Behind the scene, I’m chatting to a few guys who have no experience dealing with “creeps.” One of the communication problems we’re having is that the word “creep” is used and misused so much, it means so many different things to different people, that it has become effectively meaningless. I know what it means to me in what contexts, but I can’t expect people to be able to read my mind. So, while I’m searching for better words (and suggestions are welcome), here is a story about one of the types of problems I’m talking about.
I used to go to the local builders merchants a lot – I’m talking at least once or twice per week for a period of months. I used to go there because I actually needed to buy building materials. That fact was made quite obvious by the fact that I did in fact buy building materials when I was there. I’m not going to saddle myself with pallet-loads of bricks just so I can get to talk to someone.
Nonetheless, as I was going there a lot, and as I often had to wait to get served, I did get talking to people. All of them were guys. Most of them were married – and I know this because they’d freely chat about their partners and kids. One of them was not. I didn’t find this out from him – he hardly spoke to me at all – but from his colleagues, because after a while they felt the urge to tell me that the guy was single and he liked me.
I felt completely indifferent about it. I neither liked nor disliked the guy. I didn’t really think of him that way at all. He was just one of the guys selling me bricks. I was aware of the fact that we had absolutely no overlapping interests (an easy feat, given that I’m into fairly obscure stuff, and very much not into most popular stuff). I was also aware of the fact that he had some hobbies which for me would have been deal-breakers even if I had been interested in him (for instance, heavy drinking). No disrespect to the fellow, but there was nothing about him that screamed “yes” and a lot that mumbled “no.”
Anyhoo, I carried on going there and buying whatever I needed, and not really being troubled by the issue. Then I stopped needing bricks so I stopped going, and I thought that’d be the end of it. I was wrong.
Come Valentine’s day, I got a mystery card – both unexpected and unsigned. It was a generic service station last-minute-panic Valentine’s card – and I knew this because it still had the service station’s price tag on it – containing some vague expressions of attraction. Given that I had no idea whatsoever where the card may originate from, so I could do nothing about it even if I wanted to, I filed it under “meh.”
A random evening some weeks later, I got a text from a guy asking me how I was doing. I don’t give my number out to people, so that was rather perplexing. After a few exchanges, including me having to admit that his name meant nothing to me, I managed to grasp that it was the guy from the builders merchants, wanting to ask me out.
That set my wrongdar pinging. I had not given the guy my number. If asked, I would have not given him my number, because I didn’t want him to have it. I had given the shop my number, because they needed to contact me for deliveries. The guy had gone into my file and took out my number for his personal use. That to me indicated an excessively relaxed attitude towards privacy.
I realised that I’d also given the shop my address. Two of my neurons managed to collide, so I asked him if he had sent me a card. And yes, he was the mystery Valentine’s sender. So he had obtained and used both my number and my address without my consent. Jolly good.
I didn’t feel particularly concerned, but I felt rather put upon. I hadn’t invited or facilitated any kind of attentions. I had in fact publicly manifested a lack of interest in such attentions. Now I was having to deal with them, as well as his breach of my privacy. That, for me, moved my opinion towards the guy from neutral to negative. From “thank you, but no” to “NO,” kinda thing.
That apparently wasn’t enough, because the guy responded by texting me that “he would not take no for an answer.”
I could never understand that approach, because, as far as I’m concerned, it leaves me with only one answer: “Will you take a ‘fuck off’?” Because at that point that’s all they’re getting.
I am aware that there are cultures in which the women are obliged to say no several times in order not to be classed as “loose,” but I don’t belong to one of them. I’m aware that what my granddad did to woo my grandma would now be considered stalking, but I live here and now. I’m aware that there are women who subscribe to the “treat them mean to keep them keen” school of thought, but I’m not them. And I do not find it endearing when men try to press their suit.
Do I think the guy was a predator? Was he trying to intimidate or worry me? Was he likely to go violent at me? Almost certainly not. But that’s not really the point. I didn’t feel threatened by him, but that was largely due to my confidence in my security arrangements rather than his actions. I’m sure some women would have found his intrusion and insistence threatening. That’s not really the point, either.
I think he acted like a jackass. I know that’s not a recognised technical term, but the cap fits. What he was saying, openly and to my face, is that he would not respect my “no.” If he did not respect that no, I could not reasonably expect him to respect any other nos. And some of the nos that come up as a romantic relationship develops are pretty damn important. That was on top of him already having failed to respect my privacy. With that one sentence, the guy moved himself into the “OH HELL NO” category, and that was that.