John Scalzi has written a really good post, An Incomplete Guide to Not Creeping
…which I had a fairly hard time staying out of because I have a vested interest in this conversation and its outcomes. Which really any woman does. But I feel especially strongly about.
Something I’ve observed in the comments of both that post and his post following it, about his own experiences being potentially creepy – but avoiding it – is that men really, really want there to be divisions and polarity between “malicious” creepy behavior and “innocent” creepy behavior.
The more I read, the more I saw it, and despite John’s attempt to close that gap with his second post which amounts to “no, potentially I am also that creepy guy,” men really, really needed to say “well. Some of us are potential rapists. But most of us are clueless.”
I’m sorry. No. Bullshit.
I wanted to post, over and over again – and it would be futile so I didn’t – no.
No, and no and no.
Guys. This is the same behavior and it has the same effect and more importantly it has the same source whether you get to the point of rape or not.
Creepy behavior is about objectification.
It is where I cease to be a person.
It’s where you see me as a means to an end.
That is hideous, quite frankly, from the start.
It is also the place from which rape happens.
I know you think it’s not creepy. I know you think it’s innocent. But there is nothing at all innocent about the selfishness of an impulse that drives you to speak to a woman solely because of your needs – predominantly physical – and what you think she can do for them.
I have just disappeared at that point. I’m no longer a person I’m a potential vagina for you to sate the needs of your dick on, or I’m a object of comfort for your loneliness, or I am an imagined lover and companion you desperately want but do not actually know me to be, and the stripping away of my person, my self
who I actually am standing there and what I need and want and hope in my own heart
is a violent act to begin with.
The power of what John is urging men to do is not as much in the practical, physical safety it provides women.
It’s that it forces a paradigm shift.
You stop thinking about the woman in terms of your needs and desires and your rights.
And you approach her specifically thinking about hers.
I am an imperfect creature. I objectify all the time, I project imagined things on men, other women all the time, I do. I think very impure things about Josh Duhamel and Manu Bennett. I do.
But I do not walk up to Josh or Manu with those desires paramount in my mind. With my need for my fantasy of them to be real. Or my need for them to respond to me, or validate my attractiveness (!), or have them be part of the fantasy I’ve made up in my head about who they are.
In fact, I don’t walk up to Josh or Manu at all.