Yes. You Are Being Creepy.

creepy man

The other day I stumbled upon two references to Creepy Guy Syndrome in the span of 10 minutes of social media surfing and both caused me to let out a sigh of exasperation. It seems the poor, persecuted fellows who are being called creepy for, in their opinion, no good reason, have taken to the internet to mope about it once more.

I am not the first person to discuss and dissect the use of the word creepy. It’s been done here and here pretty effectively, a creepy guy situation was bad-assedly handled by this dude on BART last summer, and this awesome video addresses Creepy Guy’s doppelgänger, Nice Guy. Unfortunately, Creepy Guy Syndrome persists in part because so many creepy guys think they’re not being creepy when they really totally are.

The first was this YouTube Video called “Girls Are Assholes: At a Bar”

While the video is clearly being extreme to elicit laughs, it misses the mark by creating an alternate version of the reality of this scenario. Cut to the part where the less attractive guy offers to buy the young woman a drink, then graciously accepts her refusal and leaves her alone. If this were actually what went down in scenarios like this, then the video would be hilarious. However, this version of the situation is from the perspective of the Creepy Guy, who has conveniently glossed over his creepy actions when replaying the situation in his mind.

Creepy actions can be, but are not limited to, the following: invading a woman’s personal space, being overly persistent with that drink offer, repeatedly refusing the accept “no thanks” as an answer, calling her names, making inappropriate comments about her body. A common defense creepy guys use is that they are socially awkward or that these actions are subjective, but that’s just another leap in their mental gymnastics so they don’t have to deal with the uncomfortable feeling that is involved in self-awareness.

This is a phenomenon I like to call Common Denominator Blindness.

Let’s look at a comparable example of Common Denominator Blindness. Chances are you have an acquaintance or two who always seem to have some Major Drama in their lives. These people always seem to be encountering other people who lie them, get them into a fight at a bar, leave them stranded without a ride home at 3am, made a move on a friend’s significant other, etc. And this person with Major Drama is always whining and complaining that they hate drama! They can’t believe they have a friend who has so much drama! Why does drama follow them around?!

The acquaintance is suffering from Common Denominator Blindness. The acquaintance IS The Drama, but instead of doing a little self-reflection and discovering the difficult truth that he/she is the common denominator in The Drama, this person externalizes the issue so as not to take any responsibility for their shitty actions.

A guy who does creepy things is a poster child for Common Denominator Blindness.

They see the accumulation of times they’ve been called creepy, and instead of asking themselves what they might have said or done to make another human being uncomfortable, they externalize and generalize that women at large are the problem. Then they see that same woman talking to someone else, and instead of just thinking, “Being rejected is uncomfortable. Ugh,” they instead think, “Wow. She’s so shallow that she doesn’t want to talk to me (the nice, less attractive guy), but she’ll talk to that other guy (the hot rapist).” As if that makes any logical sense whatsoever.

That’s why this video is so problematic.

It asserts that women don’t know what’s good for them, but the strange guy at the bar knows better. It also suggests that women are at fault if they are assaulted because they chose a hot guy over a nice guy. But nice guys don’t assume women are stupid. They don’t think their desire to have a conversation with a woman trumps her right to feel comfortable; they know if someone were making them uncomfortable that it would suck, so they’d rather not put another person through that. Basically, they know how to be decent fucking human beings, and they know they don’t deserve a cookie (or a conversation, or a fuck) just for acting right. Seriously, watch this video to learn what a nice guy is and is not.

Despite what “Girls Are Assholes: At a Bar” suggests, most women are quite good at identifying actions that make their internal alarm bells ring out a possibly unsafe person warning. Considering that Creepy Guy patronizingly believes that the stupidity of women is what causes them to get raped, you’d think he’d applaud her erring on the side of caution, even if that meant he didn’t get to talk to her. Unfortunately, that’s not the case since it doesn’t involve Creepy Guy benefiting in any way. This type of guy assumes he is owed her attention and time and that if he doesn’t get it, it’s because women are shallow and stupid, not because he did something inappropriate or she just plain wasn’t interested.

And yet this idea that men are rampantly being unfairly labeled as creepy persists. That’s where the second post that made me roll my eyes came in. #7 of this Thought Catalogue post about modern dating stopped me from devoting another second of my time to the rest of the post.

It’s definitely important to point out that most guys are decent and not creepy. And those guys are likely not getting called creepy, though I will concede that it happens on occasion. The laws of probability insist it must be true. The difference is that on the rare occasion a decent guy gets called creepy he doesn’t lose his shit, decide that all women are stupid, and take to the internet to defend himself. He knows that one of two things has happened: that woman was not interested for any number of reasons out of his control OR he made a faux pas that caused her to feel uncomfortable. Even if it was the latter, a regular, decent guy knows that everyone messes up and no one is perfect at respecting boundaries. Maybe he apologizes or maybe he just lets the situation alone and keeps it moving. The world does not stop turning. He does not lose anything. Being called creepy does not redefine his identify and automatically turn him into a creeper.

Some would argue that the current prevalence of the term creepy has risen because a few bad apples are spoiling the bunch, and to a certain extent I agree with this. Women are on guard for creepers because they are often masquerading as nice guys and it’s just better to be safe than sorry. But it’s also true that people with an axe to grind are often the ones squawking the loudest. The thing is, if you are getting called creepy enough to be pissed off about it and turning red in the face over it on social media, you are not being falsely accused of being creepy, you actually ARE being creepy and are suffering from Common Denominator Blindness.

Fortunately, there is a cure for Common Denominator Blindness, though it can be rather uncomfortable if you’re new to it: self-awareness.

It doesn’t cost anything, it makes you happier in the long run, and you’ll finally be functional member of society. Everybody wins! Godspeed.

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