a creeper, or you know a creeper who might be a salvageable human being or you are at all inclined to out yourself as a rape culture apologist by objecting to calling people who do those sorts of things "Creeper" I'd like to direct you here, here, and here.

I will leave you with this comment from one Hershele Ostropoler, who I think lays out the situation beautifully:
If you step on my foot, you need to get off my foot.
If you step on my foot without meaning to, you need to get off my foot.
If you step on my foot without realizing it, you need to get off my foot.
If everyone in your culture steps on feet, your culture is horrible, and you need to get off my foot.
If you have foot-stepping disease, and it makes you unaware you’re stepping on feet, you need to get off my foot. If an event has rules designed to keep people from stepping on feet, you need to follow them. If you think that even with the rules, you won’t be able to avoid stepping on people’s feet, absent yourself from the event until you work something out.
If you’re a serial foot-stepper, and you feel you’re entitled to step on people’s feet because you’re just that awesome and they’re not really people anyway, you’re a bad person and you don’t get to use any of those excuses, limited as they are. And moreover, you need to get off my foot.
See, that’s why I don’t get the focus on classifying harassers and figuring out their motives. The victims are just as harassed either way.

p.s. full disclosure: I plan to steal the above anecdote to make this point in conversation without citing the original author. I feel honesty here will absolve some of that dishonesty later.


I neglected to include another important category: People who ask really personal questions/make remarks about private matters in public settings.

There is no set criteria for this (as always it is how the person affected by the actions/comments that matter, not the intent, pure or otherwise). However, good examples include asking gender-non-conforming persons about their gender status, their genitalia, their personal history relating to their gender identity, etc. You don't do this to perceived cisgender folks, so why do it with others?

Also, asking people about their history with abusive relationships, sexual assaults and other traumatic life experiences--if they want to tell you they will tell you.

This includes making someone's gender, potential survivor status, or sexual orientation a topic of discussion in a group setting. Just don't do any of that shit. It isn't your business unless the person in question decides to bring it up. Respect individuals and their agency, remember that they're all real people, just like you.


  1. These guys think they're so cool, progressive and 'sex positive', when they're just...ugh

    Thanks for this post, it came at the right time

  2. Touching people does not constitute rape, and you should be held libel for making such statements. If you accuse an innocent man of rape, no matter if he's acquitted based on your treacherous lies, his life will never be the same. I hope you figure things out, spreading this vitriol is horrible.

  3. I stole foot-stepping as a metaphor from Ozymandias at NSWATM to begin with, anyway.

    (No, I don't know why I suddenly decided to Google this)

  4. To my memory your post was the firs time I'd encountered it. Points for honest sourcing, my friend! :)