ONTD Political

Why Guys Really Hate Being Called ‘Creepy’

8:43 pm - 04/23/2012


The newest cause célèbre for men's right activists (MRAs) has nothing to do with divorce law, "false rape allegations", or the dangers of "sperm-stealing" feminists. It's about the C-word. No, not the ladybusiness one. We're talking about "creep."

As Jessica Wakeman discovered last week when she wrote about a first date gone wrong, the MRAs are up in arms about "creep-shaming." "The ability to label men as ‘creepy' is just one privilege that women enjoy, and a constant source of fear of ostracizing that all men must fear in our society," says one apparently anguished man on Reddit. Creep is "the worst casual insult that can be tossed at a guy" claims Jeremy Paul Gordon at the Hairpin. "Douchebag," "asshole," and "pussy" can't compare, Gordon insists, largely because the charge of "creep" is so much more difficult to disprove. These guys argue that "creep" has a greater power to wound than any other word, and yet it's tossed around with cavalier impunity by cruel women who ought to know better. Thus the campaign (particularly big on Tumblr, apparently) to bring awareness to the ongoing tragedy of creep-shaming.


The word creep has a long history, first as a verb and only much later as a noun. Dickens gets credit for first using "the creeps" in its modern sense in 1849, but the use of the word to refer to someone disgusting or frightening is, surprisingly, less than 100 years old. (Interestingly, while the term "creeper" today is a hipper synonym for a creepy person, its use as a noun is actually much older, dating to the 17th century, when it referred to a stealthy thief.) As an adjective, it shows up regularly in headlines here on Jezebel, most recently in coverage of the dating-spreadsheet finance guy.

Wakeman isn't the only female writer to wrestle with the politics of creep-shaming. Clarisse Thorn has suggested that the use of the word "demonizes men who are honest about their sexual needs," while Amanda Marcotte argues that "creepy" is a "useful, commonly understood term for a set of behaviors that absolutely are a problem." At the Good Men Project, Lu Fong noted that while in her mind, "the weight of the word was never heavier than any other insult I'd shoot back at the boys," she accepted that men found it exponentially more hurtful.

One reason men despise the word "creep" so much more than any other insult is that it isn't rooted in misogyny. Jeremy Paul Gordon specifically compared the term to "pussy," "douchebag," and "asshole." The first two words, when directed at a man, insult him by comparing him either to a vagina or a device used to clean one; their pejorative power lies in the way they feminize the guy who gets called one of these names. "Asshole," as the historian Rictor Norton has suggested, is rooted in a derogatory term for men who allowed themselves to be anally fucked. A man who gets penetrated behaves like a woman and is labeled as feminine — a fate that we raise small American boys to fear more than almost anything else. (This is why, of course, words like "bitch" or "pussy" when used by one man to another, are so much more likelier to lead to blows than "dick" or "prick." Men are unlikely to be enraged by references to their own anatomy, only to a woman's.)

So if fear of the feminine is what gives male insults their power, why then is "creep" worse than "pussy?" The answer is that creep is the only insult that instantly centers women's perceptions. To call a man a "pussy" is to make a comment about how his behavior appears; to call him "creepy" is to name how he makes women feel. If a man wants to disprove that he's a "pussy," all he has to do is act with sufficient macho swagger or courage to make the insult obviously inappropriate. But trying to disprove "creepy" involves trying to talk a woman out of an instinctual response to a potential threat, a much more difficult thing to do. Most men recognize (or eventually learn) that the harder they try to deny their creepiness, the creepier they appear.

At the heart of the "anti-creep shaming campaign" is a concerted effort to discourage women from relying on their instincts to protect themselves from harm. Laying aside its likely etymology, calling a dude an "asshole" is a way of labeling him a jerk. Plenty of people can be jerks without being predatory. On the other hand, calling a dude "creepy" labels him as a potential threat; a creep may not be imminently violent, but there's almost always a sense that he shows consistent disregard for a woman's physical or psychological space. This is why, as Wakeman wrote, "it's a really freaking dangerous idea to twist a woman's open, honest communication about her boundaries/expectations into ‘creep shaming' that victimizes men."

Though the word may be occasionally used unfairly (for example, to describe a physically unattractive guy's genuinely respectful attempt at striking up a conversation), "creepy" serves a vital function. No other word is as effective as describing when a man has crossed a woman's boundary; no other word forces a man to reflect on how his behavior makes other people feel. A guy can disprove accusations of being weak by displaying strength (often in foolish ways.) But a guy can only disprove the charge of creepiness by fundamentally altering his behavior to be more genuinely respectful of women.

This, of course, is why some guys hate the word so much; it forces men to reflect carefully about how they make women feel. No wonder then that so many guys are campaigning against "creep-shaming." After all, the sooner the term becomes socially unacceptable, the sooner men can get back to not having to think about women's boundaries


Source: Jezebel
omg, no men's right's tag? what a tragedy.
I really hate when people complain about being called creepy. Spend your time thinking about what you did that made that person uncomfortable instead of making it all about you, jfc.

running_jumping 24th-Apr-2012 02:27 am (UTC)
I'm new to this community. That being said, I have an opinion.

I feel like a lot of women use the term 'creepy' to describe someone who is attracted to them that they don't like. Kind of like how a man might describe a woman who is attracted to him as 'crazy' because he isn't interested. Real creeps exist, but the term is over-used.
violetrose 24th-Apr-2012 02:31 am (UTC)
Are you a guy?
running_jumping 24th-Apr-2012 02:35 am (UTC)
Nope...but I do see why you'd ask. I've been dating for 15 years, though.
milleniumrex 24th-Apr-2012 02:31 am (UTC)
Apropos of nothing, is that a Hyrax? :DDDDD
running_jumping 24th-Apr-2012 02:36 am (UTC)
Newp. Meerkat.
castalianspring 24th-Apr-2012 02:39 am (UTC)


Not off to a great start here, are you.
running_jumping 24th-Apr-2012 02:44 am (UTC)
You'll love me eventually.
vanishingbee 24th-Apr-2012 02:40 am (UTC)
So is absolutely every insult, though, lbr.
running_jumping 24th-Apr-2012 02:47 am (UTC)
Maybe...I'm surprised more people don't agree with me about 'creepy'though, because I feel like it's really common. But then, I live in southern california, and it might be a thing here.
agatharuncible 24th-Apr-2012 02:46 am (UTC)
kaowolfie 24th-Apr-2012 02:50 am (UTC)
Considering how many dudes don't *care* if a woman likes them if they've got the hots for her, that seems like a perfectly reasonable use of the term creep. These guys think that their desires outweigh that of any woman's, and we should be honored to receive their attention instead of feeling stuff on a spectrum of uncomfortable to unsafe.

The only reason dudes are pissed off about being called creepy is that it's part of calling them on their bad behavior, and the world's built so a man almost never has to examine and correct his own bad behavior. It's always left to other people, if it ever happens at all.

Plus, seriously, there's a huge history of using supposed or actual illness, especially mental illness, to control women. It's been used to drug us, imprison us, rape us, and kill us. Women as a group lack the power to institutionally oppress men like that, and I don't appreciate your suggestion that creepy is in the same neighborhood of fuckery as a pejorative like 'crazy' or 'hysterical'. The two terms are NOT equivalent.
running_jumping 24th-Apr-2012 03:03 am (UTC)
They are both terms that I see misapplied. Yes. It's worse to be creepy than crazy, but sucks to be called either if you're not. Plenty of men care what women think of them, and no, it's not a reasonable use of the word 'creep' if everything you know about the dude is that he's seems attracted to you.
jamethiel_bane 24th-Apr-2012 02:54 am (UTC)
Wow. Judging the women who label behaviour that is problematic as over-reacting, or "over-using" the term is inherently misogynistic. Don't go there.

Every woman (and person) has the right to set her own boundaries about sexual/overly personal behaviour towards her. You don't get to judge her boundaries. Men do not have an innate right to express attraction. No-one does.
running_jumping 24th-Apr-2012 03:10 am (UTC)
The world will be peopled very slowly that way.

I joke, but still, I don't think it's reasonable to encourage women or men limitless freedom in labeling others however they feel. I mean, obviously they can, but it isn't really fair.

And explain to me how someone is supposed to know if they have the right to express attraction in any given scenario/?
umi_mikazuki 24th-Apr-2012 03:25 am (UTC)
This.

Also, calling a guy creepy isn't going to ruin his life forever, so he can get the fuck over it and learn to respect women's boundaries. I honestly don't care about hurting his delicate feelings when he's doing or saying things that make me feel uncomfortable.
ohmiya_sg 24th-Apr-2012 03:54 am (UTC)
A+ comment
spiffynamehere 24th-Apr-2012 03:09 am (UTC)
No, it is not the same.

1. Even if it is because the woman does not like the man, it is usually for a reason. Like, for example, that he comes on too strong and trips off her self-protection instincts, or doesn't seem to respect her boundaries, etc. Which is a fully legitimate use of the word creep.

2. Calling a woman 'crazy' has a lot of ableist and misogynist background, because women have often been dismissed (historically and currently) as being ~*~crazy~*~ because omg so emotional!! unreliable!! whatever!! So no, not the same at all.
bluebombardier 24th-Apr-2012 03:11 am (UTC)
My reasons for calling a man a creep are mine. You don't get to police my language, and I don't have to explain myself. You don't know every woman's history with men, so you don't get to make the call that "creep" is being mis- or over-used by women. If a woman is sensitive to attention, that's her prerogative. If a man repeatedly misses cues from a disinterested woman, intentionally or not, he is going to come off as creepy, he is going to be called a creep, and he should GTFO before I kick him in the nuts, because I will be done playing.
brookiki 24th-Apr-2012 03:11 am (UTC)
I'm new to this community. That being said, I have an opinion.

Lurk more and get better opinions.
recorded Q for you24th-Apr-2012 03:40 am (UTC)
Why do you think being called a creep is incredibly offensive to men, yet not to a woman?

I think it's safe to say the majority of women wouldn't be that offended by being called creepy, that's not to say they wouldn't examine their behaviour that got them called creepy though.

edit:
I'm sure you're aware that people will often relay you a bias story. There is a elementary manipulation technique that the 'anti-creep-shaming' movement represents: deflecting/redirecting the argument.
"omg you called me a creep because you're uncomfortable, so I'm going to try to make a bigger issue out of my hurt feelings so that I don't have to change my behavior."

Edited at 2012-04-24 05:12 am (UTC)
85redberries 24th-Apr-2012 06:23 am (UTC)
You're absolutely infuriating because you're dismissive. You reply as if what people are telling you here is just some part of a fun debate and not a matter of everyday life and equality for women. And you keep ignoring the comments that tell you you have no right to tell women they can't think someone is creepy. It is not on you to determine how every woman who interacts with your friends should feel and police their feelings if you disapprove of their assessments.

Edited at 2012-04-24 06:27 am (UTC)
lakomka87 24th-Apr-2012 07:56 am (UTC)
for what it's worth, I see what you mean, but it still not that big of a deal, because these girls would be labeled prudes, bitches, etc for not falling for any guy who talks to them
bestdaywelived 24th-Apr-2012 02:43 pm (UTC)
"He's not creepy, he just has trouble talking to girls!"
"He's not trying to weird you out, he just really likes you!"
"Maybe if you were more open to him, he wouldn't seem so strange."


All of these things were said about the fucking nutjob who used to follow my old roommate around campus and peek in our windows.
fornikate 25th-Apr-2012 07:57 pm (UTC)
o well
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