If you are ever called upon to justify your decision to act in self-defence, you will be required to articulate why you did what you did. Some of the elements you are likely to have to explain are summarised by the acronym IMOP – intent, means, opportunity, and preclusion. (Different people use different terminology to cover the same points – for instance Ability, Opportunity, Jeopardy, and Preclusion – but I favour acronyms I have a fighting chance of remembering. And I mop.)
“Intent: the threat must indicate to you by some means that he wants to, intends to harm you.
Means: he must have the means to carry out his intent. Size, fist or boots, gun, weapons, knife, etc.
Opportunity: the threat must have the ability to reach you with the means.
Once those three have been fulfilled, one more element should be satisfied for you to convince the jury that your actions were justified:
Preclusion – You must be able to convince the jury that you did not have any other viable option.
You could not leave. Threat blocking exit. Family left behind. Tried to leave and he stopped you. Tried to talk your way out and it didn’t work. You couldn’t call for help. Help would not arrive in time. You must articulate why force was the only option that would safely work.”
PLEASE NOTE: THIS IS NOT INTENDED AS LEGAL ADVICE. DIFFERENT JURISDICTIONS VARY, AND I AM NOT A LEGAL EXPERT. THIS IS A QUICK SUMMARY OF A COMPLICATED CONCEPT. I seriously recommend finding out what you need to know about self-defence laws in your jurisdiction BEFORE you need to know it.
The IMOP breakdown can be repurposed to help us think as criminals. We can look at IMO as elements we need to put into place before we are able to commit a criminal act. Assuming we have the intent, we need to acquire the means and find or create the opportunity.
The same breakdown can be applied to help us think like creeps, by which I mean those low-level sexual predators who elect to get their pervy kicks while never quite doing anything bad or clear-cut enough to put them at risk of being punished.
Imagine that you get your kicks out of making people feel somehow violated; you enjoy their discomfort, their fear, their disgust, their non-consent. For whatever reason, that’s what turns you on. You are not, however, committed enough to your craft to be willing to risk playing find-the-soap with some burly people in a prison shower. You want to get your pervy bennies today, but you also want to be able to continue getting them tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after… So you need to work out a way of achieving your goals without risking retribution. This may on the surface seem a really difficult task to achieve; unfortunately, it actually isn’t.
Going back to the IMOP acronym, you already have the intent: you have decided what you want to achieve. However, you have also decided what you want to avoid. This will limit your range of options; you will only choose outlets for your proclivities with a fairly conservative risk-reward ratio.
You have the means: you have ways in which you interact and communicate with other people. You may be able to use your body, your voice, or just words on a screen. As long as you have some means of interpersonal communication, you have the means to be creepy at people.
You need to find or create the opportunity. You need to have access to your targets of choice. This could mean physical proximity (e.g. joining a workplace or club, going to a shop, etc.), or just having a way to contact the targets (e.g. joining an internet forum, obtaining a phone number, etc.). If you can’t access your targets, there is nothing you can do.
However, mere access is not enough. You could walk into a ladies’ changing room and stare at naked women, but that is unlikely to end well, or be a game you can play for any length of time. In order not to get busted for your creeping, you need to have justified access to your targets – you need have a valid reason to be near them at all. You need to become the kind of person whose presence and behaviour around your targets either just won’t be questioned, or can be justified if required.
Justified access can be obtained in a number of ways. The amount of effort you’ll need to put into this will depend on how specific a game you’re playing. If you are content with rubbing against strangers, for instance, all you need to do is use public transport at peak times. If you want to play a longer-term game, to create a personal “relationship” with your targets, or to target a group that is usually protected (e.g. children), you will need to work harder.
(For an extreme example, paedophile Scout leaders and the like aren’t unfortunate souls who, wishing to help children, find themselves inexplicably and uncontrollably sexually attracted to them. They are people who specifically worked at getting justified access to their targets of choice.)
The better your cover is – the more justifications you have for the access you are misusing – the harder it will be for your targets not only to avoid you, but also to call you out or punish you. Your tango partners may face social or even legal repercussions if they punch you in the groin for standing too close. The same might not apply if you take up skiing.
If your targets use force against you, and sometimes even if they try to get the relevant authorities to manage your behaviour, they will also struggle to articulate their preclusion. If, for instance, they have consented to take part in an activity that involves a degree of physical contact, the question becomes in many people’s minds “if they don’t like being touched, why did they carry on going?” This puts the burden of proof on the victim: they have to demonstrate that the creep crossed a sometimes very fine line. This can be incredibly hard to do.
It becomes even harder if the collective ego of a group, or the individual ego of a group leader, make it impossible for them to accept that they have a problem. If everyone is so convinced that “something like that could never happen here,” for a victim to successfully prove such a fine breach of conduct and obtain adequate resolution can be almost impossible.
One of the things people tend to forget – or deliberately sweep under the carpet – is that self-defence and martial arts classes can provide all of these elements. This is particularly true of classes that involve grappling, but it’s not exclusive to them. Joining a self-defence class can provide creeps with the justified access to bother their targets of choice. Refusing to accept that possibility blinds some people to the fact that they have a problem that needs dealing with.