Looks like there’s going to be a bonus article this week.
Whenever the topic of creepy behavior comes up, you can almost certainly take it for granted that somebody is inevitably going to bring up the Tom Brady Sexual Harassment sketch from Saturday Night Live as though it were some sort of “Drop-the-mic” debate-winning argument rather than a comedy sketch that relies on exaggeration and playing with expectations and stereotypes. One is forced to presume that people who see it as a great truth and insight into the human condition also like to gift-wrap their penises on major holidays as well.
Why does it always come up? Because people see it as validation of the idea that “only ugly people are creepy.” Which isn’t true and relies on conflating “being attractive” with “being attracted”.
The latest version of this argument came up in the comments section for This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things. From the comments:
Harris I get and agree with a lot of what you say. Men do need to be more sensitive to the dangers women face. There are steps and precautions men can take to avoid behavior that might make women uncomfortable. However skits like this one from SNL, illustrate a reality that you nearly seem to be denying: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gBVuAGFcGKYSo obviously the scenarios in the above were exaggerated, but the point they are trying to illustrate is spot on. My male friends that are considered attractive can get away with all sorts of behavior that would be labeled creepy by a less attractive man. Of course even Brad Pitt or Tom Brady can go too far, but the guys you’re responding to in the opening of this post are making a real point that you’re not giving enough credit too. I also think, you deny the large number of women who label guys creepy for trivial or absurd reasons. I remember hearing a woman in one of my classes “whisper”(not very quietly) that she found a guy who sat by himself in the back creepy because he didn’t talk to anyone. This guy didn’t look the least bit threatening, and usually had his nose buried in a book, but her friends agreed with her. You seem to write women like this off as being rare, when I see this sort of thing happen all the time, heck its happened to me. I heard you briefly acknowledge in your podcast that women like this do exist, but you almost made it sound as though they were incredibly uncommon and not worth talking about beyond a brief mention.
Pay attention. Class is in session.
The first mistake with this idea is it comes from a place that assumes that attraction is binary; it’s either there or it’s not. It also comes from a place where a person’s boundaries are somehow universal, concrete things and should be exactly the same for any person regardless of circumstances.
Both are wrong. Attraction and comfort levels are elastic and mercurial. They can grow and they can shrink at almost any time.
Behavior is considered creepy when it makes people uncomfortable. Repeatedly pushing against somebody’s boundaries is creepy behavior; a person who ignores a woman’s discomfort or wishes and keeps pushing at her boundaries carries the implication that the he is either testing them (as per the crotch grabber in the story from ExplodedSoda) or ignoring them (in the case of UnWinona’s train harassment).
If a woman (or a man, for that matter) is attracted to someone, she is more likely to feel comfortable with them and more willing to accept certain behaviors… that is, her boundaries may be different for this person. This doesn’t mean that attraction is an all-encompasing passport to do whatever you want; just because somebody’s boundaries may be relaxed in certain areas doesn’t mean that they no longer exist. It’s very easy to shut down another person’s attraction to you in an instant, whether it’s by being an asshole, saying something rude or inconsiderate, or pushing at her boundaries.
Being conventionally attractive doesn’t magically inure you to being considered creepy. Don’t believe me? Ask Brett Farve how much being a good looking celebrity helped when he was sending his dick pics around. If Ryan Gosling happened to sit down next to UnWinona, draped his arms around her and started demanding to know what she was reading, she’s going to be equally annoyed as she was by the biker before he went nuts. If Adam Levine were to start talking about tits to Ky at the Minecraft party and showing off pictures he’ d secretly been taking of women’s breasts at the party, it’s <em>still</em> going to be creepy as all fuck, regardless of how good he might look naked.
Nobody has ever argued that being an Adonis wasn’t an advantage, but it’s also not a prerequisite. Being attractive is about more than just looks – especially since nobody can agree what’s a universal standard of physical beauty. Folks will cheerfully tell you that Kate Upton is fat. There are plenty of people who wouldn’t fuck Megan Fox with a borrowed dick while Kim Kardashian was doing the pushing. Folks may think Brad Pitt is the bee’s knees and the badger’s nadgers, but there’re just as many people who love Joseph Gordon-Levitt for his scrawny, nerdy looks. My friend Rubio – who was on the second Paging Dr. NerdLove podcast – is short and fat. And yet the man gets ass like somebody in a car chase who plows through an ass-cart and crashes through a plate-ass window… because he knows how to <em>be</em> attractive.
If you happen to be somebody’s physical type, great, you’ve got a leg up. Maybe this means she will be more comfortable with you than she would be otherwise. This doesn’t mean that anyone else approaching her is automatically going to be creepy, it just means that she may draw the line elsewhere, which is her prerogative. A woman isn’t required to maintain just one universal standard of what she considers acceptable behavior and trying to insist that she has to treat you exactly the same as she would treat Christian Bale is – once again – telling her that your right to approach her is greater than her right to decide who she wants to talk to and when.
If that seems unfair to you… well, you should stop and think of what sort of behavior you’d be willing to accept from Gabrielle Union or Jewel Saite that you wouldn’t be willing to accept from your eighth grade history teacher.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t become more attractive to her – and thus make her more comfortable with you… but if you want to have the chance to do that, you’d better not be acting like a creep.
Those girls whispering about the quiet guy in class that the commenter brings up? They’re assholes. Women who use “creep” as a way of saying “ew, how dare you think you had a chance of talking to me?” They’re assholes.
And you know what? I have no time for assholes. And neither should you.
So no I don’t consider them worth mentioning; they’re not that common to begin with and even if they were, it doesn’t change the metrics. The fact that assholes exist doesn’t mean that people aren’t allowed to be creeped out by people
I don’t take assholes like that into consideration when I talk about avoiding creepy behavior because assholes are going to act like assholes. They would talk shit about him even if he were the very model of etiquette and manners.
So quite frankly, fuck ’em.