creepy guys

When people with legitimate grievances express them in ableist ways

Content note: This post is about effective ways to contradict ableist statements. It talks about contexts in which doing so might not be a good idea. It also talks about people using social justice language in mean and unjustified ways. Proceed with caution.

Anonymous said to :

Sometimes people mess up and people get mad about it, they yell about it but also gross things- like this guy is a creep, and they say gross stuff, like “he lives in his parents’ basement” or calling them autistic in a bad way.

A lot of the time, if you bring up how that’s wrong, they accuse you of defending them and their bad actions. What do you do when people are being mean about stuff when mad at people who have done awful things and they think youre defending them if you say anything?

realsocialskills said:


That gets complicated.


Sometimes I think it’s a matter of picking the right time. Like, if someone just got hit on by a creep in a threatening way and they’re freaking out, it’s probably not the best time to explain to them that some of the way they’re thinking about creepiness is ableist. When someone is freaking out in the immediate aftermath of an incident. You don’t have to (and shouldn’t) validate the ableist aspects of what they’re saying, but it’s probably not a good time to actively contradict it either.  When people are actively freaking out, all they are likely to hear is support or contradiction.


After the point where they’re so afraid that the most important thing is supporting them passes, it’s ok and good to contradict ableism. It’s ok to do this even if they’re mad and ranting or upset. Being upset is not always an emergency.


I think the best way to contradict it is to make it explicit that you agree that the guy is creepy and unacceptable, and that what you’re objecting to is the comparison, for instance:

  • “I’m autistic and I don’t appreciate being compared to creeps like that guy.”
  • “I have a lot of autistic friends, and it really hurts them when everyone compares them to creeps like that.”
  • “Hey, can we not conflate poor and creepy? That just lets rich charismatic creepy dudes off the hook.”
  • “I’m not comfortable with the direction this is taking - it seems like we’re starting to mock guys for being disabled or poor instead of talking about how creepy they’re being. Let’s talk about creepiness?”
  • “Autism really isn’t the issue here; it’s the creepy and awful things that guy does.”

Another factor: People will probably get mad at you. No matter how well you phrase this, no matter how considerate and respectful you are, people you contradict will probably get mad at you at least some of the time. People don’t like to be told that they’re doing things wrong, and they especially don’t like to be told that they’re wronging someone they’re justified in complaining about. If you contradict people who are complaining about real injustice, they’re likely to get mad at you even if what you are saying is entirely correct. That doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong, but it can be emotionally very difficult to handle.


It’s likely that, at least some of the time, people will come down on you really hard in social justice terms.


People will probably tell you that you don’t care about female victims, that you have internalized misogyny, that you’re a gross man who needs to shut up, that you’re an MRA, that you need to go away and learn feminism 101, or other similar things. That might be very hard to bear, especially if you are scrupulous about trying to avoid oppressive speech. It doesn’t mean that you are wrong, though. Sometimes people will yell at you in social justice terms and be wrong. It’s important to learn how to figure out what you think even when people are yelling at you that you’re being oppressive. If you want to do the work of pointing out the ableism in some reactions to creepy dudes, it’s really important to work on having perspective in the face of other people’s anger.


It’s also important to pay attention to what you are and aren’t up for. You don’t have to challenge every piece of ableism you ever see. It’s not ok to validate that kind of ableism; it’s not ok to reblog it uncritically; it’s not ok to agree with or participate in it. But it’s perfectly ok to not always proactively contradict it. You matter, and that kind of work is draining.


Anyone elsewant to weigh in? What have you found effective in this situation? What hasn’t worked?

fuzzynecromancer:

To the creepy guy who reblogged the post about creepy guys

theconcealedweapon:

realsocialskills:

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.

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 it’s creepy. My post was about how it’s unsafe for women to reject unwanted attention, because men hit on them in ways that leave them no polite way to say no. Because men are allowed to implictly threaten women with impunity in public, and women who tell them off are seen as rude or otherwise bad.

If by safe, you mean places in which your attentions are guaranteed to be welcome, then no, there is no safe place and there should not be a safe place. Women are allowed to be uninterested.

Consensual flirtation is an offer. It isn’t a negotiation. It isn’t an attempt to pressure a woman into saying yes or convince her to do something.

If you’re continuing the conversation after someone has made it clear that you want them to stop, you’re being creepy.

If you’re flirting with someone in a place they can’t easily walk away from you, you’re being creepy. No one should ever be a captive audience for flirting.

If you take no as a humiliating personal insult, you’re being creepy. No is the default. Most people aren’t going to want to date you or sleep with you. They are not wronging you by being uninterested.

It’s true that hot guys tend to get away with a lot of things they shouldn’t. It’s harder to tell that someone has no regard for consent when you want the things they want you to want. It’s easier for people to tell that you’re being creepy if they aren’t attracted to you.

That doesn’t mean it’s ok to be creepy, or that women are wronging you by being creeped out. It means there’s a bad thing you need to stop doing even though some people get away with it.

About creepy guys

justdrinkyourtea:

realsocialskills:

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.

clueless creepiness vs skillful creepiness

There are two kinds of problems that get conflated a lot but aren’t actually that similar:

  • People who do creepy things because they have trouble understanding boundaries
  • People who do creepy things because they understand boundaries well and have highly developed skills at violating them with impunity

People who are good at violating boundaries and getting away with being creepy sometimes seem socially awkward, and sometimes don’t. Sometimes they get away with it by getting people to think things like “Oh, that’s Bill. He’s just awkward like that. He doesn’t mean anything by it,” and sometimes it’s more like, “I can’t believe James would do that! He’s like the nicest guy ever, and he does so much for this community. Don’t you remember the awesome party last month?”, and sometimes it’s more like, “Steve is really sensitive right now. Did you really have to turn him down like that? Couldn’t you have given him a chance? Don’t you understand how much courage it takes to approach a girl? What harm could giving him your number have done?”. 

People who are inadvertently creepy *care* when they’ve violated boundaries, and try to fix it. Saying, “oh, they’re just awkward” isn’t doing them any favors, because people who are inadvertently creepy don’t *want* to trample all over other people’s boundaries. They want to know, so that they can stop doing it. This doesn’t mean it’s the job of victims of their creepy actions to explain it to them – it isn’t, particularly since most creepy people are doing it on purpose, and calling skillfully creepy people on things tends to go badly. I am mentioning this because skillfully creepy people often convince others that being “just awkward” means that everyone else is obligated to refrain from objecting to their creepy actions.

Skillfully creepy people who boundaries boundaries on purpose come up with excuses about why it was ok, and try to make you feel horrible for objecting. (Eg: “I was just being friendly! Learn to take a compliment!”, or “I know that if you were in your right mind, you wouldn’t have said that you didn’t want to spend time with me. I forgive you. We can still spend time together.”, or “Wow. Harsh. I guess girls really don’t go for nice guys. Have fun dating assholes.” or just getting a lot of people to laugh at you, or any number of other things.)

As a culture, we shouldn’t tolerate creepy behavior from anyone. Part of not tolerating it means assessing when people are being cluelessly creepy, and when people are being skillfully creepy. 

If you are a supervisor/teacher/community leader, or otherwise someone responsible for intervening and keeping things safe, it’s important to respond appropriately. Communities need to help cluelessly creepy people understand how to act, and to expel skillfully creepy people so that they can’t keep preventing the people they hurt from being part of the community. 

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.)