But we are both the same animal

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.

18 thoughts on “But we are both the same animal

      • Wow the book sounds pterty interesting. The history of Sci Fi alone would be a good read. I spent most of my early years enjoy horror and comedy films. It wasn’t till the later years of Star Trek TNG that I got into Sci Fi movies. I love them now! Hmmm maybe while I’m at the book store I’ll pick up Just a Geek.

  1. Yeah. I know a lot of men, nice men, intelligent men, who just don’t get this. The sad thing is that I don’t think they ever will.

    It might take a lifetime of being the “object” to understand that little bit of fear that surfaces when a man corners you, or the doubt that tries to overwhelm you when you’re just not sure that you’re in a safe place, or what the intentions of a stranger might be.

  2. I knew I really like what John was saying but didn’t know how to boil it down properly – thanks for hitting the nail on the head.

  3. I’ve been to lots of different kinds of cons. Just because someone acts like someone who wants something from you doesn’t mean they do, and you don’t have to be objectified to be used. I’ve had a guy strike up a conversation with me in order to get overheard by the hot blonde one or two heads away from me. I’ve had guys insist on acting as if I don’t exist because I’m in the Adult Room, the world in which ugly girls aren’t allowed even if they’re standing there in the flesh. I’ve stood on line to get swag for promotional (as opposed to personal) use and been practically spat on by a female who wanted to make sure everyone present knew there’s not a hint of lesbian in her just because she’s signed a photo for another female. I’ve been to academic cons and had no-name males think that just because I sat across from or next to them it was because I was personally interested in them or there for their convenience, not because I was stuck and had nowhere to move, or a job to do. I’ve had men and women interpret my asking a question as my trying to fulfill an uncontrollable need to give or get personal attention, not a need for information or an attempt to do my job or help them do theirs. All along, I should have worn a shirt that said, “I already don’t remember your name on purpose” that I would have only stickered over for four out of hundreds: Octavia Butler, Hypatia Lee, William Marshall and Clive Barker. Because of some mix of regret, resignation and mindless optimism akin to the gambler’s fallacy, I stood in line on thinly carpeted cement until both feet felt like stumps to get an autograph from Patrick Stewart, who was promoting a miniseries. That’s when I realized what a horrifying machine cons of any type are. We actually engaged in something that sounded like a social interaction and looked like a physical transaction, but was nothing of any sort. (The first person on line had been forcibly ejected for bringing his own Start Trek memorabilia, which wasn’t allowed for obvious reasons. I can only imagine what else Trek actors have to go through on a daily basis, so I don’t blame any of them for what they have to do to protect themselves.) At that point I promised myself I would never get roped into the con game again. Cons are by nature public. Even the virtual jobfairs you see online nowadays must be treated as public events. Is it possible that trying to insert some notion of “private space” into a public venue, while power and privilege continue to do uncontested damage, is counterproductive? Isn’t defining an instance of encroachment or bullying as a “private” matter between two people a disincentive to onlookers and passersby? Doesn’t the real problem begin when one person either announces or assumes, “We both know why you’re here…” and proceeds to act accordingly, with or without warning?

    • You say “uncontested damage.”

      I think the point of this whole conversation is *not* to succumb to this mob mentality you’re talking about. Specifically *to contest* it.

  4. Very effective explanation of the difference between Scalzi’s story of *potential* to creep and the people saying, “SEE? Even Scalzi could! THIS IS HARD FOR THE SOCIALLY AWKWARD!” Thank you!

  5. Oh, teh Internet is a small place! I read that post by Scalzi which was such a poignant take on it from the OTHER side, and then you were in the comments and here you are! Thank you for writing this, in teh way you do. It needs to be said. And heard.

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