How not to be a creep

A lot of dudes really flip out in response to the term “creep.” It’s so UNFAIR to call them creeps! The word “creep” is ableist because there are dudes on the autism spectrum who have difficulty socializing and reading social cues and they can’t help being creepy! Etc etc. The take-away seems to be that women just need to tolerate creepy dudes because feeling like your personal safety is being consistently threatened (and running the risk of being told “Well why didn’t you DO something about that creep sooner?” if your personal safety is actually violated) is a small price to pay in the service of not making one dude feel kinda sad. Which is why I really appreciate when dudes who maybe do have problems reading social cues are told they’re being creepy and instead of getting mad at the person telling them that fact, they take steps to change their behavior. Like Ben here, who is interviewed over at the Hairpin in an excellent piece, and who seems like a really interesting and lovely person:

Do you remember your first crush?

I do. I think I’d just hit puberty. It was in 8th grade. There was a girl in my shop class, my first class of the day. I’d come into class straight from home, right? Straight from the shower — and it was winter, and my hair would freeze, and I’d sit down next to this girl who always told me, “Watch out, you’ll get split ends.”

I got this feeling whenever I was around her, this moony feeling. I just felt good around her, and it was the first time I’d ever felt anything like that. I wanted to sustain the feeling, so I’d stand around and try to talk to her, I’d stare at her, I’d try to hang around her in the hallways. I had no idea that what I was doing was out of the ordinary or creeping her out.

Then I got her number from someone, and that’s when it went downhill. I called her and left a message, and I had a moment where I became cognizant of just how inappropriate my behavior was in reference to social norms, and so I panicked and called her back. I tried to explain myself on the second message, and it made me feel worse, and it sort of snowballed. I must’ve called six times consecutively, thinking, “I can still fix this.”

The school took it very seriously, which I think is to their credit. They got me into a room with all the counselors and told me how badly I was freaking out this girl. I was horrified. It was like one of those dreams when you suddenly realize you’re naked. I felt awful, I felt so guilty. It was the first time I realized that my PDD wasn’t just a benign quirk I had — that it had serious implications for other people, specifically women.

I’m glad the school took it seriously, and while my heart goes out to Ben for feeling so horrified, I’m glad that he was able to see that it wasn’t about him being a bad person, it was about his brain not recognizing certain things that lots of other people read as threatening, and it was his responsibility going forward to try not to totally freak people out.

Unfortunately, despite the fact that Ben had basically the exact reaction that any decent human being would have — “I am doing something that scares people, I don’t want to scare people, I would like to stop doing this” — he wasn’t really given the tools to help him. Instead, he walked away feeling alone:

Oh! That is quite a first crush story.

Yeah. The worst part was that my parents reacted badly. Like I wasn’t a child anymore, but some volatile lunatic. In the conference they had this look on their face like, “What have we done wrong to raise a child like this?” I really internalized that moment. After that I felt like I was someone that needed to be contained, and all of this culminated in my first depressive episode.

But mostly I feel bad for E—, the girl. It must have been scary for her.

Were you able to talk about this with anyone?

All my life, I think I viewed my friends more as activity partners. And, after this incident, I developed all these axiomatic beliefs about who I was — that I would never form the deep, meaningful connections that other kids seemed to make with each other so easily. I told myself that I’d fuck up and hurt people if I tried to form bonds with them.

From the rest of the interview it seems like Ben is working through that, and is no longer under the impression that he’s going to fuck up and hurt people if he forms bonds with them. But the whole interview is a nice illustration of how being “different” isn’t the same as being creepy, and how it’s entirely possible to weather the charge of “creep” and come out on the other side, so long as you actually care about doing right.

And it’s just a lovely interview generally and you should read it (TW, though, for discussion of molestation).


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About Jill

Jill began blogging for Feministe in 2005. She has since written as a weekly columnist for the Guardian newspaper and in April 2014 she was appointed as senior political writer for Cosmopolitan magazine.
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493 Responses to How not to be a creep

  1. matlun says:

    As someone the autistic spectrum (just Aspergers actually) I think much of the whole “it is unjust to point out I am creepy” rhetoric is just bullshit.

    Since I have a hard time recognizing this on my own, then if no one actually points it out how I am going to realize that this is the case? How, if I do not realize that there is a problem on my own, am I ever going to to be able to change my behavior to something more acceptable?

    Being non-neurotypical should not be seen as an excuse to be a creep, it should be seen as a need for more detailed instruction in how not to behave as a creep.

    Even more when I was I a teenager and more insecure, I would really have welcomed clear information as to when my behavior was “creepy”. So that I could have better learned how to behave.

  2. mh says:

    SO GLAD somebody FINALLY wrote about this! I see these kinds of “don’t be creepy” posts on feminist forums all the time, and I’ve struggled with how to respond.

    Autism runs in our family (“runs” is a polite way of saying all of us are on the spectrum to some degree or other; some are more disabled than others.) It is very, very true that sometimes we don’t know when we are being “creepy.” It is also true that, once told to back off, it is completely our responsibility to follow through.

    I once read a charge for “creepy” men to take responsibility and “just not be creepy.” The writer felt that she shouldn’t have to explain or rebuff them, that they should somehow know they were doing something wrong. While I can understand how difficult it can be to assert yourself, the truth is that not everybody understands social boundaries the same way.

    People on the spectrum may need specific instructions or a specific explanation; body language is usually insufficient. “Leave me alone” is clear enough for anyone, but it does have to be said explicitly.

    • EG says:

      Women have been socialized not to respond explicitly, directly, and verbally; a woman who did was just attacked with a knife in SF. If you don’t intuitively read body language, you need to consciously learn it, as a friend of mine had to do. Body language is a legitimate method of communication, and a woman who is being intimidated by you can’t tell from your body language if you are the guy who’s going to pull a knife if she’s “rude,” or if you just can’t that she’s intimidated.

      • mh says:

        What if you can’t learn it, or what if you are still in the process of learning it?

        I understand your dilemma, but the reality is that there are people who don’t read social cues like body language, period. Note that many people with this disability have it so extremely as to be face-blind (they cannot recognize facial features and must rely on people telling them who they are.)

      • EG says:

        Yes, I am aware of those facts. And the reality is that I’m not going to prioritize the possibility that somebody ignoring my body language and transgressing my boundaries is incapable or in the process of learning over the possibility that he’s a harasser or rapist. One of rapists’ main tactics in selecting a victim is to repeatedly violate her boundaries in order to confirm that she’ll accept the behavior.

        If you know that you are one of the people who can’t read body language and needs to be told things explicitly, and then it is on you to say that, explicitly, to the person you’re interacting with: “Just wanted to let you know that I’m on the spectrum and while I do my best, I’m just at a loss when it comes to body language and subtle cues; please tell me directly if something I’m doing is discomfitting you or if you want to go do something else. I won’t be upset; I’ll be grateful for the clear direction.”

        People on the spectrum cannot read my body language. That’s difficult for them. But that does not put the onus on me to read their minds.

        Interestingly, I have interacted with women on the spectrum, and not one of them ever touched me, for example. One woman did follow me after I had given signals that I wanted the interaction to be over. As she was smaller than me and a woman, I had the luxury of not being threatened, and so taking the time to figure out what was going on. That’s not a luxury I have with a man.

      • mh says:

        For some reason, it won’t allow me to reply directly to your comment, but I would say this:

        “People on the spectrum cannot read my body language. That’s difficult for them. But that does not put the onus on me to read their minds.”

        This is EXACTLY what it is like for a person on the spectrum. Many of us feel that the world expects us to read their minds. However, if you said “Don’t touch me and leave me alone” it solves that problem.

        You asking that a person on the spectrum announce their disability at the onset of every single social interaction is not a reasonable or just request. You wouldn’t ask this of someone who was legally (meaning, not totally) blind and might bump into you without being aware of it, would you?

      • Sheelzebub says:

        Cut it out. I’m serious. It isn’t just neurotypical women who get harassed. And trying to parse out if someone is safe or not, if they’re on the up-and-up, is REALLY FUCKING STRESSFUL for women on the spectrum and women like me who have NLD (because problems with social cues aren’t always due to autism). Not to mention trying to extricate yourself from the situation in a socially acceptable way when hello, you’re not good at that sort of thing. And then getting threatened, or followed/harassed further, or assaulted because you were such a bitch. Telling some guy “Don’t touch me” or “Leave me alone” actually MADE THINGS WORSE. And no one said, “Hey, maybe she has a right-brain disorder.” They said, “Well, you should have been nicer” or “The poor guy probably has problems.”

        FUCK THAT.

        MY safety counts, too. MY well-being counts, too. I do NOT have the fucking spoons to play mommy to a dude who has these issues when I have them and other women have them as well.

        FUCK that erasing bullshit.

      • Sheelzebub says:

        MH, my comment is stuck in mod, for whatever reason. But I will say that I think you’re being dismissive, erasing, and hurtful to women and girls like me who have to deal with harassment and who have disorders that make it hard for us to read social cues. To expect me to extend a what if to a guy when he’s not doing the same to me–and to expect me to be blunt when I learned the hard way (thanks to the disorder) that saying my boundaries would actually put me in more danger sometimes is beyond nasty on your part. People like you–people who ignored and erased women like me in favor of the dudes–actually made my life a lot worse.

      • EG says:

        You wouldn’t ask this of someone who was legally (meaning, not totally) blind and might bump into you without being aware of it, would you?

        If they repeatedly bump into me and don’t want me to respond as if they’re hostile and trying to grope me, harass me, or pick my pocket, I think it would be a good idea.

        Many of us feel that the world expects us to read their minds. However, if you said “Don’t touch me and leave me alone” it solves that problem.

        It doesn’t solve my problem, of knowing whether somebody is a danger to me, and that’s the problem I’m going to prioritize, thanks very much. I’m not structuring my life around making it easy for random men to interact with me.

      • Clytemnestra's Sister says:

        What if you can’t learn it, or what if you are still in the process of learning it?

        Have you read, “You need to get off my foot?”

        http://racebending.tumblr.com/post/29362478976/if-you-step-on-my-foot-you-need-to-get-off-my

        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 are 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.

        I had an unfortunate problem with this very recently, with a young immigrant man of colour whose first language is not english. He was a very pleasant gentleman up until the point where he decided to ignore my repeated “I’m Not Interested” and “No” after he asked me out on a date. The pattern of harassment escalated very quickly after each no, to the point where I called in a male relative to tell him to go soak his head and my next step was calling the police.

        I could have sat there wondering if I should educate him about culture and appropriate behaviour in this country, or wonder if I should have made an effort to communicate with him in his native language, or sat him down and explained to him carefully that he was being creepy and rude…..but since this person had already demonstrated that he was dangerous, I went for the big scary hairy younger brother telling him to go soak his head option.

        I look at dealing with creepers like I would crossing a pasture with a bull in it. Some bulls are like Ferdinand and all they want to do is smell flowers, some will watch you carefully and be on guard but not be aggressive, and some bulls want nothing more than to put two holes in your abdomen. But I don’t know that before I approach the field. Since I cannot determine the bull’s intentions, I must make my decisions about my safety based on the bull’s abilities and the bull’s behaviour. If somebody is displaying creepy/dangerous behaviour and has the ability to harm me, then I must assume that that person is dangerous until proven otherwise, regardless of whether that person is clueless, non-neurotypical, predatory, or just awkward.

      • jennygadget says:

        “You asking that a person on the spectrum announce their disability at the onset of every single social interaction is not a reasonable or just request.”

        No. No one here is doing that. We are saying that just because it is true that there ought to be more resources and overall understanding of people who are not neurotypical, this does not mean that the person you are creeping out has the responsibility to be that resource for you.

        What is being pointed out is that if you do want people to help you, if you feel you know them well enough or are in a situation where it makes sense to ask that favor of them, then yeah…you should be clear about what it is you are actually asking of them. Otherwise you are just being an asshole and expecting them to read your mind. At the risk of their own physical safety and emotional well-being.

        “It isn’t just neurotypical women who get harassed.”

        And yes, THIS. A million times this. All of this talk about how the creepers may be socially awkward or non-neurotypical does nothing to help people being creeped on who this may also be true of. So, it’s really just helping the creepers, some of whom may not be neurotypical – many of whom are, and not at all helping non-neurotypical people overall, some of whom may be creepers, but many of whom, I suspect, are actually creeped on fairly often.

        The question should be: how does the common assumption that everyone is neurotypical color how we talk about unwanted and socially unacceptable behavior? or: How can recognizing people’s differences help us keep more people happy and safe?

        The question should not be: But how many of the people being called creeps have Asperger’s, etc.? This limits the conversation to just one part of the problem, props up the myth that most creepers have good intentions, contributes to the assumption that it’s men’s experiences that deserve to be heard and focused on, and completely erases a whole lot of people who do have Asperger’s, have problems learning social cues, etc.

      • mh says:

        Wait a minute, here. I have this particular disorder, myself. I’m sorry, but I learned the hard way that it is better to say “Leave me alone” than it is to parse out someone’s intentions.

        I do not get how that is erasing anyone. We all have a responsibility to make sure there is no confusion by communicating as clearly as we are able. We can’t ask that of other people if we won’t do it ourselves.

        For the record, I have also been taken advantage of because I didn’t catch the cues in time. The guys who did that to me were not AS, but creeps.

      • Sheelzebub says:

        And when I’ve done that, or other women have done that, the guys sometimes got violent or more threatening.

        Yes, you’ve self-identified as a woman and as someone on the spectrum. You’re still erasing those of us who’ve gotten the business end of harassment and you’re acting like if we just communicated more clearly this shit wouldn’t happen. You’re also erasing those of us who’ve dealt with that shit and who have disorders where we can’t read interpersonal cues or facial expressions that well. Even though we’ve actually gotten assaulted, threatened, followed, etc. for doing exactly that.

        And for your information, I’m not here to school any man on how to fucking behave. Coping with NLD, I don’t have the spoons. I’m not his goddamn mommy. I have my own well-being to worry about. It’s incredibly abelist of you to assume that women who deal with this shit have the spoons to educate the poor widdle menz. Fuck that noise. My safety and well-being counts, too.

        Also–it’s not just spectrum disorders that color this. A woman with PTSD isn’t necessarily going to feel comfortable telling some dude she doesn’t know to leave her alone because the interaction might have tripped her triggers. And since I have no way of knowing if a guy is on the spectrum (and have the NLD to really make things hairy) AND since it’s abelist for anyone to expect a person to announce their issues, it’s really fucking rich of you to blithely tell us that we should just tell someone to stop.

        I mean, that always works well, doesn’t it.

      • Lindsay says:

        I’m also autistic, and also cannot read most people’s body language most of the time. I think Sheelzebub has the right of it here, and I also think that, maybe if you know you can’t tell if you’re making someone uncomfortable, and you’re not sure you can ever learn how, you could just err on the side of not approaching people, of giving them a lot of space. That’s what I do.

    • LC says:

      EG, not just women. (Although the pressure is greater.) Language analysis shows that in general people of all genders don’t say “no” directly in most cases.

    • kersplat says:

      Body language is a legitimate method of communication

      Body language is ill defined, hard to read, and totally impossible to objectively interpret. The idea that as a passive bystander you are required to try and get in somebody’s head who isn’t enough of a grown up to tell you what is on their mind strikes me as mind numbingly childish.

      • EG says:

        Body language is not objectively impossible to interpret, and given that it’s a major mode of communication, it can’t possibly be that ill-defined. I have a friend on the spectrum who taught herself body language and facial expressions specifically because she did not want to make others uncomfortable.

        We are not talking about passive bystanders. We are talking about people actively engaging with others. The idea that you feel entitled to interact with other people while dismissing a major component of that interaction as unimportant and not worth your while strikes me as mind-blowingly narcissistic.

      • mh says:

        Are you seriously calling autistic people narcissistic?

        OK, so for the record: just because some autistic people can learn some social cues, it doesn’t follow that all autistic people can learn them, nor does it follow that all the cues will be learned even if they try.

        It also means the cues have to be taught, and one of the few ways that adults have at their disposal to do so is screwing up and having their screwups pointed out to them.

      • matlun says:

        The idea that you feel entitled to interact with other people while dismissing a major component of that interaction as unimportant and not worth your while strikes me as mind-blowingly narcissistic.

        A bit unfair. If you do not have the skill to actually interpret this component, then can you really say that you are “dismissing” it by not acting on it?

        I do think that as an adult you should be able to communicate this in a more direct manner. I also believe that as an adult the other person should respect this information once communicated. Unfortunately I am wrong on both these points all too often.

      • kersplat says:

        Body language is not objectively impossible to interpret

        There is no such thing as an objective observation, all observations come from an individual’s perspective and one person’s opinion on the body language signals of another person is just that, an opinion.

        and given that it’s a major mode of communication, it can’t possibly be that ill-defined.

        people using it is fine, people using it in place of a communication’s standard that works better to communicate something serious like safety is fucking stupid IMHO.

        I have a friend on the spectrum who taught herself body language and facial expressions specifically because she did not want to make others uncomfortable.

        great for them. I expect others that feel uncomfortable and expect me to do something about it to tell me so like an adult. Not cry in a corner and make me play some game of charades like were in preschool.

        The idea that you feel entitled to interact with other people while dismissing a major component of that interaction as unimportant and not worth your while strikes me as mind-blowingly narcissistic.

        I feel entitled to be treated like an adult and told to stop doing something that makes someone else uncomfortable so I can rationally respond and make adjustments or stop talking to them just how I would expect to do myself If I felt uncomfortable.

      • Sheelzebub says:

        I feel entitled to be treated like an adult and told to stop doing something that makes someone else uncomfortable so I can rationally respond and make adjustments or stop talking to them just how I would expect to do myself If I felt uncomfortable.

        Yeah, ’cause, you know, I didn’t actually get further harassed, threatened, and followed when I actually told a guy to stop doing something.

        How’s that view from privilege mountain?

      • Briznecko says:

        I feel entitled to be treated like an adult and told to stop doing something that makes someone else uncomfortable so I can rationally respond and make adjustments or stop talking to them just how I would expect to do myself If I felt uncomfortable.

        Women don’t have the magical ability to read your mind and tell that you are a rational adult and will make the necessary adjustments. Not all men respond that way, some yell expletives, some assault, some stalk, etc. So when it comes to “treating you as an adult” vs. my personal safety, my safety wins hands down.

      • kersplat says:

        Yeah, ’cause, you know, I didn’t actually get further harassed, threatened, and followed when I actually told a guy to stop doing something.

        ya know it’s really too bad that you’ve had to deal with people like that, it also really is not my problem. you don’t get a free pass to disrespect people just because you’ve had bad experiences in the past. It is not my responsibility to deal with the fallout of offenses against you I did not commit, just like it is not the job of minorities to go out of their way to “not fit the stereotype” to avoid profiling. If you don’t speak to me like an adult I’m not going to treat you like one. I’ve had women do some horrifically disrespectful things to me that were totally irrational and unprovoked, that does not give me the right to treat every woman like an irrational loose cannon.

      • roro80 says:

        kersplat, perhaps you’re missing the part of the story where it’s not just that one time in the past it happened to that one individual. Telling someone up-front to leave you alone, and then having that situation turn real ugly in one way or another, is a nearly universal experience for women. It’s not a one-off. Your feelings about direct communication are quite a bit down the list of stuff I care about from my own personal safety.

      • pheenobarbidoll says:

        ya know it’s really too bad that you’ve had to deal with people like that, it also really is not my problem.

        Exactly. It’s my problem so you don’t get to dictate how I solve it. I have no idea who you are, what your intentions are, if you’re going to flip out on me for speaking up or what. And my safety isn’t your social lesson o’ the day.

        You can find it immature all you like, at least I’m alive and not found chopped up and stuffed in a duffel bag. Given that it’s my life, your opinion on it is worth less to me that the shit my dog just took.

      • kersplat says:

        Telling someone up-front to leave you alone, and then having that situation turn real ugly in one way or another, is a nearly universal experience for women

        It’s a nearly universal experience for people in general, it also totally irrelevant. I am not responsible for the asshattery of other people.

      • kersplat says:

        if you’re going to flip out on me for speaking up or what…

        my point was that you should speak up and not expect me to play some jr high school game where I try to decode your “body language”. You clearly did not read what I wrote.

        If I walk into a room and you turn to me and say “excuse me your freaking me out standing so close” ill back up. If you wiggle uncomfortably and start to shake, I’m going to think you have to go to the bathroom and keep standing there.

        Your an adult, if you want something, say so.

      • pheenobarbidoll says:

        Avoiding assault isn’t asshattery. Asshattery is what leads me to have to avoid assault.

      • pheenobarbidoll says:

        my point was that you should speak up and not expect me to play some jr high school game where I try to decode your “body language”. You clearly did not read what I wrote.

        And my point is the only thing I should do is whatever I feel is necessary to lower my risk of you being a stalking, murdering serial rapist. That’s it. That’s all. My obligation is to my safety and my body is not for your use. I don’t care what you want to learn. Go learn about standing too close or decoding body language from someone else, on your own time.

      • pheenobarbidoll says:

        Your an adult

        As are you. There are people out there who are paid to help you figure this shit out. Go pay one of them and stop demanding my safety as your free tutor.

      • EG says:

        Are you seriously calling autistic people narcissistic?

        I’m seriously calling this dude, who refers to understanding to body language, which comprises a large part of communication, and to the responses of women who have been socialized to be nice and polite to men and who have to worry about men reacting violently, as “childish,” narcissistic.

        just because some autistic people can learn some social cues, it doesn’t follow that all autistic people can learn them, nor does it follow that all the cues will be learned even if they try.

        Then I guess those people who can’t tell whether or not their actions are wanted had better make sure to err on the side of assuming they are not, if they don’t want to intimidate people.

        one of the few ways that adults have at their disposal to do so is screwing up and having their screwups pointed out to them.

        I am not a free service for every passer-by. It is incredibly entitled to expect me to place some stranger’s “learning experiences” before my own safety. If I wish to set up a practice teaching social skills, I will expect to be paid.

      • Sheelzebub says:

        Yes! Telling the guy who wouldn’t leave me alone to leave me alone and that I wasn’t interested went swimmingly. If, by swimmingly, you mean “got followed and threatened and further harassed.”

        Signed, a NNT woman who apparently doesn’t exit or matter to people like you or MH.

      • mh says:

        First of all, I’m not neurotypical myself and spend most of my time right now working on disability rights for members of my family in particular. I do care about the rights of everyone, women and people with disabilities in particular.

        If you’ve spoken up for yourself and the perpetrator responds aggressively, you’ve probably got a rapist or sociopath on your hands rather than a garden-variety asshat. I don’t think anything you could do or say would change the situation at that point, in the same way that nothing you did or said made the situation your fault.

      • Sheelzebub says:

        My point is, you have no right to go telling anyone what they should be doing on the off-chance that maybe the dude is on the spectrum. There are reasons why I interact (or refuse to interact) with men the way I do and you have NO RIGHT to lecture me or anyone else on how we should be schooling them or just “doing” X because then they’ll back off.

        I mean, wonderful, I speak up and the dude gets aggressive and bystanders tell me it’s because I’m such a bitch but it’s all okay because “it’s not really my fault.” Oh, thank you! That’s a great comfort when I’m actually scared that I’m about to get assaulted by some entitled dudely shitheel.

        Here’s the deal: I have no idea if the dude who’s getting into my space and will not take no for an answer and will not leave me the fuck alone is NT or not. (They don’t ask themselves if I am, and I see a lot of assumptions from folks here that women who would rather be left alone are all NT. Fuck that noise.) I don’t care if he’s on the spectrum or not, if he has NLD or not, if he’s mentally ill or not. (It’s actually quite possible to be those things and harass or hurt someone.) I care about my well-being. And I’m sick to fucking death of people acting like violence against women isn’t a thing with this advice that we “just” have to do or say X or Y.

        You’re part of the problem because you’re putting us in a position where we cannot win. If you care so goddamn much about other women who deal with this shit, stop acting like any woman who is tired of creepy fucking behavior is being abelist and that we’re all NT, and stop acting like violence isn’t actually a thing women–including women like me–have to deal with. While you’re at it, stop acting like it’s our goddamn job to school the dudes. I don’t have the fucking spoons, if you give a shit about abelism you’d know better than to exhort me to do that or to assume that everyone’s NT. That’s so much bullshit right there.

      • pheenobarbidoll says:

        If you’ve spoken up for yourself and the perpetrator responds aggressively, you’ve probably got a rapist or sociopath on your hands rather than a garden-variety asshat.

        But why I am supposed to take that risk? So he knows better next time?

        No. No thanks. My safety isn’t anyone’s social communication lesson.

      • Jill says:

        Right? Here’s the thing with people who disregard social cues and boundaries: They disregard social cues and boundaries. Sometimes that’s because they have issues that prevent them from being able to read social cues and understand boundaries. But more often, it’s because they are willfully disregarding social cues and boundaries. And people who repeatedly push your boundaries and don’t care that they’re making you scared or uncomfortable are often not safe people, and it’s actually a rather good idea to get away from them. I am sorry if that hurts the feelings of people who are unintentionally behaving poorly. Personal safety trumps feelings.

      • Natalia says:

        Yeah, direct engagement of people acting creepy towards me has not worked out in the past for me either. When I was 17, I politely told a man on the street that I was not interested after he tried to block my path – so then of course he followed me for two city blocks, screaming about how his cousin is in the police and that I would now be “hunted down” for “being disrespectful.”

        My personal safety trumps other people’s feelings. If I’m not comfortable engaging, I’m not going to go against my better judgment because miscommunication could be at play.

      • annalouise says:

        If it is truly challenging for a guy to figure out whether or not he’s creeping a woman out, maybe he should just not socially interact with women until he gets a better handle on it, instead of asking women to put up with it because it’s not intentional, or because it’s related to a brain chemistry issue .
        I mean, that’s kind of a subtext in this creep shaming whining: that “talking to women” is some kind of basic human right. And let’s be real as to how much this has to do with how we put this pressure on women to be understanding, or compassionate, or nurturing to people.

      • jennygadget says:

        “I mean, that’s kind of a subtext in this creep shaming whining: that “talking to women” is some kind of basic human right.”

        Yup. Which is why there is soooo much caring for men on the spectrum who are trying to talk to women, but so little concern for women on the spectrum who may have a much harder time saying extracting themselves safely, assessing risk, etc.

      • matlun says:

        To “not interact socially” with 50% of the world’s population? Are you really being serious here?

        That is clearly not a reasonable choice unless you live in prison or some other gender segregated environment. Most of us do live in a mixed gender social environment.

        These types of communication problems are real and probably unavoidable. They are also not limited to just autistic people. The man claiming that his wife “wants him to read her mind” is a well established cliche for a reason.

        The person creeping you out may very well not be aware of this. From a moral perspective, the situation is much clearer when his behavior is unacceptable regardless of this information (ie he is acting in fundamentally inappropriate or even abusive ways), but when this is not the case the situation really is not that clear.

      • EG says:

        The man claiming that his wife “wants him to read her mind” is a well established cliche for a reason.

        Right. The same reason that other sexist stereotypes are cliches. Misogyny.

      • matlun says:

        @EG: No, because many men recognize themselves in the cliche. It is an exaggerated way of expressing a real phenomenon.

        I do apologize for my poor phrasing, since there are the classical sexist tropes of the unreasonable woman and the clueless man. I could have expressed what I wanted without going there.

        Which was that honest miscommunication where one party incorrectly believes that their social cues have been correctly understood is not uncommon. It happens quite often even in normal social interaction.

      • TomSims says:

        <blockquoteIf it is truly challenging for a guy to figure out whether or not he’s creeping a woman out, maybe he should just not socially interact with women until he gets a better handle on it, instead of asking women to put up with it because it’s not intentional, or because it’s related to a brain chemistry issue .
        I mean, that’s kind of a subtext in this creep shaming whining: that “talking to women” is some kind of basic human right. And let’s be real as to how much this has to do with how we put this pressure on women to be understanding, or compassionate, or nurturing to people.

        I agree completely. One of the first things all parents should teach ALL boys is to respect all girls'/women's space.

      • Dave says:

        @Tom

        “that “talking to women” is some kind of basic human right”

        Actually, it is. Freedom of speech.

      • Sheelzebub says:

        @Tom

        “that “talking to women” is some kind of basic human right”

        Actually, it is. Freedom of speech.

        Freedom of speech means you have the right to express your opinion without fear of government censorship. It does not mean that I am a piece of public property. These conversations all too often go down that path–it’s someone’s “right” to harass me because they’re just hitting on me clumsily or they’re socially awkward or whatever (while erasing the fact that I have NLD). I am not a piece of property. I am not a resource. I am not a thing that anyone has a “right” to. Maybe if folks dropped that dehumanizing bullshit a lot of the problem would diminish, but that would mean dropping your entitlement to women’s bodies, time, and space. I don’t see that happening any time soon.

      • Dave says:

        No one has a right to your time, body, or space. But everyone does have the right to talk. You also have the right to not listen.

      • Sheelzebub says:

        I also have the right to my own space, Dave. Oddly enough, this “freedom” and these “rights” are only mentioned when it comes to men’s sense of entitlement to women.

        And actually? You don’t have the “right” to talk to me if I make it clear I don’t want that. (And if the only strangers you ever choose to approach are women, you may want to look at why that is.) That’s not freedom of speech. Words mean things. FFS.

      • Sheelzebub says:

        Oh, you poor baby! Your fee-fees were hurt. I was physically hurt. Guess whose well-being I give two shits about? Mine. Not some entitled doucheclown who thinks his hurt fee-fees are my problem to address but institutionalized sexism and male entitlement and violence against women isn’t his problem to consider.

        But thank you for establishing that you’re an inbred troll. Now roll around in glitter and dance for me, sparky.

      • Marni says:

        Hear, hear Sheezlebub. Amazing isn’t it. Any other question of gender, race, classism, sexuality, ableism etc and few here would ever say that ‘you’ have the responsibility to act as if you are ‘normal’ just because ‘normal’ people don’t like having their feelings hurt, even when it puts you at physical risk. PRIVILEGE MOUNTAIN, indeed.

      • Sheelzebub says:

        It’s a nearly universal experience for people in general, it also totally irrelevant. I am not responsible for the asshattery of other people.

        And they aren’t responsible to school you on how to act. Believe it or not, the experiences of women will outweigh their consideration of your hurt manfeels. Shocking, I know.

        Now roll around in glitter and dance, sparky.

      • Past my expiration date says:

        Body language is ill defined, hard to read, and totally impossible to objectively interpret.

        And yet lots and lots of people manage to communicate using body language, lots and lots of times, every day! Astonishing, but true!

      • EG says:

        Right? This is my problem with this dude in particular. He thinks that because he is not adept at something, that thing is worthless, like some teenager who’s bad at trig or something, and says that therefore math is “stupid.”

        No. The problem is not with body language. It’s with his abilities.

        I am a terrible visual artist. I can’t draw, paint, sculpt for shit. I can’t even wrap a present competently. That does not mean that drawing, painting, sculpture, or even present-wrapping are childish bullshit. It means that I’m not good at everything that matters, and I have to fucking deal with it.

      • kersplat says:

        I can read body language just fine, I do it as part of my job very regularly, I simply refuse to do it without a pay check. The bar of communication between people has no need to be lowered to a less accurate system that relies on subjective observation.

        when your a child your parents teach you to “use your words to explain what you want”, why people feel entitled to communicate like 7 year olds I have no idea

      • tigtog says:

        I can read body language just fine, I do it as part of my job very regularly, I simply refuse to do it without a pay check. The bar of communication between people has no need to be lowered to a less accurate system that relies on subjective observation.

        The ability to read body language is not something you can just switch off, once you know how to do it.

        So what you’re actually saying is that you can tell very well when someone is frightened by your intrusive behaviours and you choose to ignore it.

        Why exactly is your self-confessed choice to wilfully ignore someone else’s perceptible fear supposed to make anybody here feel that you are the one who is being hard done by?

      • Briznecko says:

        I can read body language just fine, I do it as part of my job very regularly, I simply refuse to do it without a pay check.

        Really? You need to be paid to not stand too close to someone? To not touch someone without consent? To not make inappropriate sexual comments? To not stare? Wow…just, wow.

      • Sheelzebub says:

        why people feel entitled to communicate like 7 year olds I have no idea

        Given you’re the one who’s acting and communicating like a 7 year old, that’s odd.

      • pheenobarbidoll says:

        “use your words to explain what you want”, why people feel entitled to communicate like 7 year olds I have no idea

        And again- we’re telling you with words right fucking now.

        I have no doubt that if I told you to back the fuck off, you’d argue. You already are. So, nope. No respect for you. You’ll just have to discover how unpleasant some of us can actually get when we feel threatened.

      • Briznecko says:

        Oh wait…you need to be paid in order to interpret your creepy behavior as creepy. Off the clock, it’s the woman’s job to teach you how to not be creepy.

        Again, wow.

      • Sheelzebub says:

        Really? You need to be paid to not stand too close to someone? To not touch someone without consent? To not make inappropriate sexual comments? To not stare? Wow…just, wow.

        Yes. I don’t piss on people’s shoes when I’m on the clock, but once my workday is done you need to Use Your Words if you don’t want to me to pee on your shoes. I DEMAND RESPECT.

        (I’m being sarcastic, by the way.)

      • kersplat says:

        So what you’re actually saying is that you can tell very well when someone is frightened by your intrusive behaviours and you choose to ignore it.

        No, what I’m actually saying is exactly what I said.

        If somebody finds something I do intrusive or frighting, they can say something like an adult or they can send some stupid signal like a grade school child. I only give credence to the adult response from adults.

        I have no doubt that if I told you to back the fuck off, you’d argue.

        and you would be wrong.

        You’ll just have to discover how unpleasant some of us can actually get when we feel threatened.

        People who feel threatened for no reason are a threat to MY safety, which I take as serious as you take yours.

        [mod note : borked blockquotes fixed for second time to aid comprehension. Take a moment longer to preview your comment and check that you’ve done it properly next time.]

      • Sheelzebub says:

        People who feel threatened for no reason are a threat to MY safety, which I take as serious as you take yours.

        If you’re trying for Top Troll, you’re going to have to do better than this. I mean, the effort is there what with the stolen ID or racefail, mansplaining, and trying to twist our words. But the thing is, we’re seasoned troll-kickers, son. This shit is not new or novel to us. You’ve reached into your ass and pulled out a nugget you consider gold, but really, it’s just poop, boyo.

        And the Internet Tough Guy Act? Is, well, cute but not that new, either. I mean come on. Do you think we haven’t heard this before?

        You have to try harder. You obviously want it, sparky. But wanting it isn’t enough. Can you deliver? Well, can you??

      • LotusBecca says:

        Actually, kersplat, most adults use body language to communicate things with each other. I’m aware that you only do this at work, but for most of us, communicating with body language is a common after hours activity. In fact, adults generally have a more sophisticated ability to express themselves with body language than grade school children do, as well as a more sophisticated ability to interpret it. Just FYI.

      • EG says:

        Oh, I get it! This kersplat dude is one of those guys who sees no problem with fucking a partner who is just lying there counting ceiling tiles, wishing it was over, giving him no positive encouragement at all–and then saying it couldn’t be rape because “she didn’t say no.” What a douchebag.

        Kersplat, you keep claiming that nonverbal communication is childish, even though adults the world over use it to communicate. What other forms of communication are you unwilling to participate in? Do you understand tone of voice? Has it ever occurred to you that it’s only surly teenagers who whine about how nobody directly told them they had to refill the gas tank when they took the car, how are they supposed to know, what are they supposed to do, think about other people’s feelings? That’s…not a thing adults do. Adults actually exercise their capacity for empathy and pay attention to what other people need.

        You tell a kid to “use her/his words” when the kids is pointing at something and grunting. When the kid is clearly communicating through body language that you are frightening and intimidating him/her, you back the fuck off instead of being an asshole. Try it sometime. It’ll open up a whole new world of people not thinking you’re a lying douche.

      • pheenobarbidoll says:

        People who feel threatened for no reason are a threat to MY safety, which I take as serious as you take yours.

        One would think you’d pay a little more attention then instead of assuming they’re not threatened and just need to pee.

        Whoever you are. [name redacted by moderator] or [name redacted by moderator] identity thief.

      • Natalia says:

        I can read body language just fine, I do it as part of my job very regularly, I simply refuse to do it without a pay check.

        Then you’re an entitled shit, m’love.

      • Dave says:

        Well this has been an interesting discussion. What I’m a bit confused about: what is this argument actually about?

        As far as I can tell it’s about responsibility when it comes to being “creepy.” In a conversation, if someone is not responding to non-verbal cues, how do you terminate the encounter? Is that what we are talking about here?

      • umami says:

        Thanks for being such a great object lesson.

        If anyone is ever in any doubt that some men use being on the autistic spectrum as an excuse for complete fucking assholes and deliberately disregarding the feelings of the women they interact with, your comments on this thread are a useful example of the phenomenon.

      • kersplat says:

        Go pay one of them and stop demanding my safety as your free tutor.

        what I demand is respect, and if you choose not to show it to me, I will not show it to you. expecting me to constantly be on the look out for YOUR well being is not respect. If I’m creeping you out, go run and hide for all I care, you COULD choose to ask me to stop doing whatever it is that’s creeping you out like a grown up but if you wanna cower and hide and hope I “pick up on the signals” that your frightened then your going to be waiting for a very long time.

      • Jill says:

        what I demand is respect, and if you choose not to show it to me, I will not show it to you. expecting me to constantly be on the look out for YOUR well being is not respect. If I’m creeping you out, go run and hide for all I care, you COULD choose to ask me to stop doing whatever it is that’s creeping you out like a grown up but if you wanna cower and hide and hope I “pick up on the signals” that your frightened then your going to be waiting for a very long time.

        Ok. Then you don’t get to complain when you have no friends and no social life and people don’t want to date you.

        Part of being a grown-up and Owning Your Shit is realizing that if you are the one with a problem that is making lots of other people feel frightened, it is on you to decide what you do with that information. You can demand that everyone else cater to you and tell you when they’re freaked out, or you can decide (as Ben in the interview did) that it’s not particularly pleasant to go through life making people feel scared even if you don’t mean to. And because you don’t want to be a total asshole, you will develop the skills to not appear to be a total asshole, and not make everyone else do the work for you.

        Or you can just decide that everyone else has to do the work for you. But then you don’t get to whine about how people are just so judgmental when they don’t want to be near you.

      • Sheelzebub says:

        what I demand is respect,

        HAHAHAHAHA.

        You get what you give, sparky.

        Now dance.

      • kersplat says:

        Ok. Then you don’t get to complain when you have no friends

        well since that isn’t the case, obviously my demands aren’t that hard to meet.

        Part of being a grown-up and Owning Your Shit is realizing that if you are the one with a problem that is making lots of other people feel frightened, it is on you to decide what you do with that information.

        correct and since I give not 2 shits about how people who are too immature to speak to me when they have a problem view me I won’t worry about catering to those people’s whims.

        Just how I don’t make an effort to not wear loose fit clothing at night “cus im a big scary black guy who might scare people”. People who think I’m “so scary” can run and hide for all I care, their safety is NOT my responsibility.

      • Jill says:

        Ok great! So if you act like an asshole, you don’t get to whine (even on blogs) when people are like, “Christ what an asshole.” When you act like a creep, you don’t get to whine (even on blogs) when people are like, “Wow that guy is a creep.”

      • pheenobarbidoll says:

        what I demand is respect,

        Keep on demanding it. See how far that gets you when you stand too close, creep me out and I call a cop over. You can explain it to him while I make a safe get away. I’m not obligated to show a total stranger respect for a damn thing. Fucking earn it and then we’ll talk.

      • Sheelzebub says:

        Just how I don’t make an effort to not wear loose fit clothing at night “cus im a big scary black guy who might scare people”. People who think I’m “so scary” can run and hide for all I care, their safety is NOT my responsibility.

        So, either you’re taking someone else’s image and information as your Gravitar or you’re lying about your race. Either way, you don’t deserve respect. Mockery, yes. But not respect.

      • pheenobarbidoll says:

        Just how I don’t make an effort to not wear loose fit clothing at night “cus im a big scary black guy who might scare people”. People who think I’m “so scary” can run and hide for all I care, their safety is NOT my responsibility.

        You realize we can see your gravatar pic, right? Don’t appropriate a POC’s experience, please. They aren’t yours to fucking use either.

      • kersplat says:

        You realize we can see your gravatar pic, right?

        You realize this is the internet and people some times don’t put their actual information or images on their profiles to remain anonymous right?

      • Donna L says:

        When you click on kersplat’s gravatar pic, it says:

        [identifying terms redacted by moderator]

        My wife and I chose [identifying terms redacted by moderator] as an ideal community to raise our growing family. I am the owner of [identifying terms redacted by moderator], a local Real Estate firm and earned my MBA from [identifying terms redacted by moderator]. I believe my leadership experience and business background will help me assist the [identifying terms redacted by moderator] residents in watching over our tax payer dollars, help improve property values, and provide a voice for our residents.

        I get the feeling that kersplat stole this guy’s picture. (Even more reason to ban him.) Either that, or he’s a fool to say things like he’s been saying here, with his real name a click away.

      • Donna L says:

        OK, so you admit you stole this guy’s picture. What a fucking pig.

      • Sheelzebub says:

        You realize this is the internet and people some times don’t put their actual information or images on their profiles to remain anonymous right?

        You realize the guy whose image you’re using and contact info you’re linking to can take legal action against you, right?

      • pheenobarbidoll says:

        He didn’t just steal the picture. You can look up [redacted] and see the same pic with almost the same profile information.

        So, he’s a lying shitbag either way you want to look at it.

        He’s either lying about his race or stole a mans entire identity.

        I think I’ll shoot an email to [redacted] and let the owner know.

      • EG says:

        Just how I don’t make an effort to not wear loose fit clothing at night “cus im a big scary black guy who might scare people”.

        Ding ding ding! I was waiting when we’d get back to the whole “Schrodinger’s rapist is just like racial profiling” thing! Aw, poor men! Having to respect women’s boundaries is just like being the victim of racism!

      • EG says:

        since I give not 2 shits about how people who are too immature to speak to me when they have a problem view me I won’t worry about catering to those people’s whims.

        Right back atcha, kiddo. I’ll just go on calling you a creep whose boundary-transgressing and entitlement complex make you a danger, then.

      • Niall says:

        @kersplat:

        I find your use of the word ‘demand’ in explaining what you want from others to be very telling and speaks volumes about your character. Demands are what terrorists and other criminals ask for in kidnapping hostage situations. These people don’t give two shits about getting what they want, even if it’s at the expense of other people

      • TomSims says:

        “what I demand is respect,”

        You don’t demand respect, it’s earned!

      • kersplat says:

        sry bout that, posted in the wrong place.

      • Donna L says:

        I don’t think there’s a right place for you here. Lying shitbag is a good description; thanks, pheeno.

      • pheenobarbidoll says:

        Email including link sent.

    • Jackie says:

      I have been reading this thread, and wanted to contribute an experience of my own. First some info, I am a woman with Asperger’s Syndrome, I can interpret body language decently.

      I was at this meetup group for people who are shy and wanted to learn to talk to each other. The minute I mentioned I had Asperger’s Syndrome this guy who had it practically jumped over next to me like an excited child, and started on about how he had it too. I found his behavior to be inappropriate and disturbing, and left the group and never returned to it.

      As someone who has been involved with some Asperger’s Syndrome support groups, I have learned a few unspoken rules when it comes to dealng with people on the Autism spectrum.

      One, is that if you tell a person who has an ASD they’re acting inapproprately, you’re an ass who does not want to understand how they are behaving that way because of their syndrome. It is virtually impossible to tell someone with an ASD they have a problem without them victim playing, and as many netizens who know me, know this is true. I am working on not doing that. No one wants to be the person who made the peron with ASD cried while everyone shames them, like they yelled at a 2 year old. This does happen, and it’s one of the reasons people think those with ASDs are jerks.

      Two, you will be seen as a complete and unrepentant ass if you bring any attention to the fact a person with an ASD is behaving in a disturbing manner, because “They can’t help it!” I don’t mean things like meltdowns or stimming, I mean violent unpredictable behavior. Like the time around high school I was invited to a special needs dance, and this guy nearly assaulted me. I was afraid to tell his parents what happened because they would most likely have twisted it into being my fault, or me not being understanding enough.

      Three, you’re so mmeeeeaaannn if you reject someone with an ASD, they have no friends. Parents who want to live their fantasy that their child is neurotypical will manipulate people with tales of pity and woe that their child has no friends. They will act like you’re a complete monster for rejecting their poor baby. This is another reason people are ambivalent about befriending or interacting with ASD people. It’s like having a tsundre boyfriend girlfriend.

      If your kid has no friends there’s probably a reason outside their diagnoses they don’t. Maybe they prefer being alone, or they’re missing some subtle social cue. It is not the job of the “friends” you’ve manipulated into playing babysitter to your child to teach them social skills. In fact what these parents are doing is emotionally abusing people and using them to fulfill their fantasies of having a neurotypical child.

      My mom fell for the my poor baby act hard, I never told anyone this, I felt if my life was meant to be a caretaker for ASD kids I’d rather not live. This was when I was seriously depressed and before I took SSRIs, but it shows how abusive and selfish parents of ASD kids can be. You cannot say no, without a hyperbolic dramatic production of how their child suffers, and you’re such a terrible person to not see how much they need you, you complete monster you. That is abusive behavior 101, those parents are going to guarentee nobody will want to be involved with them or their child, if saying no means they will act as if you sentenced their child to a life of complete isolation in a room with no light.

      This is why people have no tolerance for, “But I have Asperger’s Syndrome, I didn’t understaaannddd!” Then teach yourself, download a copy of Social Skills for Dummies, go to a therapist, but do not think anyone owes you their time to explain to you what you should already know. You act like a manchild, well no woman aside from those who might be overly maternal, will want to marry a child.

      It also is manipulative to make a woman look bad because she didn’t take your ASD feelings into consideration. You are trapping her in a social situation where either she leaves you, and everyone acts like she hurt the pooorrr ASD person’s feelings, or she agrees to be your girlfriend to get you to stop acting like a toddler who wants a candy bar in the checkout aisle.

      You might have notice I used several infantilizing terms in this post. I want to remind you, I myself have Asperger’s Syndrome, meaning I am not speaking from an outside perspective of knowing what it’s like. I am being frank because, men have no right to come to a feminist site, and cry male tears. Also, women do not know your intentions, this is made worse by the fact they don’t know if you have a knife, or you’re going to fall to your knees crying because they treated you badly. Either reaction is not and should not become their issue.

      I personally find the whole notion that everyone should drop everything because an ASD person is in the room thing despicable. It puts everyone else in an awkward position of having to walk on eggshells so they don’t set off the Aspie. Like I read about a suit against Whole Foods for not being sensitive and understanding that the person who is suing Whole Food’s brother had an ASD and wanders. Whole Foods shouldn’t have to ask if the person who may be a theif if they have an ASD first, the sister should have held her brother’s hand to see he didn’t wander away.

      People don’t want people with ASDs to be seen like children, yet expect everyone to just know that their child/sibling/relative has it. They expect everyone to treat their child as if they have a heart of glass, and act as if anyone who hurts their child is a horrible person. IT IS ALL ABOUT THE PERSON WITH THE ASD, AND NO ONE ELSE. That is the major problem here. You have an ASD and don’t like being called a creep, don’t act creepy. Can’t figure out how, nobody’s going to hold your precious little hand like mommy and explain it all to you. Women deal with enough crap from society, without the expectation that they ought to babysit the manchildren as well.

  3. elfabla says:

    I just read the whole interview and I have to say I love the metaphors that guy uses, really his whole way of responding to life, his obsevations, everything, made for lovely reading.

    • Jill says:

      Yes! Jia Tolentino, who conducted the interview, is a really excellent journalist. And Ben’s way of speaking is really compelling — the “veins in a marble” line was my favorite.

    • Alexandra says:

      Yes, it’s a lovely interview and he has a beautiful, eloquent way of describing his internal life.

      He reminds me a great deal of a friend I dated briefly after a few years of platonic friendship and escalating flirtation. We were incompatible for reasons that had little to do with the fact that he had a diagnosis of Asperger’s, and a lot more to do with religious disagreements. It was kind of nice to be in the position of “tutor” about sexuality and romance.

  4. Are we defining “creep” by inability to show remorse or have a willingness to change problem behaviors?

    I honestly think that there aren’t nearly as many creeps as we think, yet everyone knows one. I’m not offended by application of the term, but the ones who cause problems wear it as a badge of honor. That’s what needs to change–the attitude that being a creep is proof that you’re the world’s best badass.

    • tigtog says:

      Creepy behaviour describes a vast array of behaviours which other people find intrusive/alarming. The person’s intent is not the defining attribute – it’s the effect of the behaviour on others.

      Like so many behaviours, it’s problematic to turn an adjective labeling actions into a noun labeling a person.

      • SomeGuy says:

        The person’s intent is not the defining attribute – it’s the effect of the behaviour on others.

        I don’t necessarily disagree, but I do find it a bit odd that “the effect of the behaviour on others” is considered the defining aspect in this case (also mentioned by Jill in the OP), but is usually not considered to be an appropriate subject for discussion by feminists when it’s about, say, the potentially unintentional effect reveiling clothes tend to have on others (men). Feels like a bit of a double standard to me.

        That said – totally agree with this:

        Like so many behaviours, it’s problematic to turn an adjective labeling actions into a noun labeling a person.

      • Jill says:

        …because those two things are not at all alike?

        Look, if some hot dude is walking around in shorts and a tight shirt, I am going to have some serious Pants Feelings. However, unless he is walking around dressed like that in a location where it’s wildly inappropriate and his clothing therefore projects some sort of “is intentionally trying to be disruptive / threatening” vibe, the way he’s dressed doesn’t put me in any danger. I might see his clothing and feel hot, and his clothing might attract me, but it’s not anything that could in any universe be perceived as a threat to my physical safety.

        On the other hand, creepy behavior? Is creepy. When women say something is “creepy” what we often mean is, “This gets my guard up. This person’s actions make me feel like they may not be a safe person to be around.” That’s a whole lot different than seeing a hot chick and thinking “omg boobs I love those.”

      • Jill says:

        Also? Basically anything a woman wears can be construed as “too sexy” and therefore making men behave badly. Women who were assaulted during the protests in Cairo were blamed for wearing bright headscarves, or, after their clothes were pushed up or torn off, blamed for wearing colored underwear. Men who see women as walking sex-dolls are the ones who have the problem, and if they cannot stand to be in public with women’s bodies because those bodies have “unintentional effects,” they need to stay home because they have serious problems.

      • cherrybomb says:

        the potentially unintentional effect reveiling clothes tend to have on others (men).

        Someone directing creepy behavior at you is completely different than what someone chose to leave the house in– which is an action not at all directed at you.

        Now, If someone chose to leave the house without undergarments and was intentionally exposing themself to you, they would have crossed over into the
        realm of creepy behavior, directed at you.

      • SomeGuy says:

        @Jill,

        I’m not saying they’re exactly the same, yet I think this is a bit of a double standard. If a person’s intent is irrevelant with respect to deciding what her or his actions mean because *only the effect counts* there is a certain similarty between these two examples. Guys get labeled as creepy for all sorts of things, including sitting quietly in the corner with a weird haircut – no intent, but effect, and hardly different than a women wearing specific clothes.

        You’re right that it’s less similar once there is direct interaction: Yet in my experience, guys who are called creepy (to their face) usually aren’t considered safety issues by the girls/women calling them creepy. And for good reason: if you think someone’s a safety risk, you probably shouldn’t provoke him while he’s around.

        Men who see women as walking sex-dolls are the ones who have the problem, and if they cannot stand to be in public with women’s bodies because those bodies have “unintentional effects,” they need to stay home because they have serious problems.

        I agree with that. Modesty are a horrible idea, and horribly sexist to both genders. But there’s still a bit of a double standard when it’s only about the effect when women decide about what men do/are while the effect of their own behaviour on men is considered off limits for discussion.

      • Fat Steve says:

        Is it just me or does the phrase ‘double-standard’ seem particularly meaningless on a feminist website? Surely a double standard only can exist on a level playing field.

      • When has a man been called creepy for having a particular haircut? And you’re still not seeing the difference between clothing/appearance and behaviour directed at another person. Wearing clothes (apart from the inappropriate situation Jill mentioned) is not the same thing.

        Creepy is not a gendered insult, but it’s mostly discussed as things done by men toward women because most sexual predation is of that variety. Clothing styles are not hitting on someone who doesn’t want it. Clothing styles are not pestering someone for their phone number. Clothing styles are not making comments and passing judgement on another person’s body, sexual attractiveness, activities, or anything else.

        Also, you’re contradicting yourself: complaining about women wearing revealing clothing (revealing what? Cleavage? Knees? Ankles?) and in the next breath saying the idea of modesty is bad. Make up your mind. You’re buying into the real double standard, which is that women’s appearance is something we do at men and must be policed.

      • Dante says:

        I’m not saying they’re exactly the same, yet I think this is a bit of a double standard.

        Do you really not see the difference between a woman wearing a low-cut shirt and a man behaving in a way that makes someone feel threatened? One behavior is not directed at you; the other one is. One behavior, at worst, gets someone turned on; the other one, at worst, makes someone feel literally unsafe, as though that person’s right to live without fear is being violated.

        These are completely different, and similar in no way. I find it hard to believe that you can’t see that.

        Yet in my experience, guys who are called creepy (to their face) usually aren’t considered safety issues by the girls/women calling them creepy.

        First, I feel like you might be conflating two different concepts, one being the “creeping” behavior that this post addresses, and the other being a more generalized and less specific common-usage term. A guy sitting in a corner, minding his own business, with a strange haircut is not creepy. If he’s staring weirdly at women or other guys in the room, that is creepy, and he’s not minding his own business.

        I recognize that many people use the word “creepy” as a synonym for “undesirable” with no safety connotation. This is why context matters, and I don’t think it’s too hard to figure out which meaning applies by the context.

        Second, how can you be certain that these individuals aren’t considered safety issues by the persons who call them creepy? Did you ask the persons who applied the label? If you did, how can you be certain you were told the truth, and not just whatever it took to make you go away? If you are friends with a guy who is making another person feel unsafe, then you may easily be seen as equally unsafe and told anything necessary to make you stop inquiring.

      • hotpot says:

        Guys get labeled as creepy for all sorts of things, including sitting quietly in the corner with a weird haircut – no intent, but effect, and hardly different than a women wearing specific clothes.

        Right. And the effect of that behavior on others is harmless. As I read tigtog, it’s not that you’re a creep just because someone calls you one. It’s that just because you don’t intend to act like a creepy, it doesn’t mean that you aren’t.

        And even if we’re only talking about being aroused, someone wearing revealing clothes can only incite the reaction through you. At the end of the day it’s all in your head. On the other hand, someone who is being making you feel physically unsafe could kill you. The two are completely incomparable.

      • SomeGuy says:

        @The Kittehs’ Unpaid Help,

        When has a man been called creepy for having a particular haircut?

        well, because of their look, a number of them have.

        And you’re still not seeing the difference between clothing/appearance and behaviour directed at another person.

        I quote myself from my reply to Jill above: You’re right that it’s less similar once there is direct interaction.

        Creepy is not a gendered insult,

        True. I’ve seen a creepy woman or two. And I actually wouldn’t say it’s an insult in the cases you describe, it would be an insult in the cases I decribe, because in those cases it would be an unfair label. Thing is, I don’t see women call guys creepy because they think they’re dangerous (because, again, it would be stupid to call someone names if you think that person is dangerous), but because they feel they’re annoying (and will feel bad and leave after the word precisely because they’re sufficiently socially adjusted to understand at least that).
        I don’t really mind the term, although I think it could need a clearer definition. Some people are creepy at times.

        Clothing styles are not pestering someone for their phone number. Clothing styles are not making comments and passing judgement on another person’s body, sexual attractiveness, activities, or anything else.

        No, but again, I’ve hardly ever seen guys being called creepy who do that kind of thing.

        Clothing styles are not hitting on someone who doesn’t want it.

        Here is where the problem begins, because clothes *can be* code within contexts, and that means there can be miscommunication about the context. While not particularly often given common contexts, but sure, it’s easy to come up with situations in which clothes *can* hit on someone who doesn’t want it, at least to the extent that a person feels provoked similar to the communication of a socially maladjusted “creepy” person. It would probaly be reasonableto consider it “creepy” for a woman to walk into a Catholic monastery wearing only red hot pants.

      • mxe354 says:

        I do find it a bit odd that “the effect of the behaviour on others” is considered the defining aspect in this case (also mentioned by Jill in the OP), but is usually not considered to be an appropriate subject for discussion by feminists when it’s about, say, the potentially unintentional effect reveiling clothes tend to have on others (men). Feels like a bit of a double standard to me.

        The difference is that objectifying women with revealing clothes is unacceptable.

      • EG says:

        Here is where the problem begins, because clothes *can be* code within contexts, and that means there can be miscommunication about the context.

        Bullshit. Clothes do not hit on people. You can tell, because nobody hits on everybody in a room.

        Your supposed parallel is bullshit, because you are leaving out the element of threat and domination. A man intimidating a woman is doing so in a rape culture; the woman has to fear rape and sexual violence. A woman wearing sexy clothing in the presence of a man is doing so in…what, precisely? What does the man have to fear? Nothing. The man’s own thoughts might bother him, but controlling them is on him. He’s not in any danger.

      • William says:

        Bullshit. Clothes do not hit on people. You can tell, because nobody hits on everybody in a room.

        Your supposed parallel is bullshit, because you are leaving out the element of threat and domination. A man intimidating a woman is doing so in a rape culture; the woman has to fear rape and sexual violence. A woman wearing sexy clothing in the presence of a man is doing so in…what, precisely? What does the man have to fear? Nothing. The man’s own thoughts might bother him, but controlling them is on him. He’s not in any danger.

        Long story short: QFmotherfuckingT.

      • SomeGuy says:

        @EG

        yeah, well. There’s really no point in arguing with that. If you live with the premise that there nothing is comparable because of patriarchy, then there’s really nothing to talk about. Good that you have an answer so you don’t have to ask questions, right?

      • tomek says:

        someguy’s comparison is not much convincing.
        woman finding guy creepy is not enjoyable experiance for her. guy finding woman clothes hot is enjoyable experiance for him. the affect is opposite.

        The difference is that objectifying women with revealing clothes is unacceptable.

        eh. for why are they wearing these clothes then?

      • EG says:

        If you are trying to claim that being finding a woman attractive is somehow like living with the hovering threat of sexual assault and/or stalking and/or subsequent victim-blaming, you are so out of touch with reality that I have no idea what to say to you.

        It sure is convenient when you ignore real-life power dynamics in an attempt to make women culpable for men’s actions, isn’t it?

      • Esti says:

        @SomeGuy

        If you can’t understand there is a major, important difference between how a person looks and actions that they do to someone else, then I don’t know what to tell you. I don’t know anyone, male or female, who has called someone creepy because they had a bad haircut. Here are some things that HAVE caused me to call someone creepy (and no, usually not to their face — but you can absolutely feel threatened by or unsafe around someone and think to yourself “ugh, creepy” or wait until they are gone and call them creepy to someone else):

        -staring at me intently for an extended period, particularly when it is a stranger I am not having a conversation with (someone sitting across from me on the subway, for example)
        -catcalling me on the street
        -asking questions about my sexual history in an inappropriate context (at work, when we barely know each other, etc.)
        -a stranger on the street walking up behind me and running his hand up my leg (yes, this happened)
        -continuing to try to talk to me after I’ve made it clear I don’t want to have a conversation (by responding with one-word answers, looking away, going back to my book, saying I’m not interested, etc.)
        -pestering me for my number or my email address even after I’ve said I’d rather not give it to them
        -repeatedly brushing up against me in a confined space (the subway, trying to get a drink at a bar, etc.)
        -calling me four times in one day after we had one coffee date, including at my work number even though I specifically said not to call me at work
        -propositioning me even though I know his wife

        Notice a pattern? Those are all behaviors men directed at me. The fact that they (well, some of them) probably didn’t intend to be creepy doesn’t mean they weren’t, because that was the effect they had on me.

        That doesn’t mean, however, that EVERYTHING that makes me feel weird about someone else is creepy. I rarely feel more uncomfortable than when I run into my ex on the street, but that doesn’t mean he’s acting creepy — he’s not, because he doesn’t direct any behaviors to me on those occasions that are objectionable, it’s just uncomfortable because of circumstance. Similarly, a guy I went out on a few dates with now works at my company. It was hella awkward when he started there, but I never thought he was creepy because he never did anything to me that was creepy.

        If someone is wearing clothing that makes you hot in the pants, they didn’t do anything to you. If they then keep brushing up against you on the subway, THAT is behavior directed at you that is creepy.

        Things that are creepy, by the way: insisting that how women dress is a) necesarily directed at men, b) part of some “code” that means they are hitting on men around them, c) saying that women are responsible for the feelings men have about how they are dressed, and d) not understanding that there is a fundamental difference between a woman who is wearing a short skirt and a person of either gender who stares intently at you while making kissy faces.

      • Donna L says:

        I had an incredibly strong feeling of deja vu reading Some Guy’s willfully obtuse comments. I could swear that either he or someone just like him was raising exactly the same arguments on one of the comment threads about ReaderCon.

      • EG says:

        for why are they wearing these clothes then?

        For her girlfriend. For her boyfriend. For her spouse. For the cute bartender she has a crush on. What makes you think she wore them for you?

      • SlipperyWombat says:

        I don’t necessarily disagree, but I do find it a bit odd that “the effect of the behaviour on others” is considered the defining aspect in this case (also mentioned by Jill in the OP), but is usually not considered to be an appropriate subject for discussion by feminists when it’s about, say, the potentially unintentional effect reveiling clothes tend to have on others (men). Feels like a bit of a double standard to me.

        Here’s an idea:

        Why don’t you start a blog about the horrible things men suffer, like being subjected to the sight of a woman in revealing clothes, so you and other guys can commiserate about the unfairness of it all?

        I’m sorry you can’t understand how your concern doesn’t apply to a discussion of how to deal with behaviors which make women feel unsafe.

      • Sheelzebub says:

        I see hot guys all the time, some in tight, revealing T-shirts, or small swimsuits at the beach. I do not feel entitled to invade their space or keep at them when they’ve made their disinterest clear.

        If we’re going to talk about double-standards, I suggest you look at your own.

      • Julia says:

        It’s not a double-standard, though I see how it could seem like one.

        Rather, it’s a recognition of the fact that a group with less power is likely to feel THREATENED by a behavior, and that street doesn’t run both ways. So we need to recognize behavior with the potential to hurt a group.

      • William says:

        For her girlfriend. For her boyfriend. For her spouse. For the cute bartender she has a crush on. What makes you think she wore them for you?

        What is Primary Narcissism? I’ll take Obvious Answers for $1000, Alex…

      • hellkell says:

        That’s not a double standard, it’s a false equivalency.

      • The Kittehs' Unpaid Help says:

        If you are trying to claim that being finding a woman attractive is somehow like living with the hovering threat of sexual assault and/or stalking and/or subsequent victim-blaming, you are so out of touch with reality that I have no idea what to say to you.

        It sure is convenient when you ignore real-life power dynamics in an attempt to make women culpable for men’s actions, isn’t it?

        It doesn’t have the frothing rage, but Some Guy’s nonsense sounds like it came from the same school of *cough* thought *cough* as NWOslave’s – a name any regulars on Man Boobz will recognise (hi hellkell!).

      • jennygadget says:

        First I would like to point out that this:

        “Guys get labeled as creepy for all sorts of things, including sitting quietly in the corner with a weird haircut”

        Is describing primarily a social choice, not someone’s clothing choices. Fashion comes into play and prejudices about fashion can exacerbate the situation (and be used to as part of the insults once it is decided the person “deserves” them), but really when this happens it’s pretty much all about our expectations that extroversion is normal and introversion is suspect.

        What Some Guy is most confused about seems to be the revolutionary concept that clothing choices, while in part an expression of self to others, are primarily something one subjects oneself to, while how (or even, to a lesser extent, if) one engages directly with others is something else entirely.

        It’s bad logic that’s been ripened by a whole lot of sexism about who owes time to whom, and whether or not women’s choices about their own lives are all about what men want from them or not.

        Speaking of….

        “eh. for why are they wearing these clothes then?”

        I’m always amused (by which I mean infurated) when men assume that I sit around choosing what to wear based on their opinions, not my own.

        I wear clothes because culture and my own feelings about my body require it. Which clothes I wear has to do with what I want to wear for me. Sure, culture influences my tastes but…I mean, I use file folders with flowers all over them and choose storage boxes based on how pretty they are. Is tomek under the impression that I do that for people other than myself? Why would my clothes be any different?

        To the extent that concern about how some guy may view my clothes comes into play at all, I can promise you that it’s more often in a “but will assholes like tomek take it as an excuse to be an even bigger asshole?” (and: “crap, I which my comfy jeans and t-shirt met the dress code for work”) sort of way than a “but will tomek find me sexy! sexy! like this?!?!?” way.

        Also, “thinking someone looks sexy” =/= “objectifying” It’s the part where you assume she exist for you rather than has her own agenda that makes it objectifying

      • Dave says:

        Well, I would agree with the poster that judging an action in terms of “effect on others” is problematic as many have pointed at. So the thing seems to be this notion of “directed intentionality” Which can be a bit vague. @ Jill I think in a lot of situations, the perception of threat can then flip around quickly to where the one whose perceived as threatening becomes threatened.. Talking general principles here.

      • Donna L says:

        Or perhaps even more likely, she’s doing it for herself, because she feels good when she’s happy with how she looks.

      • cherrybomb says:

        That’s my primary motivation for getting dressed in the morning, Donna!
        (Secondary motivation is not getting arrested for indecent exposure. )

      • Bonn says:

        Seriously.

        Past the “I don’t want to offend other people by dressing like a slob,” I generally don’t think about other folks when choosing what to wear. I wear what I want to, what I like, and what makes me comfortable.

        And to be honest, I cover pretty much my entire body. I don’t even wear things that show skin and would traditionally qualify as “sexy by default.” But people still find it sexy. Imagine that …

      • mxe354 says:

        Yes. Never in my life have I dressed for the sake of attracting someone. My clothing preferences are regarded as super bland by pretty much everyone I know, but I prefer to dress that way simply because I think it suits me.

      • The Kittehs' Unpaid Help says:

        That’s how I dress, Donna!

      • AMM says:

        Or perhaps even more likely, she’s doing it for herself,

        And even if he/she is dressing to be looked at, it’s still not the same. Even if (s)he dresses so “outrageously” that one can’t help staring, it’s still not anything like the behavior that this thread is talking about.

        It’s not apples and oranges, it’s apples and AK-47s.

        (Exception: clothing that usually signals a violence-prone way of life, e.g., if someone dresses like a neo-nazi. But then we’re back in “creepy” territory.)

      • Dave says:

        BUT AMM, that becomes problematic too. I understand what you mean, and agree to some extent. But perceptions of what clothing styles signify a “violent way of life” differ.

        Some do by definition (police uniforms for example). But too often it is the “other” culture who is prone to violence.

        Example: I dress like a punk. So if I were to go into some bars, I might be perceived as threatening by certain types of people. On the other hand, if a crew of drunk frat boys come to a show, they might be perceived as threatening.

  5. Wiley Reading says:

    Omg what a sweetheart. I loved the veins in marble too.

  6. DonnaFaye says:

    Given the large number of creeps out there, I find it hard to believe most of them have cognitive disabilities of some sort. Amanda Marcotte has blogged about research showing that most men do understand non-verbal cues women give off to indicate they’re not interested. Creeps simply ignore them.

    • Donna L says:

      Exactly. Look at that whole ReaderCon thing that happened not long ago, and all the people who were trying to make excuses for the disgusting, serial offending creep in question by speculating that he had Asperger’s and talking about “mixed signals” — even though the woman he harassed told him very loudly, clearly, and repeatedly to leave her alone and go away. No ambiguity whatsoever.

      • Donna L says:

        More specifically, in terms of non-verbal cues, it seems that many of these guys who harass women and excuse themselves by saying they can’t read non-verbal cues somehow manage to read them successfully in other areas of their lives.

      • What’s the bet they’re the same ones who push the idea that they don’t understanding any verbal forms of NO other than the word itself (and then only in specific forms) and the “you say X action is rape, but what about Y? What about Z?” – the whole “how can I rape someone but keep my plausible deniability/avoid being charged” stuff.

      • Akk. “they don’t understand”. Typing, I haz it.

      • EG says:

        And even though he was socially adept enough to have major roles in various fan positions. It’s amazing how these creeps manage to read signals correctly when those signals come from men, isn’t it?

      • A4 says:

        I believe that often “mixed signals” really means “She was a women, and everything she did or said was in an attempt to get this person to leave her alone” because many people view just being a woman as an invitation for social interaction and harassment.

      • mh says:

        I would generally agree with this – even though there are a huge number of people on the autism spectrum who are as yet undiagnosed (I myself am one) and I think the numbers are considerably higher than they are.

        However, I would note that people on the autism spectrum have difficulty with ALL social interaction. Approaching a person in a romantic way is a particularly tricky interaction involving a lot of unstated rules and body language; it’s particularly difficult if you don’t have the ability to see those cues. A person being “creepy” because of autism is likely to flag themselves by being “odd,” “weird,” or “annoying” in other ways or situations. It might take some observation before you see it, but it is probably there.

        That being said, an awful lot of people are creepy for all kinds of reasons, most of which seem to be some kind of power trip.

      • EG says:

        I completely agree–which is why it’s so mind-boggling to see “He couldn’t have been harassing you–it must be a misunderstanding–he’s always been such a great, charming guy to me!” and “What if he has Asperger’s and couldn’t understand your cues!” being said about the same person.

      • Alara Rogers says:

        This.

        If the person is on the spectrum, but a nice person who does not want to be an asshat, then firstly, you’re going to see them behaving just as oddly toward men as toward women, and secondly, if you point out that there is a rule they are breaking, they will generally be quick to try to change their behavior. They may get defensive *first*, but anyone on the spectrum is totally used to the relentless drumbeat of “social – ur doin it rong”, and many are kind of paranoid that they’re already doing it wrong and don’t know it in many situations. They *know* the NTs don’t understand them and they do not understand the NTs.

        A guy who is on the spectrum, but is not behaving in a misogynistic “I am entitled to a woman’s time” way, and yet not taking a polite, not-saying-no refusal from a woman, will do the exact same thing to his male friends, inviting himself to parties he was not invited to, coming to visit or calling when it was strongly suggested that he shouldn’t, intruding on his buddies’ couple time with *their* girlfriends without taking the hint that they would really prefer he hit the road so they can get some snuggling done. He’s going to be just as clueless toward male friends as toward women.

        If the guy in question understands his buddies when they politely suggest he get lost, but doesn’t understand women saying the same thing, then he’s not being creepy accidentally because he’s on the spectrum, he’s being creepy because he is a creep who feels entitled to women’s time.

        Being on the spectrum does not make you either a good person or a bad one. You can be a creep, an asshole, or a general jerkwad and still be on the spectrum. You can also be a wonderful person who comes across badly because you are on the spectrum. A single social interaction with you may not reveal which one you are, but people who know you are likely to be able to tell.

        BTW, this suggests something interesting. If a woman complains about a man, and his guy friends shoot her down because what is she talking about, he’s a great guy, he never does anything that bugs them, she’s overreacting… he’s a creep. Only if his guy friends agree with her that he is kind of weird and clueless is he actually probably *not* a creep. Because if he behaves toward women as if he’s totally ignoring their social boundaries, but he respects the boundaries of his male friends (and even his platonic female friends), then his male friends (and maybe platonic female friends) will think he’s wonderful and there’s nothing wrong with him… which tells you not that he really is a great guy but that he is deliberately behaving differently toward women he has a sexual interest in than toward people he doesn’t. Whereas if he disrespects everyone’s social boundaries and yet still *has* friends, he’s probably not being creepy, just clueless.

      • tigtog says:

        BTW, this suggests something interesting. If a woman complains about a man, and his guy friends shoot her down because what is she talking about, he’s a great guy, he never does anything that bugs them, she’s overreacting… he’s a creep. Only if his guy friends agree with her that he is kind of weird and clueless is he actually probably *not* a creep. Because if he behaves toward women as if he’s totally ignoring their social boundaries, but he respects the boundaries of his male friends (and even his platonic female friends), then his male friends (and maybe platonic female friends) will think he’s wonderful and there’s nothing wrong with him… which tells you not that he really is a great guy but that he is deliberately behaving differently toward women he has a sexual interest in than toward people he doesn’t. Whereas if he disrespects everyone’s social boundaries and yet still *has* friends, he’s probably not being creepy, just clueless.

        Alara, this is a fascinating insight, and coming from a family where ASD pops up all over the family tree, rings utterly true. I know exactly which of my cousins and second-cousins are the socially awkward clueless ones who sometimes make other people uncomfortable (or at least can make for somewhat tedious interludes at family reunions), and I know which ones are socially normal most of the time who can engage in mutually agreeable nostalgic chitchat fairly reliably, and I know exactly which ones are more socially skilled operators who always have an angle of some sort when they decide to engage in pleasantries. The first group I would strongly defend against somebody labelling them as creepy, the second group I would be surprised to find others perceiving them as creepy (but wouldn’t necessarily think it was impossible), and the third group I would be totally unsurprised that it was part of their behavioural suite.

        If one’s friends and family never complain about one being clueless around them, but it’s only others who find ones interactions with them to be creepy, then it’s not the strangers who are misunderstanding one’s behaviour. It means one actually is interacting with those other people differently – one is ignoring their boundaries by persisting with unwelcome intrusions that one does not allow oneself to do with friends and family – and one needs to recognise that this different behaviour is disrespectful and alarming and stop doing it.

      • William says:

        If the person is on the spectrum, but a nice person who does not want to be an asshat, then firstly, you’re going to see them behaving just as oddly toward men as toward women,

        Thats not entirely true. Adding attraction will increase anxiety and cause behaviors that are relatively more odd sometimes. More importantly, you don’t necessarily know who was trying to “train” someone on the spectrum in the past. If you’ve got a boy with Asperger’s and dad is a raging misogynist then there is a good chance his odd behavior is going to be colored by dad being an asshole.

      • EG says:

        He could be on the spectrum and a misogynist, particularly if he has a misogynist father.

      • mh says:

        As I wrote earlier, a romantic encounter is mostly non-verbal – something particularly difficult if you are approaching it with the fluency equivalent to that of a tourist with a phrasebook (this is where that “learned the cues” thing falls apart.)

        That being said, even though romance/gender differences might exacerbate social difficulties, the difficulties are not specific to certain situations. They might be less in other situations, but they wouldn’t be nonexistent.

      • William says:

        He could be on the spectrum and a misogynist, particularly if he has a misogynist father.

        Absolutely true. But theres also the chance that we’re seeing a correctable miscommunication. Isn’t the responsibility of every woman he encounters to correct it, or even to look for it, but its something someone like me needs to be aware of.

    • Treebeard says:

      Re: the SMBC comic.

      I’m torn. I like the idea of “assburger’s syndrome” but I don’t like the example he picked to illustrate it. I frequently scowl at guys who tell me I’m attractive (since they’re usually random dudes on street corners), and I don’t think that makes me an ass.

      • Yeah, that example seems to have it arse-about-face. Not wanting random (?) compliments, or not being all smiley-happy about them =/= assburger.

        And turn it around: I bet there’d be much more “Don’t be a bitch/It was a COMPLIMENT” if the recipient had been a woman than if it had been a man. Do guys really get told they’re assholes if they don’t respond well to compliments?

      • PM says:

        I’m a guy who’s pretty bad at taking compliments (blame lingering Catholic shame/humility) and no, I’ve never been called an asshole for it.

      • The Kittehs' Unpaid Help says:

        Didn’t think so!

      • DouglasG says:

        Conversion therapy made me very suspicious of compliments, but, even though the personal compliments I probably didn’t take as well as the provider might have wished came from men, I still never got that response.

      • A.W. says:

        “I’m torn. I like the idea of “assburger’s syndrome” but I don’t like the example he picked to illustrate it.”

        I don’t like the idea of coining that ‘ironic’ new syndrome, because that’s how we’re already seen, even when we’re not being considered creepy. By and large, we’re considered assholes. The play on words with regards to Assburgers Syndrome is Ablist.

      • Lolagirl says:

        The play on words with regards to Assburgers Syndrome is Ableist (sic.)

        Holy Hell is it ableist! I can’t even believe this commentary is going on here at Feministe without much pushback.

        Yes, it is absolutely true that a diagnosis like Autism or Asperger’s is an excuse to behave badly. But FFS, mocking it, ironicly or not, is completely offensive and disgusting.

        Stop it, really, stop it.

      • Lolagirl says:

        Gah, that should read NOT and excuse.

        Sorry for the typo, I got so fired up I missed it before I hit post.

      • Treebeard says:

        I read it as making fun of people who are not at all disabled but try to appropriate disabilities as an excuse for being a jerk (or to defend other people being jerks), not as making fun of anyone who does have a disability. YMMV.

      • Treebeard says:

        ““is aware of social cues but chooses to ignore them =/= person on the spectrum””

        Yes, this is also the part I meant when I said I liked the idea. Though I still don’t think the example makes much sense.

      • The Kittehs' Unpaid Help says:

        Treebeard – that’s how I read it – as having a shot at some mannerless-at-best, deliberately-creepy-at-worst types trying to lay claim to Asperger’s as an excuse for their behaviour. But it’s not for me to say, given I’m NT and have never had to deal with ableism of any sort.

      • Lolagirl says:

        I read it as making fun of people who are not at all disabled but try to appropriate disabilities as an excuse for being a jerk (or to defend other people being jerks), not as making fun of anyone who does have a disability.

        That may be the intention behind the terminology used, but that still doesn’t erase the fact that the terminology is ableist. How can one tell that it’s ableist? Because it appropriates a term used for an actual medical/psychiatric diagnosis, twists it around, and then uses it to mock another person. It’s no different from calling someone bipolar or joke that a person is off their meds in order to insult him or her in a derogatory manner.

        YMMV

        No. No it really does not.

      • Li says:

        Random dudes on street corners harassing women =/= the example in that SMBC comic. Men don’t generally experience compliments in the same way women do, because they’re overwhelmingly not used as part of a harassment strategy by women. If the protagonist had been a women, I’d be joining you in the side-eye.

      • thinksnake says:

        Am white here – I saw a fair bit of pushback from POCs on the autism spectrum among some tumblrblogs I follow. Since POCs are significantly less likely to have their mental health/neuroatypicality concerns taken seriously by white-dominated Western medicine.

        Just a note I thought worth sharing, and definitely not something that would have ever occurred to me (as a white person).

      • Li says:

        Yeah, that’s fair. The diagnosis thing icked me a bit as well. I mainly picked out the “is aware of social cues but chooses to ignore them =/= person on the spectrum” part of the comic and that meant I missed a lot of the surrounding messages.

    • TomSims says:

      Given the large number of creeps out there, I find it hard to believe most of them have cognitive disabilities of some sort. Amanda Marcotte has blogged about research showing that most men do understand non-verbal cues women give off to indicate they’re not interested. Creeps simply ignore them.”

      You make a great point and I’ve seen Asberger’s mentioned on other sites as an excuse for sexual assault used by rape apologists. Just like Joe Biden says “Rape is rape is rape” And you can also add that a creep is a creep is a creep.

  7. William says:

    Dealing with a bunch of Bens is a daily part of my job: intervening when you see a social interaction going downhill in the lunchroom, monitoring conversations to make sure no one is freaking anyone else out with oversharing or inadvertent triggers, giving pre-negotiated cues to kids when they start to exhaust peers with their narrow interest, getting feedback from staff or other therapists about one creepy behavior or another, giving the same kind of feedback to my coworkers about their caseload. We’re a little school, highly specialized with seven full-time shrinks and every teacher either endorsed for special ed or on their way to it, and its a constant struggle to teach and maintain social skills.

    That said, a pattern quickly emerges when you start to see these kinds of problems in the aggregate. You have kids like Ben who struggle with social situations and can make a real mess but want to do better and often end up completing shutting others out for fear of making a mistake, and then you have kids who struggle with social situations and don’t really care that they’ve bothered other people. Sure, kids on the spectrum are more likely to creep someone out, but their range of responses to that knowledge aren’t actually all that different from regular kids. Once in awhile you run into a kid whose idiosyncrasies really predispose them to being creepy, but at the end of the day they either care about the boundaries of others or they don’t. They might start with less insight, they might need more coaching and scripts, they might need more work to keep them healthy as they come to terms with their challenges, but lacking empathy isn’t exactly part of the spectrum experience.

    • Radiant Sophia says:

      I wish something like this had been available to me as a child. I chose the completely shutting out others route. It didn’t work so well.

      • William says:

        Sadly its not that available. We’ve got 60 or so students and we’re almost the only game in town if you’ve got serious emotional problems/spectrum issues, high IQ, and aren’t a serious behavioral issue. By the time most of our kids get to us things have generally gotten pretty bad as your average school district isn’t exactly eager to pay for outplacement.

    • A4 says:

      This makes a lot of sense to me. We all start with not understanding social cues very well, and we all learn them in different situations at different rates.

      It makes me think of reading ability. I have two friends who have dyslexia, one was more affected than the other, and they both had to work hard on reading, but at this point they both have excellent reading skills. It makes sense that learning has more to do with the desire to learn than the innate ability to do so.

      My uncle has brain damage from a hit and run when he was 3, but he still learned how to type and use email after the age of 60 so he could write letters to loved ones and his many acquaintances. His thing is remembering everyone’s exact birthday.

  8. Andre says:

    That really is a great interview.

    I remember being another Ben, more or less, only I didn’t have anyone take me aside and tell me I was being creepy. So I was creepy for a lot longer, and the only reason I wasn’t even more creepy was that I was also painfully shy, so I hardly ever interacted with anyone. (And boy, was that ever some kind of feedback loop!)

    It took a long time, and a lot of education, and more than a few embarrassing episodes, before I finally got it. I don’t think I’m the only guy who wishes that lessons about this sort of thing were included in sex ed classes as a kid-because honestly, if you don’t have the kinds of role models for appropriate behaviour that you need as a child, you don’t have many opportunities to learn this stuff until you’ve already started being creepy.

  9. Joeff says:

    I’m really confused (and past the age where this is relevant, but mostly just curious. Is it now a violation of “social norms” for an 8th grade boy to cold-call a girl whom he knows from school and has casually chatted with? Is a proper introduction now required? Or a “is it OK if I call you some time?” What am I missing?

    • Jill says:

      It wasn’t the cold-calling. It was staring at her for long periods of time, constantly trying to talk to her without registering if she seemed uncomfortable / uninterested in talking to him, and then calling several times over (I think he says six?) and leaving repeated messages apologizing for the previous phone call.

      Look, Ben himself realizes his behavior was creepy. It wasn’t make him a bad person — in fact, he seems like a very good person! But he, as an 8th grade boy, had a hard time reading social cues and so he acted in ways that were socially unacceptable and scary to an 8th grade girl.

      • Joeff says:

        She talked to him! “Watch out, you’ll get split ends.” I’m not looking for a debate and, yes, his behavior almost certainly crossed a line at some point, and yes, he’s “on the spectrum,” whatever that means. But it seems like the reactions from the school and his parents tended toward the “over” end of that particular “spectrum.”
        Honestly, call me old-fashioned (never thought I’d write that) but this feels like normal 8th grade awkwardness that perhaps got escalated b/c of how our protagonist has been typed, behaviorally.
        I’m sure glad my kids are well beyond this age.
        And, sincerely, thanks for your response.

      • Sheelzebub says:

        Yep. I think I’m going to need to start a new pool.

      • Jill says:

        Oh! Well if she talked to him then surely anything he did after that, no matter how socially bizarre and frightening, was ok. Because she talked to him.

      • The Kittehs' Unpaid Help says:

        Reading for comprehension, how does it work?

    • Kasabian says:

      Cold calls are generally bad form when someone doesn’t give you their number. Or is that just what cold call means?

    • mh says:

      This is so much of a common behavior issue for kids on the spectrum that most self-help books devote a chapter to it.

      • Marni says:

        If we’re only talking about kids, then OK. But most ASD adults grew up without a diagnosis, or any kind of support. Not everyone is under 25. Now of course most of those adults have learned how to behave regarding phone calls. But if they have been avoiding the phone for most of their lives, for instance, well, it is possible that they really don’t have a clue.

  10. karak says:

    Ben’s story gives me hope. I used to work with a teenager who had PDD, as well as a slew of other social issues from growing up in and out of the foster care system.

    What killed me about this kid is how badly he wanted to fit in, and how very little malice there was in him–he didn’t want to hurt people, but he had such serious trouble understanding the perspective of other people that he could be really rude and, well, creepy.

    I spent so much time with this kid, walking him through the same social scripts over and over, training myself not to become annoyed or upset, just calm and informative. But if I wasn’t a paid staff member, with access to his file, this kid would have creeped the hell out of me.

  11. thefish says:

    I’m not sure why, but this writing set off serious danger flags in my head, and left me majorly creeped out. The friends I showed it too felt the same way. :(

    • Radiant Sophia says:

      Jill’s writing, or the original phone interview?

    • Donna L says:

      What was it about it that made you feel that way? I’m curious.

      • thefish says:

        For starters this

        the exact reaction that any decent human being would have — “I am doing something that scares people, I don’t want to scare people, I would like to stop doing this”

        That just struck me as a scary attitude for someone to have.

        This too

        it was his responsibility going forward to try not to totally freak people out.

        She thinks I’m responsible for if someone gets freaked out or not? Or Jill thinks that she is responsible for freaking me out?

        Just… creepy.

      • Radiant Sophia says:

        I get where you are coming from (assuming you are talking in the first block about Jill’s attitude, and not his, as being scary), but it also conveys that you think you have a right to socialize with whoever without their consent. If you are attempting socialization, then yes, you have a duty to not be creepy. Jill, in fact does have that duty. Being that she has now creeped you, you need to remove yourself from that situation in whatever manner is safest. You are under no obligation to associate with her until she rectifies her behavior.

      • The Kittehs' Unpaid Help says:

        Jill was paraphrasing Ben’s reaction to his own behaviour and its effect on other people. He’s the one who realised that what he was doing was frightening.

        I don’t understand why thinking “I don’t know the cues, I realise my actions toward X disturbed/frightened her, I don’t want to do it again” is scary. I’d say it’s exactly as Jill described – the response of a decent person.

        Nobody has the right to go around frightening other people, learning they’ve done so, and then shrugging it off with “it’s not my responsibility,” which is what I’m reading from your comments. If I’ve misunderstood you, I apologise.

      • thefish says:

        Nobody has the right to go around frightening other people, learning they’ve done so, and then shrugging it off with “it’s not my responsibility,” which is what I’m reading from your comments. If I’ve misunderstood you, I apologise.

        How do you possibly get that from my comments? I’m saying that Jill is creepy and scary. I think that she should not write creepy and scary things. Its sort of the exact opposite?

        Being that she has now creeped you, you need to remove yourself from that situation in whatever manner is safest.

        Its my duty to remove myself from the situation with the creep? WTF? Is that what you just said? Did you read Jill’s post? (Serious question, its a creepy post I can see why you wouldn’t want to read it.) People who creep others out need to change their ways.

      • SophiaBlue says:

        So what’s going on is:

        1. Jill said that if you’re creeping someone out, you should change your behavior.

        2. You find that belief creepy.

        3. In order for you not to be creeped out, you want Jill to change her behavior… by not saying you should change your behavior if you’re creeping someone out anymore?

        Are you trying to do a parody I’m just not getting? Because otherwise I’m not sure I understand.

      • Donna L says:

        I find it extremely creepy that thefish thinks Jill is being creepy by telling people not to be creepy.

      • pheenobarbidoll says:

        I think thefish must go to the same coffee shop as kersplat/faithless/godknows who.

        I find that creepy.

      • I think comment nesting is creepy.

      • Radiant Sophia says:

        thefish,
        Since you are still here, anything that now happens to you is your own fault…

        -or-

        People being creepy need to change their behavior.

        Which is it?

      • The Kittehs' Unpaid Help says:

        thefish, what I don’t get is what you find creepy about Jill’s comments. What is creepy about saying “don’t be a creep”?

  12. amblingalong says:

    Great interview.

    One point of disagreement; what is ‘creepy’ is subjective. It is defined by other people’s feelings about your behavior, varying social norms, etc. What this means is that while it’s important not to be creepy, it’s also not useful to label everyone who comes of as creepy, ‘creeps;’ turning the adjective into a noun is problematic.

    Ben creeped someone out. He acted creepily. I don’t believe it’s fair to call him a creep. In fact, while calling his behavior creepy is not ableist, and I absolutely agree that line of argument needs to die in a fire, labeling him a creep does come off that way- to me at least.

  13. Bagelsan says:

    I’m fine with labeling both the people and the behavior as creeps/creepy. If you’re acting creepy you are a creep. Ben apparently stopped being a creep once he found out what he was doing; many people don’t.

    Women are constantly told not to talk about their experiences and are admonished not to “ruin” the reputations of men by labeling them, a courtesy that is never afforded to ourselves. Frankly, the guys who are all-so-suddenly concerned about labeling people in this thread need a dose of sit down and shut up.

    • cherrybomb says:

      Good point. I can’t remember ever hearing someone call a woman a “bitch” or “slut” and someone responding with “don’t say that, you’ll hurt the poor gal’s reputation!”

    • amblingalong says:

      I guess I see the distinction as being the source of the behavior. Person A acts creepily because they’re a creep; person B acts creepily because they have PDD. I’m still thinking this one through, though. It doesn’t make the behavior more right in B’s case, but for me it changes the socially acceptable response by a third party; I’m totally comfortable mocking creeps for their creepy behavior, but if someone acted creepily due to their PDD, I’d think those jokes suddenly were inappropriate.

      I agree case B is way more rare and a lot of case A use it as an excuse (which is ALSO ableist). I really am not arguing against the word creep being ever used, I just don’t think it applies here. Am I horribly off base?

      • EG says:

        I have two responses to this. One is that it’s rarely a matter of mockery. I don’t call men creeps in order to mock them; I call them that in order to identify to myself and other women men who violate my sense of safety. Because of that, I don’t care what the source of the behavior is, or whether or not it’s fair to the man in question.

        The other is that I have been harassed by a man who was almost certainly mentally ill–he had some rather unusual delusions, including delusions of persecution–and it was as frightening and threatening as harassment by a non-mentally-ill person. The man was certainly a creep. His incapacity did not make me any safer.

      • amblingalong says:

        I have two responses to this. One is that it’s rarely a matter of mockery. I don’t call men creeps in order to mock them; I call them that in order to identify to myself and other women men who violate my sense of safety. Because of that, I don’t care what the source of the behavior is, or whether or not it’s fair to the man in question. The other is that I have been harassed by a man who was almost certainly mentally ill–he had some rather unusual delusions, including delusions of persecution–and it was as frightening and threatening as harassment by a non-mentally-ill person. The man was certainly a creep. His incapacity did not make me any safer.

        Ok, this makes sense to me. Is it legitimate to simultaneously enable people to label other people ‘creeps,’ and have that be a valid expression of their experience, while also recognizing that from other perspectives there’s something else going on?

        I really am not trying to engage in creep-apologetics, and I’m sorry if it’s coming across that way. I just am thinking about people I care about who exhibit behaviors that would make me call other people ‘assholes’ (for example), but who- because I know they have a disability- I think of as unintentionally exhibiting asshole-ish behavior. Maybe it’s a bad analogy?

      • EG says:

        Is it legitimate to simultaneously enable people to label other people ‘creeps,’ and have that be a valid expression of their experience, while also recognizing that from other perspectives there’s something else going on?

        Sure, I’ve got no problem with that, as long as I’m not expected to prioritize that something else over my own sense of safety. It would certainly help those men who don’t want to be assholes, so that they can know how to address their behavior.

      • mh says:

        Another point – wouldn’t YOUR behavior change if you knew? Meaning, if it was a case of an autism spectrum disorder, wouldn’t you be more likely to be comfortable saying “Hey, back off – I’m not interested.” and not feel threatened?

      • EG says:

        Not necessarily. Being on the spectrum and responding badly to rejection are not mutually exclusive. I don’t need to know whether or not somebody has Asberger’s. I need to know whether or not they’re going to behave worse if I confront them.

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  15. evil fizz says:

    Like so many behaviours, it’s problematic to turn an adjective labeling actions into a noun labeling a person.

    I agree that this is an issue, but my experience has been that this is often a distinction without a difference. See also: ability of people to distinguish between “You said something racist.” “You’re such a racist you’d make George Wallace look like a mild-mannered sales clerk!”

    Just as there are actual racists, there are also people who are creeps.

    • Chataya says:

      This.

      Someone making eye contact with you through your window and waving? Creepy.
      Someone who gets their jollies from wandering the neighborhood peering in people’s windows? Creeper.

  16. Sillyme says:

    Problem is ugly fat guys watch the way popular guys behave in public and try to emulate that behaviour. However when they are not as welcome as the jock or the guy who plays in a band what works for one guy does not work for another guy and that is ooo so unfair to them.

    • EG says:

      No. That’s not the problem at all.

      • Sillyme says:

        Well it was my experience. Some creepy guy got ooo so offended, because he did what some other guy did and I was creeped out because it was him and not the guy I liked.

        Guys have girls they would like to see in revealing clothes and just walk up to them and kiss and girls where they would not like that at all.

        Its the same for us. Know what effect you have on people. If I am avoiding eye contact and replying to you, you escalating things is probably not as welcome as when I engage you.

      • A4 says:

        haha THIS

    • evil fizz says:

      Yeah, boundary violations, leering, inappropriate sexualized remarks, and refusal to honor personal space are only a problem when they’re coming from someone who’s not hot.

      WTF, dude?

      • Alexandra says:

        This really feeds into the toxic notion that women should be “grateful” for attention from supposedly desirable (read: attractive, powerful, privileged) men. That to be assaulted or stalked or raped by a desirable man is really a kind of compliment. Ugghghghgh

      • Cactus Wren says:

        With a side order of “But whyyyyyyy are all the cute hot chicks with perfect teeth and perky tits and long blonde hair and long tanned legs so hung up on the way guys look?”

      • jennygadget says:

        It also feeds into the idea that women don’t have opinions of their own and are merely passive fuck toys for men.

        Because seriously, what part of “yes, I like fucking this man but have no desire to fuck that other man” actually comes across as unfair to anyone who sees women as people?

        If it’s wanted, it’s not a boundary violation peoples. Women are not video games that you put the right cheat codes into and that’s how you get them to fuck you.

        I mean, I’m not saying that men that look the way a certain woman likes won’t sometimes get a pass on behaviors she does not like because she thinks he’s hot, I’m saying that when this does happen that this is her choice. It’s not a matter of it being ok for only certain people to do that behavior period, instead sometimes people see overlooking certain behaviors as a trade-off for the make-out session or witty conversation they want to enjoy – and that’s normal and acceptable. It can be downright healthy even.

        Also, that more often the things hot guys are seen as “getting away with” aren’t behaviors that needed to be overlooked or seen as a trade-off at all because the behavior was welcome because she thought he was hot.

      • Sillyme says:

        The whole point is, I might enjoy all that, if it is the right guy. And I might hate it, if it is some fat nerd. Learn to read the signs and accept it when his touch is welcome, but yours aint.

      • Briznecko says:

        I might enjoy all that, if it is the right guy. And I might hate it, if it is some fat nerd.

        What is your hang-up with fat nerds? If they don’t float your boat, fine, but don’t paint them with a broad “creepy” brush. This is an example of incorrectly applying the creep label. Creep labels are based on actions not looks.

      • Sillyme says:

        What I wanted to say is I decide whom is creepy how to me.

      • Donna L says:

        Please stop with the fat-hatred. It’s unacceptable. You don’t have to be attracted to, or interact with, anyone you don’t want to, but no, you don’t get to label someone as “creepy” just because they’re existing while fat and not actually engaging in creepy behavior. (See also my point above about trans women who get labeled as being “creepy” merely for existing while trans, especially in a bathroom.) At least, you don’t get to do it without everyone labeling you as an “asshole.”

      • yes says:

        Silly is demonstrating what is shitty and stupid about the creep label. In a magic social Utopia, it’s about inappropriate behavior and disrespect of boundaries. And sometimes, in the real world, it is too. But it’s also a really convenient way to attack/shame men who are unattractive, socially awkward, or fail to preform traditional male gender roles adequately. That you personally don’t use it like that in a feminist space doesn’t really relate much to how society uses it.

    • Esti says:

      It’s almost like they need to learn that if someone is okay with one person doing something to them, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are okay with a totally different person doing the same thing. Something that they would probably have no trouble understanding if they woke up one night to find that their doctor had let himself into the house and snuggled up in bed and then defended himself by saying “but you let your wife do it!”

    • Donna L says:

      So in other words, you believe in the theory of “good-looking guys get away with being creepy assholes! Why can’t I get away with being a creepy asshole? It isn’t faaaair!!”

      • Sillyme says:

        No I believe in the theory that other guys believe in that theory. I do not want all the guys to keep their distance. Maybe I like certain guys to show some initiative and others not so much. Is it fair? No but live is not fair, just like girls who happen to put on weight more easily get a different response if they behave like girls whom are regarded as hotties.

        Same for the not so popular guys, wether because of their looks or social skills or charisma. We shouldnt have to tell guys we like to keep their distance, to not offend guys whom we do not like so much. I think its reasonable to demand of guys to become aware of how people react to them, learn to read signs and not ignore them. Most guys arent stupid. They know where they are on the totem pole and they know what it means when a girl avoids eye contact or does not reply to him. They just choose to ignore all they know.

      • Briznecko says:

        I do not want all the guys to keep their distance. Maybe I like certain guys to show some initiative and others not so much. Is it fair?

        Asking men to magically develop the ability to read your mind? Not fair.

        Also, this in no way relates to weight. Sexist responses to women who are overweight is a symptom of the patriarchy. You, on the other hand, are demanding that guys *magically* see you like them and therefore have the green light to engage in creepy behavior. Any guy worth his salt would walk, if not run, away from you. This thinking leaves them with the option of potentially assaulting you…or assaulting you but it’s ok because you thinks they’re hot. This is really dangerous and toxic thinking. Usually it’s just better in the long run to use your words.

      • kersplat says:

        +1

      • josielemonpie says:

        stop it, just stop it!
        life isn’t a high school movie. “popular” isn’t a fucking thing. Women are not interchangeable highschool cheerleaders who decide to pay attention to a guy based on his place on the “totem pole”, and men aren’t on any sort of totem pole in the first place, for goodness’ sake.
        stop being a gross Cher Horowitz already.

      • KittySnide says:

        also I should have changed “totem pole” to “hierarchy” since they’re not the same thing for fuck’s sake.

    • Colin says:

      Some guys do get away with being creepy assholes or worse. But the problem is with how society puts the ‘jocks’ on a pedestal, not how it holds the other guys to higher (but still not very high) standards.

    • Kasabian says:

      Woah. You’re a looong way from right.

    • Newsflash: young women often have to tolerate a whole lot of unwanted shit from men who are in positions of power, because they lack the wherewithal to change it or do anything about it. If they smile and laugh it off, it’s often because protesting will only make it worse and more traumatic for her.

      So that popular guy, whether it’s the boss or the captain of the football team, who gropes and harasses women and they laugh it off? If you’re on the outside, you may think that those women are having fun and they’re in on the humor. That’s often not so. Often, they’re victims just trying to minimize the victimization as best they can.

      Once you understand that, if you’re a decent human, you stop wanting to be that guy. If you understand that and you still want to be that guy, you have decided to be part of the problem.

      • miga says:

        This. I was email harassed by a potential employer who was physically very attractive. It didn’t make it any easier or more pleasant that he was constantly texting me and sending me dick-pics and inappropriate emails after I specifically asked him to stop.

    • Radiant Sophia says:

      I don’t think you understand how incredibly misogynistic your comment is. You are giving a blank ticket for “Hot” men to creep and potentially sexually assault women. Yeah “fat nerds” are creepy when they attempt to do the thing “hot” men do. NO, they are both creepy, and they are both quite capable of sexual assault. If someone tries to kiss me without my permission, IT IS ASSAULT. His “hotness” doesn’t matter, at all. I don’t understand how you can claim to speak for all male/female interactions, because you certainly don’t speak for mine.

    • Natalia says:

      Nah, looks are really not the issue.

      Creepy is not – “ZOMG he’s ugly.”

      Creepy is “ZOMG he does not respect boundaries, is making me uncomfortable, and doesn’t seem to care.”

  17. evil fizz says:

    I think creep is an extremely useful term for someone who egregiously violates boundaries and/or social norms. And while there are a subset of people for whom understanding boundaries and social norms does not come easily, but I think they’re in the minority relative to the number of people who do it deliberately and/or maliciously.

    The over the top reaction some guys have to the term reminds of the reaction that some guys have to the word rapist, as though it’s a grave, grave insult that must be deployed cautiously and only when painstaking evidence of the accused’s guilt has been fully assembled and the victim meets all necessary criteria for being an actual victim. Of course, looking back at my definition of creep, it seems that proto-rapist would also meet that definition, so I suppose it’s just an extension of the same outrage.

    • tomek says:

      I think they’re in the minority relative to the number of people who do it deliberately and/or maliciously.

      and you have figure this from what. just guess?

      i know personal many guys. some of them is called creeps often. they do not go out to say “hey i will go out and creep some women today!” they are just go out to be themself. why a guy cannot just be his own guy without having constant mold his behaviour to how woman want it to be. he have to be charming guy otherwise CREEP!

      yes im sure some guy is intentional creepy on woman to be asshole. but HE is minority not other way round.

      • EG says:

        why a guy cannot just be his own guy without having constant mold his behaviour to how woman want it to be.

        He can, as long as he doesn’t inflict his behavior on some innocent woman who just happens to have the ill fortune to be in the same room with him. If he decides to interact with us, though, then, yes, he has to be civil and socially appropriate.

      • Miriam says:

        If these guys you know are being called creeps often, perhaps you should consider that they are actually being creepy. And you should consider that since you are not the one they are directing their behavior at, you are not the best judge of their intentions.

        No one has to mold their behavior for anyone. But if you want a positive social interaction with someone, you have to behave in a way that’s enjoyable for them. This is basic human interaction 101.

      • evil fizz says:

        You don’t need to affirmatively have an internal monologue that says “I will be a creep today!” in order to be deliberately creepy. You can deliberately stand to close to someone, deliberately make remarks about their body, deliberately violate social norms without thinking of yourself as a creep.

        The extent to which you “have to” mold your behavior to certain standards is in many ways a matter of choice. There are some certainly some legal limitations (e.g., no running around with your dick out on the subway) and some social ones (e.g., how close you stand to someone, what kinds of comments your make, etc). No one is obligated to give you their attention or interest and making someone uncomfortable and/or being creepy is a fairly surefire way to get them to leave or reorient their attention elsewhere.

    • Colin says:

      Uh, calling someone a rapist is an unambiguous and serious accusation. It should be upsetting to be called this. I’d be more worried if someone shrugged it off or took it as a badge of honour.

      With ‘creep’ though, it might be more useful to spell out what the person has done wrong, particularly when you’re using it to warn other people. If you just say “X is a creep”, different people will have very different interpretations of what you mean by that.

      • Kasabian says:

        Yeah, calling someone a rapist is a serious accusation and should be handled with some gravity.

        Which isn’t to say that women shouldn’t call ’em like they see ’em. If you think you were raped, you were raped.

      • evil fizz says:

        I don’t disagree that it’s serious, but there are plenty of people who think that someone being called a rapist is so beyond the pale that women can’t or shouldn’t accurately describe what happened to them for fear of someone’s feelings. There’s a tendency to get very formalistic (does it meet a specific legal definition) and ask if there’s been an actual conviction. It also becomes a way in which women are mistrusted and talked out of their lived experiences.

        I’m a prosecutor. There are plenty of things that people would call rape that don’t meet the legal definition of rape in my jurisdiction. (Example: it’s not legally labeled rape to have sex with someone who is unconscious unless the accused actually rendered them unconscious. It’s called aggravated sexual assault instead.) I think that someone who has experienced that has every right to describe what happened to them as rape and to call their assailant a rapist even if the law doesn’t label it that way.

      • Kasabian says:

        Yeah, there’s definitely a trend to interrogating accusations of rape, at least in the mainstream. People who say they were raped are often asked to provide ‘evidence’ out side of a legal setting that their rape was somehow ‘legitimate.’

        It’s fucked up and comes from an almost pathological distrust of women/antiquated mores about sex in our society, but I really don’t think lessening the stigma of words like ‘rape’ or ‘rapist’ is the right way to go about changing it.

        For my own experience, I think ‘rape’ gets thrown around too often; you’ll hear it in online video games, comedy, etc etc.

      • Tinkdnuos says:

        One of many, many reasons I am getting the fuck out of law.

        We CAN’T change it from the inside. That’s abuse culture speaking.

      • A4 says:

        Maybe people confronted with creepy behavior are not particularly interested in being “useful” to the creepy person? Maybe they just want them to go the fuck away?

      • TomSims says:

        Maybe people confronted with creepy behavior are not particularly interested in being “useful” to the creepy person? Maybe they just want them to go the fuck away?”

        I agree completely. If a woman or girl calls you a creep, you are a creep! Period! And you need to work on your social skills or become a hermit.

      • The Kittehs' Unpaid Help says:

        And once again Tom Sims demonstrates willfull stupidity. What part of “confronted with creepy behaviour” do you not understand?

        Person A is making person B feel uncomfortable, or scared, or actively threatened by their behaviour. Doing that sort of thing is creepy and person A just wants it to stop, to get away or for B to go away and leave them alone.

        But oh no, Mr Sims is worried about person B’s fee-fees, not person A’s safety … as long as person B is a man.

  18. tomek says:

    i am curious if you think that creepy feeling woman have feel is come from biology or from society?

    if it is from society maybe it is an idea to change societal view of creepy behaviour in guy? if there was a thing which society viewed bad in woman feminist would look to change society view of that thing that woman did (like be coming on to guys and be sexual). NOT ask woman to stop doing that thing yes?

    also leave aside cultural definition of creep i think it is not aceptable to say creep to guy who just is minding his busines by himself. ok maybe some guy have appearance which woman just find very off putting but guy cant help that. if hes not active doing creeping on you, just leave be. you know?

    • Anon21 says:

      also leave aside cultural definition of creep i think it is not aceptable to say creep to guy who just is minding his busines by himself. ok maybe some guy have appearance which woman just find very off putting but guy cant help that. if hes not active doing creeping on you, just leave be. you know?

      Who’s even talking about that? Everyone’s talking about creepy behaviors, not creepy appearance. I think probably everyone in this thread would agree that calling someone a creep solely for falling outside some appearance norm is nonsense. But you’re failing to engage with the actual situations people are referring to when they say that the creep terminology can be appropriate under some circumstances.

      • Anon21 says:

        And just to be clear: creepy behaviors needn’t involve invasion of personal space or other gross violations of social norms. Staring or leering can of course be creepy, and those are conscious choices. But I think and hope no one here would approve of labeling someone a creep solely because of the way they looked, unconnected to any behaviors.

      • Jill says:

        And just to be clear: creepy behaviors needn’t involve invasion of personal space or other gross violations of social norms. Staring or leering can of course be creepy, and those are conscious choices. But I think and hope no one here would approve of labeling someone a creep solely because of the way they looked, unconnected to any behaviors.

        I mean… beyond showing up with intentionally exposed genitals or some sort of “I like rape” t-shirt? I think yes we are mostly on the same page that appearance alone doesn’t make one creepy. Unless one’s appearance is an intentional violation of social norms, chosen to make other people uncomfortable and scared. In which case, we are back to behavior.

      • Fat Steve says:

        And just to be clear: creepy behaviors needn’t involve invasion of personal space or other gross violations of social norms. Staring or leering can of course be creepy, and those are conscious choices. But I think and hope no one here would approve of labeling someone a creep solely because of the way they looked, unconnected to any behaviors.

        There are some physical cues, certainly. I remember one Sunday this summer I went to the bakery and as I was leaving my building, I noticed that outside the gym across the street this guy was doing this circuit involving pushups, then running, then weights. Immediately I start seeing this as the solution to burning off the beignets I was about to purchase and consume, so I watch the next guy do the circuit, then a woman, then when a 2nd woman lines up I realize they’re both wearing pretty skimpy items and I should probably move along before being mistaken for a pervert as opposed to an aspirational yet ultimately weak fat-ass.

        I head over to the bakery. (No beignets! WOULD YOU BELIEVE IT? I had to get Mrs. Fat a pain au chocolat, and a financier for my good self. #firstworldproblems.) Upon return I’m walking up a side street and I see this guy standing there and I immediately thought ‘He looks creepy.’ It wasn’t till I rounded the corner that he was staring at the women in leotards. Even from a block away I could tell the guy was creepy, and I immediately got the sense he didn’t belong on the block, though rather ironically, he was dressed similarly to me and resembled me, and I live on the block, obviously.

      • Donna L says:

        I think yes we are mostly on the same page that appearance alone doesn’t make one creepy. Unless one’s appearance is an intentional violation of social norms, chosen to make other people uncomfortable and scared. In which case, we are back to behavior.

        In a general sense not having to do with sexual harassment, I don’t think “intentional violation of social norms” with respect to appearance necessarily constitutes “behavior” justifying labeling someone as “creepy,” when those social norms are ciscentric and heterocentric to begin with. Because that would mean it’s OK — for example — to label a trans woman who’s visibly trans as “creepy,” especially if she dares to venture into a women’s bathroom. A negative reaction that happens way too much, and is justified way too much with adjectives like scary and creepy.

      • amblingalong says:

        Because that would mean it’s OK — for example — to label a trans woman who’s visibly trans as “creepy,” especially if she dares to venture into a women’s bathroom. A negative reaction that happens way too much, and is justified way too much with adjectives like scary and creepy.

        +1

        I’m really grappling with this idea of subjectively vs. objectively creepy behavior/people. If someone thinks a trans* woman using the women’s bathroom is creepy, my immediate reaction is that this is transphobia (literally) and unacceptable. I’m not changing my mind about that.

        At the same time people are writing things like ‘what women find creepy, is creepy’ or ‘violation of social norms is creepy,’ that is, creepy is subjective. And while this makes sense, I’m also really uncomfortable with reifying social norms that are (as you pointed out) often deeply problematic.

        If someone thinks me smiling at them is creepy because I have dark skin, that’s racist. Is it also possible I’m being creepy despite the fact the creepiness is based in racism? If my flirting would be welcome in a white person, but not me, is it creepy- assuming I always stop when I get signals its not welcome? I’m having a tough time with this.

      • kersplat says:

        Unless one’s appearance is an intentional violation of social norms, chosen to make other people uncomfortable and scared. In which case, we are back to behavior.

        This is total crap, A woman dressed in revealing clothing does not mean shes asking for a sexual encounter, just like a man wearing a t shirt that says look at my cock does not make him a rapist.

        You don’t know why somebody is wearing something unless you ask them, you can try to assess weather or not they are “breaking social norms on purpose” but all you end up with is your opinion, its still ultimately just a blind guess.

      • Anon21 says:

        This is total crap, A woman dressed in revealing clothing does not mean shes asking for a sexual encounter, just like a man wearing a t shirt that says look at my cock does not make him a rapist.

        I guess it’s a good thing no one said wearing a shirt makes a person a rapist, then. You do know there’s a substantial difference between “creep” and “rapist,” right?

      • pheenobarbidoll says:

        This is total crap

        And here you are, being taught exactly what the problem behaviors are (just like you want to be) and this is your response.

        Tell me again why I should bother risking my safety to school someone who clearly doesn’t want to learn?

      • FashionablyEvil says:

        This is total crap, A woman dressed in revealing clothing does not mean shes asking for a sexual encounter, just like a man wearing a t shirt that says look at my cock does not make him a rapist.

        Aww, thanks for the laugh. The guy I saw recently at the airport with the t-shirt that said, “It’s not my fault your boobs keep looking at my eyes,” wasn’t wearing that t-shirt for me! There was some other random person he hoped to offend!

      • Fat Steve says:

        This is total crap, A woman dressed in revealing clothing does not mean shes asking for a sexual encounter, just like a man wearing a t shirt that says look at my cock does not make him a rapist.

        A woman who is asking for a sexual encounter still does not deserved to be raped.

        Just saying…

    • Rebecca says:

      Can this troll just be banned already? Comments like “if women don’t want to be creeped on, why do they wear sexy clothing?” should really not be tolerated.

    • A4 says:

      i am curious if you think that creepy feeling woman have feel is come from biology or from society?

      Yes.

    • TomSims says:

      also leave aside cultural definition of creep i think it is not aceptable to say creep to guy who just is minding his busines by himself. ok maybe some guy have appearance which woman just find very off putting but guy cant help that. if hes not active doing creeping on you, just leave be. you know?”

      I strongly disagree. A woman or girl has every right to form her opinion of any guy based on his looks. If he looks creepy , even if he has said nothing, he is still a creep in the eyes of that woman or girl. All people make judgements on people based on their looks all the time.

      • amblingalong says:

        I strongly disagree. A woman or girl has every right to form her opinion of any guy based on his looks. If he looks creepy , even if he has said nothing, he is still a creep in the eyes of that woman or girl. All people make judgements on people based on their looks all the time.

        Sure, but we don’t need to accept those judgement as automatically accurate or useful. I know people (unfortunately) who find any homeless person automatically creepy, regardless of their behavior. I don’t have to validate that.

      • Anon21 says:

        Sure, but we don’t need to accept those judgement as automatically accurate or useful. I know people (unfortunately) who find any homeless person automatically creepy, regardless of their behavior. I don’t have to validate that.

        I agree. I think where all the cites to the Gift of Fear get us in the context of a person who exhibits no boundary-crossing or otherwise “creepy” behaviors, but who nonetheless creeps someone out, is this: trust your instincts and don’t do anything that makes you feel unsafe (like being alone with someone who creeps you out). But maybe don’t go around labeling someone as a “creep” to others if your only justification is that you don’t like the way they look.

      • TomSims says:

        “Sure, but we don’t need to accept those judgement as automatically accurate or useful. I know people (unfortunately) who find any homeless person automatically creepy, regardless of their behavior. I don’t have to validate that.”

        You don’t have to validate anything. You can disagree with that woman or girl’s judgement, but it is still their right to judge any way they choose. Remember, it is their safety they have to put first.

      • amblingalong says:

        You don’t have to validate anything. You can disagree with that woman or girl’s judgement, but it is still their right to judge any way they choose. Remember, it is their safety they have to put first.

        Sure, just like it’s my ‘right’ to hate [insert minority identity]. Doesn’t make it ok.

  19. thebewilderness says:

    Most of the creepy behavior I have observed and experienced has taken the form of a public display of dominance. It is intentional, intense, and meant to be intimidating.
    Six phone calls in a row is likely the act of a person who is confused and upset. That person needs some help, and so does the person he called and frightened.

    • Jill says:

      Right. The problem is, when you’re on the receiving end of that kind of behavior, it’s really difficult to tell what falls into the category of “this person has some problems and needs help” and “this person has some problems and needs help and may very well be a physical threat to me.”

      • TomSims says:

        ‘Right. The problem is, when you’re on the receiving end of that kind of behavior, it’s really difficult to tell what falls into the category of “this person has some problems and needs help” and “this person has some problems and needs help and may very well be a physical threat to me.”

        Agree. Your safety is paramount. Unless a woman is a mental health professional working in a safe environment with guys like this, they need to keep their distance and maybe dial 911 and have this guy charged with stalking.

    • PrettyAmiable says:

      “Confused and upset” does not preclude “dangerous.”

    • Miriam says:

      The six phone calls in the row came at the end of stalking behavior (staring at her, hanging around her in hallways). Ben didn’t intend it to be that way and he didn’t know it came across that way, but E– didn’t know Ben’s intentions. That’s what so mature about Ben’s response. He understands that it is his responsibility to learn and follow social norms rather than the responsibility of strangers to know about his PPD-related issues.

  20. Kasabian says:

    Excluding Ben’s interesting interview for a moment, it boggles my mind how much push back there is when people make an effort to make geek spaces safe for women. Seriously, what the fuckity-fuck!?

    • Revolver says:

      Agreed. You’d think that people would make an effort to be inclusive and try to make others feel safe particularly when they themselves are part of a group that is traditionally excluded or made to feel unsafe (like geeks and atheists). The atheist communities that are pushing back against Atheism+ are really disappointing.

      • EG says:

        Oh, no. You see, they’re not privileged! How could you say they’re privileged? They’re geeks! Being a geek is like being a PoC (true thing I have seen). And now those big bad feminists are trying to take away the space in which they get to be dominant! Feminists ruin everything.

      • kersplat says:

        eh, its messed up but it makes sense to me. Most geeks are sensitive to oppression by patriarchal women more so than men, it seems only natural they would desire a space where they are dominant against whom they view as their oppressors.

        Their error is mistaking that their oppressors are “women” and not “patriarchs irregardless of gender”

      • Donna L says:

        I have no idea what this troll thinks constitutes “oppression by patriarchal women,” but have little doubt that his definition is reprehensible. Probably something like “women who are confronted by angry, menacing men who set all their alarm bells ringing — kind of like kersplat himself on this thread, especially with his admission that he understands non-verbal cues perfectly well but deliberately ignores them — and are reluctant to get too explicit for fear of enraging them and being physically endangered.”

      • LotusBecca says:

        Most geeks are sensitive to oppression by patriarchal women? I’m not sure if I follow. Do you mean that geeks are oppressed by the likes of Phyllis Schlafly and are acutely aware of it? Would you care to elaborate at all?

      • kersplat says:

        oppression by patriarchal women:

        as in nerds told by women they are unmanly for being nerds
        women who encourage men to commit physical assault on nerds on their behalf
        women who enforce gender roles on the types of content male nerds are allowed to enjoy

        you know.. oppression, by women patriarchs, its not like being a man is a prerequisite for being a patriarch

      • LotusBecca says:

        OK. In that case, I don’t agree, at all, that the reason so many male geeks try to dominate women is because they got pissed after some woman told them they were “unmanly.” It seems more likely that the male geeks simply are sexist and patriarchal themselves.

      • mxe354 says:

        oppression by patriarchal women:

        as in nerds told by women they are unmanly for being nerds
        women who encourage men to commit physical assault on nerds on their behalf
        women who enforce gender roles on the types of content male nerds are allowed to enjoy

        you know.. oppression, by women patriarchs, its not like being a man is a prerequisite for being a patriarch

        Dude, are you fucking high?

        Because I’m blazed right now, and you sound a lot like someone I know when she is blazed. In other words, you sound weird and awful. Very unpleasant for my ears and eyes.

        Take a chill pill, and coolio.

      • Radiant Sophia says:

        Ooooohhhhh boy!

      • mxe354 says:

        Dude, are you fucking high?

        Because I’m blazed right now, and you sound a lot like someone I know when she is blazed. In other words, you sound weird and awful. Very unpleasant for my ears and eyes.

        Take a chill pill, and coolio.

        Sober now. Oh dear, I’m sorry for being like that, folks.

      • Haha, mxe, I thought it was cute.

    • kersplat says:

      I picked a name and an email address to refer to me at random, I didn’t know it belonged to anybody else.

      • tigtog says:

        Sure. You picked a random email address that showed a gravatar photo when published attached to a blog comment and you “didn’t know it belonged to anybody else”.

        That is not remotely credible, [ETA >> and a quick look at the current email address you’re using looks like you might have glommed on to somebody else’s actual email address as well, because there’s a gravatar profile attached to that one, too – and the gravatar-username doesn’t match the email-nym.

        It’s very easy to sign up for your very own pseudonymous webmail account with gmail or yahoo or various other services. It’s also easy to create a very clearly fake email address that couldn’t possibly belong to a real person by avoiding any nym at gmail.com or yahoo.com etc. Of course, you wouldn’t be trying to make it look like you weren’t totally faking the email address you’re using, now would you?]

      • Donna L says:

        Kersplat, you’re a very unconvincing liar.

      • kersplat says:

        if only I were lying, seriously, random name, random email, it was a pretty simple one, seems only likely that somebody would guess an email used by somebody else.

        also why would i make a real email account just to comment on a blog? Nobody here wants to email me ;)

      • tigtog says:

        So, you are now confessing that you have indeed also lied about the email account you are now entering in the comment submission field? That you don’t see anything wrong with this?

        It’s plonking time.

  21. kersplat says:

    simple answer, let her call you. She probably won’t, but at least you wont be “that guy”

  22. Sheelzebub says:

    I’m glad that Ben actually sat and parsed this stuff out and doesn’t give other guys a pass. The thing about those of us (yes, US) who have these disorders, be they mild or pronounced, is that the majority of us don’t want to freak people out. And most of us tend to withdraw, not continue to push ourselves on people.

    Having said that, these conversations make me tired. You’d think that men were the only ones who were on the spectrum, or who had other disorders that made reading social cues difficult (it ain’t always autism).

    I have NLD (non-verbal learning disorder). Diagnosed recently (a couple of months ago), as an adult, and it actually explained a lot. One of the hallmarks of the disorder is not reading social cues/facial expressions, etc. After about 30 years, I finally figured social cues out. Or, I should say more accurately, I developed work arounds.

    Do you know how much slack was extended to me as a girl and as a woman for not getting social cues? Exactly NONE. Do you know how much slack was extended to me for either trusting what people said (to my great detriment) or treating men I didn’t know as the enemy and constructing mile-high boundaries? Exactly NONE.

    I mean, for fuck’s sake, does anyone say, if a girl or woman is being “naive” and get attacked “Well, she might have a right brain disorder”? NO. They go on to judge her for being stupid or naive and say that she asked for it. If a woman builds mile-high boundaries and is exceedingly blunt to the point of being rude to a guy who approaches her, does anyone say, “Hey, maybe she’s on the spectrum/maybe she has a right brain disorder/maybe she has PTSD?” NO. She’s a horrible bitch, unfriendly, stuck up, and mean to a guy who might be on the spectrum.

    Do you have ANY idea what it’s like to deal with someone who’s coming into your space, not leaving you the fuck alone, when you have a hell of a time trying to parse out if they are a friend or foe?

    When women have these types of disorders, we have more at stake WRT safety than men do. We have a shitton more crap to deal with. And the erasure does NOT help.

    These dudes who barge into these discussions about harassment to cry crocodile tears over abelism are so fucking full of shit. They erase women like me because at the end of the day, it isn’t about abelism. It’s about the entitlement to impose yourself on any girl or woman whenever you want (many of whom actually are struggling with these issues themselves). Well fuck that noise and fuck those dudes.

    • Radiant Sophia says:

      This exactly.

    • mh says:

      I’ll give you that, but I do remember engaging in EXACTLY the same behavior as Ben describes with a boy in middle school, except the phone call – and, I think because of my gender alone, I totally was given a pass. (That is, other than the general bullying by both teachers and students that happened regularly to kids with undiagnosed social issues in those days.)

      • Sheelzebub says:

        The thing is, though, what the school did in Ben’s case was notable. When shit like that happened *to* me, the school didn’t give to shits. I was supposed to be flattered and like it. When I was sexually harassed by another student–in front of the teacher–well, he was just a 13-year-old! No matter that I too was a 13-year-old (a socially awkward one to boot) who actually threw up before class because she was getting felt up in front of the teacher who shrugged it off. When boys acted inappropriately or even violently, I was told “Awwww, it just means he liiiiiikes you.”

      • Sillyme says:

        Sounds like public schools and entitled teachers going ike “I am not paid enough to do something about it” .

      • Kxx says:

        Yeah, reminds me of being 15 or so, and a boy in my class kept getting really close to me and blowing into my ears and on my neck. Eventually I told a teacher about it, who shrugged and replied “most girls would like that”. That was all. An implication that I ought to take it as a compliment, and an implication that there was something wrong with me for not enjoying it.

        I’m sick and tired of girls and women being told they should take harrassing behaviour as a compliment.

    • EG says:

      Well said. Why is the concern always for non-neurotypical men violating women’s boundaries, and not for the non-neurotypical women whose boundaries get violated, and are then blamed for sending the wrong signals?

    • Alara Rogers says:

      Yeah, this.

      I finally figured out, as an adult, that I am most likely on the spectrum. I’m female and I was really really really good at school, so people took my tendency to talk too loud and monopolize conversations/shut people down who attempted to make social approaches when I was not interested/failure to observe proper eating etiquette or even grasp why I should, like not chewing with my mouth open/speak in a monotone/fail to understand why anyone would ever want a hug/break down in hysterics at birthday parties because I’d get so emotionally overloaded/inability to recognize when people were trying to fuck with me — all that was because I was socially inept, stuck up, arrogant, emotionally crippled… None of it was ever because I might possibly have a disorder, oh no.

      Dudes, if I am totally cold in shutting you down because I have no interest in dealing with your shit, and you think I am bitchy because of it, then why do I have the slightest interest in cutting you slack for *your* non-NT issues? Society is perfectly happy to judge *me* because I am not a perky social butterfly like women “should” be, and you and your MRA dudebro friends are probably among the people judging me, so why do I not get to judge you? Maybe you are on the spectrum and maybe you’re not, but if you’re an asshat, I calls ’em likes I sees ’em, because *I’m* not NT enough to give a shit that you think I’m a bitch. I am very empathetic in my own weird way — I will drive around the block rather than hold other people up while I try to back into a parking space, because I know how frustrated I get when I’m stuck behind someone doing that — but I cannot imagine having empathy for people who believe they are totally entitled to another person’s time and attention, because I’ve known my whole life that I am not, and if I am not, why are you?

      When weird guys want to have a conversation with me about Star Trek, bring it on. You want to tell me that you like to go to cons dressed as a hobbit because of your big hairy feet? And we’re at a con right now, and you’re barefoot and dressed as a hobbit? No problem. *Most* of my RL friends are male, and frankly, I am not myself socially appropriate enough to notice that you’re being inappropriate if you come up to me and talk to me about something I’m already obsessed with. We can have a conversation about how many times Magneto has gone crazy, sure, and odds are I will bore the shit out of you before you bore me.

      But when weird guys want to hit on me? No. You don’t get to be in my personal space, you don’t get to touch me, if you compliment my looks I will ignore what you just said in favor of talking about geek things, if you try to neg me I will become extremely condescending to you and start acting like Me Supergenius, You Dumb Guy, and if you make me sufficiently uncomfortable I have been known to do things like slam my bookbag down on a guy’s hand because it was on my leg and then claim that Ms. Bookbag really wants to sit next to me. Society has never cut me any slack for being a socially inappropriate weirdo, why should I give you a pass?

      • Kankurette says:

        Thank you so, so much for writing this. I have Asperger’s Syndrome and I can come across as very cold precisely because of creepers.

        As an aside, I was a female Ben, but I realised my behaviour was inappropriate and really am trying to change. It’s made me ultra-cautious, admittedly, cos I always worry if I’m being inappropriate. I definitely am able to recognise some signs when I should back off, though.

    • Punchdrunk says:

      Thank you.

    • Jane says:

      I mean, for fuck’s sake, does anyone say, if a girl or woman is being “naive” and get attacked “Well, she might have a right brain disorder”? NO. They go on to judge her for being stupid or naive and say that she asked for it. If a woman builds mile-high boundaries and is exceedingly blunt to the point of being rude to a guy who approaches her, does anyone say, “Hey, maybe she’s on the spectrum/maybe she has a right brain disorder/maybe she has PTSD?” NO. She’s a horrible bitch, unfriendly, stuck up, and mean to a guy who might be on the spectrum.

      This. Thanks for spelling it out.

    • Marni says:

      Thank you, Sheezlebub and Alara, for saying this clearly.

  23. Darth Conans says:

    This strikes a chord with me because I see so much of myself in the story. I spent most of 11th grade borderline stalking one of my teachers (mapping out her schedule, visiting her whenever I knew she’d be in her office, installing soundproofing on her door without her permission in response to something she’d said about hearing noise in the hall, etc.) I did it partially because my asperger’s (now autism) made it very difficult for me to tell the difference between a friendly teacher taking an interest in a talented student and a person who was flirting with me, partially because I was trying to model my behavior on the way people act in high concept romantic comedies (the idea that the reason these movies are funny is because the guy is acting in an absurd movie never occurred to me), and partially because I was a dumb ass teenager. Things got very badly out of hand. It turned out she was a lesbian, which made a romance impossible for 4 reasons (the other three were that she was my teacher, that she wasn’t interested, and that I was underage). I ended up trying to slit my own throat in a school bathroom. The school got me into therapy, and the counselor started explaining things to me, taught me to generally assume that people aren’t interested in you (better to under-detect and miss out on something than over-detect and make someone uncomfortable) and that, although the idea of modeling my behavior on someone in movies wasn’t terrible, I needed to understand the difference between fiction and real-life a bit better and get better role-models.
    I feel incredibly bad about it now. She was just starting a new job, and dealing with some of the most idiotic and extreme shit a self-pitying teenager can do must have made it worse for her. The worst part is that I can never apologize, since I’d have to track her down to do that, which would obviously be creepy and wrong and self-defeating (“Sorry I invaded your privacy to find out personal information about you” “How’d you get this e-mail address?” etc.) I hope that she realizes that I was just a dumb kid with stupid ideas and bad models, and that that’s something you outgrow.

    • Punchdrunk says:

      Most of us on the spectrum have one of those stories. The important thing is, when someone told us how to do better, we did.
      I wish people could be kinder, gentler about it, but I eventually understood why they weren’t.
      And I don’t know how one gets to adulthood without learning that.

  24. Darth Conans says:

    As far as using autism to justify or excuse continuing creepy behavior, though, that’s completely unacceptable. You get a couple of passes on that when you’re a teenager, because odds are you haven’t been counseled or figured out that there’s something wrong with you yet. You can only make that argument a few times, though. After that, the fact that you’re making people uncomfortable is on you. Yeah, you have some trouble reading faces and understanding what’s going on in someone’s head. So what? You can learn to do all those things. It’s hard, but it’s possible. Yeah, your body language is a bit out-of-whack. You can change that. If you choose not to put the effort in to make yourself comfortable to be around but still choose to force your company on people who don’t want it, you’re just a [redacted].

    And people who can read faces and do have proper empathy, but who choose to not use this ability are both contemptible and infuriating. The idea that there are people out there who can socialize normally and don’t have to do all the training and work and rules and guessing and worrying I have to, but choose not to, out of some misguided sense of entitlement or masculinity is… maddening? I don’t think there’s a word for the combination of jealousy, hate, and anger this provokes in me.

  25. Sillyme says:

    The story was about a guy whom hit puberty and seems to be rectifying his behavior.

    Most older guys are not stupid. They know at some point how high they rank on the attractiveness score, they know what it means when a girl avoids eye contact, does not reply to any of what he says or flinches when he gets too close. They just choose to ignore all the signs they can read. They know how to not be a creep, problem is they choose to be creeps, because why shouldnt somebody whom shaped his body with Tacos, videogames and takeout pizza land a good looking girl?

    • Sheelzebub says:

      I have had conventionally good looking guys get really fucking creepy with me, who refused to take the no, who decided that “I am not interested in married dudes” meant “Ignore me and continue to try to corner me that will get me to want to bed you down.”

      Sometimes, I’m not into someone. Maybe I’m not attracted to them physically, maybe I don’t feel chemistry, maybe I find them kind of annoying, maybe I just can’t put my finger on it but it’s not there. If they keep pushing, no matter if they look like Ernest Borgnine or Brad Pitt, it’s going to piss me off.

      • Sillyme says:

        Yeah like I said, they chose to ignore the signs.

      • Briznecko says:

        The problem is you keep equating attractiveness with behavior, and it’s getting to the point of being insulting.

        Yes, guys need to be adults and learn how to recognize non-verbal ques that signal non-interest. This part is ok. But then you add:

        They know at some point how high they rank on the attractiveness score

        somebody whom shaped his body with Tacos, videogames and takeout pizza

        See how this is fucked up? You’re adding attractiveness, which is inherently subjective, to the universal understanding of how not to be a creeper. One does not equal the other.

      • The Kittehs' Unpaid Help says:

        Good grief. SillyMe, you’re coming across like you buy into all that MRM bullshit about people being alphas, betas and so on.

        Creepy, entitled behaviour is not about looks. Is that really so hard to figure out?

        Let’s try an example. I don’t want attention pressed on me by any man. Any. Man. I don’t care if he’s Johnny Depp’s twin brother. Hitting on me, ignoring (and ignoring is the word here) my uninterest, discomfort, distaste, fear – it’s just as fucking creepy coming from someone I might think beautiful as from someone I find physically unattractive. It’s about ignoring boundaries and potential threat, not a sudden bloody whirlwind romance.

    • Tinkdnuos says:

      I like tacos and pizza. I have even occasionally played video games. And I’m from Philadelphia so I can DESTROY a cheesesteak. And I won’t deny that my body shows these things (along with plenty of other interesting signs of my socio-cultural existence).

      And I have lots of great interactions, often (though not exclusively or necessarily) sexual, with lots of attractive women. Sometimes I even go start legitimate conversations with them in public places! And all of these women are WAY more attractive than you are.

      You know how I know that, without a clue what you look like?

      Because they’re not obnoxious… shallow… judgmental… entitled… toxic… abusive…

      I’d love go on but I don’t want to be outright banned after only two comments ever. However, it might be pretty awesome if you just voluntarily took this fucked up attitude elsewhere.

      • Richard/RVW says:

        …And all of these women are WAY more attractive than you are.

        You know how I know that, without a clue what you look like?

        Because they’re not obnoxious… shallow… judgmental… entitled… toxic… abusive…

        I’m not familiar with Sillyme’s posting history, but here she seems like someone who is sincerely trying to contribute but who is prone to problematic phrasing. Your comment is much harsher than anything Sillyme has said here, and arguably inappropriate for a feminist space (not that I have any authority here or anywhere else).

      • Tinkdnuos says:

        It sat in mod for a while before appearing…I guess somebody thought it wasn’t TOO bad.

        But really, how is calling an INDIVIDUAL these things worse than that individual stating that anyone she doesn’t find particularly attractive is a creep for looking at her?

      • seisy says:

        really more seems to me like a MRA (and his sockpuppets?) roleplaying their idea of women and women’s thought processes.

      • Richard/RVW says:

        To be clear on my “inappropriate” remark, I wasn’t trying to question the discretion of Feministe moderators. They know their job better than I do. I just sort of fail to see how this:

        I’d love go on but I don’t want to be outright banned after only two comments ever.

        can be read as anything except an implied misogynistic rant. My mind just starts filling in the ban-worthy blanks, and it’s lots of slurs and slut-shaming.

        really more seems to me like a MRA (and his sockpuppets?) roleplaying their idea of women and women’s thought processes.

        That actually makes more sense, thank you.

      • Tinkdnuos says:

        To be clear on my “inappropriate” remark, I wasn’t trying to question the discretion of Feministe moderators. They know their job better than I do. I just sort of fail to see how this:

        I’d love go on but I don’t want to be outright banned after only two comments ever.

        can be read as anything except an implied misogynistic rant. My mind just starts filling in the ban-worthy blanks, and it’s lots of slurs and slut-shaming.

        Well, that’s where YOUR mind goes, I guess. I just meant I could say other things about this person’s BEHAVIOR.

        Basically, any misogyny you perceived here was entirely in your imagination. I didn’t want to get banned because I didn’t want to cross the line from calling out obnoxious, judgmental, abusive behavior for what it is (you know, like half this discussion has covered in re: “creep” or “creepy”) to being outright verbally abusive myself.

        Now, perhaps you feel I crossed that line already. We would have to disagree there. I suggest you compare my comments ABOUT SillyMe’s behavior with SillyMe’s comments about anyone nerdy and overweight. Which set of comments is REALLY more out of place in a feminist (or otherwise not sad, cruel and intolerant) discussion?

      • thefish says:

        really more seems to me like a MRA (and his sockpuppets?) roleplaying their idea of women and women’s thought processes.

        Telling people they aren’t actually a woman? Do I need to tell you why that’s incredibly bigoted?

      • Tinkdnuos says:

        @thefish,

        Richard/RVW’s comment in response to mine was not really accurate, but it was TOTALLY legitimate and founded in rational experience. And before I could point out that SillyMe was tying hir own noose with hir various comments, seisy beat me to the simple explanation (I was at work and this site is IMPOSSIBLE to access on my mobile sometimes). So this whole thread here has actually been wrapped with a fairly neat bow already.

        You, on the other hand, are just a really, really ineffectual troll. Thank you, however, for helping remind me that my disagreements with someone like Richard are mere misunderstandings, and not conflicts between basic decency and toxic abuse.

        I envy the patience of the comment moderators here. If this were my space I’d have slapped the “troll” avatar and description on you and a few others by now.

      • Tinkdnuos says:

        And @Richard/RVW

        I got a wee bit defensive there.

        I assure you though, it was mostly because I was stewing over feeling like I couldn’t defend myself properly while stuck behind an internet firewall in an area with horrid mobile coverage…

      • Richard/RVW says:

        Telling people they aren’t actually a woman? Do I need to tell you why that’s incredibly bigoted?

        That’s not what happened though.

        My desire to assume good faith (and, frankly, more than a little mental exhaustion) led to a declaration of Sillyme’s sincerity. Once I explicitly affirmed a belief in Sillyme’s sincerity, it’s legitimate for someone to question that opinion as seisy did. Sillyme’s womanhood was not denied, an affirmation of hir* sincerity was challenged.

        I don’t argue that Sillyme is not a woman, but seisy is correct that Sillyme’s comments have obvious elements of MRA-belief and troll-intent.

        *I shouldn’t have used the pronouns “she” and “her” in the first place, as I didn’t know Sillyme’s preference.

        I got a wee bit defensive there.

        I assure you though, it was mostly because I was stewing over feeling like I couldn’t defend myself properly while stuck behind an internet firewall in an area with horrid mobile coverage…

        I shouldn’t have played feminist-space-police** anyway, but I’m glad to see that you saw where I was coming from.

        **”feminist-space-police” sounds like it be turned into a good sci-fi story.

      • Richard/RVW says:

        I don’t argue that Sillyme is not a woman

        Or, you know, whatever xe might identify as. Xe hasn’t actually identified as anything except (implicitly) “girl”.

        How many adult feminists do you know who identify as a “girl”?

      • Tinkdnuos says:

        **”feminist-space-police” sounds like it be turned into a good sci-fi story.

        WANT

    • Richard/RVW says:

      You made this some comment up thread.

      because why shouldnt somebody whom shaped his body with Tacos, videogames and takeout pizza land a good looking girl?

      just like girls who happen to put on weight more easily get a different response if they behave like girls whom are regarded as hotties.

      Do you see what you did in both those comments? You’re writing in a way that reads as you declaring what is and what is not attractive on behalf of all humanity. You’re not even in a position to declare what is and isn’t attractive on behalf of the conventionally attractive. I’m fairly conventionally attractive, eat better than anyone I know, and love exercise. I’m attracted to lots of people, and the only consistent themes are intelligent, humor, and artistic ability. That’s it. Your personal preferences aren’t universally accepted truths.

      Aside from that, you’re being needlessly insulting (as if conventionally attractive people don’t have entitlement complexes). Your comment about women (the one with the useless euphemistic phrase for “fat”) seems doubly inappropriate given the present context.

      • Richard/RVW says:

        I can’t seem to not fuck up my comments at Feministe.

        Skimming through the thread again, I note that my comment above shares some structural similarity to Briznecko’s comment at [1.10.2013 at 3:57 pm]. Honestly, I did not do that on purpose, though I feel like a major asshole regardless. The similarity is either a coincidence or I skimmed past Briznecko’s comment too quickly to realize (or I was too fatigued to realize) that I borrowed from it. If the latter, then I’m very sorry Briznecko.

        Sorry to everyone for this off-topic interruption. The similarity, however innocent, was just too glaring for me to let go unremarked. Plagiarism is Serious Business.

      • Briznecko says:

        No worries!

    • Kankurette says:

      Jesus Christ, you really don’t like fat people, do you? Thanks for reminding me that I’m less of a person for not being skinny. I’ve had problems with bulimia for a long time and shit like this is actually triggering to me. I’m not a man, but I constantly see people talking about how fat girls are disgusting and how we should be grateful to get any attention from men.

      A creeper could be a male model and still be a creeper. Looks have nothing to do with it.

      • miga says:

        I actually had a creeper who was a male model. Didn’t make him less of a creeper. Sillyme’s theory is invalid fo sho.

  26. Athenia says:

    Timely article. I was standing at the bus stop last weekend and this dude would not stop talking to me. He did not pick up my social cues that I no longer wanted to speak to him or he refused to acknowledge them. While it was annoying, I wasn’t creeped out cuz I realized that he clearly just was not getting it. It probably also helped that he was just yammering on about his health.

    Anyway, I think there’s a huge difference between being a creep and not understanding social cues. I mean, I highly doubt not understanding social cues magically happen when you are pursuing a romantic relationship. If you don’t get social cues, they are going to happen with the mundane stuff too.

    • Sillyme says:

      Creep means he is creeping you out. It can be anything. The way he behaves or just the way he looks and carries himself. If you do not take care of yourself and have that “I must have sex” stare with your mouth half open, like some nerd at a convention whom just spotted a “hottie” you are creepy just by standing there.

      • Athenia says:

        I’ve been to a lot of nerd conventions and also in sexy attire. The socially awkward are capable of not being douche bags.

      • Miriam says:

        Staring is a behavior. It’s not a look or a way of carrying oneself.

      • Punchdrunk says:

        A long time ago, I worked as a temp in the office of an oil company. One of the geologists on the floor was on the spectrum. He mostly stayed in his office, with his door closed, rarely having conversations with coworkers. When he did come out, he avoided eye contact, and obviously had trouble with his words, and trouble knowing how to be with other people.
        The women I worked with would just die every time after he left. Laughing and going on about how weird and creepy he was and all sorts of nastiness. The man never did anything to make anyone feel threatened or intimidated, never touched anyone inappropriately or hovered or even stood too close. I had to be the one to say something, I had to have a mini-meltdown and tell them that there was nothing wrong with him, but there was certainly something desperately wrong with them. (it worked, at least I didn’t have to hear it any more)
        That was ableism.
        So, no, just because someone decides you’re ‘creepy’ doesn’t mean you are.
        I’m saying this, not to let anyone off the hook for being a creepy harasser, but as a point of intersectionality on this topic.
        And please be aware that a lot of people on the spectrum are misunderstood as staring when we’re really blanking.

      • Sheelzebub says:

        Jesus, that was disgusting. (Of them.)

      • Marni says:

        Something like this usually happens in patriarchal society when someone is an outsider, while physically being around. It’s as if a compulsory component of conversation is to talk about a common acquaintance who is not present in a negative manner. This is why I don’t get how ASD people can seem creepy, because we are not prone to such inconsiderate behaviour.

      • Athenia says:

        That is so horrible. I’m glad you said something!

  27. The rapists were creeps first. I’m reading (for a project) a book-length account of the Glen Ridge gang rape of 1989. One of the rapists had a history of exposing himself and masturbating in his sweatpants in high school, and many of them had a pattern of sexualized humiliation of girls, like pinning them to lockers and forcibly simulating fucking. Teachers saw that shit, and because of the dynamics of the school and town and the boys’ prominent places on all the key teams, nobody had the will to seriously address it.

    The guy that thinks it is consistently fun or funny as a teen or preteen to violate women’s boundaries is beginning a career of violating women’s boundaries.

    • Donna L says:

      Ah, the Glen Ridge case. I remember it well. The lovely Scherzer twins et al. I lived in Glen Ridge at the time, and for many years thereafter. The whole thing made me sick.

      • Donna L says:

        And I should add that by the time my son entered 7th grade there 14 or 15 years later, the culture had changed considerably, bullying was no longer tolerated to remotely the same extent, and athletes were no longer glorified (and their bad behavior routinely excused) the way they had been. I don’t think that he could have survived high school as well as he did if things had not changed, as a “visibly” gay child who was able, because things had changed, to be out as gay by the time he was 12. (Never mind the fact that he had a father who publicly changed genders when he was 15.)

      • tinfoil hattie says:

        OMG, DonnaL, I lived in New Providence for 6 years.

        The Glen Ridge rape was long after I had moved away, and I felt so sick when I heard about it. But, based on my middle and high school experiences in NP, I was not surprised.

    • TomSims says:

      The guy that thinks it is consistently fun or funny as a teen or preteen to violate women’s boundaries is beginning a career of violating women’s boundaries.”

      I agree and it seems that is the new normal in todays’ young men.

    • Rhoanna says:

      many of them had a pattern of sexualized humiliation of girls, like pinning them to lockers and forcibly simulating fucking.

      That’s not creepy behaviour, that’s battery (or some other similar offense).

      • Donna L says:

        Yes, I would have to agree that from what I recall, the previous unchecked behavior of several of the “Glen Ridge rapists” went way beyond “creepy,” and involved physically assaulting other kids, both female and male.

  28. Lor says:

    Thanks for linking the interview, Jill. I teared up, as I have a son with PDD. I worry about his future all the time. This Ben does seem lovely.

  29. Sheelzebub says:

    So this is what I’ve learned today:

    Ablelism is important when it affects the dudes. Women who have trouble reading social cues aren’t harassed or creeped out, and certainly aren’t stressed out by unwanted interactions. It’s still our job to school the menz.

    Also, women with these disorders don’t exist. All women who deal with harassment are NT. I apparently don’t exist, nor do other women like me exist.

    It is my job to school a grown-ass man on how to behave, and certainly I’ve never (and no woman has ever) been further threatened or harassed when we’ve bluntly told a guy to stop.

    It’s also really abelist to assume a man who will not leave you alone is neurotypical. It’s not at all abelist to assume that the woman you expect to extend this energy and “what ifs” is NT and doesn’t have any processing disorders herself. It’s also not abelist at all to expect a woman who may have ASD, NLD, PDD, or even psychological disorders like oh, PTSD to instruct a stranger on how to behave. It’s also not at all dangerous since we’ve already established that of course women are never assaulted or threatened or further harassed for explicitly stating their boundaries.

    Well, alrighty then.

    • Punchdrunk says:

      You just learned this today?
      You should also know that awkward men are humiliated and rejected by women, who are never, ever rejected or humiliated or awkward.

      • Sheelzebub says:

        THIS IS SO TRUE!

        Also, women are always conventionally attractive. The ones who aren’t don’t actually exist or feel things. They also don’t get harassed and mocked by dudes for being fat, or awkward, or not fitting standards of attractiveness.

        Ohhh! THE THINGS WE ARE LEARNING TODAY. ;)

      • Bagelsan says:

        So much learning! Y’see, mansplaining can be educational!

      • karak says:

        Also, if you are conventionally attractive or participate in feminine beauty culture, you’re doing it only because you desperately want male attention, and rejecting any male shows what a picky, lying shrew you are.

      • The Kittehs' Unpaid Help says:

        Also women who aren’t heterosexual don’t exist, because MENS.

        (Might not be specifically mentioned but boy is it a subtext, especially in the whole “women dress to turn men on!” BS.)

      • Sheelzebub says:

        Also, it’s our problem if we’ve dealt with violent shitheels when we were clear about our boundaries in the past. That’s not a dudely dude’s problem, who is perfectly entitled to fluffy pillows and special rights because of his feels or some such shit.

        Such an educational day.

        I really should start another pool to bet on what these sacks of roach dung will come up with next.

      • tinfoil hattie says:

        Also, fat, “ugly,” etc. women don’t need love. They have “really nice personalities” to make up for their lifelong fate of being alone.

      • The Kittehs' Unpaid Help says:

        “sacks of roach dung”

        I am totally stealing that.

      • Sheelzebub says:

        Oh, and apparently, women of color don’t get harassed.

        WELL ALRIGHTY THEN.

        Membership in the Confederation of Unicorns is growing apace.

      • pheenobarbidoll says:

        Ima cherry pegasus! Unicorns, psh. Booooring

        :) :)

    • Oh, and women who don’t want attentions from ANY male (for reasons of incompatible orientation) don’t exist. At all. I in no way am indicating my lack of interest in being approached by random dipfucks by being out in public with my wife and stepchild.

    • The Kittehs' Unpaid Help says:

      Plus the important info that only men who are not conventionally handsome are ever creepy. All hot dudes have carte blanche to behave however they want.

      • Sheelzebub says:

        YES. Also: Since men who are conventionally attractive NEVER creep on women, which means I’m a unicorn in that sense as well. As are other women on this thread.

  30. Jill says:

    Just want to take a moment to thank all of the defensive, narcissistic dudes who had the exact knee-jerk response to this post that I expected when I wrote this opener:

    A lot of dudes really flip out in response to the term “creep.” It’s so UNFAIR to call them creeps! The word “creep” is ableist because there are dudes on the autism spectrum who have difficulty socializing and reading social cues and they can’t help being creepy! Etc etc.

    Never change.

    • Voltaire claimed to have only ever uttered a single prayer: “Lord, make my enemies ridiculous: and it was granted.”

    • miga says:

      Ha! I had a fallout with a “Nice Guy” who flipped out over that word when I never used it in the first place. I told him I was uncomfortable with how he was treating me, and told him to cut it out or else we couldn’t be friends. Apparently it is such a sensitive word that even the fear of being called creepy is enough to produce the jerkiest of knees.

  31. Marni says:

    Women with these disorders don’t exist. All women who deal with harassment are NT. I apparently don’t exist, nor do other women like me exist.

    Yes, I for one can assure you that I don’t exist. When you pass your use by date, you actually become invisible. This is better then dealing with dangerous creeps, but becomes somewhat confusing when people accidentally acknowledge your existence by telling you how to behave. Since you don’t exist, no other kind of conversation is possible.

    • Sheelzebub says:

      It is strange to be a unicorn. Strange, I tell you!

      UNICORNS UNITE.

      • Marni says:

        Oh, so it’s the horn sticking out my head that’s the problem! Pity it’s attached to my brain, or I could have it removed! Oh wait, some people are advocating just that. Ah, the wonders of eugenics 20th century Western medicine.

      • Bagelsan says:

        *loves her drugs, couldn’t live without them*

  32. Sheelzebub says:

    Jill, not to get all STALIN STALIN STALIN but you may want to take down the IP address(es) of Kersplat’s comments and screenshots and then delete his comments. He may be using someone else’s identity as his Gravitar, and if that’s the case, the man whose ID he stole and whose reputation he’s damaging may be interested in the info you’ve got so he can pursue legal options.

    • tomek says:

      so guy feels like his opinions are so unwelcome that he is forced to take some one else name. and then you want to help the some one else guy to take the legal action? wow. would you do same if it was woman i think not

      • tigtog says:

        Listen to yourself, Tomek: who is forcing him to take someone else’s name? He could even more easily have used an obvious pseudonym like Purple People Eater.

        You are adding nothing to the conversation except kneejerk contrarianism.

      • tigtog says:

        P.S. a bit of checking shows that the same IP number has been used previously to comment here by somebody who understands pseudonyms for the purposes of morphing very well indeed. Moving up to identity theft now is a total arsehole move. The comments using that email address are about to be edited to add the Mark Of The Troll and remove links to the stolen identity, and all further comments using that email address and IP number will be permamodded.

        No doubt “kersplat” will morph again, and feel mighty mighty when xe does. Pitiful, isn’t it?

      • Hee, Purple People Eater! My stepkid drew a totally adorable Purple People Eater in class the other day… I have it tacked to the wall next to my desk because I Laid CLaim to it before the wife did, lol. It’s even got a little speech bubble that says “Mmm…Human.”

        *total derail*

  33. Hattie says:

    I have had to deal lately with a couple of creeps. They were trying to exploit old people. People in old age sometimes miss the cues that cause alert people to feel alarmed at behaviors that indicate a person could be painful to know.
    It does not bother me a bit to avoid creepy people, and I don’t feel any need to try to understand them. The safety of me, mine and others I am responsible for comes first.

  34. trees says:

    Does “kersplat” = “Faithless”?

    Kersplat on this creep post very much reminds me of Faithless on this other creep post: Don’t want to be called a creeper? Don’t be creepy.

    • pheenobarbidoll says:

      Me too. I thought the exact same thing. Faithless.

      • tigtog says:

        It is indeed the very same IP number.

      • kersplat says:

        this ip address belongs to a coffee shop, I’m sure many people use it to browse places like this given its location

      • PrettyAmiable says:

        You and another guy with the same chip on his shoulder frequent the same coffee shop? Y’all should start a club.

      • hotpot says:

        This coffee shop has thousands of people, PrettyAmiable. I see some other Feministe commenters waving to me right now!

      • pheenobarbidoll says:

        this ip address belongs to a coffee shop, I’m sure many people use it to browse places like this given its location

        hahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaaa

        You’re still talking?

        hahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaa

        aaahhhh haahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaaaaa!!

        *wipes a tear* Hilarity!

      • Jill says:

        Wow, you guys really should start a club! Because you share an IP address with sadpanda from this thread who seems to have similar grievances. And DevilsEyeTooth from this thread.

        In fact there are hundreds of comments, all with an MRA anti-feminist slant, left by a commenter with that same IP address but using dozens of different names.

        Must be one hell of a coffee shop.

      • Radiant Sophia says:

        O.k., seriously?
        A fair portion of the feminist commentariat sitting in the same coffee shop would be a large statistical anomaly unless it was a prearranged meeting.

      • Donna L says:

        Because you share an IP address with sadpanda from this thread who seems to have similar grievances. And DevilsEyeTooth from this thread.

        It’s Festivus 365 days a year at this place.

      • Bagelsan says:

        I did meet a Feministe reader in a coffee shop one time accidentally, but she was not an MRA and we only found out because she happened to see my open tab. :p Somehow I doubt a similarly serendipitous event in this case.

      • Radiant Sophia says:

        Bagelsan,
        That’s actually kind of cool!
        But, imagine the level of coincidence required for four or five commenters to be in the same coffee shop. (How many people read vs. actually comment, etc.)

        If sadpanda, DevilsEyeTooth, kersplat, etc. are, in fact different people, then probability has seriously been warped around an unknown variable.

      • Synna says:

        Ok isn’t the ultimate test whether or not anyone’s seen them all in the same room at the same time?

        /lolsnark

    • A4 says:

      Good call. The old commenting system had a very different feel

    • Esti says:

      Comment from Kersplat on this thread:

      Just how I don’t make an effort to not wear loose fit clothing at night “cus im a big scary black guy who might scare people”. People who think I’m “so scary” can run and hide for all I care, their safety is NOT my responsibility.

      Comment from Faithless on the other thread:

      It happens to me fucking constantly, im a 6 foot plus 200 lb black dude in “loose fitting clothing” walking around at 3 am cus I work from home and work very strange hours. who lives in a predominantly white area full of 19 – 25 year old college girls and step ford wives.

      Comment from sadpanda on his thread:

      I’m taller than 6 foot and black, I have become accustomed to women being horridly fearful of me by simply walking in the room. I regularly take public transit late at night and it is not uncommon for women to simply remove pepper spray and tasers from their bags and place them on the seat next to them.

      Perhaps you could all solve your problem of racist women being scared by your appearances by just sitting next to one another in this very special coffee shop you all frequent?

  35. pheenobarbidoll says:

    Many of the comments on this thread make me want to hug Ben.

  36. librarygoose says:

    This whole thread has made me try to imagine super anxiety ridden me in a (one sided) conversation with someone who was non-NT but still more social. What a cluster fuck it would be. I pretty much rely on non-verbal social cues to tell people to leave me alone.

  37. This thread is just making me incredibly fucking sad.

    I’m not neurotypical. I’m not sure what the fuck is up with me, but I can’t read physical cues or facial expressions. I register Happy and Angry, but those are literally the only two I can reliably grab. (This has led to hilarious results, such as being absolutely unable to tell good actors from bad except with their voice, and awful ones, such as being absolutely convinced my wife was mad at me when she was actually sad about something completely unrelated, and having an anxiety attack because WHY DOES SHE HATE ME WHY IS SHE GIVING ME THE EYE OF DEATH. ) I basically get around this by studying physical cues that aren’t facial – I seem to be decent enough at this – and actually asking embarrassing questions like “I believe from your expression that you’re mad, but it doesn’t sound like it, so are you mad?”

    I hope like hell I’ve never creeped anybody out (though I have unpleasant gut-feelings about several memories of the past where I’ve ignored non-verbal cues to be left alone, or misinterpreted expressions with disastrous results). But I don’t know how to arrange my face to express emotions correctly either, and I don’t know how to get myself out of uncomfortable situations easily. I would easily estimate that for every time I can even extrapolate to my having made a man I didn’t know uncomfortable, there’s been ten of men not recognising I don’t want to interact and just invading my space. And I’m NOT SHY about telling them to fuck off.

    Oh, and by the way, I’ve had men take the following as not a clear no and keep touching/talking to me: Telling them to go away, telling them I’m busy, telling them to fuck off, shoving them back, kicking their leg, edging away uncomfortably, changing seats in a bus, getting down before my stop and getting into another bus(!), turning away, putting my bag between us after they start talking, slapping them in the face, punching them in the shoulder.

    Number of non-neurotypical men I’ve known who have done anything remotely creepy to me: 0. FWIW.

    Fuck “men don’t understand”. Men understand. Men understand all the goddamn time, thank you very much. And if we’re all going to get together and have a WAHHHHfest about the non-NT men, think about the non-NT women first.

    • karak says:

      I want to reassure you: everyone creeps someone else out sometimes. This is not a NT or non-NT thing. This is life. What makes you a creep is this: do I try to creep people out? Do I accept it when people tell me I’m bothering them? Do I make a reasonable effort to ascertain whether or not I am upsetting someone?

      And, also, I’m interested in the face thing, because I know a couple of neurological conditions (that are not harmful or dangerous, just idiosyncratic!) that cause facial recognition interpretation issues without being autism–it’s literally just trouble with faces, with none of the interactive/social issues that people with autism grapple with,

      I’m going to list a bunch of questions I think would be meaningful to consider to see if you have something else going on.

      Do you have trouble telling people apart by their faces? Do all people look alike to you? Do you identify people by attributes like hairstyle, smell, or height over their face? Do you have trouble recognizing people when you see them in very different clothes or if they change their hair? Do you not see it when others claim two people look alike? Do others not see it when you claim two people look alike?

      • *very sheepish* Thank you, karak. I do try not to creep people out, it’s just not always successful, I think. I hope to FUCK it’s never creepy in a sexual way – it’d be hilarious in a sick sort of way if that were the case, since I rarely have the pantsfeelings to begin with.

        Re the face thing: yep to every last one of those, except maybe the telling if people look alike thing. I can usually tell if people look alike in pictures, and I’m decent at it in real life. Valoniel concurs that there’s some neurological stuff going on, though she’s not sure what…I wish to fuck I knew, because it gets me in uncomfortable/scary/upsetting situations a fair bit, and if I at least had a diagnosis to wave in people’s faces I’d feel better.

      • Sheelzebub says:

        There are a whole bunch of things it could be. Karak is right–it isn’t always autism.

        I have NLD. Not so pronounced that I needed someone with me during my school day (in fact, I went undiagnosed until recently) but pronounced enough that my social interactions were hell for a long, long time. Trouble reading cues, trouble getting unspoken rules, etc. That coupled with a fuckload of clumsiness/balance problems, issues with depth perception and spatial reasoning, and an FSM-awful math deficit.

        We’ve all freaked people out. Even “normal” folks have done it. And honestly, someone who’s a little weird doesn’t freak me out. COME SIT BY ME I AM A FELLOW WEIRDO THOUGH I MANAGE TO PASS THESE DAYS THROUGH HOSTILITY AND BITCHERY AND LOTS OF HOMECOOKED FOOD.

        I’ve met guys who were very socially awkward and I didn’t feel threatened. I could tell right off the bat that they were some flavor of me, and even if I wasn’t into talking with them, I didn’t feel threatened.

        The vast majority of men who have violated my boundaries and acted like creeps, who’ve been threatening and sometimes downright fucking scary, were neuro-typical. They certainly knew all about social cues and appropriate behavior with other dudes, and (in some cases) with women they didn’t see as targets (for whatever reason they had for picking me out as a target). They would make sure there was just enough plausible deniability to get away with shit, and other people enabled them.

      • jennygadget says:

        “The vast majority of men who have violated my boundaries and acted like creeps, who’ve been threatening and sometimes downright fucking scary, were neuro-typical.”

        Right. That’s the thing, being creepy can be accidental, as in Ben’s case, but more often than not repeated creepiness requires the kind of skillset that people who are socially awkward lack. Actual creeps tend to make an art of knowing just how far they can push things without being called on their shit.

      • COME SIT BY ME I AM A FELLOW WEIRDO THOUGH I MANAGE TO PASS THESE DAYS THROUGH HOSTILITY AND BITCHERY AND LOTS OF HOMECOOKED FOOD.

        LOL! Offer accepted.

      • TomSims says:

        “I want to reassure you: everyone creeps someone else out sometimes. This is not a NT or non-NT thing. This is life.”

        Spot on.

  38. Bagelsan says:

    I think it was said upthread, but it bears repeating; “creepy” behavior is very often (usually?) grooming a potential victim for further assaults on their space and person. It is absolutely purposeful and calculated to make the victim feel helpless and scared so they won’t fight back, and to ascertain exactly how far the scared person’s boundaries can be pushed.

    I had a landlord who did exactly that to me; he started out mildly creepy (talking negatively about an ex, trying to create drama between me and my roommates) then escalated to really creepy when he felt that I would just take it (mentioning he owned a gun, coming into my room at night drunk, screaming that I must have been raped by my father to be such a bitch when I finally closed the door on him…)

    I had to move out, because literally nothing else would stop him, including a call to the police. If I hadn’t taken the steps I did, locking the door and avoiding him and moving out asap, I truly don’t know what the fuck that creep would have done. He was clearly working his way up to something he knew would violate me, just like the other oh-so-innocent creeps do.

    • mxe354 says:

      mentioning he owned a gun, coming into my room at night drunk, screaming that I must have been raped by my father to be such a bitch when I finally closed the door on him…

      How frightening. I’m so sorry to hear you dealt with that.

    • karak says:

      That is totally a scenario right out of the “The Gift of Fear”. The guy pushes your boundaries, little by little, ramping up the pressure and trying to control/frighten you.

      I am sorry you had to deal with that but I’m glad you had the self-trust to call the authorities (even if they were useless) and then get the fuck out.

      • Bagelsan says:

        I had actually skimmed that book a few years previous, so when I started getting creeped out I listened to my gut feelings and trusted them a lot more. That book should be mandatory reading!

    • Ugh, Bagelsan, that sounds horrible! I’m so glad you’re elsewhere now.

    • Sheelzebub says:

      Oh my GOD. I’m glad you’re out of that. Ugh.

    • Sillyme says:

      At least he gave ample warning and did not assault you right away.

    • Fat Steve says:

      then escalated to really creepy when he felt that I would just take it (mentioning he owned a gun, coming into my room at night drunk, screaming that I must have been raped by my father to be such a bitch when I finally closed the door on him…)

      When he mentioned he owned a gun, surely you felt safer?

      (NRA-based sarcasm)

  39. Scissors says:

    Sad but true, some guys just can’t help being creeps. So what do you do? Tolerate it? No ways. I wasn’t put on this earth to tolerate creeps!The trick is to identify who is doing it on purpose and who cannot help themselves and deal with it accordingly.The ones who do it on purpose but pretend not to know can turn out to be dangerous latter on. They are manipulative and need to be told off immediately.

  40. Sam says:

    I work with and advocate for people who have disabilities like Ben’s, and for me advocacy includes helping people grasp the reality that however painful or unfair their situation may be, they’re responsible for it. Legal issues regarding employment and education aside, they can ask for personal consideration, but no one is obligated to provide it. In my experience this approach best prepares people who are different for a community that often times marginalizes people who are different.

    It seems like Ben got a similar message, and I’m happy for him. The interview and Jill’s comments are sympathetic to Ben the person and respectful of the struggle he’s had. The girl he frightened, her family, and the school administration’s response to his behavior were supportive of him by setting a clear boundary. I understand and agree that the girl’s physical and emotional safety was their priority, but the approach that looked out for the girl’s welfare also looked out for Ben’s, which is a classic win-win in a situation that could have been a whole lot of lose.

    It would seem to me that part of what helped Ben get through this is him being a fundamentally decent person. I know people who have disabilities who are not fundamentally decent. They wouldn’t be where Ben is now. The decency train runs on a different track from the one carrying their disability, and just like with people who don’t have a disability, the decency train is sometimes empty.

    I say all that to make it clear that my sympathy lies with Ben the person, and not at all with the behavior he engaged in. I have no sympathy for people with neurological or cognitive disabilities who are also assholes, and of course none for garden variety assholes. Label Ben’s behavior and those people all you want. It won’t change those people’s hearts, but it may help identify them to their potential victims.

    Some comments here seem to encourage the use of the word creep somewhat indiscriminately. I know MRAs have crapped all over this topic recently by trying to equate the word slut with the word creep. I want to stay miles away from that effort. I also agree that this thing about men’s reputations being sacrosanct is corrupt and in this case irrelavent, not the least of which because the true creeps could give a flying fuck about their reputation and wear women’s animosity as a badge of honor. But my question is whether there’s any benefit to casting the creep net so widely that Ben or Sillyme’s “fat nerds” (I mean, they are blocking her view of the men she considers hot) get caught in it?

    If Ben was labeled a creep as a 13 yr old, do you think that aided in his progress, or did anything to make the girl he frightened safer? the next girl he interacted with? If he wasn’t labeled a creep, do you think he would have learned better or faster if he had been?

    If your personal history or ethic leaves no room for sympathy for Ben the person, the Ben’s of the world still aren’t going away. As a practical matter, calling him a creep won’t accomplish much beyond some momentary vengence. Maybe that’s worth it?

    • Sheelzebub says:

      Sam, I am a woman who has trouble reading social cues and who’s been harassed. People here have expressed plenty of sympathy for Ben. What we don’t have sympathy for is the idea that most people who do this are non NT and that women who have to cope with it are NT. (BTW, you have all this compassion for the non-NT men and boys? How about the non-NT girls and women who have to deal with this shit? Or will you join the others in deciding we just plain don’t count?)

      How about you stop putting words in our mouths? It’s not vengeful to say that someone’s acting like a fucking creep. And for all of the bellyaching about how unfaaaiiir and vengeful it is to use that TERRIBLE WORD, it’s pretty rare for schools or workplaces or people to take this shit seriously at all.

      Also. I await the same hand-wringing from the dudes about unfairly labeling women as sluts, bitches, whores, skanks, etc. I mean, if we’re going to talk about how unfair it is to label people. Unless that’s something that ONLY applies to boys and men.

    • jennygadget says:

      “If Ben was labeled a creep as a 13 yr old, do you think that aided in his progress, or did anything to make the girl he frightened safer?”

      I’m pretty sure your concern is already addressed in Jill’s statements about labeling the behavior, not the person. But, to clarify my own thoughts on the question:

      I think there are times when it’s appropriate to label the person as well, but I I also think that is much less likely to be true when the person in question is too young to vote, drive, or even to get a library card by themselves – which is the age that Ben was at in his story.

      However, the 9/10 year old that violated my privacy for reasons of sexual interest should still have had his behavior labeled as creepy. The fact that it was instead explained to 12/13 year old me that he was merely “curious” did not aid in my own recovery, however well-meaning the intent of the people who did so.

      So yes, I think that victims not being shut down or silenced makes them safer – and part of that is acknowledging when behavior is creepy.

      I also believe that when we are dealing with children/youth that it’s extremely important to use our words around both parties; part of helping them learn to change their behavior or feel confident in addressing such behavior if it happens to them again involves reacting appropriately and visibly to what has happened.

      This isn’t something that children find easy to discuss either, adults need to model for children that it’s ok to talk about it.

      This may not always involve using the word “creepy” but it will almost always involve words that convey that very same idea. And while victims who label the person not the behavior should sometimes be corrected, they should never be told that words like “creepy” are off limits.

    • jennygadget says:

      Or, more succinctly:

      “As a practical matter, calling him a creep won’t accomplish much beyond some momentary vengence.”

      Bullshit. As a practical matter, labeling behavior as creepy helps victims. The only way that it makes sense to assume that this changes when the perpetrator is underage is to assume that the underage victim’s thoughts on the matter are irrelevant to the situation. Which you know, was Ben’s problem in the first place.

    • EG says:

      As a practical matter, calling him a creep won’t accomplish much beyond some momentary vengence. Maybe that’s worth it?

      As I explained above, calling somebody a creep allows me to identify and communicate to other women which men/boys violate our boundaries in a succinct way. It also underscores the validity of our experiences and judgments. I consider that important.

  41. Donna L says:

    When I objected to Sillyme’s comments, it was the way she was labeling people as “creeps” not for their behavior, but, it seems, simply because they were fat. That’s not what most people in the thread have been doing. The line between appearance and behavior is sometimes murky, but not usually.

    • Sillyme says:

      I just wanted to express that it is up to the person what is creepy to her. Like if it is not creepy to me if one guy behaves a certain way with me, it might be creepy if some other guy does. You dont get to say its okay because he did it, or its unfair because he can and I cant. I get to decide when what is creepy and when it isnt.

      • Briznecko says:

        No, not really. Throughout this entire thread you’ve been calling fat people creepy just because they happen to be fat, which is ignorant and fucked up. Women get the right to decide individually what is and is not creepy based on, let me say it again, BEHAVIOR. Stop digging, or at the very least recognize how fucked up your comments about fat/unattractive people.

      • thefish says:

        So now there are only certain valid reasons to be creeped out?

        Yeah, you’re being creepy.

      • Radiant Sophia says:

        thefish,
        Let’s try this again…
        Creeped out by anything + Burden on creep to change behavior = You get to tell anybody what to do. You already said that upthread when you said Jill was being creepy by telling creepy people to edit their behavior, and she needed to stop (thus editing her behavior). You are simply looking for an excuse to control people. Go back to your coffee shop.

      • amblingalong says:

        So now there are only certain valid reasons to be creeped out?

        Obviously?

      • thefish says:

        @Radiant Sophia: From the top

        the exact reaction that any decent human being would have — “I am doing something that scares people, I don’t want to scare people, I would like to stop doing this”

        This is not a hard concept if you are scaring someone you should stop.

        Look if you want to disagree with the above that’s fine and we can talk about that. However, you cannot possibly be telling me I don’t have a right to be creeped out or scared by something.

        Also, I wasn’t aware I owned a coffee shop.

      • Radiant Sophia says:

        That’s funny. You said:

        “That just struck me as a scary attitude for someone to have. ”

        and

        “I’m saying that Jill is creepy and scary.”

        about that exact passage. So….

        telling someone they are being creepy, and to change their behavior is creepy.

      • Sillyme says:

        I just wanted to point out that if one guy behaves a certain way with me it does not make it okay if some other does. I said fat nerd. Its the whole package. A 30 something overweight person living still with mommy is not that hot to me personally.

        Other people might have other preferences, likes and dislikes. Maybe you are fine with one guy becoming physical with you, maybe with some other guy you do not even want a conversation.

        Bottom line is, what is creepy or not to somebody is up to that somebody and if I allow one guy to go this far and to you I dont even want to talk, you will just have to accept it.

      • tigtog says:

        I’m several decades away from my dating years now, so I’ve reached the age of female invisibility to most of society which means I no longer get hit upon, but I think there is an important distinction that you’re missing, Sillyme.

        Obviously nobody should feel obliged to interact with anybody they find unattractive or uninteresting, but those attributes alone are not normally considered “creepy” so long as the person with whom you do not want to interact does not ignore your lack of interest. If they initiate, are rebuffed, and back off? Meh.

        To most people, “creepy” only comes into the equation when the person persists in attempting to engage the uninterested person, ignoring their cues to disengage – it’s the lack of respect for other people’s wishes and boundaries which makes behaviour “creepy”.

        Of course nobody can stop you labelling people “creepy” based solely on appearance/superficialities, but that level of judgmentalism is terribly unappealing. If you want to be equally judgmental about these men in whom you’re not interested but have people here stop arguing with you, perhaps you could start distinguishing between men you regard as “losers” vs men who are actually being “creepy”.

      • tigtog says:

        P.S. I do agree that if somebody assumes that you will be happy to interact with them in the exact same way that they’ve just seen you interact with somebody else, then that is an entitled presumption on their part that takes no account of personal tastes and history of interactions, and that particular presumption would definitely appear to be creepy to me.

      • Synna says:

        fat is not a behaviour!

      • Radiant Sophia says:

        “Creep means he is creeping you out. It can be anything. …just the way he looks and carries himself. ..you are creepy just by standing there.”

        You have made it very clear that “creeps” are that way simply by being in a public space. So are you saying all men (or all people?) you could potentially find creepy should never be in public? It appears to me that’s what you are saying. Having been attacked for simply being “creepy”, I can say that people like you are just as bad as the men who would sexually violate me.

      • Fat Steve says:

        You have made it very clear that “creeps” are that way simply by being in a public space. So are you saying all men (or all people?) you could potentially find creepy should never be in public? It appears to me that’s what you are saying. Having been attacked for simply being “creepy”, I can say that people like you are just as bad as the men who would sexually violate me.

        I don’t see the connection…where does she say people who creep her out should be disallowed from doing anything? It sounds much more like you are saying that she doesn’t have a right to be creeped out by people if she doesn’t provide you with a good enough reason.

        SillyMe’s initial comment may have seemed mean spirited, but calling her as “just as bad as the men who would sexually violate me.” Are you fucking kidding me? I just don’t even know what to say to that.

      • Radiant Sophia says:

        Strangely, yes. It doesn’t really matter to me the reason for being physically attacked. One type of physical harm isn’t “worse” than another.

        Being labeled creepy (skinny, glasses, zoned out or shaking due to non neurotypical brain) has caused people to physically attack me (their given reason).

        Labeling someone to your peers can cause group action. If it can’t than why are any of us here? Why bother combating the use of misogynistic insults by men against women? Do you think it would have been o.k. for her to say “I’ll decide who, and who isn’t a b*t*h or a c**t?”

      • Fat Steve says:

        Being labeled creepy (skinny, glasses, zoned out or shaking due to non neurotypical brain) has caused people to physically attack me (their given reason).

        Can you give a more concrete example?Specifically:
        1 What makes you think ‘being labeled creepy’ ’caused people to physically attack’ you?
        2 How do you know, that if you are labeled ‘creepy,’ it’s due to being skinny, wearing glasses, zoning out or shaking due to non neurotypical brain?
        3 If people are prejudiced against you for being skinny, wearing glasses, zoning out or shaking, and consider that reason enough to physically attack you, aren’t you just as likely to get attacked if you are labelled ‘creepy’ as if you were labelled ‘the least creepy person in the universe’?

      • A.W. says:

        I’m going to go ahead and answer you because you’re really stretching it here.

        @FatSteve,

        “Can you give a more concrete example?Specifically:
        1 What makes you think ‘being labeled creepy’ ’caused people to physically attack’ you?

        Because people mock, fear and hate what they don’t understand.

        2 How do you know, that if you are labeled ‘creepy,’ it’s due to being skinny, wearing glasses, zoning out or shaking due to non neurotypical brain?

        When someone is different/outcast from their peers, they usually make lists as to how.

        3 If people are prejudiced against you for being skinny, wearing glasses, zoning out or shaking, and consider that reason enough to physically attack you, aren’t you just as likely to get attacked if you are labelled ‘creepy’ as if you were labelled ‘the least creepy person in the universe’?”

        If you were labelled ‘The least creepy person in the universe’ you wouldn’t have those ‘creepy’ markers, like zoning out or shaking.

      • A.W. says:

        @FatSteve,

        “Can you give a more concrete example?Specifically:
        1 What makes you think ‘being labeled creepy’ ’caused people to physically attack’ you?”

        Also, when people attack you like that, they absolutely love to state their reasons because they consider your existance – wrong -. As Sophia said earlier, her attackers told her why they were harassing her.

      • Fat Steve says:

        I’m going to go ahead and answer you because you’re really stretching it here.

        @FatSteve,

        “Can you give a more concrete example?Specifically:
        1 What makes you think ‘being labeled creepy’ ’caused people to physically attack’ you?

        Because people mock, fear and hate what they don’t understand.

        2 How do you know, that if you are labeled ‘creepy,’ it’s due to being skinny, wearing glasses, zoning out or shaking due to non neurotypical brain?

        When someone is different/outcast from their peers, they usually make lists as to how.

        3 If people are prejudiced against you for being skinny, wearing glasses, zoning out or shaking, and consider that reason enough to physically attack you, aren’t you just as likely to get attacked if you are labelled ‘creepy’ as if you were labelled ‘the least creepy person in the universe’?”

        If you were labelled ‘The least creepy person in the universe’ you wouldn’t have those ‘creepy’ markers, like zoning out or shaking.

        @AW,

        I don’t think you actually understood my request. I asked Sophia for more concrete answers. What you’ve done is give me less concrete answers.

      • hellkell says:

        Jesus, life is not “Mean Girls.” Your views on this are so stunningly immature that I have to wonder if your mother knows you’re on the computer without adult supervision.

      • TomSims says:

        <blockquoteI get to decide when what is creepy and when it isn't

        Agree 100%!

      • Radiant Sophia says:

        Fine, and I get to decide what is and what isn’t a threat to me.

      • TomSims says:

        Fine, and I get to decide what is and what isn’t a threat to me.”

        Absolutely! You are the only one that can make that determination

    • Fat Steve says:

      When I objected to Sillyme’s comments, it was the way she was labeling people as “creeps” not for their behavior, but, it seems, simply because they were fat. That’s not what most people in the thread have been doing. The line between appearance and behavior is sometimes murky, but not usually.

      With respect, I don’t think that’s what she’s saying. While I don’t approve of her offhanded insults of fat people, I don’t read her comment of “why shouldnt somebody whom shaped his body with Tacos, videogames and takeout pizza land a good looking girl?” as saying all fat people are creeps because of how they look. Within the insults to fat people is a valid point about mens’ entitlement. There is a school of thought that says it’s okay for a man to be fat whereas for a woman it’s awful.

      Donna, you may be right in your analysis, (I suspect the real answer may lie somewhere in between,) but I definitely see a valid complaint in the double standards which say that a man can stuff his face full of tacos and then only choose to hit on women who look as they subsist on carrots and celery.

  42. Sam says:

    In my earlier comments I wasn’t clear about who may have been calling anyone a creep. That’s on me, and I apologize. I have no illusion that I have any say in how the girl responded to Ben, or how anyone responds who is personally affected by someone else’s behavior.

    I was writing about the sentiment expressed in many comments that we, people who discuss these things, define “creep” broadly. Since Ben’s story was the topic starter here, I referneced it without making it clear that I was commenting on the general way we label behavior and by extension people by using his case as an example.

    • jennygadget says:

      …?

      That’s not actually better. It also makes no sense. We should not use the word creep because it might…what, exactly?

  43. Sam says:

    Sheelzebub,

    I’m new and my comments go to moderation, so I hope this comment is more timely than the last.

    Of course you “count”. Of course language is often used as a weapon against women and of course that’s wrong. Those things are axiomatic for me. Is my defense of a 13 yr old boy, or men guilty of no more than being judged physically unappealing, really testimony that I don’t have sympathy for non-NT women or for anyone being called a slut?

    • Bagelsan says:

      If you think anyone here but Silly is judging people for their looks, you have terrible reading comprehension.

    • EG says:

      men guilty of no more than being judged physically unappealing

      I’m not sure what thread you’ve been reading, because it sure hasn’t been this one.

    • Sheelzebub says:

      SillyMe was the only one here judging men’s worthiness by their looks. You’re being disingenuous.

      And never fear. My 13-year-old self learned the hard way that 13-year-old boys will be defended no matter what the fuck they do, and I would be dismissed at best, or sometimes blamed, or told that his harassment of me just meant he liiiiiiked me.

      Oh, but of course it’s a given that calling girls and women sluts and whores, etc. is bad and that harassment is bad and that of course there are girls and women who have aren’t NT. Yet. . .we get drowned out. In defense of boys and men who have made our lives hell. We’re supposed to understand that of course you are with us yet the oxygen and energy is taken up in service of the d00ds and fuck the bitches who get erased.

      So you’ll have to excuse me if I side-eye this platter of bullshit you’re serving. (And I don’t think you’re actually that new here, Sam. You’ve posted here before and derailed conversations here before.) Ben didn’t just say fuck you all and do whatever he wanted, he felt badly about making this girl feel unsafe. The school’s reaction is actually quite rare. Most of the time they react the way they did when I had to deal with that shit. Even now.

      If the 13-year-old girl felt like he was being creepy, she had every goddamn right to. Every goddamn time we name what is done to us, we express our discomfort or anger or reaction to someone, other people try to silence us and shame us. We’re supposed to teach the menz and boys! We’re supposed to mother them! It’s not fair to them, they didn’t know any better and they won’t want to change if we don’t say things in just the right way with the nicest tone at the correct phase of the moon. No such consideration is shown to us, ever.

      If I sound angry, it’s because I am. It’s because in these conversations, even if they’re about a guy who realized what he was doing and felt badly about it and acknowledged how scary it must have been for the girl, even though his original point was actually not ZOMG CREEPSHAMING, the d00ds and a few women come in here and insist that it’s all about how these poor dudes are oppressed. And that women and girls like me don’t seem to exist.

      Well, fuck that. Do you think I’m going to be particularly sympathetic when you engage in the silencing and shaming that I’ve had to deal with all of my fucking life? Do you think it’s going to be helpful to continue to erase me and women and girls like me? Do you think that by centering the feelings of boys and men that it will actually help women and girls be/feel safer? ‘Cause I’ve gotta tell you, that shit already goes on all over the place and the only thing it does is entitle boys and men to do whatever and tells us bitches we have to put up with it.

      • Sam says:

        Sheelzebub,

        I’ve never posted here before. I was drawn to the topic because it rang familiar to me and because there seemed to be a lot of support for the idea that the only consideration, ever, is whether someone feels uncomfortable. There were other things expressed, but my experience drew me to what I encounter constantly, and that’s the concerns of people with disabilities being dismissed and them being mocked.

        As I made clear I have no problem with people with disabilities being held accountable. I have a problem with them being mocked or with their needs being dismissed. Even when they do transgress in some fashion, I still work with and advocate for the person who transgressed. There’s plenty of power advocating against “them”.

      • Sheelzebub says:

        I have a problem with them being mocked or with their needs being dismissed.

        Then kindly keep in mind that some of those people with disabilities who are being mocked, whose needs are being dismissed–are women and girls with disabilities who are harassed. And who are shamed for naming what is done to us, who are told we are being mean and vengeful in naming how someone is coming off, who are berated and shamed for being unfriendly and unkind when we set up boundaries, who are told we were asking for it when we take someone’s words as genuine and get hurt, who are sneered at for acting like victims for saying that these interactions stress us right the fuck out.

        You’re so worried about our needs being dismissed? Stop dismissing them. Because for all of your bullshit about how of course you think harassment is bad and you know that there are women and girls with these disabilities, you’ve been quite happy to lecture us and shame us for having the nerve to talk about what the fuck was done to us.

        You’ve made it clear whose needs count, and they sure as hell aren’t mine. And in that sense, you’re actually joining the people in power, who have no problem ignoring what is actually done to girls and women, especially girls and women with disabilities.

      • Sam says:

        I guess everyone’s needs can’t be acknowledged?

        You want to believe that my concern for a 13 year old boy with a disability who behaved inappropriately toward a 13 year old girl means that I have no regard for women. How does one necessarily relate to the other?

        About 45% of the people I work with (we do job search/placement/coaching) are women. I advocate for them every bit as vigorously as I advocate for the men we work with. I sincerely don’t care whether you believe that or not, because you seem to need for me to be a stock character from central casting calling women sluts while twirling my mustache.

      • Sheelzebub says:

        Coming from a dude who just got pissy at us for supposedly being “vengeful” in calling men who harass us creeps, I find your injured innocence to be quite rich.

        Oh, you’re defending a 13-year-old boy? From whom, exactly? The commenters here who showed him (now a grown man) sympathy? The people who commended him for showing the difference between someone with an autism spectrum disorder and a sexually harassing creep? The women here who said they were also on the spectrum or had disabilities reading social cues, but that they were harassed and were dismissed? The 13-year-old classmate he scared the shit out of? Oh, later you say of course you can’t tell her how to feel but wow, you sure to love to shame anyone for having the gall to name how someone’s coming off. That girl being freaked out was not somehow oppressing Ben, FFS. But shaming bullshit like the crap you’ve been doling out here was shoveled out to me and other girls and women like me, much to our detriment.

        You’re defending men and boys who are deemed unattractive? Lovely. ONE commenter went off on men and boys she thought was unattractive, and she got her ass handed to her multiple times. It’s odd–and by “odd” I mean, completely telling–how you ignore that and lecture us on how terrible we all are for being mean to unattractive men and boys. Don’t let the facts get in the way of your lecture.

        You’re being disingenous. You’re putting words into our mouths and trying to ascribe positions to us we haven’t taken. You’re engaging in shaming bullshit–heaven forbid anyone calls actions that creep them out creepy.

        And really, am I supposed to be impressed that 45% of the people you help are women? Here’s your cookie. I hope you don’t treat them to the same finger-wagging bullshit you’ve treated us to here if they go through something similar to what we’ve been through.

        You know what? You don’t actually live in my shoes. You have no fucking idea what it is like to cope with unwanted and scary attention when you cannot read social cues, are bad with social interactions, and have a misogynist culture that entitles boys and men to do whatever while dismissing and erasing you. So your lectures and your insistence that you’re really a nice guy because you help the disabled wimmenz as you lecture disabled/NNT women on harassment is fucking laughable.

        If you care so much about people like me, how about you do this: Shut the fuck up and listen.

  44. Fat Steve says:

    I think the reason this discussion is going around in circles is the word ‘creep’ perhaps seems like a permanent description, as opposed to someone who’s just being creepy at the moment. However, that’s clearly not the intention of the OP, as the title ‘how not to be a creep’ implies it’s something you can change.

    How to ‘not appear creepy’ is a totally different matter and if you’re not a creep, I wouldn’t put too much worry into whether or not you appear creepy, because you probably don’t…and vice versa.

    Nearly every group of acquaintances has one person that the others’ always refer to as ‘creepy.’ If you haven’t had this experience…it’s probably you.

  45. NBL says:

    A few people up the thread have mentioned the difference between someone seeming “creepy” for how they look vs how they act. Obviously, that’s very important, but with non-NT people it isn’t always clear-cut.

    For instance not making eye contact, slouching, “stimming” etc can cause someone to look “creepy” to a lot of people, but they are not social actions directed outward towards anyone else. Someone staring off into space may be mistaken for staring at someone else, etc.

    Obviously, being non-NT is not an excuse to harass or invade boundaries. Ben did that in 8th grade, and is on a long voyage of improving his social skills. At the same time, some behaviors are not directed at someone else at all, but are still seen as “creepy,” and at least in the short term (where short term can last for years) changing those things really is as impossible as changing your skin color. Folks in that boat aren’t entitled to great romantic lives (though I think we need to do much better with services than we are.) But they are entitled to occupy public spaces.

    • EG says:

      Someone staring off into space may be mistaken for staring at someone else

      No, not really. We all stare off blankly into space. That’s not some unusual non-neurotypical activity. That’s normal human behavior. And nobody calls some dude a creep for one misinterpreted stare. The first damn thing you do when you notice somebody staring, particularly if you’re not sure if they’re staring at you, is to move away. If they’re still staring at you, it’s not just off into space.

      When I was harassed a few years ago, a dude who gave me a creepy feeling was staring at me. I moved away. He kept staring. I left the room. When I looked up an hour or two later, there he was again, staring. One might even say, ogling. For the whole day, the only place I could go where I was sure he wouldn’t be staring was the women’s bathroom. At that point, I filed a harassment complaint. How do you think this works? A woman finds herself in a guy’s sightlines for 30 seconds and dials 911?

      It is not hard to distinguish between someone staring blankly into space and some asshole following you around staring at you.

      • A.W. says:

        “EG
        1.12.2013 at 8:59 pm | Permalink | Reply
        Someone staring off into space may be mistaken for staring at someone else

        No, not really. ”

        Severely disagree. I’ve low vision and I’m on the autism spectrum, and I look like I’m staring into space all the damned time. Please take note that I can’t – actually – see whoever it is that thinks I’m staring at them. In my experience the great majority of people can’t tell the difference between staring into space and staring at someone, and most people are rude enough to mention it to me, up to and including denying my visual issues when they accuse me of staring because (I can only assume) they’re entitled enough to think they’re worth staring at. I had that problem particularly during school, although it’s less now that I hardly leave the house.

        Notice I said ‘less’ – the last time someone accused me of staring was a neighbor a couple of weeks ago – the same neighbor that sees me constantly with my blind and visual services cane.

        So no, in my experience most people can’t tell.

      • EG says:

        Out of curiosity, is it women who confront you about “staring,” or men, or both?

      • A.W. says:

        Both. The most recent one was a guy.

      • Radiant Sophia says:

        Just my two cents worth…
        When zoning or seizing hardly anybody has ever said I might have problems (be non-neurotypical), they have almost always gone straight to creep.
        It is mostly men who get physically confrontational about it. (although my definition of physical confrontation includes actions like trying to knock whatever I’m holding out of my hands, or trying to push me over).

      • A.W. says:

        “Radiant Sophia
        1.13.2013 at 12:26 am | Permalink
        Just my two cents worth…
        When zoning or seizing hardly anybody has ever said I might have problems (be non-neurotypical), they have almost always gone straight to creep.
        It is mostly men who get physically confrontational about it. (although my definition of physical confrontation includes actions like trying to knock whatever I’m holding out of my hands, or trying to push me over).”

        The last guy followed me down the block with his friend, insisting that I was staring at him and that I really – didn’t – need my cane. Walked backwards the whole fucking time, talking at me. People don’t usually try and touch me though, as I don’t look, erm, ‘nice’.

      • EG says:

        That is some fucked-up shit, A.W. My sympathies.

      • Fat Steve says:

        Severely disagree. I’ve low vision and I’m on the autism spectrum, and I look like I’m staring into space all the damned time. Please take note that I can’t – actually – see whoever it is that thinks I’m staring at them. In my experience the great majority of people can’t tell the difference between staring into space and staring at someone, and most people are rude enough to mention it to me, up to and including denying my visual issues when they accuse me of staring because (I can only assume) they’re entitled enough to think they’re worth staring at. I had that problem particularly during school, although it’s less now that I hardly leave the house.

        Notice I said ‘less’ – the last time someone accused me of staring was a neighbor a couple of weeks ago – the same neighbor that sees me constantly with my blind and visual services cane.

        So no, in my experience most people can’t tell.

        Maybe you’re staring straight into someone’s eyes and not staring off into space. How would you know?

      • A.W. says:

        @FatSteve,

        Do you know what you’re doing? You’re argueing that harassment of disabled people is just fine so long as they think the autistic spectrum, nvld, – visually impaired – people are staring at them. Thus making us ‘creepy’. The readily identifiably visually impaired, no less.

        I -know- I get plenty of stares because that’s what abled people do to visually-recognizable disabled people and you seem a hell of a lot more concerned for the poor abled people who are choosing to, let’s use the most recent example, following me down the block with his friend talking shit.

        Knock it off, you’re being an ableist pain in the ass.

        -As for how I would know, no one else is getting harassed when their wandering eyes meet someone elses. What they think they see is an easy target for their bad day or their ego.

      • Fat Steve says:

        I -know- I get plenty of stares because that’s what abled people do to visually-recognizable disabled people and you seem a hell of a lot more concerned for the poor abled people who are choosing to, let’s use the most recent example, following me down the block with his friend talking shit.

        How do you know the people who are staring at you aren’t just staring out in to space? You’re the only one who knows when someone actually is staring at you? How does that work? Spidey sense?

        Your recent example does little more than totally disprove your point, surely the guy did not consider you a “visually-recognizable disabled’ if he did not believe you weren’t staring at him. He was treating you as if someone with 20/20 vision was staring at him.

      • A.W. says:

        @FatSteve,

        …Not sure at this point how to educate your deliberately ignorant ass. Someone else can explain what using a white cane means. Again. Go read up on disability issues, I’m done with you.

      • A.W. says:

        “How do you know the people who are staring at you aren’t just staring out in to space?”

        Because I can hear JUST FUCKING FINE.

      • Fat Steve says:

        “How do you know the people who are staring at you aren’t just staring out in to space?”

        Because I can hear JUST FUCKING FINE.

        You hear them staring? That makes as much sense as yelling at a blind person for looking at you.

      • tigtog says:

        A.W. has already said that these are people who are talking about ou and to ou, so it’s not that much of a stretch to presume that people talking about someone nearby are looking at them, particularly when they’re being rude/challenging/aggressive about it.

      • Alara Rogers says:

        I am probably Aspergers (never formally diagnosed, but it fits a lot of my behaviors.) I also have no vision problems whatsoever but I do stare emptily into space sometimes.

        One time a girl accused me of staring at her. I told her I was not, I was staring at the space that contained her head. This didn’t help matters.

        It is perfectly possible for one’s glassy-eyed, zoned-out stare to fall onto a space that contains a human being, and if that happens, that human being will assume they are being stared at. I know this because I have done this and gotten that result. If the girl had checked her belief that I was staring at her by moving, she would have seen that I did not track her, but would have continued to stare at the space she used to occupy. But she didn’t.

        Humans absolutely can misunderstand and think they are being stared at when they are not. However, there is also an easy way to tell the difference between “glassy zoned-out stare that is not actually at you, you’re just in the way” and “staring at you” – move. If the stare follows you, it’s on you.

        So yes, it’s possible for people, including girls and women, to misunderstand Aspie and other non-NT behavior as including “creepy stare” when it doesn’t. However, it’s also quite possible to check for that, and if the woman in question has, in fact, checked for that, then no one has any business telling her “How do you know he was staring at you? Maybe he was just staring into space,” if in fact she *moved* and his eyes followed her.

      • Fat Steve says:

        A.W. has already said that these are people who are talking about ou and to ou, so it’s not that much of a stretch to presume that people talking about someone nearby are looking at them, particularly when they’re being rude/challenging/aggressive about it.

        Right, but the whole premise of his original point was how horrible it is to presume that someone is staring at you unless you are 100% certain that they are.

      • SunlessNick says:

        Right, but the whole premise of his original point was how horrible it is to presume that someone is staring at you unless you are 100% certain that they are.

        And if they’re following him down the street, talking shit at him, I think that’s pretty 100%. But considering that you’ve already dismissed Radiant Sophia being attacked, I can only advise you to stop digging.

      • Right, but the whole premise of his original point was how horrible it is to presume that someone is staring at you unless you are 100% certain that they are.

        Steve, I’m not even blind, just myopic, and I know that’s not what AW was talking about. And as someone who’s hypersensitive to being stared at, particularly while in bed (abuse triggers ahoy), I can tell you that I’m sensitive enough to know when people are staring at me while I’m ASLEEP. So is my wife. I can literally stare her out of snuffling in her sleep. I find it totally plausible that AW can tell if they’re being stared at, whether or not they’re themselves capable of staring.

      • EG says:

        One time a girl accused me of staring at her. I told her I was not, I was staring at the space that contained her head. This didn’t help matters.

        No, I imagine not. If somebody said that to me, it would sound like a weaselly way of denying my experience. If they said “Oh, sorry–I didn’t mean to. I was just spacing out,” though, I’d apologize for my mistake, because we all do that sometimes.

        OK, I was mistaken. This is a thing that happens. I apologize.

        What I don’t believe though, is that it just so happens that every time a womann notices some dude ogling her intimidatingly, that guy just so happens to be on the spectrum, and just happens to be staring blankly in her direction. I don’t run into a lot of men who experience being stared at by women in this way. Are women on the spectrum just better at controlling their stares? Or could we maybe acknowledge that the majority of the time, men staring intimidatingly at women are doing so because they’re entitled harassing douchebags, and not because they’re on the spectrum. And that women have no reason to give staring men the benefit of the doubt. And if that redounds negatively on men with ASD, the people to blame for that are the men who stare and ogle threateningly, so that women do not have the luxury of making allowances.

        Nobody seems to have addressed this, so I’ll say it again: I was actually followed around and stared at by a harasser and still people on the internet tried to make the “what if he has an ASD and was just staring off into space” excuse. I have good reason not to assume good faith when it comes to that argument.

      • NBL says:

        The guy following you around isn’t just “creepy,” he’s stalking. Of course filing a harassment complaint is justified in that case! Is there anyone saying you shouldn’t? That wasn’t how I read the thread, nor have I come across such an attitude before. Did you catch flack from anyone for filing that complaint? If so, I’m sorry to hear it. We may just be talking past each other. That guy was a creep.

        My sense though is that a lot of “creepyness” conversations are not about incidents that rise to that level of threatening behavior. No, no one calls 911 cause someone else looked at them funny once. But people who don’t understand learning disabilities/autism/ other disorders, or who just don’t care, use “creep” to imply “threatening” when what they actually mean is “uncool” or “awkward.”

        I’ve been assaulted, physcially and sexually, due in part at least to having NLD. Granted, the latter was of the “girls shoved me around stole my stuff/ because they liiiikeeed me” variety. At the time my social awareness was weak enough that I literally couldn’t believe they didn’t just have it in for me. I’m much more aware now, but it was pretty upsetting.

        More upsetting, though, was the general message that people like me shouldn’t ever flirt or be romantically involved, that no one would do anything when people threw rocks at me or pushed me down stairs, and on and on, because I was seen as “weird” enough to be impossible to protect. Ben’s account describes in part how his coping with PDD included more or less deciding not to open up to anyone, and I think you’ll find that is pretty common among the LD community, particularly amongst young men (because they are seen as more threatening, than young women.) They shouldn’t have to do that. There *is* a right amongst single people to flirt and explore potential romantic relationships, especially when young. Everyone does it, mostly badly at first, as adolescents. LD people often take longer to get the hang of it. That’s ok.

        If anyone, NT or not, is invading someone else’s personal space, touching them inappropriately, following them, etc, they are threatening. Use creep as a synonym if you want. But if that is the word you decide on, don’t use “creep” to describe a guy who hits on someone clumsily. Don’t use it for someone whose affect is just weird, even if being around them makes you uncomfortable (as distinct from threatened, and yes, there are many people who can’t tell the difference.)

        There are plenty of people with autism/AS who I can’t stand being around due to their symptoms, and others I’m fine with and love hanging out with. But that doesn’t give me the right to imply that the latter group is dangerous, whether or not I involve the cops or another authority. Everyone has the right to be safe. No one has the right to make another section of the population disappear.

      • EG says:

        don’t use “creep” to describe a guy who hits on someone clumsily. Don’t use it for someone whose affect is just weird, even if being around them makes you uncomfortable (as distinct from threatened, and yes, there are many people who can’t tell the difference.)

        We haven’t been using it to describe those people. This entire thread is about men who violate women’s boundaries. And “uncomfortable” isn’t that distinct from “threatened” when you’ve been socialized to give men the benefit of the doubt and everybody is telling you not to overreact. “Uncomfortable” is often the first sign of “threatened.”

        There *is* a right amongst single people to flirt and explore potential romantic relationships, especially when young. Everyone does it, mostly badly at first, as adolescents. LD people often take longer to get the hang of it. That’s ok.

        It’s not OK if women are expected to give men of any type chance after chance after chance to hijack our attention and transgress our boundaries in the name of helping them “get the hang of it.”

      • EG says:

        And yeah, internet kibitzers did indeed suggest that perhaps the poor, misunderstood fellow had just been staring off into space and I had over-reacted.

      • Sheelzebub says:

        The guy following you around isn’t just “creepy,” he’s stalking. Of course filing a harassment complaint is justified in that case! Is there anyone saying you shouldn’t?

        Actually, I have NLD and yes, I’ve been told that I was “overreacting,” that I should be flattered, that it meant he liiiiiiiked me, etc.

        Believe it or not, women and girls exist on the spectrum, and there are those among us who have NLD (like me. Ahem.). We also get harassed and then berated and shamed for having the goddamn gall to say no, to be uncomfortable, or whatever.

        The erasure by you and others of women like me is just fucking breathtaking. And noted.

      • Lolagirl says:

        We haven’t been using it to describe those people. This entire thread is about men who violate women’s boundaries.

        I get where you’re coming from, EG, I do, but I also think there is a valid point to be made that the disabled/differently abled people out there do face a lot of prejudice and labeling as creepy or weird or whatever for no reason other than the fact that they are not neuro-typical.

        There is a 7yo boy in one of my kid’s class who is an Aspie, and there is already a small army of shitty, small-minded, ableist parents who call him weird and creepy with alarming frequency. They have also been agitating for him to get kicked out of the school and sent to the special ed school they have here in town (which is somehow perfectly legal here in IL, and I find horrible and discriminatory, but that’s another discussion for another time.) Aside from his Asperger’s behavior (none of which is actually disruptive) he is actually above average in intelligence and has done fairly well in a mainstream class. Of course, he is still a kid and learning the coping behaviors he needs to behave in socially acceptable ways with other people, but in the bigger picture I fear for his emotional well being in light of how some people already treat him simply because he isn’t “normal.”

        Granted it’s a bright line most of the time and a fine line at other times. But NT people can also be jerks and muddy that line considerably.

  46. Guls says:

    This clip arrived in my inbox yesterday from Upworthy.com and I think it provides a great five-minute lesson to anyone, guys especially, who struggle to recognise ‘creepy’ behaviour as existing on a continuum that can escalate from apparently innocent behaviour to violence – oftentimes very quickly.

    The subject matter is the Steubenville rape and the clip contains short extracts from the students’ offensive discussion of that, so a TRIGGER WARNING is appropriate:

    http://www.upworthy.com/a-horrifying-thing-happened-in-ohio-not-being-creepy-could-prevent-it-from-happe?c=upw1

    On a more general note, I think intuition is a powerful thing and if someone’s behaviour is ‘creeping you out’ then there’s probably good reason for that. Learning disabilities aside, I don’t think reading body language is hard at all – at least in the generalistic sense of whether someone is sad or happy, uncomfortable or relaxed etc – but it’s easy to ignore if you’ve not grown up relying in those kinds of cues in the interest of self-preservation, because you don’t need to. And that’s leaving aside the fact that some people – us guys, mostly – know only too well that broaching boundaries of civility makes others uncomfortable and take pleasure in it. Pulling us up on it is only right and fair.

  47. Angel H. says:

    Even though I’m quoting from someone else’s post, I decided to post it seperately since it’s more of a general comment.

    @Tom

    “that “talking to women” is some kind of basic human right”

    Actually, it is. Freedom of speech.

    I’ve been following this thread for a while now, and that pretty much sums up the issue that these deniers have.

    But lets get one thing clear: My time, my attention, my words – even my presence – are a *privilege*. Nobody has a right *to me*.

    I was thinking about this topic this morning. As I was leaving the homeless shelter, I noticed a man standing off to the side by the front door. One could describe his presence as “lurking”. Indeed, it took me a moment to recognize him as the same man who comes by every morning to pick up one of the other women. Even though he’s familiar he was still a little, well, “creepy”. So, I began to think about all of the people (mostly men) who have to Feministe arguing that “creepy” could be unfairly applied to many situations when there are only suspicions and no outwardly threatening behavior. That’s when I began to realize that even if that’s the case, no one has the right to my attention. Period. It doesn’t matter if I’m creeped out by your behavior or by your appearance, you are not entitled to my attention.

    Of course, we could go into all of the ways in which someone could be “creeped out” – a person’s race, build, sexuality, gender representation, assumed social status, etc. And I’m going to assume that we all know that that kind of thing is not cool. But if I have an issue (see that? “If I have an issue”?) with certain *types* of people who creep me out, than that’s *my issue*. That said, even if that’s the case, you are not entitled to my attention. Even if I was the most homophobic, ableist, transphobic, what-have-you person in the world and being around certain people made me “creeped out”, you are not entitled to my attention.

    The woman who clutches her purse when you walk by? Sure, she’s a bigot. But you are not entitled to her attention.

    The man in the $1000 suit who turns his nose up at you? Sure, he’s an asshole. But you are not entitled to his attention.

    HOWEVER…

    Those are not the types of people that are being discussed. The people who are being discussed are the ones who behave in a way that some people might consider threatening. Whether the behavior or the intent behind it is meant to be threatening is irrevelent because you are not entitled to my attention.

    • Sheelzebub says:

      THIS. THANK YOU. ALL OF THIS.

    • Angel, that’s bloody brilliant. Thank you.

    • EG says:

      Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    • Radiant Sophia says:

      I am, however, entitled to you NOT harassing me, even if you think I’m creepy.

      • Sheelzebub says:

        Angel never said she or anyone else was entitled to harass you. If anything, I’ve seen a lot of apologia for harassers using all kinds of smokescreens as long as the targets are women. And being a woman with NLD, I’m fucking sick of being erased when it comes to that.

      • Angel H. says:

        You’re absolutely right. It has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with what I just said but yeah, you’re absolutely right.

      • Angel H. says:

        That was “absolutely” meant for Radiant Sophia, by the way.

        …”Absolutely”. ^_^

      • Sheelzebub says:

        I really didn’t mean for this to come off as going after you, RS. I’m just. . .beyond frustrated with some of the dudes on this thread who have refused to show a shred of empathy for any woman or girl who isn’t NT and who’s been dealing with guys who feel entitled to our bodies, time, and space.

        Naming what I’ve gone through is now “vengeful” yet it’s not erasing at all for someone to go on about advocating for the disabled while ignoring women and girls like me. And the assumption that people take this stuff seriously–“Oh of course that’s harassment, really, would anyone tell you differently?” Um, YES. Actually, they have. Not being good with social cues, and being kind of known for that as a kid, basically got me told that I didn’t know what I was talking about, I was being dramatic, I lacked empathy for a poor guy who didn’t know any better (but heaven forbid anyone showed me any empathy), that he liiiiiiked me and that was how he showed it so I should be flattered, that he was just lonely, that I needed to teach him. . .ugh.

        And I’m seeing a lot of that shit here, all over this thread.

      • Radiant Sophia says:

        Exactly.
        And yes, most of the harassment I’ve experienced because of NNT behavior has been at the hands of men.

    • TomSims says:

      But lets get one thing clear: My time, my attention, my words – even my presence – are a *privilege*. Nobody has a right *to me*.

      I was thinking about this topic this morning. As I was leaving the homeless shelter, I noticed a man standing off to the side by the front door. One could describe his presence as “lurking”. Indeed, it took me a moment to recognize him as the same man who comes by every morning to pick up one of the other women. Even though he’s familiar he was still a little, well, “creepy”. So, I began to think about all of the people (mostly men) who have to Feministe arguing that “creepy” could be unfairly applied to many situations when there are only suspicions and no outwardly threatening behavior. That’s when I began to realize that even if that’s the case, no one has the right to my attention. Period. It doesn’t matter if I’m creeped out by your behavior or by your appearance, you are not entitled to my attention.”

      Absolutely agree 100%

  48. Man says:

    I strongly disagree with a lot of the posts here. First of all, there’s a huge difference between how “creep” is used in society and how it’s used in this article. This article asserts that men shouldn’t be offended by the use of the word, because people who stalk and harass women deserve to be called creeps. In that I agree, it is an appropriate word to use in such a context. But creep gets thrown about by women for a lot of reasons, more so than the one defined in the article. It gets used for men that are socially awkward but never harass anyone, it gets used for men that are unattractive and hit on a woman in a benign way, when a more attractive man who does the exact same thing is not labeled a creep (ie: “This creep tried to talk to me in the bar, it was so disgusting!”). Men have every right to get upset and protest the “creep” label in these contexts.
    I also strongly disagree with the women here who are claiming that men should always be able to pick up on non-verbal cues that the woman is not interested, and if they don’t that man is a creep, and that women should never have to verbally say they are not interested. You say that men should just “be able” to determine the non-verbal cues because it’s basic human decency. That’s wrong. Non-verbal communication is not an easy skill to master for many people, regardless of whether they are “on the spectrum” or not. While there is overlap, non-verbal cues are unique to each person, and it is not “basic” for someone to pick up on and completely understand the feelings of a person they just met and are hitting on solely through non-verbal cues. Moreover, non-verbal cues become even more complicated when it comes to the ritual of hitting on someone. Many, many men are socially isolated when growing up. Maybe they were bullied by men and/or women in their class, maybe they are inherently shy and very nervous talking to girls. Their understanding of the dynamics of hitting on someone is thus influenced by erroneous sources (as opposed to real life encounters) like the media, rumor, and communities like PUA, all of which can lead to inaccurate thoughts, tendencies, and generalizations about the female gender. This is all sprinkled with a whole lot of loneliness and yearning for female companionship and/or sex.
    Well guess what, when these men try to hit on a girl, they often don’t know what they’re doing. But it seems the response of the posters here is to ignore all of the above, and just angrily shout out “well they should all have basic human decency and know that I’m not interested even if I don’t say anything!” No, that’s absolutely ridiculous. Communication is the key to changing things both at the individual level and as a society. I think it is IRRESPONSIBLE to refuse to verbalize your lack of interest, and then go shaming all those men as creeps. I mean, what’s the point of this website then? You say women shouldn’t have to be responsible for verbally telling men they’re not interested, but then the only alternative is “men should just know.” What kind of a pointless statement is that?
    The only reasonable argument I’ve heard is that safety comes first before educating anyone who is bothering you, because some men will respond to rejection with threats or insults. First off, any man who responds to a polite rejection with anger, cursing, and threats is a total scumbag and I apologize on behalf of my gender for their existence. The fact that men can act like that speaks to a serious problem that feminist sites have every right to abhor and try to change. It’s a reason I believe women should carry some kind of defense like pepper spray. But I’m confused because, is it really any more safe to not say anything?

    As to the last post above me, the one that says “no one is entitled to my attention…” This is absolutely nuts. People have the right to glance at you. People have the right to stand in the same general area as you. If they grab your attention despite them not doing a single aggressive thing, that’s YOUR problem, not his. YOU ARE THE ONE IN CONTROL OF YOUR ATTENTION. And it is absolutely despicable to call him a creep. You’re the creep, if anyone innocent in your general vicinity is a target of your subjective and illogical judgments and fear.

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