A post for men about creepy men



I wrote a post a while back about how some people are very good at getting away with doing intentionally creepy things by passing themselves off as just ~awkward~.

Recently, I noticed a particular pattern that plays out. While creeps can be any gender, there’s a gendered pattern by which creepy men get other men to help them be creepy:

  • A guy runs over the boundaries of women constantly
  • He makes them very uncomfortable and creeped out
  • But he doesn’t do that to guys, and
  • He doesn’t talk to guys about it in an unambiguous way, and
  • When he does it in front of guys, he finds a way to make it look deniable
  • And then some women complain to a man, maybe even a man in charge who is supposed to be responsible for preventing abuse in a space
  • and he has no idea what they are talking about, since he’s never the target or witness
  • And he’s had a lot of pleasant interactions with that guy
  • So he sympathizes with him, and thinks he must mean well but be have trouble with social skills
  • And then takes no action to get him to stop or to protect women
  • And so the group stays a place that is safe for predatory men, but not for the women they target

For example:

  • Mary, Jill, and Susan: Bill, Bob’s been making all of us really uncomfortable. He’s been sitting way too close, making innuendo after everything we say, and making excuses to touch us.
  • Bill: Wow, I’m surprised to hear that. Bob’s a nice guy, but he’s a little awkward. I’m sure he doesn’t mean anything by it. I’m not comfortable accusing him of something so serious from my position of authority.

What went wrong here?

  • Bill assumed that, if Bob was actually doing something wrong, he would have noticed.
  • Bill didn’t think he needed to listen to the women who were telling him about Bob’s creepy actions. He didn’t take seriously the possibility that they were right. 
  • Bill assumed that women who were uncomfortable with Bob must be at fault; that they must be judging him too harshly or not understanding his awkwardness
  • Bill told women that he didn’t think that several women complaining about a guy was sufficient reason to think something was wrong
  • Bill assumed that innocently awkward men should not be confronted about inadvertantly creepy things they do, but rather women should shut up and let them be creepy

A rule of thumb for men:

  • If several women come to you saying that a man is being creepy towards them, assume that they are seeing something you aren’t
  • Listen to them about what they tell you
  • If you like the guy and have no idea what they’re talking about, that means that what he is doing is *not* innocent awkwardness.
  • If it was innocent awkwardness, he wouldn’t know how to hide it from other men
  • Men who are actually just awkward and bad at understanding boundaries also make *other men* uncomfortable
  • If a man is only making women uncomfortable but not men, that probably means he’s doing it on purpose
  • Take that possibility seriously, and listen to what women tell you about men

tl;dr If you are a man, other men in your circle who are nice to you are creepy towards women. Don’t assume that if something was wrong that you would have noticed; creepy men are good at finding the lines of what other men will tolerate. Listen to women. They know better than you do whether a man is being creepy and threatening towards women; if they think something is wrong, listen and find out why. Don’t give predatory dudes who are nice to you cover to keep hurting women.

safer666 said:

It applies if you flip the genders too. Women undeniably have it worse, but they can be targetted by predatory women as well as men. If anyone tells you someone is being creepy and threatening, listen and find out why.

realsocialskills said:

I definitely agree that creepiness needs to be taken seriously regardless of gender. (And I also agree with you that this does not go without saying).

There are different forms of creepiness. And most of them are gendered to some extent or another. The pattern I described in this post is about a way that creepy men, specifically, tend to use male solidarity to get away with hurting women — and reasons that this may not be obvious to other men. That dynamic exists and it’s usually gendered. It’s also not the only kind of creepiness.

There are other patterns too. Some of which are gendered in different ways. For instance, here’s a post I made about Nice Lady Therapists who treat clients inappropriately. That kind of thing is usually much easier for women to get away with. (It’s also much easier for mothers than fathers to get away with posting inappropriately personal things about their disabled children on the Internet.)

tl;dr Creepiness always needs to be taken seriously, regardless of gender. Barriers to taking creepiness sufficiently seriously tend to follow gendered patterns. It’s important to talk about those gendered patterns, and also to acknowledge that there are exceptions.




If people post selfies, is it considered a compliment to comment that they are cute/pretty/”nice hair” ect.? Or is it considered invasive?
realsocialskills said:
I’m not 100% sure about this. I also find the boundaries confusing, and it’s a reason I rarely comment on selfies. I think it might be one of those things where there are a lot of preferences and everyone thinks that their preference is a widely understood rule.
That said, there are a few clear rules:
Don’t reblog selfies from a personal blog to a public blog without explicit permission. For instance:
  • If a fat person posts a selfie to their personal tumblr, it’s not ok to reblog it to a body positive tumblr without permission
  • Wanting to show their picture to their followers does *not* mean that they want their picture being used to illustrate a point to hundreds or thousands of other people who don’t follow them

Do not reblog from someone’s personal tumblr to a tumblr that has a lot of sexually explicit material on it, even if it is your personal tumblr

  • If you do that, it sends the message to the person you reblogged from that you’re thinking of their selfie as porn
  • That’s a creepy and invasive sex act
  • Do not do that
  • If you’re not sure whether your account counts as sexually explicit for this purpose, err very strongly on the side of assuming it does

If your primary account is a sexually explicit tumblr, or would appear to be one to someone glancing at your name and avatar, do not like or comment on selfies. (For the same reasons it’s not ok to reblog selfies to a sexually explicit tumblr).

If your personal tumblr is not sexually explicit, the rules are more complicated and I’m not sure how well I understand them.

Some things I think are true:

In a mutual follow (you follow them and they follow you, and your tumblr):

  • It’s probably ok to like selfies
  • It’s probably ok to comment on selfies
  • It’s probably *not* ok to make sexualized comments on someone’s selfies unless they have indicated that this would be ok (Eg: it’s ok to tell someone their hair is nice, it’s not ok to tell them sexual things you would like to do involving their hair)
  • It’s almost never ok to say critical things about selfies
  • (Unless someone is, say, soliciting feedback about their makeup. Then it’s ok to comment, but don’t be mean or joke mean)
  • It may or may not be ok to reblog. Different people have different preferences. When in doubt, ask.
  • If they ask you to stop, apologize and stop (even if they’re not nice about it)

If they’re not following you:

  • It’s probably ok to like
  • It’s probably not ok to reblog 
  • It may or may not be to comment
  • If they ask you to stop, apologize and stop (even if they’re not nice about it)

A lot of people don’t like it if you comment on/like/reblog old selfies:

  • If someone’s selfies aren’t within a few pages of their first page, you probably should leave them alone
  • Unless they’re linked from their first page (eg: in a link inviting you to look at their #me tag)
  • The reason people don’t like this is that it gives the impression that you’ve gone through their whole archive looking for selfies, and that can feel invasive

Misc other concerns:

  • If someone’s posting injury pictures, they may not want you complimenting their appearance
  • Particularly if they are abuse injury pictures
  • But they’re probably not looking for you to tell them they look horrible either
  • Follow their lead on this
  • If someone is being self-denigrating, don’t be condescending in your reply. (Eg; if someone posts that they feel ugly, don’t say something like: “You’re beautiful! You should love yourself more!”) It can be ok to reply with a compliment, but not a condescending compliment
  • Look at the tags. They often tell you what kind of response someone does and does not welcome.

I’m not 100% sure of any of this, but this is as far as I’ve figured it out. What do y’all think?

iguanafish said:

i think it’s definitely a case by case (or rather person by person) scenario, and this post does a really good job of listing many of the potential scenarios.

For example, for myself:

I find a busy dash very overwhelming, so not following someone is not necessarily an indicator that I don’t feel friendly toward or want to know them. Therefore it’s usually okay for longtime followers—especially if we’ve spoken before and i’m familiar with them—to comment on my selfies. 

Likes are ok from pretty much any follower. Non-followers would be a little weird. Going through backlogs would be very weird.

Reblogs are ok from close friends and most mutual follows.

Etc. etc. etc. 

Basically when in doubt ask.

scherbensalat said:

the responses I dislike are:

  • reblogs from people I have never spoken to/don’t follow back
  • especially reblogs from men who reblog other people’s selfies a lot (like that seems to be some kind of ‘my kink is other people’s selfies’ thing to me), especially if it’s men reblogging selfies from seemingly rly young appearing girls (lolita complex?)
  • likes & reblogs from people who have sexual urls/post pornographic content
  • comments that make the person who commented look bad (“I wish I was as good looking as you”, “why can’t I be xxx like you”, “If I had your haircolour I’d be so much more confident”)


To the creepy guy who reblogged the post about creepy guys



Someone reblogged my post About Creepy Guys with a comment along the lines of:

“LOL. I guess there’s no safe place for men to flirt with women anymore, unless they’re attractive guys.”

Quote over.

That’s a creepy comment.

Here’s why…

fuzzynecromancer said:

I’m a guy who worries a lot that I might be creeping women out.

I deal with this worry by thinking about the implications of my actions, giving space for women to back out gracefully, and, when I’m uncertain whether it’s okay or not, erring on the side of caution by doing nothing.

This is the correct way to deal with the fear of being gross and revolting. Dealing with it by putting the onus on women to NOT feel uncomfortable, and by acting that you’re somehow a victim of oppression of you give women the heebie jeebies and they wonder about how they can escape the situation without facing a police officer later claiming they were “asking for it”, that is the WRONG way.

Hear that, fellow dudes and guys?

realsocialskills said:

Exactly. And also - if you’re worried that you might be creeping women (or others) out, feel free to send asks. I welcome questions like that; I really want to help people figure out how to treat others well.

About creepy guys



A lot of men (and probably other genders, but mostly men) like to creepily hit on people (usually women) in contexts in which it’s not ok to hit on people. (Eg: on the subway). 

Girls start experiencing this before they’re considered old enough for sex ed.

Creepy men regularly do this in a way that’s slightly deniable.

Like sitting way too close. Or asking an almost innocuous thing. And it feels really horrible to be on the receiving end, but it can be hard to put your finger on why. And if you object, the man who started it will try as hard as he can to say you’re being unreasonable. Often, bystanders or people you tell afterwards will empathically agree and tell you he was just being friendly and that didn’t have to be rude.

This is not your fault. It’s not your fault that creepy guys are awful to you, and it’s not your fault that people punish you for refusing to cooperate with their creepy actions.

There is usually no polite way to object. Because they manipulate the rules of politeness so that you have to be rude to say no.

It’s ok to be rude in that situation.

Being in that situation doesn’t mean you’re a rude inconsiderate person. It means you’re asserting an important boundary in the only available way.

Most of these guys know exactly what they are doing. It’s not innocent awkwardness. It’s a different thing. It’s doing something they know they can probably get away with denying that they’ve done.

(People do sometimes do this kind of thing by mistake, too. But it’s not ok then either. And most people who do this, know damn well what they’re doing.)

justdrinkyourtea said:

I know I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. When I was in high school, a chaperone for a field trip asked me what underwear I was wearing. Middle aged men asked me to get dinner when I was canvassing for political candidates. We need to tell young women that this shit isn’t okay.

realsocialskills said:

Reblogging for the concrete example. This is one of the kinds of things I am talking about. It’s really important for girls (and boys, but especially girls since they are the main targets) to learn how to see this creepy aggression for what it is. 

Girls: you’re not imagining it, and you are not alone. It’s not ok, and it’s not your fault.

an inadvertantly creepy thing a lot of autistic people do

Sometimes autistic people want to hang out with a group of people and can’t tell if it’s ok to talk to them or not.

And then, they try to watch for a while to try and pick up on signs that interaction would be welcome.

This is generally a bad idea. The problem is that people find it uncomfortable to be watched by people who aren’t explaining their presence. If they’re not ok with you joining them, they’re probably not ok with you watching them, either.

It’s better to just go up to people and ask if it’s ok to join them. Watching first for more than a couple of seconds actually makes things worse.

Don't trick people into talking to you

If you say hurtful things to someone on the Internet and hurt them enough that they block you, try and fail to gain their forgiveness because they barely know you and have problems with toxic people, and then adopt a new username, start following them again and interact with them again without hurting them, are you being dishonest and a bad person?
realsocialskills said:
I think it’s better not to frame this as a way of deciding what kind of person you are. The point isn’t to figure out whether this makes you a bad/dishonest person. The point is to figure out whether it’s a bad thing to do.
In this case, I do think it’s bad to make a new persona to interact with someone who has blocked you. It’s not ok to trick someone into interacting with you against their will.
It’s also not ok to decide that someone you hurt isn’t forgiving you because “they barely know you and have problems with toxic people” and that this means that it’s somehow ok for you to ignore their decision not to forgive you. That’s not your decision to make.
Neither being sorry, nor meaning well, nor apologizing, nor being a good person mean that you are entitled to have someone forgive you and agree to continue a relationship. 
People have the right say no to forms of interaction that you want with them, even if their reasons are bad or based on misconceptions about you.
You also don’t know if you’re hurting them in your new persona. The fact that they haven’t blocked you in the new persona doesn’t mean that everything is ok. It just means that they haven’t blocked you. The one thing you do know is that they’re not interacting with you willingly and that you’re tricking them into doing something they don’t want to do.
The internet is full of people willing to interact with you. Leave the people who aren’t willing alone.

Autistics, cluelessly awkward people, and jerks

Some people are socially awkward because they don’t know the rules. Those people can learn the rules and not be awkward anymore. That is a different problem than autism.

Being autistic means that, no matter how much you understand, you will not be able to follow all of the rules. There will be some rules you won’t ever be physically capable of following. And some rules you will be capable of following, but with a heavy cost not faced by nonautistic people. And sometimes your abilities will fluctuate. That is a different problem than being awkward out of ignorance.

It’s also a different problem than being a jerk. Some people are jerks who don’t much care about being good to others. This is a different problem than not knowing the rules, and it’s a different problem than being physically incapable of following the rules.

Some people are kind of unintentional jerks because they don’t understand much about *how* to be good to others. This is a different problem from not caring about others. It’s also a different problem from not understanding the rules, or being unable to follow the rules. Treating people well is a learned set of skills. It’s not the same as social conformity or appearing normal.

Autistic people can be considerate of others. Autistic people can treat others well. This does not depend on following all of the rules all of the time. Following the rules is one tool people can use to be considerate of others. It is not the only tool.

Being autistic means that being considerate of other people will look different for you than most other people. It doesn’t mean that your neurology dooms you to be a jerk. It just means that you have to learn to treat others well in a way that works with rather than against who you are.