Last week we talked about the concept of male privilege. This week, we’re going to take that knowledge and examine how you can put it to practical use.
One of the more common problems I see amongst my nerd brethren is a certain lack of self-awareness. Too many guys out there – especially those who can be a little less socially experienced – don’t quite understand the difference between how they perceive themselves and how they’re coming across to others. As far as they’re concerned, they’re the very model of chivalry and gentility. However, the girls they’re talking to? They have a slightly different opinion about the matter.
The more kind-hearted ladies would describe them as “intense”. Or they would say “(He) comes across a little strong, but he means well. You just have to get to know him”
The less kindly would say it flat out: “He gives me the creeps.”
It’s surprisingly easy to give off the creepy vibe to women, especially if you aren’t aware of what you’re doing and why it makes women feel the way they do. Your friends may know you well enough to know that you don’t mean to be a creeper, but you don’t have the time to explain that to every woman you meet.
So it’s time to take a look at your behavior and make sure you aren’t being a creeper.
On Male Privilege and Being Creepy
As I said last time, part of male privilege is all of the things that guys take for granted, like personal safety. Women, on the whole, don’t pose a physical threat to men; while there will always be individual exceptions, the average male is larger, stronger and heavier than the average woman. In practical terms, this means that the average man is fully capable of overpowering the average woman with relative ease… and women are very aware of this fact. Women have to gauge every interaction with men, especially men they don’t know, on whether or not he presents a threat to her. This is the unspoken subtext for every time a guy talks to a girl, sends a Facebook friend request or asks her out.
Just about every woman out there knows somebody -a friend, a family member, someone – in their immediate circle who has been threatened, taken advantage of or assaulted… if they haven’t been themselves. Think about that for a second.
Because women live in a state of near-constant threat awareness, they are far more cued in to the slight clues that hint at potential danger than guys are. Because the stakes are much higher for women than they are for men, women are more sensitized to these little hints, which can lead to false-positives. That guy who stares too hard and lingers around her long after he’s worn out his welcome may not actually intend to make her uncomfortable, but she has no way of knowing this; it’s far safer to allow for the wrong impression than it is to ignore the signs when someone actually does mean her harm.
Guys – who don’t have to do this mental calculus on an almost hourly basis – are frequently unaware of this issue. They’re often ignorant of just what it is they’re doing that sends all the wrong signals. In fact, because they don’t live with the same omnipresent threat that women do, they’re frequently offended by the idea that it’s their behavior that creeps girls out. Because they don’t (or won’t) address the issue, the behavior continues.
And don’t think that girls won’t talk about it. Every girl has a story about creepers she has met… and she will be sure to share that information with all of her friends.
The last thing you want is to be a creeper. Fortunately, some self-awareness and fairly simple changes in a guy’s behavior can eliminate the creepy vibe.
Watch Your Body Language
Body language is one of the ways that women use to gauge men’s intentions… and it’s one of the ways that guys mistakenly give off the creepy vibe.
Guys will often face people directly when talking to them, pointing their feet, torso and face directly at the person they’re talking to. To guys, this is a sign of attention, that you’re engaged in communicating with the person in front of you. To a woman whom you’ve just met, this is an incredibly intense look; it comes off as almost uncomfortably aggressive and will leave women feeling cornered. This is especially true if you’re broad or tall; you may think you’re being direct or confident, but you’re coming across as overbearing and threatening.
To avoid being creepy, learn to avoid giving women the full frontal; angle your body away from theirs, or even address them from your side or over the shoulder. The more comfortable a woman is with you, the more directly you can face her without causing her to instinctively reach for the pepper spray.
Avoid overly intense eye-contact. The difference between flirty eye contact and overly intense is a fine one; too short and she won’t notice, too long and you will begin to seem aggressive. Ideally, you want to hold eye contact for just a little longer than normal – a matter of a second or two past the point where it starts to feel uncomfortable – then deliberately break contact by looking up and away with a smile. That hint from holding eye contact just a second too long feels exactly like the rush that you feel when you see someone you’re incredibly attracted to. Hold it too long and it becomes a threat… legitimate discomfort rather than butterflies in the stomach. Getting the timing right on this is a matter of practice and calibration; you’ll have to accept that you’re going to end up being a little creepy as you learn to calibrate your internal clock.
Notice very carefully, by the way, that I told you to smile. Remember this: one of the keys to not being creepy is a big, toothy grin. Imagine for a second, two men, both looking at you. Both of them are standing in the exact same pose. One of them is stoney-faced; he may as well be looking at paint samples as looking at you. The other has a big smile on his face. Which one of them seems friendly to you, and which one seems like he might be considering whether he wants to beat you into a fleshy cube?
Now realize that this is exactly the difference that a smile makes to women. The difference between “friendly” and “estimating the number of lampshades he can make from your skin” is often a grin.