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.