What if.

I’ve been trying to write an article about Cock Roaches – small-time creeps who get their little pervy kicks by doing stuff that never escalates to a reportable level.

Note: This kind of behaviour works in all possible gender combinations, but I have only experienced as men vs. women, so I’m going to look at that side of things. This is not me suggesting that women can’t be creeps, or that men don’t creep on men. This is me saying that I can only talk with any degree of confidence about what I know and what people talk to me about.

This sort tends to do just enough to make women deeply uncomfortable, but never push it to a level that gives us anything to work with. As tactics go, it’s brilliant: maximum benefit from minimum effort, and zero risk. Yes, it’s weaselly and despicable and frankly repugnant, but it works. For that precise reason, it’s also ubiquitous.

One of the routine complaints about this type of creep is that the men don’t do anything about them. The womenfolk go to them with a list of issues, sometimes escalating, and in return they usually get zip. Nada. Tiddlypom. Not only the men don’t go all all blood-thirsty berserker at the creeps, in fact, but they often tend to try and sweep the behaviour under the carpet. For some frankly repulsive real-life examples, check this thread. Yes, there are exceptions, but this is all too often how it goes.

This is often hailed as an example of Rape Culture – men enabling men to objectify and creep on women. I wonder if the problem isn’t somewhat simpler, though, and half as ominous though twice as depressing.

What if the ability to deal with creeps wasn’t a genetic gift? What if it didn’t reside on the Y chromosome? What if guys found it difficult to deal with this type of situation precisely for the same reason women do – because they lack the necessary knowledge, skills, and confidence? What if they felt as powerless as we do to deal with this kind of underhanded, weaselly strategy? What if they were as concerned as we are about making a bad call and unnecessarily hurting someone’s feelings, and/or about being socially shamed for their actions, and/or about possible escalations or retaliations? What if they were just as scared as we are, ultimately, just not as comfortable admitting it to themselves, to the world, and particularly to the women who are asking them to step up and do their Gallant Knight thing? What if it was harder for them, in a way, because of society’s expectation that they should naturally know how to fix this shit?

I’m not saying Rape Society is or isn’t a factor, in this or any other situation. I’m purely saying that expecting someone to be able to deal with a situation I can’t deal with just because he’s got manly bits seems a bit disingenuous, unless the situation can be resolved by waving a penis at it.

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4 thoughts on “What if.

  1. Yep, all too many creeps out there. (What exactly do they get out of bothering women [and men], anyway?) And just as you said, all too often both women and men do nothing.

    Also all too often, *other* women and men come down like a ton of bricks on someone who is in fact just socially awkward (on or off the autism spectrum), or who’s perhaps just not used to the ambient level of subtlety. “Can’t he take a hint?” Ask me how I know.

    As I see it, this is heads and tails of the same coin. Folks whose deepest evolved fears have been triggered in ways they probably were never taught how to recognize let alone deal with, limbic systems all aflutter, essentially winging it, can bury their heads in the sand, shoot first and ask questions later (or never) or anything in between.

    It would be nice if everyone got some kind of schooling — probably in an actual school — about:

    * What creepy behavior is

    * How it’s different from actual sexual assault and matters in its own way

    * Why it’s sometimes tough to tell the difference between (intentional?) creepiness and social awkwardness

    * How to both firmly and fairly handle complaints (Sweet spot: Somewhere between Ostrich and White Knight)

    I might add that some people also need some schooling in:

    * What creepy behavior is

    * How it affects the other person — especially a girl or woman

    * Lost in Translation: The bumpy road between your intentions and her (sometimes reasonable) perception

    * Where the other person is coming from — again, especially a female

    * How to dial down the creepiness factor (eg, don’t stand so close, eyes on her face or up in the air, no adult jokes around someone you don’t know, shower or bathe every day need it or not, the handshake is your one chance to touch her before you get to know each other, etc)

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  2. What, ideally, SHOULD his response be? (Hypothetical male presented with the problem) I can understand a specific request, i.e. “I don’t want so-and-so invited over” or “I want so-and-so fired”, but absent that, what are we imagining the guy can do that she cannot do for herself? Go assault the creep? “Stop bothering my girl or I’ll kick your ass?” That sort of thing? ‘Cause I thought we weren’t doing that anymore. :-/

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    • I half get into that in here: https://godsbastard.wordpress.com/2016/10/19/now-what/

      (Sorry for quoting myself, but I’d only be repeating myself otherwise)

      I’m not going to advocate any stock solutions, because that doesn’t seem at all helpful. I can’t talk for everybody and I don’t know the specific situation, so the only answer I could give would be “it depends.” However, it’s definitely the case that some guys listen to men, particularly men they regard as figures of authority, infinitely more than they listen to women. Hell, some guys only listen to women if a guy tells them to. So, in some situation, some guys effectively have a superpower; they can tell other guys to knock certain behaviours off, and it works. I’d personally like to see it used more often. It wouldn’t do anything at all to increase women’s agency, but it might reduce the amount of issues we’re having to deal with.

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