Creep Week: Don’t Be THAT Guy

As Creep Week draws to a close and Con Season is beginning, it’s time to talk about That Guy.

You know. The Creeper. The perv. The guy who either misses or ignores every single signal or sign or unspoken form of communication. The guy who makes people uncomfortable by his very presence. The one who seems to have no respect for the social contract. The one you just can’t get rid of. He clings to your social scene like a lovesick lamprey.

Everybody knows That Guy. There’s almost always one. If he’s not lingering on the fringes of your social circle, then someone has horror stories about him that makes everyone shudder with familiarity.

And lately, there’s been a LOT of That Guy in fandom.

He’s the creepy photographer at conventions. He’s the guy who keeps seeing just where he can put his hand on the booth babe before she says anything.  He’s the guy at the comic store who gives comic fans a bad name. He’s the guy everybody tries to avoid at con parties, drink-ups or get-togethers because he makes inappropriate comments, the guy who seems to invite himself to whatever social gathering he finds out about, whether or not he’s welcome.

He’s the one whom women avoid, the one whose pattern of boundary-crossing behavior makes people feel profoundly uncomfortable. He’s the one who, when called on his behavior, steadfastly insists that he’s done nothing wrong and that people are being mean or dramatic or making too much out of nothing. Well-meaning people will explain that “he’s harmless” or “he’s just Bob being Bob”. Drama-averse people may acknowledge that yeah, he’s a little on the creepy side, but he’s really not that bad and maybe people should give him a chance because nobody really wants an ugly scene.

"Oh hey, I was just about to call you again. I was pretty sure your phone was off when I called you all those other times so I really wanted to make sure I left you a message this time..."

“Don’t mind me. I’m just picturing you naked. And on all fours. And covered in yogurt.”

And in fairness: they may be right. That Guy may very well be harmless. He may not have a predatory bone in his body and could barely attack a roast-beef sandwich never mind another person. But whether or not he’s a decent person at heart, his behavior is making other people feel unsafe. Whether or not he presents an actual threat, his behavior is going to be driving people away, whether from parties, comic stores, or conventions.

And sometimes That Guy… is you.

You don’t want to be That Guy.

It’s About Boundaries and Behavior

Some creepers are very overt – they deliberately push boundaries and drag things to a sexual place; they get off on the fact that they’re making women uncomfortable. Others however, are often creepy without realizing it.

After all, very few people set out to be creepy. Most guys, especially the socially awkward or inexperienced, dread being That Guy… but the people who are creepy rarely recognize when they’re doing it.

The reason that this becomes such an issue is that the creepers aren’t processing why what they’re doing is creepy. They get held up on intent; they assume that because they didn’t mean any harm, that it should be glaringly obvious that there was nothing to be afraid of. Except men and women aren’t afraid of the same things; specifically,  men don’t have the reason to fear other men the way that women do. As a result, men tend to be less aware of how their behavior will be seen by women and they end up creeping someone out without intending to.

An excellent example of this is the infamous ElevatorGate incident. Rebecca Watson, the founder of, was speaking at an atheist conference in 2011. At 4 AM, after having had drinks with friends, Watson was followed into the elevator by a gentlemen who tried to strike up a conversation, inviting her to his room for coffee. This made her profoundly uncomfortable and left her more than a little unsettled, especially after having taken part on a panel where she had spoken on not treating female members of the atheist community as sex objects. Many men thought that her discomfort was a case of being overly sensitive and reading things into the interaction that weren’t there. From the male perspective, his behavior seems fairly innocuous – yes, he’s unquestionably propositioning her but he’s not threatening her, being vulgar or otherwise acting like a threat… so why should she feel so unnerved that she had to mention it specifically on her blog?

From a woman’s perspective however, the incident would read differently. She was effectively trapped in a 6′ square box with a complete stranger who was propositioning her. For all she knew, her refusal could make him angry, even violent. There was no way to safely leave the interaction; even if the door had opened, there was no guarantee that she could push past him and into the hallway, or that he couldn’t follow her to her room.

"Hello little girl. What's your rush? You're missing all the flowers..."

“Please, come join me. Join me forever…”

Thus the problem: the gentleman in the elevator was That Guy – he was creeping someone out, even though he (presumably) didn’t intend any harm and was just hoping for a con hookup. If he had approached Watson at 6 PM in the hotel bar, say, then in all likelihood, there would be no story, just another guy hitting on a woman who said “thanks but no thanks.”  His problem is that he went about things the wrong way; by approaching her at 4 in the morning and effectively cornering her, he turned from an unwanted flirtation to a perceived potential threat.

There are reasons why women respond strongly to creepy behavior – it’s because that behavior is similar to the actions of men who are active threats, especially serial predators. Thomas at the blog Yes Means Yes has an excellent breakdown of a study that examines the modus operandi of recidivist rapists. From the paper:

In the course of 20 years of interviewing these undetected rapists, in both research and forensic settings, it has been possible for me to distill some of the common characteristics of the modus operandi of these sex offenders. These undetected rapists:
• are extremely adept at identifying “likely” victims, and testing prospective victims’ boundaries;
• plan and premeditate their attacks, using sophisticated strategies to groom their victims for attack, and to isolate them physically;
• use “instrumental” not gratuitous violence; they exhibit strong impulse
control and use only as much violence as is needed to terrify and coerce their victims into submission;
• use psychological weapons – power, control, manipulation, and threats – backed up by physical force and almost never resort to weapons such as knives or guns;
• use alcohol deliberately to render victims more vulnerable to attack, or completely unconscious.

It’s possible to emulate these behaviors – testing boundaries, isolating people, taking advantage of alcohol and using socialization and social coercion in order to enforce compliance – without being an actual threat. If you don’t want to be seen as creepy, then the onus is on you to avoid behaviors that can be seen as potentially threatening, rather than to expect women to magically read your intentions and realize that you mean them no harm.

It’s About Comfort

Keep in mind though: just because someone isn’t looming over a woman he’s backed into a corner doesn’t mean that he’s not being creepy. There’s more to being a creeper than presenting as a potential rapist. Creepers make people uncomfortable in myriad ways… not the least of which is by being overtly and inappropriately sexual.

To provide a personal example:

Back in the early part of 2000, I had published a graphic novel and was spending a fair amount of time  marketing it on the convention circuit. I would get a table in Artist’s Alley or the Small Press section of the con and hand-sell my book. I would also take commissions from con-goers. One gentlemen – whom I would later learn was That Guy, popularly known Bondage Billy – requested that I do a fairly hardcore S&M themed illustration for him. Not really a problem for me, as I was used to drawing adult content and I was willing to charge through the nose for it. The problem came about, however, when he was very specific about what he wanted… and promptly brought out many, many  graphic bondage magazines and spread them across my table for reference. Bondage Billy then began to describe the scene in great detail, explaining that this was a long-term fantasy of his, illustrating his point with specific photos from the various magazines while telling the story of all the times he had tried to make this fantasy come true.

I'm pretty sure I'm not getting paid enough for this.

Him: “Remember: I want to see just how distended his junk is from the ropes”.

This was profoundly uncomfortable… not just for me but for the people around me. Bondage Billy wasn’t a threat to my physical safety but hoo-boy was he creeping me the fuck out… along with my neighbors in Artist’s Alley and anyone who happened to wander by. Not only was I getting far more information than I wanted about Bondage Billy’s sex life but I was being confronted by images of edgeplay1 that frankly I never needed to see thank you very much. Bondage Billy wasn’t taking subtle hints that maybe he should just pack his things up and move along.

Sadly, this is not an isolated incident, nor one restricted to conventions. I have seen far too many guys who seem completely oblivious to the discomfort they’re causing others as they insist on taking every conversation in a sexual direction. They will share photos on their phones to all and sundry, without thought or care for whether or not the person they’re talking to actually wants to see them. They will make sexual jokes – even rape jokes – and take even polite, uncomfortable laughter as a sign that they should continue.

Sometimes stream of sexual commentary is the prelude to actual harassment or even assault – as in the case of the PAX Prime Penis Incident. Sometimes it’s just someone who has no internal filter and doesn’t realize that maybe people don’t want to hear all about what goes into their spank-bank.

I swear I've heard someone say this to a girl he was hitting on.

I swear I’ve heard someone say this to a girl he was hitting on. (via Our Valued Customers)

It’s the difference between playful sexual innuendo between two people who are having fun flirting back and forth and someone making constant sexual references, even in the face of other people’s discomfort.

How To Avoid Being That Guy

Every year, there are more and more stories about creepers at conventions, whether it’s creepy behavior at ReaderCon, sexual harassment at Penny-Arcade Expo or the multitudes of individuals who harass, grope and otherwise treat cosplayers and booth attendants like pieces of meat instead of individuals.

Assholes are going to ass, but if you’re going to avoid being That Guy, here are some con-specific tips.

Don’t hit on the guests (or rage at the booth babes)

Speaking as someone who’s been on both sides of the con experience: it someone is running a booth or has a table at a con, they’re there to workThey’re trying to network, drum up word of mouth for their projects and – critically – sell their shit. They aren’t there to be your bestest friend, listen to your hour-long comic/show/movie/novel pitch or – critically – fuck you. Remember that rule about not cornering people or otherwise preventing them from having a way of leaving the conversation? This includes cornering them at their table. Even if they have an assistant or friend helping run things, they’re functionally stuck there while you’re looming over them and awkwardly flirting with them. You’re making them uncomfortable. Stop it.

This goes doubly true for booth babes. They are there to convince you to buy the product they’re paid to shill. That’s it. They’re not trying to trick you into thinking they’re really” geeks. They’re not there to flirt with you. They’re not there to be hit on. And critically: they do not like you. Many nerds make the classic mistake of confusing professional niceness for genuine interest. Trust me when I tell you that she is smiling awkwardly and pretending to enjoy your hitting on her because it comes with the job, not because you actually stand a chance with her.

And while we’re at it: don’t take your frustrations out on the booth babes.

Yes, it’s a little insulting to assume that nerds are going to shell out money because someone with a nice rack in a low-cut t-shirt smiled at you. This is not the booth-babe’s fault; she is as much a pawn in the marketing game as you are. She’s just trying to earn a paycheck, same as everyone else. Save your ire for the companies who think you’re stupid and horny enough that your dick can convince you into buying some overpriced gewgaw.

Cosplay Does Not Equal Consent

The other frequent target for nerd rage (and anger-boners) are cosplayers. From accusations about being fake geeks who’re only in it for the attention to con creepers and pervs who treat them as though they were sex toys, cosplayers are often singled out for the crime of being a woman in costume.

Cosplayers aren’t there for you. Cosplayers aren’t there for your boner. They’re not looking for your attention. They’re not looking for a back-door into a modeling career. They’re there because that’s how they celebrate their love of fandom. Nobody spends dozens of hours and hundreds of dollars in material and labor on a costume just because they’re hoping to make nerdboys horny – they’re doing it because they love that character. Yes, they pose for pictures… because they want to show off the fruits of their effort. Translating a character design – one that often was created with a total disregard for material, comfort, practicality or the laws of goddamn physics – into an actual, wearable costume is a Herculean effort. Only someone who has a deep and abiding affection – of the character and of costume deisng – is going to put in the effort to try and embody that character.

Are the costumes frequently sexy and revealing? Yes… and that’s how they were designed by the characters’ creators. Yaya Han didn’t decide that Jessica Rabbit needed a dress that was always one deep breath away from a nip-slip, the Disney animation crew did. Juliet Starling runs around in a crop top and micro-mini cheerleader skirt because she’s a commentary on video game characters, not because Ruby Rocket decided she needed to show off her hundred sit-ups per day.

(And don’t get me started about The Huntress or the Violet Lanterns…)

Point being: being sexy and wearing a revealing costume is not an open invitation for staring at their tits, commenting about how good their ass looks in tight lycra, copping a feel, trying to snap an upskirt pic or peek down their shirts. If you don’t want to be branded a creeper, don’t hit on them. Don’t perv out on them. Don’t demand that they “prove” their geek credentials.

If you want to compliment them, compliment their costume, not the person. “That looks great!” is good. “Goddamn you’re hot” isn’t. If you’re going to take a photo with them, keep your hand to the shoulder, not the small of the back and not the ass. Don’t hover around hoping to talk to them, especially when they’re making it clear that they don’t want to keep talking to you. And for fuck’s sake, don’t try to get her number (or give her yours). She’s not there for that.

Treat the cosplayers with some respect and you’ll avoid getting hit with the Creeper label.

Photographers: Act Like Professionals

Photographers get a bad rap at cons. A handful of creepers is all it takes to make everyone with a camera suspect. I’ve been to one anime con where one creeper was making a point of taking pictures of very underage girls… and as a result, anyone who was taking photos of the cosplayers was getting the stink-eye.

If you’re planning on doing any sort of event photography – especially of the cosplayers – then you want to be as professional as possible. The best photographers – especially any who does any sort of glamour photography or artistic nudes – are known for being able to make people comfortable and relaxed… and respecting a person’s boundaries is one of the best ways to make them comfortable with you.

To this end: if you’re going to get someone’s photo, ask. Don’t try to sneak a photo from a distance; most cosplayers will happily pose for you as long as you’re not acting like a complete cock. Don’t try to separate them from their friends, especially if they’re with a group or have an assistant or significant other; even if you have the most innocent of intentions (wanting to get a shot without the crowd in the background, f’rex), you’re going to come across as though you’re trying to get her alone for nefarious purposes.

Most cosplayers will tend to have a dedicated pose or two, usually based off of an iconic image of the character. Let them pick the pose and concentrate on finding the right angle to help recreate the scene; this will help you stand out from the perverts-with-cameras who’re hoping to get more cleavage or side-boob. 

Be sure to show the model your photos as soon as you’re done. Not only will they appreciate the chance to see how it looks, but it helps ensure that they will be comfortable with the photos afterwards. It also will show them that you’re serious about appreciating their work and not just hoping to catch a glimpse of nipple.

If you’re going to be sharing the images online, have cards made up that will have the address. These should be different from your business cards – you want them to be able to find the finished product, not angling for them to friend you on Facebook. If they decide that they want to work with you in the future, they’ll ask you for your contact information.

Be A Gentleman At The Con Parties

Cons don’t come to a screeching halt for the night just because the dealer’s room closed. Many cons have dances, concerts and sponsored parties – not to mention the bar at the con hotel. However, when the booze is flowing and the energy is high, it’s even more possible to end up creeping people out.

Don’t hover around the edges of a conversation, especially if your only purpose for being there is be near one specific person. If they’re people you want to talk to, great. Find an appropriate point in the conversation and join in. But by hanging around silently on the outskirts in hopes of catching your crush as she walks away, you’re going to be a lurking vision on people’s periphery and that’s going to weird them out.

Similarly, don’t jump in and attempt to take over a conversation. I’ve seen far too many people who will wedge themselves in to talk to someone, literally squeezing their way in between two people in order to talk to one of them… and blocking the other person out in the process. Not only is this disturbing but it’s just going to piss people off.

Accept that women generally don’t play hard to get. If she’s looking around the room while you’re talking, turning away, paying more attention to her phone than to you or otherwise not giving you her full and undivided attention, she’s trying to find a way to leave. Make your excuses and go. You’ll do better to find someone who wants to talk to you instead of trying to drag the conversation past it’s natural lifespan. It’s better to leave a conversation early than to try to monopolize someone’s time. If they want to keep talking to you, they’ll let you know.

Along the same lines: if you’re being given the hint that people don’t want you around, leave. If the group contracts or squeezes you out, if they avoid eye contact or don’t respond to what you’re saying or if people start to turn their backs on you, that’s a sign that it’s time to go away. There’s no point in trying to hang around where you’re not wanted and sticking around is only going to make you look like an asshole.

Avoid sexual innuendo. It’s not as funny as you think it’s going to be and it’s just going to end up disturbing people. When in doubt, let the other people set the tone and pace and base your responses off of them. It’s easier to stick within someone’s boundaries if you follow their lead.

And no rape jokes. Period.

Go easy on the drinks – the more buzzed you get, the of a filter you’re going to have, and that’s going to work against you.  Don’t insist on buying drinks for women you don’t know; you’re going to come off as though you’re trying to get them drunk.

It really doesn’t take much to avoid being creepy. It’s about how you act and how much consideration you give for other people’s comfort. Be aware of your behavior and how you might be coming across to others. Respect their wishes be That Guy.

  1. That is, extremely hardcore bondage that goes beyond the idea of safe, sane and consensual – knife-play, piercings and choking []

  • Charles Ranier

    that bit about not cornering people at dealer's tables? THIS. I can't tell you how many times I've had someone say to me "I have a booth/fan table/artist's alley table at X con, could you swing by occasionally and if I'm cornered I'll signal you so you can interrupt and wedge the guy out?"

    I'll also do it without asking if I see someone getting that treatment. You can usually tell right off because the creeper will be leaning over the table, palms down all over the art books and merchandise she's got on the table to display, getting as far into her personal space as physics will allow without actually phasing through the table itself. And hey, if you're sitting down and some guy is towering over you like that and you literally can't get up? That's threatening, compadre, I don't care if you're male or female, that's unnerving as all get out. Stop it.

    Don't be that guy, and I can spend more time in the dealer's room actually buying things. Thanks.

    Seriously I could make a decent living if I charged for such services at conventions, a kind of dealer's room ronin.

    • Doctor Mead

      "Dealers Room Ronin" sounds like a cool idea for a web comic about cons.

      • Charles Ranier

        just call me the Shopping Cart Assassin 🙂

        • Doctor Mead

          The Punisher of Panels?

    • Gentleman Horndog

      So now I'm designing the RoninSignal app in my head. Pre-con, everybody downloads a copy onto their smartphones and registers where their booth is. When the "Skeeve" button is pressed, a text message with the booth name and location is immediately sent to one or more ConRonins, who then descend and find a way to make the creeper fuck right off.

      It wouldn't be that hard to make.

      • Mel_

        Love it!

      • Gman

        Sounds like a great idea. Just a quick technical question though: how are you supposed to accurately locate the booth with the app? GPS signals do not work in closed environments, so this is an issue. Maybe an NFC based solution?

        • Gentleman Horndog

          Pre-con registration. Your phone is tied into your booth. So it wouldn't work if you pressed your button while hanging out at a friend's booth.

          Or, a config setting that you need to enter early in the con and can change on the fly, indicating which booth is yours. That might be better in some ways, but pre-con registration would be a defense against jamming.

          • CxeBerlin

            I’ve been trying to design an app for a small con that does live time tabling and routes you from session to session, but everything is indoors. We are trying to get something going involving the wireless network – hacker conferences in Germany have had opt-in location displays of all participants before. This way everyone could call the ronins, stall holder or beleaguered cosplayer.

      • Gentleman Johnny

        Oh dear, this might be my new project for class. One issue, who vets the ronin? It'd suck pretty hard to have someone dutifully playing ronin all day then deciding he's "owed" a drink after.

        • Squirrel

          If you do make this, would you be willing to share? I know my con could use it, and I'm sure a number of other cons could too.

        • Anonyleast

          At first, it might be difficult, but if the ronin are under basically the opposite of ronin and under an already vetted samurai, then the samurai vets them and if trouble, no longer gets that Dealer Room Ronin to work. This all works out even better if Charles Ranier registers the term as copyright/trademark/nonprofit business or whatever it takes to get this identification centrally controlled.

    • Rickettsia_rickettsii

      I could not agree more about the cornering.

      I worked with a guy who would do this at work. He’d stand dead center in your door and lean one elbow on the door/cube wall and then angle himself so that his legs almost blocked the space in a failed attempt at looking cool, confident, etc.. So he’d get your back up before saying a word. Then what he would say would not improve matters, but that is another headshaking story (who asks a coworker her shirt size randomly out of the blue?). He managed to spook every woman under 60 in the building.

      Funny thing is, many of the posters on here would probably see him and think, “Tall, blonde, fashionable, conventionally handsome, fit….he must score chicks all the time.” when the reality is the only score he received from 20+ women that I know was highest ranking in the “Most likely to end up with women’s corpses buried in his basement before age 40.” contest.

    • Charles Ranier

      also, after thinking about it: I don't mean to insinuate that the Mens have to rescue the Wimmens from teh Creepers. Anyone can do this. You don't even have to be big and intimidating yourself. Example:

      My niece and her friends will do this by going up as a group and doing the Loud Squee to the person at the table and suddenly Creeper gets shoved out of the way by a bunch of fangirling fans… and then one of them will turn around, look at him and go something like "Hey, back off, you creep!" (note she does not say "hands off" or "stop touching me" or anything that would be a lie) and suddenly every buyer and dealer in the area is looking right at HIM. And suddenly the tables are turned and dude slinks off into the crowd not sure how HE suddenly became the center of unwanted attention instead. Karma, baby. Karma.

      It sucks to tell people this but have a plan, have a signal, have a person or two who will have your back. In a perfect world this would not be necessary, but yeah.

      • Charles Ranier

        edit: doing this to a table that is NOT being creeped is just flat out rude and bad form and powers used irresponsibly. But if you're being given the signal, or the obviously "deer in the headlights" look from the dealer? No mercy.

      • eselle28

        That's a great point. For guys who worry that there's some kind of paternalism involved, I think it's worth noting that women have all kinds of little tricks to rescue their friends from uncomfortable situations. It doesn't have to be a gendered thing. A lot of times, it doesn't even have to be strictly confrontational? If it's in a more social setting, sometimes just asking the creeped-upon person for directions and taking a bit of their time will give them an opportunity to collect themselves and move away from the creeper.

    • Gentleman Johnny

      Interestingly, I had to do this for a guy once. Jason Carter, back in his Marcus The Ranger days used to get mobbed by underage (or nearly so) girls at cons. My (female) friend had really wanted to talk to him because they both did staff fighting and he had commented on my cool jacket when we went for autographs earlier in the day.

      So anyway, he comes into the bar, which was also a lounge and so mostly open to all ages, at GenCon with this sort of probabilistic electron cloud of underage girls around him. If I had to guess he was somewhere between Gold and Unobtanium on the orbiter count. I took one look at this, did some quick mental math and sent my friend to the bar to secure three stools. Then I made my way through the electron cloud, re-introduced myself (he still recognized the coat) and offered to buy him a beer while looking over his orbiters (message – they can't get within arm's length of the bar). The three of us had a brief but enjoyable conversation as I remember it, having really nothing to do with fandom. Needless to say my friend had enough situational awareness to know that hitting on a guy who had just escaped a mob of screaming fangirls was a bad idea.

    • Aldrea

      I had three hours worth of business shot to hell because someone that I said a polite hello to at a con the night before decided to camp at my table, not saying a word, just staring at me. I tried to jokingly tell him nobody could see my product and that people were scared to approach my table, and it just sailed right over his head. I even had someone watch my merch and I left in hopes that he'd get the point, but I came back half an hour later and he was waiting for me. The worst part is that what finally made him leave was my ex fiance showing up and doing the same goddamned thing. I would absolutely hire a dealer's (or artist's) room ronin if it meant I could, ya know, conduct my f*cking business creeper-free.

      • Gentleman Johnny

        So between Johnny's Dating Bootcamp and Creeper Ronin, it sounds like I can make a good side business of conventions. 🙂

        • Charles Ranier

          just remember to put "inspired by a comment from" and my name on the About page or something 🙂

      • Squirrel

        In this sort of situation, I would highly encourage getting con security or the dealer's room coordinator involved. If someone did that in my dealer's room, they would get to have a chat with One (1) Angry Squirrel with Two (2) Professional Loomers in tow.

    • Maggie

      The fact that this is now being actually planned out has made my night.

      • Gentleman Johnny

        If everyone has smartphones, you could pretty easily use G+ or Facebook, create a group for Ronin and guests and go. Of course, then everyone has to make a point of checking their phone every time it beeps. . .If security is using radios, you could always have someone doing "ops" on a laptop in security HQ.

        On the guest/artist side, no one even notices anymore if you pop your phone open and toss off a quick text message like "Ronin to table 37".

        I could also see the fangirl Ronin pack referenced elsewhere working independently of con staff with some non-costumed, mixed gender "scouts" to dispatch them.

  • Cait

    I was about to say, "Dealers Room Ronin" would be the name of my nerdcore band.

  • CxeBerlin

    One tip for not being that guy: never cross-examine someone about their availability. If she tells you she’s married, don’t ask why she’s not wearing a ring then. If she tells you she’s a lesbian, don’t express scepticism. It is a surprisingly common creepy flag, although I have no idea what it’s meant to achieve.

    • Patrick

      This is just a guess, based on comments I've seen all over the world wide web and my own experiences with people who engage in that kind of behavior, but I think it might be relating to trying to "logic" people. That is:

      "Aha, you don't wear a ring! That means you aren't really married, I'm right!"

      That is, it's not actually about trying to get them to agree to sleep with them (I don't think they're THAT self-unaware), I think it's more a matter of proving them wrong. I've met my share of people who share creeper traits who also can't let that kind of thing go.

      • CxeBerlin

        I don’t get it. Even if they think she’s lying why call her out on it? It’s just embarrassing for both parties, given if its a lie its a polite way to reject someone / head off any advances. Why would you ever call out anyone on a lie meant to spare your feelings?

        • eselle28

          The kind of guy who does this is angry at women in general and thinks of them as being generally dishonest and prone to playing games. He gets a rush out of proving she's not really taken or a lesbian, and that she's just a big liar who's waiting for a tall, handsome, rich guy to come talk to her. He might not get a phone number, but he gets to be right. Geeks love to be right.

        • Rickettsia_rickettsii


          This irks me when people do it. Why do we have to justify not wearing a ring to random strangers? It is bad enough having to explain it to my in-laws over and over and over.

          I take it off at work and then lose it because I am a head in the clouds, absent minded, distracted, statistician who loses everything. After ring 3 ended up in a box of ticks and shipped to CDC, I decided to stop wearing it. And I don’t need to explain or justify or be challenged or told I am a liar because of it.


          • Joy

            "Ring 3 ended up in a box of ticks and shipped to CDC"

            I had to stop, back up, and read this part again, because I felt sure it wasn't actually saying what I thought I'd just read. It sucks that you lost your ring and I'm very sorry that you did, but that might be the best "lost ring" story I've ever heard.

          • Hannah Solo

            Agreed, came here to say this. Sorry about the lost precious, but it sounds like you have an interesting job! 😀 My mom *almost* lost her engagement ring back in the day when she had to take it off to perform surgery… when/if I get married, I kind of want to tattoo mine on so this doesn't happen!

          • Rickettsia_rickettsii

            My counterparts at CDC thought it was pretty funny too and I did get it back 🙂

            We are thinking of getting tattoos but let me tell you, picking that pattern out makes picking out a metal ring like grabbing a soda.

        • Delafina

          Because she turned him down by saying she's married, a lesbian or whatever, so now he has to save face by proving she's a liar.

      • LeeEsq

        This would be a surprise to my parents. They got their wedding rings when I was in college.

    • Gentleman Johnny

      I think tis reflexive, so its not meant to achieve anything consciously. Subconsciously I think its meant to achieve "oh, you're right, I'm not really a lesbian. Let's fuck."

      • Gentleman Horndog

        That kind of response has a certain "Arguing with the DM" feel to me. "Oh shit, you're right, she's totally straight! Sorry. Please give me a Perform: Doin' It roll."

      • Anonyleast

        Having once been one of those guys who got upset over women using a lie to turn me down, I, personally, felt it as an insult to my intelligence (which I was really touchy about because back then the only thing I thought was valuable about myself was my intelligence). Now, I don't care.

        • Kaz

          I guess the question is, why would you assume they're lying in the first place? The world isn't a Sherlock Holmes novel where you can figure out everything about a person from their clothes and the way they style their hair and whatever instead of, you know, the words coming out of their mouth. Never to mention that accusing someone you've barely even met of lying about basic life facts like their relationship status or orientation is one hell of a douche move.

          • Anonyleast

            I didn't assume, it was if I discovered and I did not confront them about it. I just moped away identifying with Eeyore. I no longer care and know why a woman might choose a lie instead of the truth.

    • Tea_Fish

      A MILLION TIMES THIS. Holy shit, if someone says, "Sorry, no thanks. I'm taken/reading/a lesbian/busy/whatever," asking a bunch of probing questions to either prove them wrong or pester them into accepting your number is going to drop your chances of getting that date down to negative ten. Even if they were straight up lying about being taken/busy/a lesbian, you'd be achieving is proving that you're an asshole who doesn't understand the concept of 'No' and that they did the right thing turning you down.

    • Yeah that shit just makes me want to respond with rudeness:
      "Oh my gosh, you're right! I was lying to you. I just find you really unattractive."
      But then I'm a nasty mean person 😛

    • guest

      If she tells you she is married that is one thing. IMO, when guys ask women they are chatting up if they are dating/married/available, is they learned that some people who are in relationships don't bring it up. It might be heavy handed to ask the status, but it is face saving over asking her out only then to find out she is in a relationship.

      • kathrynmblair

        I don't think it's the asking about relationship status if you are interested in romantic times to see if they are available, it's following "I'm married, no go" with "but why don't you wear a ring?!" so one could get them to admit they are a liar.

        • Rickettsia_rickettsii

          Yep. Asking is OK. Challenging the answer is not OK

  • Beth

    Thank you for this wonderful post series, Doc.

  • Gman

    Reading this, I suddenly realized that I just had my own interaction with someone who exhibits creepy like vibes. It was during last week's salsa class. I started talking to one of the regular girls in class (i'm a guy) and all of a sudden I see in my peripheral vision this dude, who is clearly just hovering right nearby. I started to feel uncomfortable, because this guy was simply standing right nearby, doing nothing but staring at both of us. Eventually, I turn to him to see what his problem is – and without even saying hi, he immediately launches off to speak about how his leather jacket is bothering him and whatnot. I try to talk to him a bit, just so that the girl can back away safely from there.

    Now to be fair, I do believe that this is just another socially oblivious person who probably doesn't have any wrong intentions, but everything about him oozes with this creepy vibe: when he talks he stares directly at you and talks with this monotonic voice… his body language is kind of dead looking (which makes me wonder about how he dances with such signals coming from him…) I don't know, I guess I don't have the right vocabulary to describe him.

    Just wanted to bring this as an example that creepers are everywhere, not just at cons – so to me it is kind of weird that the doc chose to focus on con events… but I do realize that this blog is targeted at nerds, so I guess that as a nerd that isn't into cons at all, I'm a minority here.
    Great post as always, doc 🙂

    • LeeEsq

      The dance scene is very weird because it embraces a very wide range of people. A lot of people in the dance scene are very socially conventional or real masters of the social graces. Than you have what can best be described as dance-geeks, with all the socialization problems that one encoutners in more traditional fandoms. Lots of men use dance classes as a way to engage some very inappropriate and creepy behavior with women. Thsee problems tend to occur less frequently in the dance scene because of the established etiquete in social dancing but it does occur on occassion.

    • DLB

      The "monotonic voice," and "dead" body language, and prolonged eye contact may be symptoms of Asperger's, or some other autism-spectrum disorder. That's not to dismiss the discomfort that you and the girl justifiably felt in the moment. And if this man does happen to have Asperger's, with help he can learn to interact in a more natural (i.e., less creepy) manner.

  • Nebel

    Doc, very glad to see a mention of Cosplay =/= Consent. My friends and I are of the mindset that conventions are huge costume parties and everyone's there to have a good time. So when a friend of mine was groped in an elevator at Dragon*Con, and it was both sad and infuriating to see her so unnerved when she should've been living it up. Unfortunately it happened while she was away from the group, otherwise I'm sure we could've done more about the creeper and more importantly for her.

    On that point, I'm curious… has anyone codified procedures for dealing with creepers as a witness? I'm not the quickest to think on my feet, especially in interpersonal matters where I'm a bit shy (I have great difficulty raising my voice at people), so having something of a canned response I think would be helpful.

    • Mel_

      Jim Hines has some great suggestions on dealing with creepers as a bystander:

    • Rickettsia_rickettsii

      A few of my friends run into this when they perform with their samba troop. One time they were onstage and this older man was leaning in far too close, as in pushing into the narrow strip of stage in front of the band so the dancers could not retreat. And, for an added bonus, he was waving a thick wood cane with a heavy brass handle at the dancers and pushing other folks out of the way to get even closer. In his defense, there was clearly something “off” mentally with him, possibly autistic and I don’t think he had a clue he was freaking people out or nearly brained folks alongside or behind him with the cane.

      The situation was ended when the husband of one of the dancers stepped in and asked in a calm and quiet voice if Cane Man could step back from the stage. There was some defensive resistance at first, but by remaining calm the husband was able to convince Cane Man to step back a bit and to quit it with the cane.

      I can’t give the exact words because I couldn’t hear over the music, but the approach and tone was very similar to what folks use when approaching a strange dog or skittish horse. Very low pitched voice, even tone, deliberate, slow movements, etc.

      The situation was defused

    • Squirrel

      I find that a shocked "That is INappropriate!" works great as a quick, canned response. If you say it at just the right volume, with just enough projection, it will carry to someone who is quicker on their feet. Barring that, the creeper's reaction time will give you a few seconds to think of something more clever. Less polite alternatives include "DUDE, what the goddamned HELL?" and "What the fuck, man?"

      • Gentleman Johnny

        "Dude, not cool," works pretty well, too, or at least forces the creeper to escalate with you instead of the original target.

    • SarahGryph

      I've yet to cosplay at a con, but I've got a number of years of Rennfests under my belt (a belt with 50 pouches on it, heh) so I'll speak from that perspective. Both working and in garb but just hanging out. I never minded anyone approaching me because they liked my garb, that's awesome. Flirting…is rather more awkward if I don't know you. You're not meeting "me," you're meeting the persona I have for the event. I'm partly there to support the event so I don't want to, say, throw my mead at someone's face. I also tend not to take flirting very seriously, it's great that you love how I look…but that's not how I dress everyday and ya really don't know me. As much as Fests are fun and also tend to carry some loosening of social rules…that would be about the worst place to approach me for a date unless it's pretty obvious fireworks are going off in my eyes.

      • SarahGryph

        That's weird, I think this replied on the wrong thread. and I have to head to work so I can't stop and try to fix it. >.< Sorry.

  • 'And for fuck’s sake, don’t try to get her number (or give her yours). She’s not there for that.' This part irked me a little bit, Doc has advocated hitting on or getting girl's numbers in plenty of venues where she isn't there for that either. His example of hitting on a girl at Barnes and Nobles notably, she isn't there to be picked up, she's there to read books yet it's ok to talk to her there rather than at the con? I realize it's a more high energy environment and whatnot but I don't see the issue with making a non-creepy cold approach to a random girl who's cosplaying on the con floor vs a random girl anywhere else.

    • Orv

      I think there's a difference between getting chatting up the woman checking out the collection of D&D books and trying to get her number, and hanging out in front of the cash register or at the information desk trying to get the number of an employee. The biggest difference being that the shopper (like a con attendee) can walk away if you're bothering them, while the cashier (like someone exhibiting at a con) cannot. Not that they can't physically leave but they risk losing money/sales/their job if they do.

      • CmE

        The text Chucky is quoting isn't talking about exhibition/dealer/store employees.

        • Orv

          Ohh cosplayers, oops. Hrm… that's an awkward one isn't it? I don't think I've been to nearly enough cons to make a valuable statement about what's appropriate when interacting with someone who's cosplaying.

          • Jess

            I think Dr. Nerdlove was referring to the situation where you ask to take her picture, or a picture with her then immediately turn around and ask for her number. While she might be there with the intent to let people take pictures of her, that is not an automatic, "Give me your digits" just because she agreed to a picture.

            Now if you were standing in line with a cosplayer and had a nice long friendly conversation with her and she seemed as into it as you were, then I think it's okay to ask.

            Just "Hey, thanks for the picture, now can I have your number?" isn't really going to fly well.

      • I'm not talking about hitting on the cosplaying booth babes working at cons, I'm talking about hitting on the girls who are, like me, attending the con and who are also cosplaying.

    • Anthony

      He's talking about specifically cosplayers in that sentence. Almost all of this advice, aside from the part about parties, was about how to interact with the people at a convention who are doing more than just visiting. Booth babes and vendors are actually working, so the same rules apply there that would apply to anyone at any job. And cosplayers are there for more than just looking at things, because they want to show off their hard work. They aren't in the same position that vendors are, but they are still putting themselves in a position easily creeped upon.

      If you think you're really hitting it off with someone who is working, then I would 1) make sure you're not monopolizing their time, and 2) let them initiate the contact trading. That may mean that it doesn't happen, but that's a safer and nicer route to take than asking for it.

      • CmE

        I don't really see the difference between a random cosplayer and a random woman in Barnes and Noble either tbh.

        Hitting on vendor employees is definitely bad etiquette obviously because they are there to do their jobs and have to deal with that situation in a totally different way to how they would if they weren't working.

        • Anthony

          I'm not a con-goer nor a cosplayer, but isn't it fair to say that most cosplayers aren't there to hook up? There exist some that are, I'm sure, but do they go to the con with that intent? They are still there for 'more' than people who are not cosplaying. This isn't the same situation as random person in a bookstore or a coffee shop, because those are, usually, not places one goes to for multiple hours, multiple days in a row. And those, usually, aren't situations where one is dressing up in a very revealing costume.

          Chatting with someone is fine, and it's certainly different than booth babes/vendors. But it's still different than other, non-convention interactions. I don't see why my advice, to wait for them to initiate the contact swap, doesn't work. I'm curious if you've been in this situation, hitting on a cosplayer, and it's worked out. Or if Chucky has been.

          • CmE

            Well the woman in Barnes and Nobles presumably isn't there to hook up either. The cosplay woman is there to cosplay, the woman in B&N is there to read books.

            This isn't at all personal since I don't go to conventions, but I'm curious as to why it's OK to hit on women in one situation but not another when in neither situation is there some grossly unbalanced power dynamic (like she's a vendor employee, or she's trapped in a lift with you).

          • Orv

            My guess would be that the cosplayer is probably getting hit on A LOT for her costume at the con, and that it can come across as though you want to hook up with her because she looks good in the costume, not because you're interested in anything about her.

            I would assume that if you complimented a cosplayer on her costume, the two of you struck up a conversation about whatever IP the costume was from, hit it off, and then you asked for her contact info, that's fine. I think Doc is more targeting the walk up, drool down her top, and start pestering her for her digits kind of behavior.

            Like I said up a few posts though, I don't think I know anyone who cosplays regularly and I don't know if they see going to a con to show off their costume as being more similar to an artist going to show off/sell her work, or as going as a regular fan, just in costume, so I may be way off-base.

          • Well I don't see anything wrong with being initially attracted to someone based purely on looks or in this context wanting to talk with a cosplaying girl cause she looks good in her costume. The only thing we have to go by when first interacting with a stranger is looks, I'm not a mind reader so I can't tell all that much about her as a person based on looks; that's where approaching and talking come into play. Let's talk about a hypothetical, I'm a big Evangelion fan and say there where two girls were dressed as Rei or Asuka lets say but one of them was nearly as big as me (I'm a 5'10 220lb guy) and the other fit the frame of a petite and curvy girl that Rei and Asuka are I would go the petite cury girl because she looks good. Both girls clearly have good taste in animes, and their choice of hobbies probably says something about them as people too, but I couldn't date someone I wasn't physically attracted to, hence the choice I would make in that situation. Not to say I need only models as potential gf's, the girls I have dated were all cute (I thought) but clearly not models.
            I think Doc is sometimes ambiguous with what situations the advice applies to, I mean obviously this is directed at the creepy drooling behavior but he doesn't go to lengths to talk about the possibility of the opposite happening either.

          • StarlightArcher

            As a female cosplayer, let me just mention that just because she looks good right then may not mean you'll like the way she looks any other day. See, when I cosplay, I usually have on an outfit I would never wear any other day, shoes that completely change my posture. I've spent an hour to two hours on make up that totally changes my face. Usually I'm also wearing a wig, and for extreme cases, I've got in contacts to change the color of my eyes.

            So yes, when in costume, I've been everything from complimented to creeped on. However, ten hours later when I'm toddling about in my civies, not a single one of those people who approached me before even show that they recognize my face from a hole in the ground. Cosplay is just that- a costume. Compliment them on their hard work, their skill, and their ability to embody the character. Save the chatting up for room parties, where you're able to see the more realistic face of the person you're approaching.

          • I get what you're saying but you might be playing characters that specifically needs lots of dolling up to pull off, I've been to enough cons to see peopl'e real faces through a really good costume too though. Trust me I have enough female friends to know the difference between when they've got their make up on from when they don't. I tend to err on the side of 'day gaming' rather than party game since I tend to be more comfortable there than parties (never been to a con room party either, guess I don't know the right people, lol).

          • Squirrel

            On the faire circuit, we have a thing called "Character Crush." It's when a patron is extremely attracted to a performer, but then becomes completely uninterested in them once they're out of costume. Most of the workers out at faire have had this happen to them at least once, and many of them don't look all that much different out of costume. It's also something that happens in LARP communities, where people gravitate toward someone playing a powerful character and then stop being their friend when the character dies or is retired (these people, incidentally, are usually assholes). I can't speak from personal experience, since all of my cosplay has been done while I'm a con officer, but I can't imagine that human behavior towards a costumed character would be all that much different just because the environment has changed. When you're in a situation where you've come to expect that you will be treated differently whenever you are dressed as Not You, every single person who flirts with you becomes just one in the long line of people who are attracted to the corset, not the person inside it.

          • Well that's something I don't quite understand, I mean I know the nerd community has its fair share of creeps but I don't think I'm talking to Rei Ayanami if I see a chick in Eva Unit00 plug suit costume. Their particular choice of character to cosplay sexy or not might get me interested in why they like them enough to cosplay as them since the characters you like tend to say something about you IMO.

          • Squirrel

            It's not that they think you're a particular character. It's that there's something about putting on a costume which makes some people completely forget that there is a normal human being under all that. A human being who normally goes about in t-shirts and Chucks the rest of the time. I am insufficiently studied in the area of human behavior to explain it better, but I have witnessed it (and had it happen to me) quite frequently.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            And to be fair, there's something about putting on special clothes, whether that be a character costume, a power suit, priest's robes or a leather motorcycle outfit, that distances the person inside them from their day to day personality. That's one of the reasons a lot of people have for getting into cosplay, as a way to be someone else and break out of their introverted shell. So generally the person you're meeting not only looks different but acts different from the way they would out of costume. This isn't to say that your Hypothetical Rei acts more like a genetically engineered 13 year old, just less like her normal self.

            Side note: I find any Eva costume to be a bit. . .ick. . .because the characters are so young.

          • eselle28

            I don't have a ton of experience with the costuming aspect of it, but I think I might have seen similar things happen in very different areas of life. I know several guys who are/were in the military, and I've heard quite a few stories about how women fall all over them when they're in uniform, but end up being bored or turned off if they actually go out on a date.

            And I know from personal experience that if someone's putting on a bit of a show – even if it's just a "work personality" and not any sort of actual theater – it's possible to get attracted to that and then find the person not nearly as appealing when they turn it off. The case I'm thinking of involved a bartender, so I'm guessing the effect might be stronger if you have someone who's consciously playing a part.

            Combine those two things together, and I think it could be easy for someone to know perfectly well that they're not talking to the character, while their brain is still playing tricks on them and attributing aspects of the character to the person talking.

          • Oh, I think I know what you're talking about now. I'm in martial arts and the upper echelons of my system are made out to be these god-like figures when you first them, its very intimidating because they do their best to keep that public persona up for the students and sometimes in every day life as well. It's a bit of a shock when you find out they're human too, and they're nowhere near the respectable person you thought they were when they take their gi off or turn that 'work personality' off.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            Oh dear Bob, don't get me started on LARP player/character social dynamics!

          • Yeah, I kind of interpret it as: hitting on a cosplayer is like hitting on a bartender/barista. Not in the sense of flirting with someone while they're working, but that you're trying to hit on someone who gets a lot of attention from all the other people who find them attractive. That isn't to say that you don't have any hope ever, but…well the odds aren't in your favor.

          • I don't think you can equate hitting on a non-working con goer to hitting on a barista who is clearly working.The fact that they get lots of attention isn't the same thing as having a job.

          • Chucky, I said them being at work wasn't the point.
            The point is, it's a running joke among my friends that hitting on a barista isn't likely to get you anywhere. Because they constantly get hit on, phone numbers, etc. Ergo, you really have to hit it off/impress them. I'm assuming that some cosplayers feel the same way.

          • Anthony

            The difference being the things that I listed. One isn't usually at a bookstore for a very long time, and for possibly multiple days in a row. The person in the bookstore is not going to be dressed up in a very revealing costume. And they also aren't at the bookstore to interact with people. Presumably, cosplayers spend all those hours and all that money to look as they do so that they can be seen, and so they can interact with the people who see them. If you're monopolizing their time by trying to hit on them, you're potentially ruining their experience.

            The same could be said about bookstores or other places, but it's a stretch. And those just aren't the same locations. You don't pay to get into a bookstore, and you don't go there with some motive other than browse/buy something. The person at the bookstore is like the person visiting the convention but not dressing up. The person dressing up is going there with a different motive.

          • CmE

            Um, if the woman at the bookstore explicitly isn't there to interact with people, while the cosplayer is at the convention explicitly to interact with people, I'd say it's far more ethical and socially appropriate to hit on the cosplayer than it is the bookstore woman.

          • Anthony

            That glosses over everything else I said, but the cosplayer isn't there to interact with any one person, but people as a whole.

          • People as a whole are compromised of individual persons.

          • A 10 minute conversation and possibly asking for a number isn't monopolizing anyone's time.

          • eselle28

            Perhaps just be aware that you may be the hundredth guy to hit on her today and that some of them probably haven't been polite about it, and be even more on the lookout for signs that she doesn't want to have that ten-minute conversation than you'd otherwise be?

          • That'd be my que to walk out when that fact becomes obvious.

          • eselle28

            I guess what I'm trying to say is that if you're hitting on women in certain situations, you might want to set the bar a bit lower than obvious. If someone's already feeling harassed, she's more likely to have truly negative feelings in response to your approach. It might be one of those situations where you should turn up your sensitivity a bit and be more careful.

          • How would I know a random woman is or is not feeling harassed other than approaching and interacting with her. I'm obviously not going to go up to a random girls who looks super stressed or distraught.

          • You can't read minds. But you can keep your expectations low and be ready to accept and shrug off a rejection.

          • eselle28

            When you're dealing with people in certain situations, I think it's better to start with the assumption that they may be feeling harassed and that your attention may not be welcome. You can still approach and interact. What I'm saying is to be more careful about it, and be particularly on the lookout for signals that she doesn't want the conversation to continue.

            If you don't think you should do that, then no, you shouldn't hit on women who are cosplaying (or women who are taking public transportation, or women you see walking on the street, or women in other situations where harassment frequently occurs).

          • Rja

            By considering her situation. Consider that most female cosplayers will interact with a lot of people over the course of a day. Consider that most female cosplayers will have at least one extremely creepy interaction each day (the level of creepiness varies but perfect, uplifting con days are like unicorns from the stories I've heard). If you really like her costume, tell her, but unless she initiates further conversation, back off. Do not have a 10 minute conversation with her unless she seems enthusiastically, impossibly interested in it. Set the bar that high. If she doesn't try to really talk to you, she's probably tired or overwhelmed or has something else she wants to do. It isn't a judgment on you. She doesn't know you. She just doesn't owe you her time.

          • Considering her situation (which I do) is not the same thing as know if she is not truly feeling harassed or distraught. I can pick up signals and I wouldn't force a conversation or interaction that wasn't happening for whatever reason. I'm not disagreeing with you guys half as much as you think I am.

          • eselle28

            But no one's saying that you can know whether she's feeling harassed or distraught. That's not what I said. I said that she might be, and that in some situations, you should start with that assumption and look for a demonstration that she's actually just fine with you talking to her instead of the opposite.

          • If I am initiating the interaction I should make it as comfortable for her as possible, of course, but I think making the assumption that she's being harassed by me is a terrible color to paint the interaction with.

          • Rja

            Don't interact with her then. It isn't that hard. By caring more about insuring you get to interact with her because you find her hot and are curious about what sort of "girl" she is, you are already making the interaction problematic. Don't be that guy.

          • I don't know what the problem is, this is what goes through people's mind when they hit on people, romantic interactions and platonic interactions have overlap but they're not the same and it doesn't imply hitting on a woman causes problems. I've barely on women at cons, I'm just defending the idea that it can be done effectively without the dude approaching turning into that guy.

          • eselle28

            One of the big keys to avoiding being a creep is realizing that your interest in interacting with people and finding dates is not as important as other people's interest in being left alone and feeling safe.

            "Be extra careful with women who are in environments where they may be feeling harassed or threatened," is not that harsh of a rule to follow. You seem to be looking for people to tell you to go ahead and make your cold approach as planned, with no modifications or additional considerations. If that's the case, then I really think you should leave your "day game" for situations that don't have so many complications – book stores and coffee shops and the like. No cons, no buses, no subways.

          • I'm failing to see the point of disagreement between you guys and myself. I'm extra careful with girls I talk regardless of the time and place. I'm a physics major at a large university and the physics students are always studying late at night and none of girls feels safe walking to her car alone and that really sucks. I'm aware of how important it is that people's right to be left alone and feel safe is respected. I'm just saying coloring the interaction with the color of harassment is a terrible one to paint with, I can be careful and respectful of a person's boundaries without necessarily making that assumption.

          • Rja

            You don't get to decide what colors we paint interactions though. We do. All we're saying is that you may end up harassing cosplayers you approach. I know having to be aware of that sucks, but I want it to suck a little bit. The pain is good for you. It builds character and makes you think. Embrace the mental anguish of having to respect women's boundaries in complex situations.

            (More seriously, it really isn't that hard. The mental anguish is minimal. Stop trying to rules-lawyer it. I'm not going to tell you that you're a'okay to talk to female cosplayers for ten minutes.)

          • Um, respecting women's boundaries in complex situation =/= mental anguish, women are people and deserve to have their rights respected just as much as anyone. I'm not even saying going in with the attitude that I'm a POTENTIAL harasser is a bad one, I'm saying painting the interaction itself as harassement before it even took place is a bad idea because it will taint the mood of the interaction and make it bad for both of us.

          • Rja

            It might be harassment though! It might be bad for her! We're talking a potential ten minute conversation here. We're talking potentially creepy questions. If you have any reason to think that it might be bad, don't talk to her. Any reason at all. Then it isn't bad for either of you. If your need to be able to hit on women trumps your sense, I don't care if it is "bad" for you (and it will never be as bad for you as it is for her; your sense of safety isn't being threaten).

          • You're talking potential 10 minutes, I'm just talking about opening the conversation and then going from there (10 was an arbitrary #). I already said I woudn't force something that wasn't happening.

          • Briznecko

            You're assuming this cosplayer can magically ready your mind and read all of those wonderful intentions you have. She most likely had been dealing with dudes trying to hit on her all day (mixed with various levels of creepyness), so to have you mosey up to her will most likely be at best annoying.

            It's like having a cat. Cats are cute and fluffy and awesome, but cleaning their litter box sucks. It's something you have to do again, and again, and again. It's the same way for female cosplayers – they get all decked out to showoff their costumes and have a fun time, and ALL THE DUDES with their NOTES FROM THEIR BONERS constantly hit on them.

            Again, I'm sure most of the dudes have the same pure intentions. But can't you at lease sympathize that will ALL THE DUDES with NOTES FROM THEIR BONERS are going to take away the fun for the cosplayer? Instead of meeting people and having a good time, they have to focus on talking to all the dudes hitting on them?

            Let her have her fun, and by all means chat with her! But seriously, your desire to talk to her does not outweigh her desire to not constantly deal with all those dudes.

          • Your post is all over the place. By all means chat! But at the same time don't chat because you'll be annoying! Which one is it? it seems you're telling me not to approach random girls at all because they may or may not have been hit on by other guys during the day. You're making being hit on mutually exclusive from having a good time, a good interaction with a guy hitting on her could be having a good time if the guy does it right. I also never said they have to respond positively to all dudes hitting on them, you're basically straw manning my entire position here. I don't think you're even arguing with me anymore.

          • x_Sanguine_8

            dude. get it through your head – women in cosplay generally don't want to be hit on. Respect that. Stop trying to defend your position – currently you are BEING "That Guy".
            Don't be That Guy.

          • Well at least someone is being explicit in what they're saying. I won't stop trying to defend my position because hitting on a random girl while she's in costume does not automatically make a person that guy. It has the potential to, but making that equivocation outright isn't necessarily valid.

          • BritterSweet

            You know, clinging to that stance is an extremely common trait of That Guy. If you're that set on ignoring/combating advice to not creep cosplayers out and denying that you may be coming across as creepy whether or not you mean to be, then I'm willing to bet that you'd ignore the signs cosplayers give that they want you to leave them alone.

          • Have you even read one of my comments? Where have I said I want to creep cosplayers out? Cold approach in and of itself =/= creepy. The possible creepiness comes from the manner in which the approach is made.

          • Mad_

            What's so hard about chatting up a cosplayer when she's out of costume and not vulnerable?

            If she's in-costume and interested in you, I think it's on her in that situation to make a move.

          • LOL, I'm sorry but how is she any less vulnerable when she's out of costume? I'm not talking about a situation where the girl is interested in me, this is a hypothetical where guy see a girl who's in costume who he may be interested in, it is not creepy in and of itself that he go up and talk to her unless you think any cold approach is creepy in and of itself.

          • Mad_

            In costume means interacting with a lot of strangers purely because of it. Taking pictures to show it off, talking about how they made it and whatnot, maybe short conversations about whatever it is they're cosplaying because of shared fandom. It's easier to rope them into things because of it. It's not creepy to go up and talk to her because of that, but it is creepy to go up and hit on her because you're taking advantage of it.

            When she's out of costume, there isn't that same dynamic, and maybe not even that same kind of interest because of the attraction to the character. Now you're dealing with the real person under normal circumstances.

          • People take advantage of all sorts of situations without mallicious intent all the time. There's nothing about costumes in that respect. There's nothing wrong with noticing a girl cosplaying a character you recognize and using that to your advantage in making conversation. I'm a long time lurker of these comment sections in DNL's articles and the paranoia here is pretty astounding.

          • Mad_

            Common courtesy is paranoia?

          • See you're going to have to point out to me, step by step, what mental gymnastics you used to make the connection between me saying cold approaching is not creepy in and of itself and denying someone common courtesy. I'll be waiting eagerly because that shit should be in the olympics.

          • Mad_

            This is more of a lukewarm approach. You're approaching a girl because she's dressed like a sexy nerd character and has been interacting with people all day because of it.

          • I'm still waiting on my reason not to approach or talk to said girl, you haven't given me one.

          • Mad_

            Approach and talk if you like the character, but don't approach and talk and expect dating shit to come out of it

          • You technically shouldn't expect anything from a stranger you just met, but if we both are feeling it for whatever reason I'm not going to let that slip away because she's been approached before. By the same token if she's uncomfortable I'm not going to force anything that isn't there.

          • Mad_

            As long as you're both feeling it, right on. This was more meant for when she's not feeling it and guys still don't back off anyways

          • Idk why you guys thought I was advocating continuing the interaction when the girl is uncomfortable, no is no and back off means back off.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            Because, traditionally, over about 100 posts, when someone says "is it ok to make this reasonable sounding exception" it tends to be a prelude into a downward spiral. In this case you've pretty much point by point explained that yes, you can be reasonable about it. Most people who start off this sort of topic can't, so we're all over-cautious about encouraging the creepers.

          • Rja

            If you don't know, then don't talk to her. If you're okay with that, then we're golden.

          • If I don't know what?

          • Rja

            If you don't know if she is feeling harassed or overwhelmed but understand she is in a situation where it is reasonably likely she might be feeling those emotions, don't talk to her.

            (Are comment threads that hard to follow?)

          • Orv

            Sometimes when they get super nested and then someone responds to an earlier post in the thread and it drops it down to the bottom it is hard to figure out which post it was replying to. For me anyway.

          • Exactly. There's nothing wrong with going up to and chatting with someone you find attractive as long as you are respectful and classy about it. Also, doing it because they are attractive is not unethical either. When you see someone, you don't know anything about them other than how they look, so I don't get all this kvetching about how you aren't "really interested" in her. Of course you don't know anything about her at that point, you're not psychic.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            A 10 minute conversation and possibly asking for a number isn't monopolizing anyone's time.

            That REALLY depends on the situation. I do some pretty crazy Henson/Lucas grade costumes, so I know of what I speak. If I have to go to the bathroom, or there's a fire, I have an interview or a photoshoot (regular readers are welcome to imagine me on either side of the camera), a one minute conversation is monopolizing my time. If there's a line of people trying to talk to me, a three minute conversation is about the maximum non-monopolizing time. If I'm up on my quad stilts you smile, look at the camera and move the fuck on. No matter which of these occurs, I will not remember you two hours later.

            If you are engaging my spotter in conversation at all you are now a threat to my physical safety and I will do whatever it takes to get you to move on. This includes looming, stomping, even trying to run you the hell over. Even if you have a business proposition, you hand a card to my spotter with a one sentence explanation and we'll get back to you once I'm in a position to talk.That time is always after I have put the costume back in my room and had a meal and most likely a night's sleep.

            On the other hand, if I'm sitting down, or actively milling about and socializing, 10 minutes is probably reasonable, yeah. I'll remember those conversations much better anyway.

            Also, not that it relates to the general cosplay situation but. . .NEVER pole dance on a stilt character's limbs. I will whack you with my stilts rather than lose my balance.

          • I thought it was implied I'd be having this potential conversations with people that were milling about.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            I tend to assume that cosplayers are in the lobby/on the back porch of DragonCon getting their pictures taken. Most of the. . .big costumers, guys in HALO armor, teams of ESWAT, Land Striders, Cobra and Storm Trooper legions etc. tend to put on their kit, come out, interact with the public in a large open space suitable to photos, then leave. I personally lean towards big stuff, so it colors my impression. If you don't specify, I assume that's the sort of situation we're talking about. I guess the spandex set is more able to wear their costumes all day, in which case the same rules apply to them as would to any other con goer.

            Keep in mind, though, that even milling about there are reasons I might not have 10 minutes. if I'm talking to a con guest, organizer or business contact, they outrank you. If there's a panel coming up, I'm going to be on time even if it means not getting an attractive stranger's number. Keep in mind that "attractive stranger" is the very best you can hope to be perceived as when you walk up to start this conversation.

            I hadn't really thought about the fact that I have seen both sides of this issue before. I tend not to think of myself as doing "cosplay" since I haven't done a convention in a while. A lot of the photos in my portfolio, though, involve some pretty elaborate costumes.

          • I'd love to go to Dragon Con but sadly never been, I'm in south florida and we have a thing called SuperCon which is no where near as big as DragonCon or any of the ComicCons so there isn't alot of interaction between the public and the cosplayers. All the interactions happen in the con hotel, and convention arena. I'm well aware attractive stranger is the best I can be perceived by, that's all I've perceived them as before I approach them.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            I guess my point was that if there's a particular photo area where people congregate for the specific purpose of cosplay photos, that is the place to not approach someone. If they're wearing their costume the rest of the day, then they're the same as any other con goer, just with keen fashion sense.

          • Well yeah, what I call cosplaying is just walking around in your costume, you thought I was advocating hitting on people while they're doing photoshoots?

          • Gentleman Johnny

            Pretty much, yeah. Like I said, I'm from a school of costuming where we really only wear them for photo shoots and competitions. It took me a while to realize that you meant what I'd call my "walking around costume" and wouldn't think of as anything but normal con wear. Like I said, its been a while since I've been to a con.

          • Cat

            Yes, you obviously seem to think that, but that only goes if she WANTS to give you those ten minutes. Doctor NerdLove talks a lot about (for obvious reasons) how to approach women and that's a good thing for those who have crippling anxieties but it doesn't remove the factor that a lot of guys take it for granted that women are approachable for the sole fact of being women and out in public spaces. Even a cosplayer might just be there to socialize – with her friend group, not with random strangers. Cues are important and it's not a human right to talk to strangers just because you dig their look. Not to say you're not allowed to approach but pay attention and when in doubt, err on the side of refraining.

          • guest

            They way you keep changing your tune here I have to ask. Do you know for certain or are just guessing over and over?

          • Do I know what for certain? Any time your dealing with strangers you're basically guessing.

          • I find this line of reasoning faulty, just because I may or may not be hitting on someone doesn't imply that either of us are there just for the purpose of hooking up or getting a date. I go to cons because I'm a big anime/comic/gaming fan and I love to see the big vendors room, buying cool new posters and figures, enjoy spending the weekend with friends, cosplay championship wrestling, panels, etc but I'd also love to meet a girl who'se into the same nerdy shit I am into and its a pretty good bet the girls that are there are into that.
            Again I'm not talking about hitting on a booth babe, I'm talking about say a random girl out looking at stuff in the vendors room or while getting a bite to eat at the hotel's cafe. I've hit on a few cosplayers namely one dressed as the little mermaid, I initiated the interaction by asking to take her picture and than I talked with her a little more with the intent of possibly getting her number but I ran out of shit to say so I backed out so as not to make awkward for her.
            It is the same situation as the bookstore and coffee shop, just the circumstances are slightly different, people do actually go to bookstores for hours at a time and sometimes days at a time, and so what if they aren't? The costume might be why I noticed them initially but all I can by is what I physically see when interacting with a stranger for the first time, I'm not a mind reader so going up to talking to someone whose looks might've interested me is the only way I can see if they're cool or not. Doesn't mean
            it's the only reason why I'm there but if I can make a successful interaction happen I'll try to make it happen.

          • Anthony

            You can see my post above illustrating a few more of the differences. But I think I can also say that if/when one hits on someone at the bookstore, they are presumably doing it based on what kinds of books they are browsing through. I know exactly what you are talking about, and my stance remains the same.

            If you meet a cosplayer outside the convention hall, like at the hotel's cafe, then I do think that's a different story. She's likely to be tired, but that just means be extra careful.

          • 'But I think I can also say that if/when one hits on someone at the bookstore, they are presumably doing it based on what kinds of books they are browsing through. '
            Yes and no, I wouldn't hit on a girl I wasn't physically attracted to, if too girls were looking at Feynman's lectures on Physics and one was attractive and one was not, I'd want to talk to the attractive one.

          • Akai

            No one here is saying you should be hitting on women regardless of what they look like. Stop harping on that.

    • Gentleman Johnny

      Rather than address this directly, I'll just say Doc has at least one article on finding someone at a con. Dig through the archives or use a little Google-fu. The short form is its not impossible but your chances are much, much lower than other public gatherings and its much easier to make a bad impression.

      • CmE

        Quite possibly, but this is is an argument from effectiveness, not ethics.

      • Doc doesn't have direct advice for finding people that are potential dates at cons specifically; his two articles on the subject are about personal hygiene at the con or his other article says just plain don't hit on anyone at the con with the cliche 'they're not their for that' line. It's kind of funny because he even says in the article that people find romantic partners at cons but he hand waves at away as a fluke. The chances are low mostly because the girl you're talking to might be from out of state or is more likely to have a bf or something along those lines, but if it's not impossible than might as well post a more helpful bit of advice than don't try to pick up anyone anywhere in the con even if they're not working the place.

        • Gentleman Johnny

          I can't really be bothered to go re-read both of these articles to see if there's a take-away about why hitting on people at cons is an especially bad idea compared to bookstores. I imagine it has to do with the fact that a woman at the bookstore might have to deal with one guy hitting on her. A female cosplayer probably deals with several an hour for a whole weekend, many of them creepers or borderline. That makes it much, much more difficult to make a good impression. Far better to have a conversation, get a facebook, email or phone number link and pursue things like dating several weeks after the con is over.
          I'll take your word for it that Doc didn't come out and say that. So yeah, I guess you caught a contradiction in the doc's advice. Here's a cookie.

          • Trust me I know plenty of creepers and yeah it would pretty tough to make a good impression but I think it can be done.
            ' Far better to have a conversation, get a facebook, email or phone number link and pursue things like dating several weeks after the con is over. '
            This is sensible to me of course, I don't think you and I are disagreeing as much as you think.
            Doc has lots of contradictions in his advice, but that's expected from just one dude writing hundreds of articles and trying to make them all awesome in their own way.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            The basic issue (and I'm not really following the rest of this thread right now, so it may have already come up), is that there's two sets of advice: one for socially calibrated people who can be told "yeah, go ahead and approach someone, just be aware" and another for people who constantly rules lawyer, "what-if" and otherwise try to excuse various levels of creeper behavior.

            Yes, its possible to have a talk with someone in costume, to get their number etc. When they're out having their picture taken is probably not the time to do it since they have many other demands on their attention. You're very unlikely to be able to make a good impression in the short time that's available. On the other hand, its very easy to be a creeper and demand undivided attention when its not warranted. Given this, my general advice is to err on the side of caution. Yes, there are exceptions. People who need a "don't be that guy" article are probably not it.

            As a side note, I've found the best way to work with that is to be in your own kick-ass costume. No random passer-by wants a picture of Major Kusanagi and some random guy. Kusanagi and Harlock, or The Major and Speed Racer in his papercraft Mach 5, that'll buy you a few minutes just because the crowd wants shots of you both. (Actual examples used)

    • Tea_Fish

      I'm a cosplayer who's gotten hit on and propositioned at cons, so I've definitely got some input on this. My opinion, of course, is not to be mistaken for speaking for all cosplayers.

      Lots of cosplayers get hit on a LOT at cons. A LOT. And in a lot of inept, awkward, and downright creepy ways (quick story! once a guy asked my friend to pose with him for a picture. He then proceeded to rub his hand all over the small of her back and compliment her on how soft her skin was. Buffalo Bill vibes much?) So you have to be aware that, when hitting on a cosplayer, there's a good chance that you are Dude # 19823 of many and that they're probably really tired of it.

      The other thing is that cosplay is… well, it's costumes. And all too often, hitting on a cosplayer feels likes someone is hitting on the costume and not the person in the costume. Nobody wants to be Joe Blow's Miku blow-up doll. If some guy comes up to me and fawns all over my slinky red dress and green wig, well, it's obvious the only thing he's after is how I look, and that's not even how I really look.

      So my feeling is that if you start talking to a cosplayer (say, by complimenting his or her costume) and find yourselves having a great conversation and having fun– by all means, ask for their number, maybe offer your own. But if you're looking over the sea of cosplayers, trying to decide who to ask out? Chances are you're going to end up creeping a bunch of people out and end up disappointed anyway.

      • I'm fairly new to the whole cold approaching thing but when I do my hands are at my sides and I'm giving them eye contact, I probably got the urge to hit on them because they looked good in their costumes but than i'm curious as what kind of girl they are and if I'd possibly hit it off with them. If they can spend hours on their costumes than that probably means they're passionate about what they like, and they have good tastes about what they like, than I can respect that along with thinking they're hot at the same time. I mean it's like not I stand by the entrance scanning the con floor for potential targets, I try to be aware of how people view me from the outside in of course.

        • Tea_Fish

          That's a good place to start. If say, you'd like to befriend or ask a cosplayer out on a date, one of the most important things is to never lose track of the person beneath the costume. That person might be…. perfectly happy to talk to you about the Tales of franchise, eager to explain how they made this cool prop gun, running off to catch a panel, flatly disinterested in anything you have to say, too polite to say it but she's busy posing so please get out of the way, and so on. Generally con socializing atmosphere makes for lots of 'easy come easy go' interactions– it's not bad to just start chatting it up with random strangers, hot cosplayer or no, but be prepared to bow out of the conversation just as quickly when one or both of you want to take off.

      • Honest question because I have little opportunity/community to cosplay in my town. (Though I've made some notable appearances at Halloween shindigs.) But, are many cosplayers 'in-character' for most of the time their 'on duty'? I do know part of the appeal of dressing up is to embody a character and be someone else for a while. If so, that would make hitting on them more counter-productive. In the same way Cinderella isn't actually 24/7 Princess at Disney World, the flirtatious, outgoing Harley Quinn or Girl/Beetlejuice might not be as flirtatious or outgoing once the makeup comes off. Just a thought. I have no idea how right I am or not though.

        • Gentleman Johnny

          Speaking strictly for myself, I'd say that yes I make some effort to bring the character I look like. Not like I wouldn't answer to my real name or something but if you're going to put hours and hours into a particular character, you probably want to feel like that character at least to some extent. I guarantee you if I had a Booster Gold suit, I'd be wearing the matching over the top attitude.

    • Anthony

      I think it's also worth pointing out that this is an article aimed at people who may be making social missteps. If you are confident that you're beyond that, then rules start to bend and change. The more socially graceful you are, the more situations you can put yourself in and not have a negative outcome for anyone involved. Conventions are not in line with everyday life, so hitting on someone there is not the same as it would be in everyday life. For an article talking about getting over some pretty basic social issues, it's best to leave the more 'advanced' things for later, I think.

    • Gentleman Johnny

      I think Chucky's taking it a little hard because we are so used to That Guy in the comments. So I'm going to sort of reverse-strawman here and rephrase what I've taken away from this conversation in a way that's a bit closer to what i think the spirit is:

      A lot of people walk around cons in costume 24/7 they're not there for striking up new friendships and/or getting dates any more than a woman at a bookstore is. There shouldn't be anything wrong with trying to strike up a conversation with one of them just because they're in costume. Obviously you don't want to do this when they're getting photos taken, haggling with vendors or whatever but people go to conventions to meet other people. It'd actually be weird to not talk at least a bit with someone whose costume you like. Now it may happen that during this conversation, the two of you really hit it off. That's going to be on her, since she's probably getting hit on quite a bit. If the conversation is good, you've got some shared interests, no one's creeped out, everyone's having fun, she seems into you and not just being polite and you're switched on enough to be able to tell the difference then it makes sense to continue the fun after the con by exchanging contact info.

      Now I'd add a few refinements to that. Things like go ahead and strike up a conversation but wait until later to ask for her number. You're both going to be there all weekend. You're going to need more than one conversation because asking if she's local in the first 10 minutes might probably will be weird. By the time you try to strike up a second conversation at a different time, you'll have a much easier time telling if she's excited to see you coming back. If she's not, then don't follow through. This is all very doable without being That Guy, but pay special attention to where the emphasis is placed in the above. Those are the areas where That Guy will get tripped up.

    • Jenn

      The Doctor is giving advice not orders. Hit on cosplay girls if you want but realize you might wind up with a 'that guy' rep.

    • xyz

      Here is a problem I have with your point of view. Anyplace someone might go is a place where they have a reason to be there AND where that reason is not to get hit on. Even bars and dance clubs could be included as many women have said they are their to hang out with their girl friends.

  • "the more buzzed you get, the less of a filter you’re going to have"

    This is too often used as an excuse: getting deliberately tipsy without it debilitating you too much in order to get away with more. These faux-passes are clear enough to remember even when thoroughly wasted.

    When buying drinks, just nab a pitcher and lots of straws. People can pace themselves without it showing, it saves money on specified drink orders, is easier to carry and the investment returns itself because people will buy the next pitcher for the group.

    Also, even in the same social setting the boundaries will be different per group. The circle at the table playing I've Never will be more open than the teatotallers lounging on the couch. Don't expect the latter to be willing to listen to raunchy anecdotes(of course, table group is already doing precisely that), don't expect the former to be interested in long-winded discussions.

    Lower boundaries doesn't equate to more willing. Just because you've been grinding butts for a song or swapping sex stories doesn't mean they want you to take 'em home, especially if the setting has everyone engage in that sort of behaviour easily.

    Creepiness is essentially about attitude: it doesn't matter how many niché fetishes you have, or how raunchy you are around your friends-as long as you calibrate yourself well, you have nothing to be ashamed of or worried that your 'true self' will shine through for all to gasp in disgust at.

    • LeeEsq

      I'm not necessarily sure about the last paragraph. Creepiness is about how others perceive your behavior rather than attitude. Granted having the right attitude controls a good deal about how other's perceive your behavior but its not the only factor. A person could have the proper attitude and still come across creepy to one person when another person views their behavior in a more positive manner.

      • Paul Rivers

        I think you misinterpreted his last paragraph. What he was talking about was calibrating to the group of people you're with, or person you're talking to.

        There is no "proper attitude" that works with everyone. I've had groups of friends where sexual innuendo jokes are *always* welcome and genuinely found funny. I've had other groups of friends (or maybe I should say friendly acquaintances) where sexual inuendo jokes are only appropriate if *really* well done, and even then you're taking a risk.

        You don't "calibrate" yourself to a single standard, the word "calibration" refers to calibrating to the people you're talking to. To be dramatic – going into your grandmothers conservative christian knitting group and telling jokes about your sex life is obviously going to get a different reaction than if you do the same thing in a group of burlesque dancers where everyone is sitting around telling their own jokes about their own sex life.

  • LeeEsq

    Geeks like a lot of other socially unconventional people seem to have problems with the social conventions that work and actually make the public an easier place to be in. Its something I noticed when I was deeper into anime fandom. Besides the creeper behavior, you also had lots of failures at basic table manners and coutersy. An anime meet-up I was in had to kick somebody out becasue of repeated failures at basic social graces. In the social dance scene, basic social graces are more common but thats mainly because dance has long tradition of etiquette and that a lot of people in the scene are more socialy conventional than anything else.

  • Gentleman Horndog

    All right, boys, show of hands.

    Anybody else read these articles, think about some stuff they've done in the (not always as distant as we'd prefer) past, and come away thinking "Dammit, if I'm ever in a conversation with that girl again, I totally owe her an apology — or would, if 'Leave Her Be' weren't almost certainly the right move now."?

    I'm not the only one, right?

    • Orv

      I'd say the more than a little distant past, but definitely. In my late high school/ early college years I went on a bit of a "being an asshole" binge.

    • CxeBerlin

      I’ve don’t think I’ve creeped on anyone sexually, but I’ve probably overridden friends boundaries in other contexts. And I often wish I’d been firmer or more able to calmly point out boundaries in the early stages of seeing someone creep on me or others – I’ve often resented silently and then had undignified ragesplosions instead.
      Anyway, gentleman johnny, orv and you ( jh) have all said you’ve been a bit creepy on occasion and we all have cringe stories, but I really don’t think you’d be capable of the creep stories most women I know have and tell each other. Some people really get off on causing disgust, fear and humiliation – there is no way they could be unaware.

    • the other Patrick

      No you're not. Thank God I never had an aggressive, in-your-face style and I would never have dared to make sexual comments, but 20-year-old Patrick was definitely a hoverer with a very poor grasp of social cues. I'm hoping that I was too innocuous in my behavior to make anyone feel unsafe/threatened, but I definitely set off many people's "oh gosh I don't wanna be around that guy" alert. I was aware of that even at the time, but had no idea what I did that was causing it. If I could only go back in time…

    • Paul Rivers

      Well actually…no.

      It's always been the complete opposite for me – I was always *way* to cautious about not wanting to accidentally do something inappropriate, that in retrospect all my stories are "oh god, why did I not take the risk and make a move there?". It's just story after story after story of girls who were doing the "I'm totally being obvious by obscurely signalling you" and I never was aggressive enough in pursuing them or making a move on them before some other guy did.

      • Max

        yeah, this was me, too. I was more like "Oh god, we briefly made eye contact, now she thinks I was staring at her and that I'm creepy. Now I can never interact with her again in any way, just to be safe.

        • Mad_

          Lot of both for me. Some things make me cringe and flinch now that I understand more the other point of view… and there's some things where I now know she opened the door a crack and I could've walked through it and didn't.

      • Gentleman Johnny

        Yeah, I'm more on the "not enough" side than the "too much".

    • Astral

      Also, I'm a woman, and I did a couple of creepy things as a girl. Mostly before I hit puberty, I think. Largely because boundaries weren't respected in my family, and I just picked up on what I learned. (Yuk, I know). I also hated being a child, and wanted to have more grown up fun, which clearly included sexiness. Even though I didn't actually understand what I was suggesting when I was making innuendo and stuff. But the teasing and terrified looks taught me really quickly that what I thought was simply edgy was actually creepy. Which is too bad, because I was crushing on one of those guys for his awesome action figure collection we played with. I am probably overly sensitive to social clues so I went in the other direction, into a shell, behind a wall, and didn't learn to start expressing myself properly until a couple years into college.

  • Gentleman Johnny

    To whoever asked in the previous article how it would help them get the girl: by leading into this one.

  • Xexyz

    Holy fuck what a depressing article. I'm not really into cons, but after reading this (and several other articles both here and elsewhere) it makes me want to check out of geek/gamer culture altogether – not that I'm really a very participating member it as it is; I have a small group of friends I game with and that's it.

    Is our culture really this bad? Is our culture such a despicable cesspool and are we really nothing more than a group comprised wholly of creepers, Nice Guys, social misfits, and other societal failures?

    • Anthony

      Society on the whole is really this bad. These are just issues that specifically come up in nerd/geek culture. That's in large part because people who grow up in this culture are largely less socially inclined. They don't necessarily learn the social cues that other people do, or at least not as quickly/as early in life. The thing to remember, for me, is that the vast majority of mistakes that are made are just that, mistakes. It's people not knowing any better. That doesn't make it okay, and it doesn't lessen the impact that their actions have. But it means that things aren't broken beyond repair; they just need a tune up.

      If we were talking about different groups in society, there would be different issues, but ones that are just as important and terrifying.

      • hobbesian

        I think it's also being fueled to a very bright blaze due to globalization. Essentially, creepy people used to be NEEDED in spite of being creepy people… the creepy guy might be the town butcher or blacksmith or school teacher.. but you needed him in order for your group to function.. now though you don't need him.. you can either outsource his job or hire someone in from outside to replace him. This makes you more apt to find and point out his flaws, since he isn't integral to your overall functionality anymore..

        In other words, this is just another symptom of the changing face of "Masculinity" in western culture. We're systematically dismantling something which has been in place for a very long time.. without providing any alternatives. Those who were raised before the new system was conceived will just be written off as dinosaurs or old people and left to their own devices.. those who are raised entirely in the new system will likely be fine.. those who are raised in the murky area between the two are going to be confused and not sure which way to pull.. they won't know if they are too old to adopt the ways of the new generation or if they are old enough to just declare themselves irrelevant and go sit in a rocker for the rest of their lives.

        • Artimaeus

          I suppose you're making an interesting point about the way communities work. Generally speaking, people in the past weren't as cosmopolitan or as transitory. They had their entire live to build up relationships with their community, and communities were generally bound together more tightly. Nowadays, there's a lot more pressure to make good first impressions, since there really is no other reason for that person to spend time with you. People have less and less need to commit to each other, which means that the socially awkward among us often don't have the time to let familiarity overcome our initial challenges.

        • Squirrel

          Bear in mind that smaller communities were more likely to be aware of and deal directly with a known creeper. Whether it's reining them in with direct confrontations or social interventions, or just flat out ostracizing them to that broken down shack on the outskirts of town.

          Now *predators,* on the other hand… A small community is much more likely to defend or shelter a predator, precisely because of their skill in social situations.

    • CmE

      I don't go to conventions so I have no first-hand experience of this kind of thing myself, but I also have to admit that this was in some ways my first reaction. Just ugh. I'd like to think that very basic rules of social interaction are not beyond all but a very small minority of people. At the big Magic tournaments I occasionally go to most people behave themselves, bar a very small minority who turn up having not had a bath in six weeks (yeuch) and another tiny minority of predatory thieves. But it's a totally different atmosphere and people are more focussed on competition rather than interaction.

      • Akai

        I think a lot of it is that a few horrible experiences like this really poison the overal convention for that person, and for women in general. While most people at conventions are perfectly normal, the absolute awfulness of a few real stinkers overshadows everything else.

    • StarlightArcher

      When you say culture, do you mean nerd culture or just society at large? I second what's been said that as a fairly insular group, nerds tend not to learn the subtler of social cues as early as many other groups do. Something else to remember, the vast majority of con attendees tend to be below the 30yr mark. So at a con like Project Akon, 90% of attendees are high schoolers cutting or college age folks. This tends to be a period of extreme idiocy (for all human beings), not to mention social unawareness.

      Also, the herd/crowd mentality of a convention can bring on what I like to term a hysterical-trance state (no food or sleep for 72hrs will do that to a human). When a person hits that point, social cues are more foreign than actual Martian. This is part of why many cons now will stress the importance of basic nutrition, hygiene and 8+ hours of sleep during their opening addresses, along with the no drugs/drink responsibly plugs.

      • I've never been to one of these things either but I imagine it's the same in every societal subculture. Look at the recent rape scandal in a small college-football town that the sheriffs were trying to cover up. However, people like this are the minority (if they were the majority, society just wouldn't function.) They thrive off the inability, apathy or unwillingness of the rest of the people in the environment to do anything about the poor behavior.

    • eselle28

      It is that bad. To the extent there's a silver lining, it's that it's not everyone. If even one in twenty or one in fifty people behaves in the ways that are described, it can make a scene pretty unpleasant for the other people. Most people are basically decent, and if they're creepy, it's only every now and then and because they genuinely didn't realize it or know better.

      There are disgusting, predatory people in other areas of life as well. To the extent geek culture is worse, I think it's because we try too hard to be accepting or because we relate to being awkward and put ourselves too much in the creeper's shoes and not enough in the victim's or because lots of us aren't used to standing up for ourselves and others in social situations.

      • Xexyz

        "I think it's because we try too hard to be accepting or because we relate to being awkward and put ourselves too much in the creeper's shoes and not enough in the victim's or because lots of us aren't used to standing up for ourselves and others in social situations."

        This bothers me. Why is it always brought up as something that's negative about geek culture? To the extent that I've been a part of the geek culture scene, racism, homophobia, and transphobia have been a lot less prevalent and accepted than in more mainstream subcultures. (Sexism too, but that's probably due to me being pro-active about it and not tolerating it if/when it rears its head.)

        • eselle28

          By and large, it's a wonderful part of the culture. I think that people who mention it in the context of the creeper issue generally understand that and value that part of being a geek. But there is a difference between accepting someone who is part of an oppressed group, someone who has odd mannerisms but who's nice and interesting, someone who's harmless but who no one actually enjoys spending time with, and someone who's a predator and who's harassing or sexually assaulting your friends.

          That last one shouldn't happen. You don't need to lump the lovely people in the first two categories in with them. Geeks are smart enough to learn to draw the lines between harmful behavior and people just being themselves. I'd say the third one is also a problem and leads to a lot of passive-aggressive drama in geek circles, not it's not quite as urgent of one.

    • CxeBerlin

      My boss is a huge creep, but he’s not a nerd. I think geeky subculture is more polarised actually. You might meet more ideological misogynists like Gil who spout third-hand misreadings of The Selfish Gene or people who think they are oppressed by social conventions that require them not to grope people. But you’ll also meet a lot more people who’ve thought hard about gender roles and feminism and consent. To be honest, I think it’s been getting better of late, in that horrible things still happen but there is a big outcry.

      • eselle28

        I'll sign on to that. Occasionally I get a little disgusted that a lot of the people who like the same things I like are creepy, gropey, misogynists, but then I remember that some of the kindest, most thoughtful, pro-feminist guys I know are also geeks.

      • Gentleman Johnny

        Yes. It may be unpleasant to discuss these problem but its a better option than not discussing them. The fact that you're hearing about it doesn't mean its a problem, it means its a problem that people are working to solve.

    • Tea_Fish

      Yes, it really is that bad and geek culture is full of creepers and Nice Guys and social misfits and other names for failure here. At the same time….it really is that GOOD too. Geek culture is great, and full of fun and fantastic people and fun and fantastic things to love. There's a reason that women, despite traditional ostracization and alienation, still want to be part of it. Life and society as a whole is full of both extremes and everything in between. For our parts, we do our best to amplify the good and wipe out the bad, however that may be.

    • Gentleman Johnny

      are we really nothing more than a group comprised wholly of creepers, Nice Guys, social misfits, and other societal failures?

      We're not ALL bad. The whole point of the article is to help guys who are a problem and don't know it, who just need a little nudge to go from That Guy to That Cool Guy I Met At The Con. That's a laudable goal.

    • Paul Rivers

      "Holy fuck what a depressing article. I'm not really into cons, but after reading this (and several other articles both here and elsewhere) it makes me want to check out of geek/gamer culture altogether – not that I'm really a very participating member it as it is; I have a small group of friends I game with and that's it.

      Is our culture really this bad? Is our culture such a despicable cesspool and are we really nothing more than a group comprised wholly of creepers, Nice Guys, social misfits, and other societal failures?"

      My answer is very straightforward – **NO**.

      Stop reading online and actually make friends and go out in public, and you'll find the same thing you'll find with the news – all that's written about is the 1% of negative behavior.

      That is actually one of the problems with articles like these, but moreso – the news in general. Turn on the news, and what would you think of your local society? Murder! Child abduction! The weather is going to be horrible! How your furnace is slowing killing you!

      The *real* irony is present if you read between the lines. "creepers, Nice Guys, social misfits" – *these* are the problems that are mostly complained about.

      Have you **gone** to clubs and bars downtown? It's like, 25% of the the time I've gone out to those places, I see or am almost involved in something that is WAY worse than any of these topics. From the guy who didn't know the girl, but was trying to take home a girl who was to drunk to stand up on her own (the bouncer wasn't having any of it, but the guy just wouldn't quite), to the group I was with almost getting into a fight with another group because some bitchy girl in our group was instigating it (to be fair, I don't go out to bars with that group after that), to the girl who ripped off the mask of my friend on halloween then tried to get this other guy to fight him over it, going to "loud music and grinding" kinds of bars are WAY worse than what I even read about here.

      I'm not saying horrible things don't happen at Cons – because they happen everywhere that there are people – look at school shootings. But it's just not the same level.

    • Rickettsia_rickettsii

      The creepers, Nice Guys, social misfits, etc. everywhere. I feel that the number of truly scary guys is lower in nerd culture than it is in other circles, while the number of awkward but essentially harmless guys is higher. And I speak as someone who was as comfortable going to a frat party one day and a anime fest the next back in the day.

    • Thereal McCoy

      No, it's not really that bad. Most guys really are decent people, including the socially awkward ones. It's that the guys who are not decent people spoil things in such a bad way. They spoil the atmosphere for women by sexually assaulting us, and they spoil the atmosphere for men by making it difficult for you to interact socially with half the con goers (they also spoil the atmosphere for women by making it tough to interact socially with half the attendees, but that's not nearly as much of a bummer as having a dude feel you up or put your hand on his junk). If the vigilance that Nerdlove is advocating for men to police their own behavior is depressing you, well, it should. You should be deeply, deeply uncomfortable with the situation. If you want to lessen that discomfort, contribute to a positive atmosphere by calling out creepy behavior when you see it. Naturally, calibrate your call out to the situation.

    • Beth

      It's called patriarchy, Xexyz.

    • Max

      I wonder if it's also that years of being the smartest person in the room and getting picked on or ostracized for that have made some geeks super arrogant and not very fond of other people. That's a good recipe for creepy/predatory behavior, especially if you blame your problems on the opposite sex.

      • CxeBerlin

        Well, years of thinking they are the smartest person in the room. Creepy people often mistake their own non-mainstream interests and skills as somehow superior, and overlook everyone else's, mainstream or not.

    • Jay

      No, nerd communities are not completely made up of bad apples. The issue is that 1) even one bad apple can ruin your day (especially if none of the apples do anything to help you out of the situation), and 2) in a convention with dozens, hundreds, or thousands of people, even a low percentage of bad apples can become a significant number.

      It's just that conventions aren't the magical paradises of nerdery that people make them out to be. After all the build-up, when disillusionment comes, it tends to come harder than it might in a non-convention situation. I have personally been lucky not to have many truly horrible interactions, partly because I run with a group that helps each other out (sometimes some of the bigger men preemptively intercept creepers before they even get to me), and partly because I'm lucky. But even then I can count on at least one or two uncomfortable conversations and at least one instance of feeling trapped per day.

  • Gentleman Horndog

    I'd think they'd effectively be a subtle offshoot of con security, ya? Who vets those guys?

    • Rja

      Sometimes no one. Con security varies wildly. Good con security will make obvious efforts to intervene in these sorts of situations and will be organized well enough to spot most issues despite limited numbers. Unfortunately, a lot of con security is shit (and whether they're professional or volunteer has almost no bearing on how good they are; some of the best programs are volunteer-based but there are good professional ones as well). I think demanding better training and screening for con security (background checks, interviews) and then equipping them with an app like this would be the most effective.

  • CmE

    BTW edgeplay is perfectly capable of being consensual and as reasonably safe as possible. "Sane" is rather subjective. A bit like mountain climbing.

    It normally gets filed under "risk-aware consensual kink" (RACK) which has developed as an alternative to the SSC motto over the years, for a number of reasons.

  • Aw, hell. Sexual innuendo humor is about the only time I am funny. Strip that away, and I'm either serious (intellectual conversation, which is kinda hard to have with strangers), boring ("So…. how bout them Packers?"), or silent.

    I completely understand why I should cut it out, since it makes people around me uncomfortable. But it is kind of disheartening to think I've lost the one card I have to play (I am occasionally funny.) It also means I can absolutely never drink…. I am a life-long light weight, so even 1 drink will propel me into more-than-buzzed territory, which is when my humor really coms out in force.

    Example, I went out with a friend two nights ago. She is very knowledgeable about beer, so drinking local brews is one of the things we do together, since I'd like to learn. After one drink, however, I slipped into my sexual-innuendo-humor (hearing "male sluts" instead of "mail slots.") I thought they were laughing with me at the time, but now I am ashamed at thinking I was making everyone uncomfortable. But…. without it, I would have either just sat there, or spent the entire time asking questions. (Which I try to do anyway.)

    Maybe that guy on Wednesday was right, maybe some of us are just born creepers, and the best thing we can do is just hole ourselves up from society…

    • eselle28

      That's kind of my sense of humor as well. I'd like to think that it's at least okay with friends, if you know they find those things funny and they're comfortable enough to say, "Ewwww…" if your joke does ever go too far.

      • I hope so, but then how do you make friends if you can't use your sense of humor? Once I get to know someone, I can pull out the "look I's smart!" talks, but there has to be some reason for them to get to know me in the first place. Without humor, I am boring, forgettable.

        What do you do if you have nothing to recommend yourself to a stranger?

        • eselle28

          I think it's like anything. You start with the milder stuff, look around and see if people seemed genuinely amused, and take your cues from that.

          I'll admit this may be why a lot of my platonic friends are guys. It seems like guy humor is a little grosser in general, so I can wait for other people to make some funny comments and take that as the signal for what's appropriate.

        • Rickettsia_rickettsii

          I 2nd Estelle. Learning how to do social chit chat and find things that make people laugh is trial and error and hard to learn if you are a natural introvert.

          You sound like me when I was younger. I only learned how to do it through saying something, watching the reaction, recalibrating if it wasn’t what I wanted, and trying again. It pays to give careful attention to what topics others are laughing at, rather than sweating what you are going to say.

          The hardest part is not shutting down and withdrawing when you let a conversational fart. It takes awhile to learn how to gracefully move on.

          PS: I thought the male slut mishear was funny

    • Tea_Fish

      I love raunchy humor, but there's always a time, a place, and a people. Among friends, sexual innuendo is probably a safe bet unless you have a friend who doesn't appreciate it (and being your friend, you would probably know.) Among strangers, well, look to the place and the people? In a bar? Probably okay. At a party? Probably alright. In a restaurant? Maybe. At church? In a school? Nope. And so on.

      Just like how guys who want to cold approach a woman, it's important to gauge your audience. Maybe your joke the other way went over great and everyone was happy and laughing, worst case scenario, maybe it went over like a lead balloon and everyone was laughing at you. Don't automatically assume it's either– maybe if you want, ask your friend for a truthful assessment of the night. The most important thing is to be mindful of other people's comfort, and tone it up or down based on that.

      • Oh yes, I would not start with a sexual innuendo when talking to a stranger in a book store or something. I just thought a con was a "safe" space where I could bring the joking out a little early…. within the first 10 minutes of the conversation, say. But Doc's article says to never go there at all, which is what I'm bummed about.

        I think I was acting under the mistaken assumption that we're all friends there, ya know? Even if we don't know each other? Cons just seem to have such a chummy, we're-all-buddies atmosphere that I think I get confused….

        • Cait

          The tricky part about the we're-all-buddies atmosphere is that there's a sort of unwritten social contract that hovers under the surface. "We're all buddies as long as no one scares off anyone else."

          Thing is, with your friends you have a reason to address discomfort because you have a relationship that you both/all want to preserve. A friend who got uncomfortable with a joke would hopefully feel well within his/her rights to say so, knowing that the joke teller values the friendship more than his/her right to tell the joke. Everyone has a vested interested in the relationship and is willing to inconvenience themselves for the good of the whole. They'll fight to protect the friendship. Not fight against you but fight with you against the disembodied values of "tearing friendships apart via bad feelings on all sides" Mutual enemy, mutual valued thing to protect, everyone is in it together!

          Apply that to a con (or any other similar situation): yes, you have a lot more in common with the people around you than you do in other circumstances. But you don't actually know all these people. You're not actually friends with all these people. You don't have an actual vested interest in them. So, they aren't going to be willing to cooperatively fight when things get hard. They will just walk away. And that's why you aren't really friends, even if the con is full of the we're-all-buddies atmosphere. Friends have a relationship that allows for leeway when mistakes are made and feelings get hurt because there's that underlying context of "we all actually care about each other." No group of strangers, no matter how similar, is gonna be like that.

          • Tea_Fish

            ^This! Cons make for great places to meet "your people" and hit it off with a lot of people at once. It's a great start off point to make a bunch of new friends, but at the same time, unless you make the effort to really develop these relationships, you end up being shallow friends or con acquaintances at best (not a bad thing, but it's still not "friends"). I don't think that necessarily means you need to swear off the sexual innuendo altogether, but extending your awareness of your audience to con hangouts will only help your jokes go over better.

        • Jay

          I actually *hate* that we're-all-buddies assumption at cons because it leads to me being trapped in conversation after conversation with people I don't know and aren't really into, and if I even hint that I'm not 100% happy about interacting with every schmoe who comes up with me, *I* get castigated because I violated the sacred we're-all-buddies assumption.

          For me, it's a balancing act. Sure, at conventions everyone starts right off with some handy shared interests, which is great. And depending on the subculture, sometimes you get different norms or traditions that allow you to get away with something that you wouldn't be able to do, say, in the bookstore. I like that. But then you have to remember that a lot of people are there to work or network, and that you actually *aren't* bosom friends with everyone there.

  • Artimaeus

    Ugh, it's hard not to read this article without cringing a little. It's a shame that women have to put up with this shit at cons (personally, I've only been to a few sci-fi cons, which have catered to a significantly older audience) but I suspect that for the vast, overwhelming majority of guys who frequent this site, this sort of "Don't be that guy" article is just reinforcing a raging case of stereotype threat. My favorite articles are those that explains a dating problem and suggests ways to solve it. I don't think anyone really needs to hear the story of the BDSM guy who was acting massively inappropriate.

    • Rja

      People need to hear it. Way, way too many men think they can be the Magical Exception to this sort of behavior. "Oh, but I mean well! Oh, she isn't going to take it like that!" Reminding them that they are not the Magical Exception is important because it keeps them from falling on their faces and further alienating women from the subculture.

      • Artimaeus

        I don't claim to speak for the entirety of men, particularly those that are engaged with creepy behavior, but generally it's not hard to tell when you're making somebody uncomfortable. A guy may be up his ass in denial, try to rationalize away his behavior, or claim ignorance in order to save face when called on it, but he knows. It's not fun to be the guy that everybody feels uncomfortable around. The problem is that these "Don't be that guy" articles don't help guys find any alternative ways to go about interacting with people they're attracted to. Don't get me wrong, creepers ought to be criticized, but if we want to help we should aim for constructive criticism.

        • Mel_

          I see lots of tips in the article for what people should do as well as what they shouldn't. How is that not helping guys find alternate ways to behave?

    • eselle28

      I think these stories are important, because they let people know what women (and sometimes men) in the geek community are experiencing. If you understand people's perspectives, their behavior can make a lot more sense.

    • Tea_Fish

      What exactly do you mean by "a raging case of stereotype threat"?

      That said, I feel like BDSM dude is a pretty relevant story. He's an extreme example, but there are many less obvious example of socially awkward people doing a toned down version of the same thing and not even realizing that they're turning people off. I know a guy who randomly bumped into me and my friend, chatted with her for ten minutes then decided it was a great time to show her his five year collection of stick figure drawings of Super Saiyans and then follow her to her room. I know a girl who got my first kiss because I was cosplaying some character she liked and she thought it would be totes appropriate to kiss me after she got a picture. Neither of those people were threatening or trying to creep people out, but– that's exactly what they did. Sometimes those people read this blog. Sometimes those people are you or me, and sometimes we just gotta learn to cut it out, as a favor to ourselves, the people around us, the people we'd like to date.

      • Artimaeus

        Stereotype threat refers to anxiety caused by the prospect of fulfilling a negative stereotype about a group that you belong to. For example, women often experience a stereotype threat when they take math exams because there is a popular misconception that women are not as good at math as men. Stereotype threats can create self-fulfilling prophecies when the resulting stress actually harms their performance.

        I'm not saying that guys don't act like creeps, but telling a story about some ridiculous guy who embarrassed himself by describing his twisted sexual fantasies doesn't actually help most people improve. At best, it just makes them scared that they're going to inadvertently act like the weird BDSM guy. By all means, I think it's important to call out inappropriate behavior– after all, you might shame the guy into stopping. But I think it's equally important to offer some positive advice, that will help these guys create positive experiences and solve the problems that they're having.

        • Mel_

          I appreciated that example because so often with discussions on creepiness, there are guys (as there are in the comments of the other posts this week) talking about how it's all about women shaming men for not being attractive enough or some such. DNL makes it clear that creepy behavior isn't just about trying to get a date–it's something that can come for and affect anyone.

        • Jenn

          As far as I can tell the Doctor is offering tips on how not to be creepy. He's being blunt but he is trying to help.

        • Jay

          That's what the entire rest of the archive is for.

  • Sam

    But whether or not he’s a decent person at heart, his behavior is making other people feel unsafe. Whether or not he presents an actual threat, his behavior is going to be driving people away, whether from parties, comic stores, or conventions.

    I think "unsafe" is usually too big a word for *this* kind of behaviour. Yes, the behaviour is going to drive people away, but rarely because of concerns about safety, usually because it's just clumsy to awkward to annoying to seriously annoying. That's a good enough reason to leave the person alone, and, for the person, to try to change the behaviour, but it's not usually a safety thing. I think making this behaviour foremost about safety is not helpful. Predators are much more likely to be able to perform according to social expectations. And yet, when someone is performing according to social expectations we're still considering that as a reason to trust that person, and not to start wondering whether s/he is a predator.

    That said, of course, no one should be that guy and everyone who is should want to do something about it.

    • Rja

      Disrespecting boundaries is a huge red flag. It makes me feel unsafe very quickly. I like the Doc's word choice.

    • eselle28

      Can we please not minimize this kind of behavior by calling it merely annoying? Unsafe is the closest description I've read of what it feels like to be creeped upon.

      Also, predators don't perfectly comply with social expectations. They comply with them just enough to not get in trouble the group in question or called on it by the person they're targeting. While they're doing that, they're gradually pushing boundaries and seeing how far they can push things. People who unintentionally push boundaries set off those same alarm bells.

      • Kaz

        Yeah. I've always thought of the issue of the socially awkward guy being unintentionally creepy as one where someone starts engaging in the same behaviour as predators do, but accidentally and without the intentions behind it. Obviously this sucks for the guys in question, but the solution to this is not to tell women that they should just accept predatory behaviour because it might be a guy who doesn't mean it that way.

      • Sam

        "People who unintentionally push boundaries set off those same alarm bells."

        Right. As opposed to the actual predators. Again, call them on their behavior, let them know they're setting off alarm bells, but I don't think calling this a safety issue is a fair description.

        • Mel_

          How are you supposed to know whether they're a predator or not *before* you call them on their behavior? If you don't know whether they're pushing your boundaries intentionally or unintentionally, because like most human beings you're not psychic, you have no way of knowing how safe it is to call them out.

    • Tea_Fish

      I think 'unsafe' is a pretty good descriptor of that kind of behavior, actually. DNL is describing someone who pushes at boundaries with his (or her) behavior, and I'll just say– for women especially– boundary pushing immediately sets off danger flags. The simplest explanation goes like this– if someone won't acknowledge your small refusals over inconsequential matters, all the gentle or firm "No" answers you give through your body language or your speech, why would they acknowledge your "No" when the stakes are higher?

      It doesn't really matter WHY the boundary pushing behavior is happening, whether it's insisting on buying you a drink after you already said no, snuggling closer after you move away and your body language says no, asking if you want their number even after you said no, offering you chocolates or flowers after you said no, or trying to persuade you to stay overnight after you already said no, no, no. Unsafe is a great word to describe that feeling. Uncomfortable, creeped out, disregarded, are some more good words to describe it, and I find making people aware of how their behavior might impact my sense of safety Very Helpful in this regard.

      • Sam

        "The simplest explanation goes like this– if someone won't acknowledge your small refusals over inconsequential matters, all the gentle or firm "No" answers you give through your body language or your speech, why would they acknowledge your "No" when the stakes are higher?"

        Sure, but the point is that *becuase* they are creepy *before*, you'll never get into a situation where the stakes are higher with these people.

        Unsafe is a great word to describe that feeling. Uncomfortable, creeped out, disregarded, are some more good words to describe it, and I find making people aware of how their behavior might impact my sense of safety Very Helpful in this regard.

        I think in *some* of those examples (like cuddling) "unsafe" may be a fair description. In general, I think "uncomfortable" and "creepy" will be better descriptions.

        • Gentleman Johnny

          Sure, but the point is that *becuase* they are creepy *before*, you'll never get into a situation where the stakes are higher with these people.

          You will if you're convinced that they're really cool once you get to know them, that you should just give them a chance to prove what a great guy they are or otherwise listen to people who convince you to ignore your own impressions. In other words, all the things socially awkward guys usually try to convince women to do so that they have a chance are perfect for setting those same women up to get in a situation where a creeper becomes a predator.

        • Mel_

          Frankly I think it's creepy that you think it's okay to tell someone else whether they're describing their own emotions "fairly" or "unfairly".

          Emotions aren't "fair" or "unfair". They just exist. Even if a person's feeling something that seems hugely out of proportion to what they're responding to… they're still feeling it, and you don't get to tell them they're feeling something else just because something else would make more sense to you.

          • Sam

            You think *all* people are reasonable? Of course, everyone is entitled to their feelings, but doesn't make their feelings reasonable. Am I an appropriate judge of "reasonable"? Maybe, maybe not. That's why there needs to be *some* accessible standard.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            What I don't get is what you think "unreasonable" by any definition changes. Should you not quit hitting on someone if the reason they don't want to be hit on is "unreasonable"? Should you be able to appeal to the Board Of Dating Fairness to require them to go on a date with you if their reasons for not wanting to aren't good enough? My examples are silly but the underlying question stands.

          • Sam

            My point is not that one should persist in the face of an alligation of creepiness. Of course not. My point is that such labels can be, and often are, much more than mere expressions of feelings, and that people tend to look at them as more than that. That part of the equation is what I'm talking about. People's reasons for feeling one way or another can be pretty random and should not, without qualification, be used to label people as a bad person. There needs to be an *internal board of dating fairness* that a person labeled xyz needs to be able to appeal to in case an alligation is unreasonable: "Ok, she didn't want to take this further, fair enough. But I didn't do anything that would make *a reasonable person* call me out as creepy".

          • Mel_

            Sam, no one here has said that if you make someone feel unsafe at any time ever, you are therefore a bad person. You were objecting to DNL calling feeling creeped out a *feeling* of being unsafe. People are telling you it is in fact an unsafe feeling. And yet you continued to argue with them that "unsafe" was not the right word.

            You do not get to decide for other people what they feel. I don't know how I can make this any clearer. Of course you can decide how you respond, and if someone goes beyond just feeling unsafe and starts telling other people you are unsafe or bad or whatever, you can defend yourself. You can think that their feeling unsafe was unreasonable given what happened. You just can't tell someone what they felt, because reasonable or not, they still felt it. Is that so hard for you to accept?

          • Gentleman Johnny

            There needs to be an *internal board of dating fairness* that a person labeled xyz needs to be able to appeal to in case an alligation is unreasonable: "Ok, she didn't want to take this further, fair enough. But I didn't do anything that would make *a reasonable person* call me out as creepy".

            This struck me as kind of odd. I feel sort of like the people who don't need this probably already have it on an instinctive level and the people who might need it probably shouldn't trust its judgement. I feel like that mainly because it seems like no matter where you are on the scale of social awareness, as long as you had good intentions the internal monologue would be roughly:

            "Wow, that negative reaction came out of nowhere. Well, its more likely something specific to her than something I did that most people would object to."

            That can be really, dangerously false or totally true. In the end, neither one necessarily makes you a bad person. it may make you a "can not relate to the opposite sex" person. The best way to gauge whether or not you're the latter is whether or not you find yourself having to have this internal monologue after most interactions with the opposite sex.

    • Gentleman Johnny

      I think "unsafe" is usually too big a word for *this* kind of behavior.

      I daresay you haven't had the behavior that people are really talking about done to you too often, then. I have a friend who likes to drink and is. . .enthusiastic. He's also a big guy. I feel unsafe when he gets drunk because he has a tendency to get about high-school slow dance close, stay at that range no matter how much you back up. He'll gladly, unknowingly back you right into a literal corner without letting up and keep eye contact as he tells you all about what's on his mind, demanding your full and undivided attention. He'll flip his shit if you disagree with him. How much scarier would that be to a woman who doesn't know him when he's hitting on them?

      Keep in mind, he never says anything that crosses a line, never physically prevents you from walking away, just backs you into a corner with his physical presence and stays way too close for comfort. That makes him a fairly middle-of-the-road example of creeper behavior. If that's a fairly innocuous example and given that people being creeped on don't know where on the scale their creeper falls, they have to assume it could get much, much worse.

      Yeah, unsafe is a good word.

      • Sam

        I know one guy pretty much exactly like that. ONE. Doesn't make him a "middle-of-the-road"-example. Makes him an exception. And in his case, it's probably the physical presence more than any specific behavior.

        • Gentleman Johnny

          An exception to what? We're starting from a baseline of "creepy people". Standing too close and not knowing when to back off a conversation is relatively benign creeper behavior that is fucking scary to be on the receiving end of. Assume the person who's doing it is someone you don't know. Safety is a real concern.

        • CmxBerlin

          An "exception" – by all that's fucking holy that's not even good anecdote material. If you have women friends you might wan't to ask them about their worst creep stories, because if you think that's a bad case your hair is going to curl.

          My boss is a creep. He's American, I'm an native English speaker, but I'm new in a country where I can't speak the language or deal well with the legal system. He can and knows it. I'm a programmer, and the only woman he works with. He was the guy who recently questioned why I don't have a wedding ring – yep, just asking. He tells me about his sex toy collection, and visiting sex shows (that's considered very unprofessional, but not necessarily illegal here), and although he has stopped asking me out after I asked very firmly, he keeps on asking me out to lunch to discuss work. My colleagues have volunteered to make sure I am not alone with him without me even bringing him up. However we have an office closure coming up, and he has asked me, and me only, to come in and help him train some new contractor (WHO MAY NOT SHOW UP LEAVING ME ALONE ALL DAY IN AN OFFICE WITH HIM). He has made this a requirement for work, knowing I will have trouble finding work quickly due to inability to speak German.

          I am fucking petrified, and have scenarios going through my head of him creeping up behind me and me trying to beat him to death with my laptop. I have told my husband to track my iPhone and call me if I don't text every hour. Is this unreasonable – sure. He's probably just a guy with social problems and an inability to deal with women, especially women who can program better than him. He knows I feel uncomfortable, but I'm sure he's rationalising that away – after all, he knows (oh god I hope he knows) that he's not intending to dump my body in the Spree. And really – hardly anyone gets murdered, so yeah, its irrational for me to concentrate on melodramatic worse case scenarios.

          But you know what – the stakes are a lot higher for me than him – so please, don't be that guy and don't try and justify his behaviour.

          • Sam

            This seems extremely unprofessional, indeed. Sorry you have to put up with this.

            About the other thing – it seems like a good idea to learn German if you live there, but to the extent I'm aware of the Berlin tech scene, it seems to me that coders are in exceedingly high demand pretty much everywhere, and I think there's a pretty big anglophone expat scene that could probably help you find a job quickly.

          • bearcat

            That's right, CMXBerlin. Just move and get a new job. Never mind that moving is expensive and finding a new job is a drain on your time and energy. Never mind that you may have social ties to your current location. Never mind that you may like your job and your coworkers other than they creepy supervisor. You should have learned German if you were going to live in Germany. And by no means should your boss have to stop talking about sex toys or shows. We should just create an environment for him to be comfortable to do that (i.e., a men only space). Creepers should always be allowed to keep creeping. /sarcasm

    • Paul Rivers

      "But whether or not he’s a decent person at heart, his behavior is making other people feel unsafe. Whether or not he presents an actual threat, his behavior is going to be driving people away, whether from parties, comic stores, or conventions."

      "I think "unsafe" is usually too big a word for *this* kind of behaviour."

      While I do think the idea that every single creepy thing is about safety is ridiculous – I also think that removing the word "safe" from it's description is even worse.

      It's not "always" making people feel "unsafe", but sometimes it is, and it's honestly difficult to decide the difference. I know a guy who gave me a little bit of a creepy vibe when I met him, but after I got to know him and the girls he hung out with, feel confident that he's not any sort of "threat" to any girl at all (and to be clear, that's also what the other girls who knew him better than I did said about him). On the other hand, I know a different guy who also gave me a slightly creepy vibe, who when I talked to his ex-girlfriend – he's definitely way more sexually pushy than is comfortable, to say the least. You can imagine how if he was just a little more aggressive than he is, how he could actually be a rapist.

      It might be better phrased as "his behavior is making other people wonder if he's seriously unsafe and dangerous", but I think it's completely invalid to take the word "safe" out. A lot of creepy *is* about safety, and one often cannot tell the difference just from the feeling.

      • Mel_

        I don't think you actually disagree with the people arguing that it is about safety, then. No one's saying that they think every person who sets off their creep alarm is literally unsafe. But because, as you note, it's hard to tell the difference between someone who is actually unsafe and someone who's just acting odd for other reasons, you feel unsafe either way. *Feeling* unsafe doesn't require there to be any actual threat, only the possibility of one.

        (To use a parallel example: if a strange dog runs at a person barking loudly, that person will probably cringe and react defensively. They'll feel unsafe. If it turns out the dog is just very friendly and enthusiastic, would never bite anyone ever, and just wants to lick the person's hand, that doesn't mean the person didn't feel unsafe during the period before they knew that.)

        • enail

          Or, I'd add, that they weren't right to feel unsafe – experience and instinct were telling them that a strange dog running at them barking had a good chance of being a threat.

          • Mel_

            Yes, this too! But I don't think this should even need to be said–feelings are feelings, and even if someone else feels unsafe when the situation looks totally safe to someone else's logical perspective, that doesn't change how they feel or that it's reasonable for them to want whatever's making them feel unsafe to stop.

          • enail


        • Sam

          "*Feeling* unsafe doesn't require there to be any actual threat, only the possibility of one."

          True, but that said, we don't control how other people feel. And feelings don't have to be reasonable. Which makes that a pretty bad way to judge the appropriateness of specific behavior (unless it happens all the time with respect to the same behaviour).

          • Mad_

            I think the important thing is to know how to recognize that she's not feeling safe and extricate yourself, or easily accept her escape attempt.

          • Sam

            Absolutely. That's true regardless of everything. I'm not saying tell someone they're behaving unreasonable when you think they do. Just don't let *their* standard dictate your moral view of yourself. You're right: extricate yourself, accept escape attempts, but don't let that make you feel like you necessarily did something wrong. Their feelings are their feelings, but they aren't a moral standard, potentially a standard of effectiveness.

          • Cat

            Dude, if it happens time and time again, the common denominator is you. If it happens once or twice – yeah sure it might just be bad circumstances but if it becomes the norm… You might not necessarily be "a bad person" in the way you perceive yourself but you might carry personal characteristics that make you unpleasant to other people. And people who find you unpleasant won't give a fuck about how good you think you really are.

          • Rja

            Please, everyone, take this advice to heart: if people are constantly taking issue with you disrespecting their boundaries, LET THAT INFLUENCE YOUR VIEW OF YOURSELF. Realize you need to change, because that shit isn't okay and it isn't the problem of other people and their feelings. That's your problem.

          • Kaz

            You know, I kind of see what you're getting at here? Since not all behaviour that makes other people feel uncomfortable, and even not all behaviour that makes other people feel unsafe, is actually something that objectively makes a person more likely to be dangerous to you, and sometimes the uncomfortable/unsafe reaction has its roots in something not okay. For instance, I'm autistic. I do a lot of suppressing various bits of my body language because they make other people feel uncomfortable and, I suspect, actually unsafe to be around. And I am *not* talking things like ignoring personal space or unwanted touching which are behaviours actual predators engage in, I'm talking things like flapping my hands or moving my head in certain repetitive ways or talking to myself in public, things that are totally harmless and not actually predatory behaviours at all but trigger "omg neuroatypical omg danger" in people's heads. So the unsafe feeling arises purely from ableism and not potential threat. In this sort of situation, I totally agree with you – although I avoid these behaviours for ease of interaction, I don't think there's any sort of moral obligation attached to that. I have zero moral problems with no longer keeping the lid on them and hence deliberately making people feel uncomfortable and even unsafe because of their own ableism. I don't think "refrain from making other people feel uncomfortable/unsafe" is a moral standard in and of itself – as you say, more of an effectiveness/practicality thing.

            (disclaimer: since I am tiny and get read as female I'm undoubtedly far less likely to make people feel actively unsafe than many other autistic folk in my position, but I am pretty sure it does still happen if I don't keep certain behaviours in check.)

            That said, one of the things I find noticeable about the "creepy" discussion is that most of the time, what gets pointed out as creepy behaviour *is* the kind of boundary-pushing behaviour that is a signal of actual predators and there tends to be relatively little conflation of "harmless non-NT behaviour" with "red flag danger signals". And here, I'd say, the issues are different. I do consider myself to have a moral obligation not to engage in this kind of behaviour accidentally. Not just because now people are being freaked out by what could be a genuine threat, but also because it muddies the waters. More people engaging in predatory behaviours, and especially more people engaging in predatory behaviours with good intentions, normalises the behaviour and camouflages the actual predators. If a lot of socially-awkward people are accidentally creepy and there's a lot of discussion about socially awkward people being creepy and a lot of people saying you should give creepy people a chance because they might just be socially awkward, that makes it a lot easier for a predator to be creepy as a way of testing for potential victims and get away with it. In order to make sure the predators can't act like that without being really obvious, everyone *else* has to cut it out.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            The reaction of the specific person in front of you, whether or not they're reasonable to you, in this particular interaction is an excellent way to judge the appropriateness of your behavior. Whichever of you finds a behavior less appropriate is the one you should go with. So if she's feeling unsafe by you being too close, you should back off. If you're offended by her blatant racism (and she cares about not making a bad impression), she should probably change the topic.

          • Sam

            "The reaction of the specific person in front of you, whether or not they're reasonable to you, in this particular interaction is an excellent way to judge the appropriateness of your behavior."

            That's really only true when you're making the assumption that you're dealing with a reasonable person. I don't see that assumption made the other way around, so I don't know it that can be assumed here.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            I disagree. If you're dealing with an unreasonable person (by any definition of unreasonable) and they flip the fuck out (a reasonable thing for an unreasonable person to do) over what you perceive to be nothing, you have the same options. Change the subject or walk away. Continuing to pursue it or trying to justify why what you did was OK will not make then stop flipping out and start being nice to you.

            Let's take a fairly silly example and say someone is terrified of the Blue Sun Corporation. If you're wearing a Blue Sun shirt and she (unreasonably) can't stand to be around it, you should leave.

          • Sam

            "Continuing to pursue it or trying to justify why what you did was OK will not make then stop flipping out and start being nice to you. "

            Sure. That' not the point. Again, as I said above in reply to your comment – it's more about how to deal with the alligation internally. Saying a word does carry a certain normative weight, irrespective of the veracity of the claim. What this article is about is to tell people to take such alligations seriously because they are important indicators about specific interactions. Yet there needs to be a qualification with respect to how these alligations are handled internally. Not every callout is fair, and the person making the alligation should be a definite factor in how to process the alligation internally. Not every creep is a creep because *someone said so*. And the person being called that needs to know that.

            "Let's take a fairly silly example and say someone is terrified of the Blue Sun Corporation. If you're wearing a Blue Sun shirt and she (unreasonably) can't stand to be around it, you should leave."

            That would really depend. If I approached her and she told me about her Blue Sun allergy, fair enough. Or if I wore a Blue Sun shirt to a "No Blue Sun"-activist group's meeting. But in any other setup (like, meeting as part of a group of people) my leaving would be an absurd notion and make her feelings the standard to live by. In that case *her being uncomfortable* would be considered more important than *my being uncomfortable* in a way that I cannot consider fair under almost any circumstances. Kant and all, you know.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            You actually have half a point. A lot of people here know the sting of being judged unfairly. Several regular commenters are in areas where they are not a good fit for the local culture and are given a hard time for it. That should not affect your internal sense of what is good and bad. On the other hand, the tagline around here is "helping nerds get the girl". If your behavior is getting between you and getting the girl on a consistent basis, you do have to decide whether its more important not to change or to be able to relate to other people.

          • Mel_

            As GJ said, how the other person feels is a *very good* way to judge the appropriateness of specific behavior *toward that person*. If someone is acting creeped out, it doesn't matter how "reasonable" or "appropriate" you think your behavior was–you back off.

            That doesn't mean you can never behave the same way with other people (though, if several people act creeped out about the same behavior, it's probably a good time to reevaluate its appropriateness). It just means, with that particular person in that particular moment, you shouldn't behave that way toward them.

            And none of this changes the fact that it's perfectly reasonable to use the word "unsafe" to talk about people literally feeling unsafe, regardless of whether you think it's reasonable for them to have felt unsafe. (Note that in the quote you initially objected to, it doesn't say "that guy" is behaving in an unsafe way, only that the way he's behaving makes other people *feel* unsafe.) Several people have told you that this is an accurate description of how they feel when they're creeped out by someone. So why are you still arguing this? What gives you the authority to decide for someone else whether they do actually feel unsafe if they say they feel unsafe? How are you more qualified to put labels on someone's emotions than the person whose feeling them?

          • Sam

            "(Note that in the quote you initially objected to, it doesn't say "that guy" is behaving in an unsafe way, only that the way he's behaving makes other people *feel* unsafe.)"

            That's a fair point. I don't question feelings. I'm just get the impression that these feelings are given the status of objective observations instead of seeing them for what they are: subjective feelings. This often becomes: "I *felt* unsafe! Throw him into date-prison". Instead of "I don't feel safe talking to you, so I won't continue." Behavioral standards should not be based on subjective standards if *at all avoidable*, because the standard needs to be accessible by both (more) parties.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            No one's saying 'I feel unsafe, you must be PUNISHED!" They're saying "I feel unsafe around you, please leave me alone." Its the follow up that "guys who, for whatever reason, do not do that are potentially trouble because they are displaying behaviors that are the hallmarks of guys that are dangerous."

            It sounds to me like the way you feel you're being treated is different from how people are suggesting you be treated.

          • Sam

            "No one's saying 'I feel unsafe, you must be PUNISHED!""

            Really? Because that's precisely what I tend to read in most feminist creep threads. The punishment is usually implicit and has the form of being declared socially inept and a potential safety risk without qualification. Again, this is not about how to react to such alligations externally, but internally.

          • Mel_

            This is exactly what I'm talking about. Say you have seen this in feminist creep threads. Have you seen it in this article or the comments? If not, then why are you arguing with us as if we said things someone else did? How does that make any sense?

            Do you not see the irony here? You are complaining about how people might unreasonably be labeled as creepy or socially inept or whatever because their behavior was misinterpreted… while labeling us as cruel and unfair for behavior we haven't done at all!

            And if you'd like to point me to a creep article that actually says people should go around calling other people socially inept and a safety risk for doing *one* little thing that creeped *one* person out, I'd be curious to see it. Because the ones I've read have focused on explaining what's probably going on in the woman's head when she feels creeped out (because she doesn't usually outright accuse the guy in the first place!) to show why guys should avoid situations where they're likely to provoke that feeling, and why they should back off if it looks like they might be provoking it. The articles I've seen encourage being sensitive to the other person's feelings, not flagellating yourself for occasional mistakes. The guys people have a problem with and want to call out and have labeled unsafe are the guys who *don't* back off and who cross people's boundaries on a regular basis. Is that unreasonable?

          • Sam

            "This is exactly what I'm talking about. Say you have seen this in feminist creep threads. Have you seen it in this article or the comments"

            No, but as I point out below, the "safety"-thing is important, and it's impossible to have this discussion without the background of how masculintiy is generally discussed as borderline sociopathic in such discussions.

            "The articles I've seen encourage being sensitive to the other person's feelings, not flagellating yourself for occasional mistakes. The guys people have a problem with and want to call out and have labeled unsafe are the guys who *don't* back off and who cross people's boundaries on a regular basis. Is that unreasonable?"

            No. That would be very reasonable. Interesting. Honestly, not my perceptions of feminist creep threads. I don't know, check out feministe or pandagon for examples of threads, even Schrödinger's rapist. In the latter case I understand how it's *trying* to be helpful, but fails miserably because of an audience mismatch and a lack of understanding how, again, a lot of guys feel their sexuality is painted as problematic in the first place.

            As I said below, I think that's a reason why it's important to be careful about the "safety" issue, but, of course, you're probably right to point out that my individual experience with such threads has informed my reaction to this one to a certain extent.

          • Mel_

            "No, but as I point out below, the "safety"-thing is important, and it's impossible to have this discussion without the background of how masculintiy is generally discussed as borderline sociopathic in such discussions."

            Except this isn't a discussion about masculinity. Being creepy, especially to the point of being "that guy", is about crossing people's boundaries. I'm not aware that "crosses people's boundaries" is part of anyone's definition of "masculinity". It can certainly be combined with trying to be an aggressive macho man, but the two aren't inherently linked. In one of the other creeper threads this week, we were talking about how women can be creepy too.

            Also, I think you're reading far too much into the other creeper threads you've read. Take, for example, Schrodinger's Rapist. The article goes out of its way multiple times to establish that we're talking about a guy who does have good intentions, who isn't in fact unsafe, e.g.,: "Fortunately, you’re a good guy. We’ve already established that." It then talks about individual situations and how the individual woman might feel. Nowhere does it suggest that if you make a misstep, people should be calling you out or encouraging the world at large to shun you. If you read that article and feel like it's accusing you of being a bad person if you ever made a single person uncomfortable, then that's your personal insecurity, and you need to deal with that. Because the article itself says the exact opposite in explicit detail.

            The only pandagon articles I came across that talked about anything like creepy behavior was about outright harassment, when guys react with hostility to women not wanting to speak to them, not guys just being awkward. Surely we can agree that if a guy insults or yells at a woman for politely declining to talk to him, it is reasonable to think there's something off about him?

            The feministe article that came up when I searched for it and "creeper" was this one, which seems incredibly sympathetic to men who are inadvertently creepy:

            Key quotes: "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"

            "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."

            I did not come across any articles from either that in any way suggested a guy who makes one woman feel creeped out should be publicly called out, shunned, or anything similar.

          • Sam


            "If you read that article and feel like it's accusing you of being a bad person if you ever made a single person uncomfortable, then that's your personal insecurity, and you need to deal with that. Because the article itself says the exact opposite in explicit detail."

            again, I believe the Schrödinger's rapist essay was *trying* to be helpful, but I still feel it missed the mark because it was written for men with a language I perceived in the way I describe above, and not at all serious about the basic assumption of "you're a good guy". It actually comes accross as marginally dishonest about this point in particular. Again, it's impossible to read articles like this, or the feministe ones, without putting them into context of a general debate. It appears our perceptions of what this debate is like are different – the reasons for which I'd find an interesting subject in its own right – which also explains the different reactions we're having with respect to the specific topic at hand.

            Except this isn't a discussion about masculinity. Being creepy, especially to the point of being "that guy", is about crossing people's boundaries.

            Sure. In theory nothing ever is about masculinity. And yes, I've come across one woman who I thought of as creepy. In practice, however, all this is pretty much *only* about man and their behaviour, because they're the ones who, in most cases, have to take the explicit risk of reacting to a woman's implicit invitation. She's usually got the benefit of plausible deniability, he usually doesn't. So, yes, I think, a lot of the underlying assumptions of the debate are being obscured by making this gender-neutral. Because, in fact, it's not.

          • CxeBerlin

            "In practice, however, all this is pretty much *only* about man and their behaviour, because they're the ones who, in most cases, have to take the explicit risk of reacting to a woman's implicit invitation. She's usually got the benefit of plausible deniability, he usually doesn't."

            WTF! Look, I've been trying to give you the benefit of the doubt here. You said in other parts you've been thought of as creepy because you have trouble reading body language. After this sentence I think you might also want to check your attitude.

            If you think a woman is giving you "implicit invitations" but then playing hard to get, don't engage and back off. If she actually doesn't want to talk to you, you've avoided being a creep. If she is playing hard to get, you've avoided someone who plays stupid games. If you think sexual engagement is some stupid competition about getting past her bitch shields and her "plausible deniability", grow up and leave her alone.

          • Sam

            No, that was another Sam. Didn't comment in that thread to avoid confusion. Benefits and problems of using a generic handle to improve anonymity, I suppose. I am usually pretty good at reading body language, and would be devastated if a woman actually called me creepy.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            Then perhaps you should go back and re-read the part near the end.

          • CxeBerlin

            By "date-prison" do you mean being labelled as That Guy? Because that label doesn't stuck from just one woman wigging out because your remind her of her ex or whatever. Its something that's either acquired with a lot of hard work over time, or a few spectacular acts of creepery.

          • Sam

            "By "date-prison" do you mean being labelled as That Guy?"

            I think that can stick pretty quickly. But the effect it can have on someone's confidence in such situations, on someone's self-image, is equally important. And that's where *reasonable* is so important!

          • Mel_

            Sam, you seem to be responding to content that's not even in the article. How is that a reasonable way for you to behave?

            DNL doesn't say, "if you make anyone creeped out ever, you should be shunned". He says if you make someone seem creeped out, you should back off to avoid becoming a bigger problem, and that if you creep out *a lot* of people, your social circle will stop wanting to include you. Both of which make perfectly good sense to me. It's incredibly clear from the article that "that guy" is an ongoing pattern of behavior across multiple situations, not something you get labelled with for making one or two mistakes. It's also incredibly clear that he doesn't think even being "that guy" means you are inherently a horrible person who should never get a date–otherwise he wouldn't be offering advice on how to change your behavior and get better responses.

            I don't see anywhere where anyone here has said that if you make one person creeped out for any reason, you should be called out or shunned from dating life or consider yourself a bad person. So why are you arguing as if someone has? If you have to pretend that we're making unreasonable arguments in order to keep arguing with us, maybe you should consider that the things we're actually saying may in fact be reasonable. If you are a reasonable person, you should be able to admit when you've made a mistake (in, say, claiming it's wrong to use the word "unsafe" to describe a feeling) instead of making up strawmen to justify yourself.

          • Sam

            "Sam, you seem to be responding to content that's not even in the article. How is that a reasonable way for you to behave?

            Look, Mel, again. No one can tell anyone how to feel about something. But the fact remains that it's exceedingly unfair to make individual reactions of other people the yardstick of one's self image. And when you look at the history of "creep"-discussions in online feminist spaces, I suppose you'll quickly see that the notion of "making one or two mistakes" is not one that's supported by the discourse, and when making those mistakes is put together with "safety", "creepy" is quickly perceived as a way of saying "that guy", and "proto rapist". And that's usually *not* the case. And I think it's important to state that in most cases of the creepiness I'm thinking of, *even if people felt unsafe* it wasn't a situation that was *actually unsafe*. And I think it's important that we are trying to get a better common understanding of the meaning of the words we're using, so we don't accidentally hurt people with them. And there should be some kind of understanding what's a "safety matter" beyond "I felt unsafe", because people can feel all kind of things for all kinds of different reasons (as you found out reading my reply, apparently) and while their individual perception is necessarily always subjectively valid, we need to establish some kind of system to understand each other. Words shape perceptions, and I think it's important to drive home the point that regardless of individual perceptions the kind of creepy behaviour (I'm talking about) is *usually* not a safety matter, but one of annoying other people.

          • Mel_

            "But the fact remains that it's exceedingly unfair to make individual reactions of other people the yardstick of one's self image."

            That's a very nice fact. But it's not what people have been arguing with you about, because it's not what you initially complained about.

            I don't think anyone here would argue that if you make one person feel unsafe and everyone else you've interacted with enjoys being around you, you should assume that you are a bad person because of that one person. Again, this is a *pattern* of behavior we're talking about, which is abundantly clear the article you quoted and objected to.

            I think it's really sad that you think it's so much more important to make sure we don't "accidentally hurt" guys by making them worry about their behavior, than that we teach those guys how to avoid doing things that accidentally hurt someone else from the start. Why is a guy's subjective perception that people are persecuting him by asking him not to cross people's boundaries completely valid, but a woman (or man)'s subjective perception that a guy is making her feel the situation is unsafe should be explained away and dismissed as just "annoyance"?

            As someone who has felt creeped out and unsafe because of guys' behavior in the past, I can tell you it is incredibly unpleasant and I don't think it's less bad than a guy feeling insecure about someone thinking he acted creepy, such that our attention should be focused on protecting possible creepy-appearing people's egos over other people's emotional state. Especially since, if we keep talking about creepy behavior, hopefully the men (and women, because as noted elsewhere, it's not just men who can cross boundaries) who mean well will learn to stop, and other people will stop feeling unsafe so much, and then we'll stop talking about creepy behavior, and the men can stop feeling insecure too. Whereas if we stop talking now while it's still happening so often, then I guess it's great for the men who don't have to feel as insecure, but the other people are still being creeped out.

            I mean, seriously. Just a couple weeks ago I was saying the exact same thing to you–that words shape perceptions, and that it's harmful to talk about things in a way that's not entirely true–and you were arguing *against* me. You were telling me that it's fine for guys to complain about women having things so much easier and denying things from men, which isn't actually accurate, even if that encourages active hostility toward women, because men perceive things that way and their perception is their reality and shouldn't be invalidated. And now you're turning around and saying that if people are complaining about something that is accurate, i.e., that men make them feel unsafe when they engage in certain behaviors (they're not saying all those men actually are unsafe, just how they feel about the behavior), they shouldn't do that because it might make some men feel insecure about their sexuality.

            So basically, in your mind, men should be able to say whatever they want about women, even statements about what is happening outside their heads that isn't actually happening, regardless of how it might negatively impact on women, but no one should say things even about their own individual emotions if it might impact negatively on men? Women being verbally and sometimes physically attacked is less of a concern than men feeling insecure about their sexuality?

            Sam, you make me feel unsafe, just talking to you here. Because it makes me feel unsafe to know there are guys walking around who think their need to feel good about themselves trumps anything anyone else might feel about their behavior, because those are the guys most likely to do something that hurts me and then justify it away.

          • Sam


            "and I don't think it's less bad than a guy feeling insecure about something thinking he acted creepy, such that our attention should be focused on protecting possible creepy-appearing people's egos over other people's emotional state."

            Whereas if we stop talking now while it's still happening so often, then I guess it's great for the men who don't have to feel as insecure, but the other people are still being creeped out.

            You were telling me that it's fine for guys to complain about women having things so much easier and denying things from men, which isn't actually accurate, even if that encourages active hostility toward women, because men perceive things that way and their perception is their reality and shouldn't be invalidated.

            I don't see how that's incompatible with anything said here. I'm not saying the subjective reality of feeling unsafe is invalid, just that we need commonly agreed on understanding of what we're talking about. Pretty much what happened in that last discussion… it's a process.

            "Women being verbally and sometimes physically attacked is less of a concern than men feeling insecure about their sexuality? … Because it makes me feel unsafe to know there are guys walking around who think their need to feel good about themselves trumps anything anyone else might feel about their behavior, because those are the guys most likely to do something that hurts me and then justify it away."

            See, this is exactly what I'm talking about. By forcing me to state that, of course, women being verbally and sometimes physically assaulted is more important than men feeling insecure about their sexuality" you're again creating a frame for the discussion in which the latter isn't considered *at all*. I'm not saying it should be given preference, it should be *of concern* at all. Contrary to everything I say about the importance of the things you mention you keep coming back to hit me with a big "you're misogynist"-stick and even call me "creepy" for trying to *add a perspective* I don't think is present in the debate.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            OK, I'll be the one to jump up and keep this going. What do you suggest that prioritizes women's ability to feel safe while still addressing the feelings of insecurity that may be caused to the people making them feel unsafe?

            Because, to me, this article does a pretty good job of that. Insecurity comes from "externalizing your locus of power" as the psychobabblers say. Taking charge of how you interact, realizing that you won't always make a good impression but its not the end of the world, being willing to fail, own it and try again, acknowledging that you can change and that how you present yourself is your responsibility makes for a pretty huge first step to overcoming insecurity.

            See how that doesn't require me to even mention making women feel unsafe? If you want to make a space to talk about how guys can get over insecurity, talk about guys getting over insecurity. You don't have to attack the idea of women feeling safe to do it.

          • Sam

            "What do you suggest that prioritizes women's ability to feel safe while still addressing the feelings of insecurity that may be caused to the people making them feel unsafe?"

            a) Emphazising the subjectivity aspect more
            b) Explaining ot women that terms like creep may be necessary and apprpriate to use but that they are used in a world that is already painting male sexuality as toxic, that using such terms may necessary but may also cause guys to feel unfairly attacked, similar to what women may feel when they're called slut for being sexually active. It's a label other people put on you for some subjective reason. Again, I'm not saying women should not use the term if they feel they need to do it. I don't mind the term per se. I would just like more awareness of the fact that using this term, particularly when it's used in conjunction with terms like "safety concern" is pretty close to accusing someone of being latently rapist, and that's not something that should be done lightly.

          • Jay

            Creepy behavior that makes people feel unsafe *is* on the rapist spectrum and detecting it is one of *the only ways we can try to protect ourselves.* Yes, it's a serious association, and it *should* be, because 1 in 4 women being raped is a goddamn serious issue.

            You've made a number of interesting or even good points in this thread, but I am not inclined to give you cookies because you insist on explaining women's feelings away (in order to save *your* tender feelings) and you have actually advocated lecturing to women how they should feel or react to being creeped on.

          • Sam

            Here's pretty good article that explains rather well how it's difficult and probably impossible to make isolated statements without considering the general discourse, even *when it is well intentioned.* It's primarily about consent in the BDSM scene, but I think it's applicable here, too.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            My main issue with that is not everyone here is part of the "general discourse" or even the same discourse as each other. You can't even count on people having read the other DNL articles that discuss the same issue. That's why, and this is not aimed at you, many of the regular commenters wind up having to say the same things every time a given article comes up. Because someone will come in having not seen it last time.

          • Mel_

            Sam, I'm pretty sure that article doesn't go against anything I've said here, or even support the point you're trying to make. It's talking about how it can be counterproductive to automatically label people as a predator for predatory behavior. You'll notice that no one here or in the article has said that guys who act creepy, even "that guy", are all predators or bad people. Nor have the other feminist articles I've read on creepy behavior. They have all focused on how that behavior can make other people feel, not what it means about the person doing those things as a person.

            The problem is that even though they're not saying "do one creepy thing and you're bad", you are following that dichotomy and assuming that's what they mean. So it seems to me that the problem is your seeing things as black and white, and immediately assuming labels, while the articles you're complaining about are actually talking about it in exactly the way they should–as behavior that people who mean well can do and can change in order to prevent their intentions from coming across wrong.

            If you want the discourse to improve, you have to be willing to meet people halfway, and believe that when they say "we're criticizing the behavior, we know you might do this even if you mean well", they're telling the truth.

          • Sam


            "They have all focused on how that behavior can make other people feel, not what it means about the person doing those things as a person."

            Again, not at all my impression.

            "The problem is that even though they're not saying "do one creepy thing and you're bad", you are following that dichotomy and assuming that's what they mean. … If you want the discourse to improve, you have to be willing to meet people halfway, and believe that when they say "we're criticizing the behavior, we know you might do this even if you mean well", they're telling the truth."

            That is a fair criticism. I'd still like to add that given the way things are currently discussed – and I do believe that my impression of that discourse is largely correct, I think it can be important to emphasize certain aspects more than they would need to be emphasized in a perfect world – hence my objection to the "safety"-thing. That said, you're, to a degree, right about asking me to give the benefit of the doubt I'm asking for. Fair.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            You're certainly entitled to feel that way. Can you understand why, in a society where women are frequently subjected to unwanted attention and verbally, sometimes physically harrassed for trying to extricate themselves from those situations, where misreading signals can be literally deadly, where one out of every five women you know has been raped, that they might consider the feeling of safety something that needs to not be minimized no matter how unreasonable it seems to the guy causing it?

          • Gentleman Johnny

            Here's a percentage comparison for you. The percentage of women who have been raped is roughly equal to the percentage of men who:

            1. use their favorite sports team as their password.
            2. keep photos of their exes
            3. Have extramarital sex (of married men)
            4. Sleep with 80% of women (ok, this is probably BS but if I didn't bring it up, someone else would)
            5. have no religion.
            6. smoke

            Let me say that last one again: the percentage of women who have been raped is roughly equal to the percentage of people who smoke or to the percentage of people who are atheists.

            How cautions would you be about buying a new car if they occasionally just exploded at random, if the signs that a car might explode were also shown by some other, non-exploding cars and one in five people was killed in such an explosion?

          • Sam

            "that they might consider the feeling of safety something that needs to not be minimized no matter how unreasonable it seems to the guy causing it?"

            I do. Sure. That's why I think it's important to emphasize that this focus is also having a collateral damage. *Collateral*. Something to *also* consider.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            See above/below/eslewhere. I don't see that the two issues (female safety and male self-esteem) are intrinsically linked.

          • Sam

            Sorry, what? Is *that* what you're getting from what I'm saying? No, the two issues aren't *intrinsically* linked. But in my opinion they *are linked by the current discourse about male sexuality and the way mainstream gendered interactions are usually structured.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            Oh, then I disagree. You're certainly welcome to your feelings but I think I've made my point on the issue of why creepers are a safety issue, why I don't see anyone saying that any time you make one social gaffe, you're a creeper and why anything less than confronting this quite frankly will give people who do enjoy violating boundaries the wiggle room to try and rules lawyer out of it even as we're sparing the feelings of the accidentally creepy.

          • Sam

            Alright, let's respectfully disagree.

    • Beth

      Yeah because you know best about what makes women feel unsafe, right?

      • Sam

        See my reply to Mel above.

  • SarahGryph

    It *was* mentioned somewhat in the article, but sexual comments aren't the only ones that can make someone feel like "oh help, I can't get away but I'm severely uncomfortable here." As everything else, it's all about social calibration, but I have more trouble with people who want to give me their life stories and/or "Omg you are a special unicorn." I don't mean to mock anyone for that, I sometimes have to stop myself from making comments like that to others. It's damn exciting to find someone who is into something that's important to you. But very few people you meet want to be your one and only special unicorn when they barely know you, it creates a feeling of being responsible for someone's feelings more than casual social contact. I'm perfectly capable of having personal conversations, I just prefer to keep that to people I've known for a while.

  • Sim

    Great article, as usual! I ran into a "creeper" last night at a local bar – he came up to hit on me and two of my female friends. He put his arm around my waist and offered to buy me a drink, leaned in so close to my friend that it seemed he was going to kiss her, and more – all in the space of thirty seconds. Then, after my friends and I changed locations to get away from him, he followed and started trying to enter into our conversation. We were all avoiding eye-contact, keeping our circle closed, talking about friends – obviously not a conversation he could join – and after about 5 minutes of giving him "please back the fuck off" signals, I finally got frustrated and tried confronting him.

    Me: I really don't want to be rude, but we came here to gossip, relax, and discuss our lives, not really to meet people. I'm sorry, but could you please leave us alone?

    His reaction to that was to call me ugly, explain that he would "never have come over to talk to a girl" like me if it weren't for the fact that he and one of my friends have an OBVIOUS connection that I'm jealously trying to interfere with. (Right…because calling me ugly and jealous is really going to win my friend's sympathy and heart.) Since I had expected him to leave after, you know, being directly rejected, I was a bit at a loss for words. Finally, after about a minute or two of that, I brightly said "Want to go join the guys?" and my friends and I left to join some of our guy friends – thus effectively ending our girls' conversation, but at least getting us away from the guy.

    He then later tried to creep on us again next time we went to the bar, but thankfully we had a couple of guy friends come up with us who saw him and did a fancy turn to put themselves between us and him.

    Please. Don't be That Guy. Back off nicely.

    • Akai

      Ugh, that's horrifying. What do people like that think they're accomplishing?

  • Glides

    This particular post is a huge ego booster for anyone who's never done any of these creepy things before.
    I feel so good about myself now.

    • Thereal McCoy

      Not being creepy isn't really an accomplishment. It's more the baseline expectation.

  • Greenfire

    Any other females ever play the "Jealous Angry Lesbian Girlfriend" ™ to save a straight friend from a creeper? My best friend and I used to go dancing without our husbands and we would have to play this part all the time. Amazingly, we'd have guys so drunk that when told "Get your damn hands off my girlfriend!" they'd reply with "You're lesbians? That's hot! Can I watch?" That's when we'd get the bouncer.

    • Akai

      Yeah, never tried the lesbian thing, but experiences going dancing with actual lesbians and seeing how THAT went over didn't give me a sense that the whole thing would lead to anything other than "lezzies=threesomes, rite?"

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  • astrokat88

    (Female here) I think a good thing to keep in mind if you want to talk to cosplayer chicks is to cosplay yourself! Cosplaying is the number 1 reason why I go to conventions – to wear an awesome costume and to see everyone else's awesome costumes. I usually end up talking more with people who are in costume than with people who aren't wearing a costume. So, put on an awesome costume, and they'll come to you, take your picture, ask for a hug, or tackle-hug you without asking. (On a side note, you technically should ask people before you hug them, but personally I think it's fun to get random, unexpected tackle-hugs and bear-hugs from strangers at cons). You'll get more hugs if you dress as a popular character and pull it off well. My most popular cosplay is David Bowie as Goblin King from the movie 'Labyrinth'.

    Being hit on is kind of annoying, but kind of funny, since it's only ever happened to me while crossdressing. One time I was hit on by a guy who was also crossdressing; we ended up becoming friends. That being said though, the girls in 'sexy' costumes, they get hit on a lot, and if you do it too, you're just one more on a long list of guys who hit on her that day. If you want to see her outside of the con, I'd suggest a more casual approach. If you get into a conversation with them and you think it's going well, you could ask to exchange tumblr/facebook/deviantart names if she's not in a hurry. But don't stalk her on the internet!!! Or she'll block you. Just send her a note or two making casual conversation and see what happens from there.

    Also, I can't speak for all women, but I love to be invited to nerdy events/parties, and it's always cool when people at cons talk to me and invite me to stuff. If somebody I exchanged usernames with sends me a note inviting me to a Tolkien party or Star Trek art event, it makes my day. Even if I can't make it to the event, I'll keep the person in mind in case I find an event I want to go to and need a buddy.

    When I'm cosplaying at a con, I'm there to have fun. I'm not there to shoot you down, I'm not watching your every move, waiting for you to mess up so I can call you out for being a creep an get every other girl at the con to keep a half-mile distance from you. I don't expect you to be creepy when you approach me, I assume you're cool and fun. Don't be afraid to talk come up an chat, if I'm busy I'll let you know.

    Also, to the ladies: If a guy really is creeping on you and won't go away, I generally just say "Nice talking to you, but I have to go find my friends." and then run off without another word. It's never a lie for me either. I always have to go find my friends because I always end up losing them. ^^;

    • Knitty

      "(On a side note, you technically should ask people before you hug them, but personally I think it's fun to get random, unexpected tackle-hugs and bear-hugs from strangers at cons)"

      Um, this should be a hell of a lot more than just a "side note" or a "technically". Your ideal of "fun" could be someone else's trigger and since no one's really missing out if they don't get randomly stranger-hugged, it's probably a good idea to not do it, nor encourage it. Again, cosplay is not consent for anything more than a "hey, nice costume".

      Basic standards of behavior don't go out the window just because we're at a con. If you wouldn't randomly tacklehug a complete stranger just because you like their outfit, why is it okay because you're both wearing costumes? It's not.

      I'm glad you can deal with creepy behavior in your own way, good for you and all, but coming to an article advising guys how not to be a creeper and being all "I don't mind/it's easy to deflect/you can cosplay too, then it's okay" doesn't help at all.

      • Gentleman Johnny

        Also, its embarrassing when someone comes up for a hug and gets refused in front of the whole con but if I don't feel like hugging you, that's how its going to go down. See a previous reply about beating people with stilts.

        She's right, though, that cosplayers tend to appreciate other cosplayers' work. You're going to meet a lot more of them if you're in a cool outfit yourself. Of course, this is kind of a chicken-and-egg thing. If you're only in costume to meet other cosplayers, not because you liked some particular character enough to put in the work on getting the costume together, it probably won't work.

        • And if you absolutely suck at making costumes or simply don't have the resources, wheel out Cardboard Box Gundam(bring magic markers for writing on it).

          • Gentleman Johnny

            One word – Pepakura.

          • Jay

            I've also seen Cardboard Box Samurai and Cardboard Box Knight variations. Also someone in a wheelchair did Cardboard Box Tank. Always a good standby, cardboard.

      • Sim

        I agree. I highly dislike touching strangers or people I don't know very well. I have a huge problem at cons with people "glomping" me. They're usually very nice people who I've met or talked to once or twice – but the moment they decide doing a running tackle is okay, they suddenly fall from "cool person I may want to get to know" to "oh my god get him/her the hell off me."

      • astrokat88

        Ugh, sorry about that, posted it at like 2am and wasn't thinking straight. Let me rephrase:

        "Although some people don't mind getting surprise hugs from strangers, you should ask before you hug somebody."

    • Artimaeus

      "That being said though, the girls in 'sexy' costumes, they get hit on a lot, and if you do it too, you're just one more on a long list of guys who hit on her that day. If you want to see her outside of the con, I'd suggest a more casual approach. If you get into a conversation with them and you think it's going well, you could ask to exchange tumblr/facebook/deviantart names if she's not in a hurry."

      Agreed. It makes so little sense why people try to hit on cosplayers (or female musicians, or any other type of performer, really). Before you make your move, you're just another audience member, and after, you reveal yourself to be a audience member who can't tell the difference between her act and reality. So if you want to talk to them, start with their act. If they want to reveal more of themselves to you, they'll do so.

  • Sim

    I believe that should have been a "whom," not a "who."

  • Sam

    Those are good points to remember.

    Because dismissing other people's reactions – their FEAR – is a good way for an innocuous person who unintentionally gives off creepy vibes to become a full-blown creeper who thinks they're entitled to act as they see fit, because "other people are unreasonable".

    I don't know. In my experience it's much more likely to create unsurmountable walls of approach anxiety, which, in turn, is likely to increase the amount of creepy vibes, but even more likely to make the people resign and feel bad about themselves,

    • Gentleman Johnny

      Then you're missing the line between. One of the main points of this, and all Doc's "no creeper" articles is this – approach, converse. If you step over boundaries its not the end of the world as long as you sincerely apologize and don't repeat the mistake. Its the only way you're going to learn and, generally speaking, it doesn't make you a social pariah.

      • Sam

        I'd phrase this a little differently, but yes.

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  • They tried to be nice and take care of you, and in return, you have been "shocked", and from the sound of it, is very overly dramatic and qualifications.