Everyone has their guilty pleasures: things that they do that they would probably refuse to admit to in public. I mean, I don’t, but that’s mostly because I had my sense of guilt surgically removed in 2006, but, y’know. Everyone else does.
One of the closest things I have to a guilty pleasure is the relationships.txt twitter feed. Having the best – or at least, most what-and-I-can’t-stress-this-enough-the-FUCK – parts of Reddit delivered to my Twitter timeline on a regular basis gives me my daily dose of both rage and reassurance that I will never be out of work. Plus on occasion, there’s a story that serves as a prime example of some of the things I warn people about.
And then there’re stories that in and of themselves are interesting… but it’s the reactions they provoke that are more interesting.
Such is the case of the Jailbait Birthday Creeper.
The Curious Case of The Birthday Cake In The Night Time
On May 24th, a Redditor posted a story to the Am I The Asshole subreddit, where posters present scenarios and ask: where they in the wrong to behave this way? Reddit account u/throweotro asked: “AITA for flirting with 19 year old girls and defending myself when being called a predator?” , in which he related a story of approaching a group of 19 year old girls having an impromptu birthday party at a local bar and grill. The post caught fire, reaching the front page of Reddit. This caused a deluge of comments, upvotes and downvotes, eventually leading to mods locking the post and removing the original post until the furor dies down.
Fortunately, relationships.txt got the screenshots.
The women in question were, needless to say, less than impressed by a 30 year old man trying to hit on a group of 19 year olds. So far, so typical. The whole situation went about as well as could be expected, which is to say, it blew up messily and all over the place. Again, not that unusual. But while the guy approaching them was pretty clearly in the wrong – even his wingmen were trying to drag him away – a multitude of people decided that the young women were, in fact, the assholes in question. Many folks defended the original poster, insisting that perhaps he was just awkward and they were unnecessarily cruel to someone who repeatedly refused to leave when summarily dismissed by disinterested girls nearly half his age.
Others wanted to defend an older man’s right to creep on younger girls, insisting that many women would be thrilled by an older man giving them attention. But many – particularly from the Red Pill and Incel crowds – decided to turn this into the new cause célèbre of one of the oldest and hoariest clichés: it’s only creepy if you’re not hot.
Amusingly, being a famous celebrity hasn’t kept people from calling Moby a creeper for his – ahem – “relationship” with Natalie Portman.
So since this has come up yet again, let’s talk a little about just what makes somebody creepy and – more importantly – why it would still be creepy if it were Leonardo DiCaprio hitting on them.
Yes, It’s Still Creepy if Brad Pitt Does It
The theory of the hot/creeper matrix is simple: it’s only creepy if you’re not hot. Inviting a young, impressionable woman back to a secluded location? If you’re hot, it’s a hook-up. If you’re not, then it’s the cold-open of a Law & Order: SVU episode. Waking up in a stranger’s room with no memory of how you got there? It’s cool if he’s a hot, jacked billionaire…
I’ve even seen otherwise serious websites use a variation as “The Brad Pitt” test, under the assumption that Brad would never get turned down, never get ghosted or otherwise never be lacking for the company of any woman (and many men and non-binary pals) that he wants. Which, honestly, goes to show that folks don’t quite get it.
These days, various wags will just quote the Tom Brady SNL sketch as “Be Attractive/Don’t Be Unattractive” as though it’s the ultimate mic-drop argument instead of actually engaging with the topic or trying to actually understand why a group of 19 year old women might be repulsed by a random 31 year old hitting on them at an Yard House and not Leonardo DiCaprio, star of The Basketball Diaries, Titanic and Romeo + Juliet.
But let us investigate this theory for a moment. In fact, let’s go back to the Leo DiCaprio example from earlier. Let us posit that Leo is on the market for a new girlfriend and was coincidentally enjoying an appletini at this Totally-Not-TGI-Friday’s. He sees this birthday party happening and strolls over to wish the birthday girl success in her new year of life and asks her for her number. Because she had seen Titanic at a formative age, the young woman is flattered and gives her number to him.
Wouldn’t it stand to reason then that the singular difference between Leo and our erstwhile Redditor is his lack of celebrity and boyish good looks?
Well… not really. See the issue here isn’t the Redditor isn’t as rich, as famous or as hot. The truth is that the people who complain that it’s only creepy if you’re ugly are missing an important part of flirting: mutual interest and mutual consent. The fact that someone may be good looking doesn’t automatically give them a pass to do whatever they want. Somebody can be hot as a four alarm fire, but you still don’t want them touching you.
We let people we’re attracted to do things that we wouldn’t allow from people we aren’t attracted to because we want those particular people doing those things.
(And let me tell you, straight men figure that out really quickly when hot gay guys hit on them.)
It’s not about whether a person hits all the right demographic notes, because we don’t date based points on a spreadsheet. Looks, money and celebrity aren’t stackable buffs that let you roll with advantage on saves vs. rejection. We date the holistic person.
That’s why in this scenario, the issue is that he isn’t Leonardo DiCaprio. Not “isn’t as hot as” Leo. Not “isn’t as rich as” Leo. It’s that he isn’t Leo, specifically.
Hot Or Not Has Nothing To Do With It
The “It’s not creepy if you’re hot” argument is, at this point, older than steam. I’ve heard some variation of this comment – including the “It’s not creepy if you’re Brad Pitt/Leonardo DiCaprio/Robert Pattinson” subgenre – since I started this site.
Poke any incel forum or MGTOW community and you’ll see the same refrain over and over again: hotness trumps everything. Hot folks get away with things that the merely average can only dream of, while the trolls risk being pepper-sprayed merely for existing. And while it’s true that beauty privilege exists, the fact of the matter is that this common complaint isn’t actually about looks. After all, plenty of celebrities get shot down despite having signed the standard Rich and Famous contracts.
But frankly, the problem isn’t that this guy wasn’t “hot enough” or because he didn’t have a high-enough Q score. The relative level of celebrity or hotness is utterly irrelevant. In fact, in her response to the Reddit post, user Newnewnoy points out: “He was a decent looking, fit guy. If [I’d] never met him, I’d set him up with my aunt.”
The reason why this would-be Casanova got shot down was three-fold.
First was the fact that he was approaching a group of 19 year olds. This in and of itself is sketchy as hell. While yes, they’re legally adults, people tend to look askance when a grown man is hitting on women who are nearly half his age. There are many questions to be had about why someone in his 30s is wants to date someone who isn’t even able to drink legally yet. Hell, his buddies were trying to give him the wave-off, which he ignored.
Second was the fact that this wasn’t at a bar that happened to serve food, as he implied in his post. Nor was a place where folks go to drink, party and maybe hook-up. It was an Applebees-wanna-be, a restaurant that happens to have a bar. People aren’t going there to get laid, they’re going to have dinner and hang out with friends. By hitting on his fellow diners, he’s violating the social context. The more your behavior diverges from the social context of the venue, the more uncomfortable people are going to feel.
The third is that, frankly, he didn’t want to quit while he was behind. He ignored multiple indicators that none of the women were interested in him. It wasn’t even a case of getting soft “no’s”; by his own admission, they told him bluntly to piss off. Instead, he wanted to stay and argue that he had the right to hit on adults and it wasn’t fair to call him a pedophile.
The fact that he wasn’t rich, famous or had a string of near-misses during Oscar season were all irrelevant. He was a man trying to stay despite told to leave. Repeatedly.
If we were to posit that, rather than the original poster, Leo DiCaprio were to roll up on the table and act exactly the same way that he had, then according to this theory, the women would have welcomed his interest with open arms. In reality, however, things would have played out the same way. The only major difference would be the number of stories on TMZ and Jezebel about Leo being a creeper.
Attraction Doesn’t Have To Be Fair
Now often folks will complain that it’s not fair that hot people get all the advantages and can say things that would lead to folks calling the police if it came from anybody else. They’re missing the point entirely. Ignoring the number of times when hot dudes were creepy as shit, we all give people different privileges based on our relationship to them and how we feel about them. Different people get different levels of access to us; some of our friends have hug privileges or casual touch privileges. Others don’t. Close friends get to say things that might start a fight if anybody else said them.
So it is with the people we’re attracted to. Women are going to let Hotty McHotterson come closer, put his hands in places she wouldn’t let other folks near and say things that would get anyone else a visit from the Slap Fairy because she likes him. And if you think that guys don’t let folks they’re turned on by get away with outrageous shit… well, you’ve underestimated the power of boners.
But more importantly: nobody is obligated to give somebody a chance, regardless of whomever else they’ve been down to flirt with. Attraction isn’t fungible and consent isn’t transitory. If you’ve consented to flirt with one particular person doesn’t mean that you’ve also consented to flirt with anyone who’s statistically similar. A woman may well open to being hit on by a famous, good looking celebrity who’s older than them. That doesn’t mean that they’re also open to being hit on by somebody who isn’t that famous, good looking celebrity, despite being of a similar age. It meant that they were into that first person as an individual.
Hell, the fact that he’s a celebrity may or may not come into play. Maybe it gave in a foot in the door… but that doesn’t guarantee that he was going to get anywhere. They may have compatible lifestyles. They may share similar interests. She may just really like the way he smells or he has some quality besides his looks that she really digs on. But at the end of the day, she likes him because he’s him, not because he matches certain demographics.
Or to put it another way: just because like MILF porn doesn’t mean that you’re going to want to get down with any woman just because she’s in her late 40s to early 50s.
The Real Problem Is Entitlement
At the end of the real issue at the core of the complaint that “it’s not creepy when they’re hot” is one of entitlement. The men who complain that the difference being creepy and not creepy is about looks are ultimately complaining about the “fairness” of it all. The fact that one person gets “privileges” that they don’t is unfair – especially when the deciding factor is something they supposedly have no control over.
But it still comes down to the belief that they are entitled to somebody’s time and attention. That they are somehow “owed” the opportunity to hit on somebody and be given the same consideration that the other guys are getting. And if they do get shot down, they’re owed a polite and gentle refusal… regardless of how rude they were being.
This is something that comes up time and time again in the comments on the AITA post: how rude the nineteen year olds were. How dare they keep calling him R. Kelly and implying he was too old for them? It’s intolerable for them to dismiss him so coldly after having given him a piece of cake for the road and told him, repeatedly, that he made them uncomfortable. How dare they not let him make the case that he wasn’t actually creepy for hitting on him.
And ultimately, that’s the problem here. It’s not that a 31 year old approached a group of teens, or even that he did so at a Almost-Certainly-Not-Chili’s. It’s that he thought his desire to talk to them outweighed their desire to be left alone.
If you don’t want to be creepy, then don’t try to stick around where you’re not wanted.