Charlie Glickman educates around adult sexuality and is an author and speaker. He recently posted a brief piece about creepy men and gave tips on how to avoid being creepy when you are interested in a woman. I think these rules can be applied to any person.
Creepiness ends up affecting all of us, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, and it’s especially challenging for male-female interactions. Plenty of women have articulately described how annoying it is for them, though so far, I’ve seen far fewer men talk about how it affects us.
It’s important for guys to be talking about this, too.Given the very scary possible consequences for women when men approach them, I think it’s entirely reasonable for someone to assume that a random guy hitting on her is a possible predator until he demonstrates otherwise. I understand that that creates a frustrating situation- after all, who likes to have to prove their good intentions? And it’s also one of the many ways in which sexism and misogyny make things harder for men. If you want that to change, work to change things. Don’t complain that women don’t assume you’re a good guy. Their reasons for not doing so are useful protective measures in a world that sets them up as targets to be harassed, groped, and assaulted while simultaneously blaming them for it.”
Glickman notes that defining “creepy” can be difficult because it can look several different ways, and often people report getting a creepy vibe from someone or “I just know it when I see it.”
Glickman uses a cat video (watch here), not to make light of these creepy situation, to illustrate what creepy might look like for some people. I think he used the video well, because for most of it, I could completely relate the way the cat was staring and stalking the camera to how I’ve felt in situations where someone was creeping on me. I think it’s also important to acknowledge that some people give off a creepy vibe without meaning to, and that is Glickman’s intended audience.
Here are a few things that men can do to not be creepy. All of these assume that you don’t want to be creepy, of course. If you get off on crossing someone’s boundaries, either you need to learn how to play with that within a larger container of consent or you should admit that you enjoy assaulting people.”
Glickman’s advice has 5 components, but he admits there are many more things you can do to.
Managing Sexual Energy.
He gives a good reference point or framing for this issue. The fact that your sexual energy exists in response to someone is no one else’s responsibility, in a similar way that when you feel hungry, it’s not someone else’s responsibility to feed you.
And just as you’re responsible for your responses when you see a hamburger, no matter how hungry you are, you’re responsible for your sexual energy, no matter how hot someone is … This piece is definitely easier for many men as we get older, whether that’s due to learning some skills, changing body chemistry, or something else entirely. But it can be something that any of us can struggle with, especially when drugs or alcohol are involved. I found tantra practices to be especially useful when I wanted to find ways to manage my sexual energy without denying or squashing it.”
Make Consent Part Of Your Approach
I think this is probably the most useful piece of information in this post and everyone could benefit from learning how to incorporate consent into their daily life and sexual life.
2) Instead of imposing yourself on someone else, make it very clear that the interest, desire, and consent of the person you want to ask is important. It’s not all that hard to do. In fact, here’s an easy formula. Start off with a conditional statement like:
If you’re interested…
If you’re in the mood…
If you’re available…
And follow up with a statement of your desire:
I would enjoy chatting over coffee with you.
I’d like to kiss you.
I’d love to go out to dinner with you.
I think people might be surprised to find what a turn-on consent conversations can be and how it can make someone feel more self confident, which is often consistent with satisfying sex.
Of course, you have to actually mean that, but if her desire and consent don’t matter to you, you’re well into rapist territory.
Responding to Rejection
Rejection is hard for everyone and social rejection can cause serious pain. And it’s something that you will experience in your lifetime. I have never known a person who wasn’t familiar with rejection in some form. All of that means that it might be a worth your while to learn how to process and deal with rejection in a way that’s productive and allows you to keep going instead of shutting down. But it’s important to learn how to deal with it, because rejection is often one of the reasons why some men turn to verbal, emotional and physical violence.
I think it’s also important to learn the difference between unavailability and rejection. Unfortunately, rejection can trigger shame reactions, so learning some shame resilience is part of this process. That’s not a quick fix- shame resilience can take a while to develop. I’m a big believer in therapy for that.”
Understand Women’s Experiences
This is also huge. Constant harassment, including cat calls, whistles and stares, gropes and worse are something that women have likely had to deal with on a daily basis. And I believe that most men would object to that kind of constant attention if it were happening to them. I know straight men who feel objectified and harassed in gay bars, and they don’t like it. Many people don’t find that kind of attention enjoyable, especially if it happens every day or several times in one night.
That means that no matter how well-phrased your invitation and no matter how considerate you are, there’s a possibility that she’ll receive it differently than you intend. The best response in those situations isn’t to try to justify or explain yourself because that almost invariably comes across as you telling her that she’s wrong. Believe me- that’s not going to help.
Instead, try saying something like, “I’m sorry that I intruded on you. Thank you for telling me.” And then disengage. Instead of trying to prove you’re cool, show her. Actions speak a lot louder than words. And remember that “no” is a sufficient response.”
Know When (And How) To Apologize
Apologizing is also a great skill to learn that will likely help you in all aspects of your life. Everyone makes mistakes sometimes so people are frequently understanding if you have good intentions.
The fact is, sometimes, boundaries are going to bet brushed up against or crossed, even with the best of intentions. But if you step forward with care and with attention to the response, it’ll be a much smaller thing than if you go full-speed. And when it does happen, the best response is to acknowledge it, offer an apology, and step back. Depending on the situation, there might be room in the future to try again, but whether there is or not, at least you won’t be a jerk about it.”
I highly recommend you read the full post here and share it with your friends. This is one of the ways we can help combat a rape and sexual assault culture and improve communication.
One question I was left with is, how do men and women display creepiness in comparison with each other?
If you have any feedback on that I would love to hear your opinion in the comments or in a message.