So much for negative reinforcement...
November 9, 2009 3:13 AM   Subscribe

Why do creepy/obnoxious guys (talked about at great length in a couple fantastic recent threads) keep hitting on girls if they never have any success?

This is inspired by this recent, amazing thread, and its MetaTalk spinoff.

(First: though I've spent a few hours reading both those threads, I haven't nearly read everything, so forgive me if this is answered in there at some point.)

I don't understand: what drives the creepy/obnoxious guys to continually hit on girls in the creepy/obnoxious manner? If they and their technique are so universally loathed by girls, as seems to be to the case, then it should follow that these guys NEVER have success. Sure, sometimes a girl is a little friendly in return, just to be nice. But presumably it never goes anywhere, so these guys never have any success with the routine. Why, then, do they keep doing it?
posted by frankly mister to Human Relations (77 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

Well, think about a pet that begs for food. If you never give it any food, it will give up. If you give it food for a while and then stop permanently, it will probably give up. But, if you give it some food randomly they will beg for food even more. The random success is the biggest motivator of all.

So, I think the reason guys do this is because it sometimes works. Maybe not very often, but I do think people respond to it every so often. I think the situation with Catcalls and things like that is just an exercise in being obnoxious. Like a real life 4chan post.
posted by delmoi at 3:34 AM on November 9, 2009

As delmoi says, it must work sometimes. Even if it fails 99.5% of the time, that's not "NEVER", and it still means that every 200th girl gives the slimer has positive reinforcement. If these are the kinds of guy I'm thinking of, they can hit on 200 girls in a single weekend, so that means that their technique is working every single weekend, right? Why change?

Also, like... some people will fall for anything if they're drunk enough.
posted by rokusan at 3:37 AM on November 9, 2009

I would like to use my ten minute edit window to change "has" to "his" in the second sentence above. Thank you.
posted by rokusan at 3:38 AM on November 9, 2009

But, if you give it some food randomly they will beg for food even more.

Somewhere way back in my pedagogical education they gave this effect the name of 'intermittent reinforcement'. I remember there was a rats-press-colored-keys-for-food experiment where, in a second step, they found out that rats would press more keys than they needed food, if the thing was rigged so the food sometimes didn't come when it was supposed to come.

This explains part of this behavior (off topic it explains also why people happily keep using unstable operating systems, and why so much idle time is spent at computers trying to test whether item x or y is still working properly).

Then I believe that people's striving for rewards (of all sorts) is most of the time based on how this was handled when they were kids; so if their mom or dad displayed a long-standing non-consistent way of dealing with, say, their requests for sweets in the store, or stuff like that, they find this kind of non-consistent rewarding behavior 'normal' and will keep testing - in this example: girls - for whether they comply to their norm.
posted by Namlit at 4:00 AM on November 9, 2009

Yeah, what delmoi and rokusan said. One of the recent threads had a remark about dating being a "numbers game". I don't know what the person who said that is like, but it seems like the attitude of the kind of guy who just keeps hitting on women. Sure 99% of the women will turn you down (because you're being an obnoxious creep), but that just means that you have to hit on 100 women in order to be successful. So if you don't really care about women as people and just want to score, this can be a successful strategy of sorts.
posted by klausness at 4:04 AM on November 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

Put simply: it's all they know, they don't know it's creepy, and they get some reaction, which is often polite enough to be misinterpreted as interest. (It's way easier to give a guy a fake number than to yell GO THE FUCK AWAY.)
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:07 AM on November 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

Because it does work. It's like looking at a 419 scam or a badly spelt Indonesian penis enlargement spam email and wondering how on earth anyone in their right mind could ever fall for it, but send out enough and you'll get a couple of bites.
posted by fire&wings at 4:07 AM on November 9, 2009 [3 favorites]

It's probably the only way they can interact with women, knowing it will result in rejection. Most likely it reinforces beliefs about themselves and about women but in spite of this, they still crave the attention and the eventual disappointment and pain is - for them - worth it.
posted by watercarrier at 4:07 AM on November 9, 2009 [7 favorites]

It might not get them dates, but it does get people to look at them and acknowledge their existence. A lot of people feel invisible a lot of the time.
posted by amtho at 4:08 AM on November 9, 2009 [8 favorites]

I think you have your answer already, but I shall add to it by saying being in the right place at the right time may also make a contribution to the likelihood of success. If you are caught at vulnerable time you may accept the advances of 'the slimer'. You may regret it the next day, but what counts as a mistake to you is a success to him and further encourages his quest.

I have heard men trying on the same lines with a group of women, one at a time. They may all have a laugh about it when he moves on, but sometimes one will decide that 'he is quite sweet' and give him their number.
posted by asok at 4:10 AM on November 9, 2009

Because they don't think they're creepy/obnoxious guys.
posted by scruss at 4:19 AM on November 9, 2009 [2 favorites]

It makes them feel powerful, and that's what they lack and crave. An actual date would scare them and make them feel powerless (because then they'd have to relate to a woman in a more vulnerable way), so not getting one reinforces their lumpish behavior even more. Now they can tell themselves they "tried," but the women were too wimpy or whatever to respond to their "pure, masculine, animal nature."
posted by DMelanogaster at 4:21 AM on November 9, 2009 [3 favorites]

I don't understand: what drives the creepy/obnoxious guys to continually hit on girls in the creepy/obnoxious manner?

It's easier to understand once you realize people do any number of things that aren't beneficial to them for any number of reasons, including habit, not knowing any better and thats' how they were taught (either directly or indirectly)
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:23 AM on November 9, 2009 [3 favorites]

So, I think the reason guys do this is because it sometimes works.

Yes, this.

Because they don't think they're creepy/obnoxious guys.

This, too. From what I've seen, creepy/obnoxious guys (and women, too; assume I mean both from now on) are too wrapped out in their own little fantasy world to know that they make other people uncomfortable. Creepy/obnoxious guys only think about others in the context of their own desires, never realizing that it's clear as day and that's what makes them so creepy/obnoxious.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:27 AM on November 9, 2009 [10 favorites]

While I don't disagree with the people who say it does work sometimes, I think that that's a little bit misleading. It kind of shifts the blame a bit (if only women as a monolith would just reject this guy, then he wouldn't bother women as a monolith!) - just because he's occasionally met with favorable reactions from women doesn't really justify creepy behavior.

I think it comes down to socialization and entitlement - a lack of entitlement on the part of women, and an overabundance of entitlement on the part of the man. My experience with these creepy guys isn't that they're just desperate for human contact so much as they feel entitled to my time and attention, all the time, no matter what I'm doing or how many ways I might be indicating that I'm not interested in having a conversation. I am a woman; I am there; ergo, it is my duty to humour him and feed his ego. If I do not do this, I am a total bitch (and will usually be informed thusly). This puts women like me in an awkward situation - I'm socially anxious and like so many women often feel like I don't actually have the right to refuse social contact with people who creep me out. Or rather, I know intellectually that I have the right, but sometimes it's easier to smile and nod along until I can make a getaway than it is to openly resist and risk an ugly scene. I have honestly had total strangers get violent with me (and threaten to get violent with me) for things like "No, dude, please don't touch my breasts". This comes on the heels of years and years of socialization - from my grandparents telling me that you should never refuse a hug to learning in health class that the way to prevent rape is through policing womens' behaviors. Seriously, this shit runs a lot deeper than "well sometimes women are nice to them" - there are reasons why men like this honestly don't get that much negative reinforcement, and it has less to do with women than it does with our society and how our society as a whole tells women to act.

It's discussed at length here - relevant passage following:

Here’s a situation every woman is familiar with: some guy she knows, perhaps a casual acquaintance, perhaps just some dude at the bus stop, is obviously infatuated with her. He’s making conversation, he’s giving her the eye. She doesn’t like him. She doesn’t want to talk to him. She doesn’t want him near her. He is freaking her out. She could disobey the rules, and tell him to GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM HER, and continue screaming GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME every time he tries to step closer, or speak to her again. And then he will be all, “I was just talking to you! WTF!” and everybody else will be all, “Yeah, seriously, why’d you freak out at a guy just talking to you?” and refuse to offer the support she needs to be safe from dude. Or, the guy might become hostile, violent even. Ladies, you’ve seen that look, the “bitch can’t ignore me” look. It’s a source of constant confusion, as soon as you start budding breasts, that the man who just a moment ago told you how pretty you are is now calling you a stupid ugly whore, all because you didn’t get in his car.


You could follow the rules. You could flirt back a little, look meek, not talk, not move away. You might have to put up with a lot more talking, you might have to put up with him trying to ask you out to lunch every day, you might even have to go out to lunch with him. You might have to deal with him copping a feel. But he won’t turn violent on you, and neither will the spectators who have watched him browbeat you into a frightened and flirtatious corner.

WHOOPS, both those options suck! And neither teaches the creepy dude to not be creepy. Because, surprise, his creepiness is not about ladies and what we do or don't do. It's about him.
posted by ellehumour at 4:38 AM on November 9, 2009 [54 favorites]

It's about power. They find the women attractive. They know the women are not interested in them. They harass the women to make them uncomfortable, which makes the men feel better about themselves. A negative reaction from women is the goal.
posted by milarepa at 4:45 AM on November 9, 2009 [4 favorites]

And let's not forget reenactment of their childhood scenarios with their own mothers where they most probably experienced some form of maternal rejection or indifference and the only way to get any kind of response from her was to act out - for good or for worse - it did result in acknowledgment of their existence. It's then becomes a set pattern for life - negative feedback resulting in the reinforcement of the negative self image.
posted by watercarrier at 4:54 AM on November 9, 2009

One woman's "creepy" guy may be another's charming fling. Don't assume the whole world is like Metafilter.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:57 AM on November 9, 2009 [6 favorites] it just me or does it seem like no-one is properly reading the "amazing" thread? By now, no-one has an excuse for not realizing this: men and women have completely different experiences regarding their personal safety. Men generally do not face the frequent threats that women do, therefore they don't naturally empathize with womens' fears, therefore they don't restrain their behaviour such as not to inadvertently trigger these fears in women.
posted by randomstriker at 5:12 AM on November 9, 2009 [9 favorites]

A negative reaction from women is the goal.

I very much doubt this is their goal. More likely, they have fantasy interactions that have been burned into their brains by too much porn/Penthouse letters-to-the-editor/etc. and not enough real-person experience to counter.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:22 AM on November 9, 2009

Remember George Sodini? George Sodini finally got the attention he wanted. After years of hoping women would take notice of him, Sodini allegedly entered a Pennsylvania health club Tuesday night and murdered three women in cold blood before turning a gun on himself.
posted by Carol Anne at 5:35 AM on November 9, 2009

A negative reaction from women is the goal.

I very much doubt this is their goal.

I have no doubt whatsoever after getting sick and tired of being treated like a piece of brain-dead meat by men I was working with. I confronted them and asked them why on earth they were risking their jobs by telling me "your ass is so fine, come sit on my lap, hon!"

Their answer? The ringleader spoke for his group: "To make you realize you ain't all that. You can complain all you want, hon, and all I gotta do is this - [raises his hand as if to slap me, the three other guys laugh loudly and cheer him on]. You got that, bitch? Cause I ain't got no time for bothering with uppity bitches. Just shut up and pretend we the man. S'all we want."

He and his three (yes, there were four of them in all) cohorts were eventually fired for the way they treated women in the office. I was the only woman to work directly with them (by that I mean, share an office room with them), so I happened to get the worst of it by chance.
posted by fraula at 5:39 AM on November 9, 2009 [6 favorites]

One woman's "creepy" guy may be another's charming fling. Don't assume the whole world is like Metafilter.

This. As long as I live, it will never stop amazing me to see someone (male or female -- this isn't restricted to women) falling head over heels for the most obviously slimy and nasty person in the room. I've seen it dozens of times, and each time is as awful to watch as was the first.

That's separate from the creepiness that comes from social dysfunction and awkwardness, however. That's more a mental health question, rather than one of rewards and effectiveness, I think.
posted by Forktine at 5:41 AM on November 9, 2009 [2 favorites]

This question is kind of a double-edged one, isn't it? Among other reasons, and to add to (not negate) some of the above:

I'm fairly certain that, often, 'creepy/obnoxious' guys are just /any/ guys of lesser social status (or education level, attractiveness, perceived class, popularity, suavity, x-characteristic) who dare to talk with self-styled more popular women. with romantic intentions or not. in many instances i've noticed, albeit as a younger person, two guys -- one unattractive, one attractive -- could have the same conversation with the same woman to wildly different results. the one the woman perceives as 'below' her is judged creepy – denigrated by the woman's friends, sometimes - while the handsome/wealthy/whatever one is welcomed to further conversation or gently brushed off, and his awkward forays are judged cute, charming, awkwardly sincere, ironic, whatever... though they are substantively no different that those of the 'creepy guy'. often, neither guy is making a romantic pass –– just being sociable –– but almost without fail the 'creepy' guy is accused of doing just that, while the social equal or greater of the accuser is understood as being a Nice Guy.

This is not to say there are not scads of creepy weirdos out there (I worked retail security for a year – they were my bread and butter) but that a lot of the so-called 'creeps' listed above are at worst a little clumsy and a little over-earnest and a lot clueless, and not truly creepy at all, and that calling them that is a nasty, hurtful, and unnecessarily judgmental thing to say. so save 'creep' for the actual dangerous/disturbed/maladjusted weirdos, and just call an awkward, unwanted, and asinine pass what it is.
posted by mr. remy at 5:41 AM on November 9, 2009 [14 favorites]

That's just it, they aren't universally loathed. At one point, they were reinforced.

To add to the first three replies, variable ratio reinforcement is the most powerful of the four types, which is the type of reinforcement schedule here.

Just a note, because this it is a huge pet peeve of mine, the women in question are not applying negative reinforcement. If the men enjoy the reactions they get it is positive reinforcement. If they don't enjoy the reactions they get, it would be positive punishment even if it didn't decrease their behavior. It is a very good example of how powerful intermittent reinforcements are, and how ineffective punishment can be.
posted by Silvertree at 5:51 AM on November 9, 2009

It's way easier to give a guy a fake number than to yell GO THE FUCK AWAY.

I knew a few of these guys back in college (which I think was before the PUA "renaissance") and it always seemed like getting a stack of phone# was the point. These particular guys didn't seem to care that they didn't go home with anyone that night, or practically any night. It was like "I got all of these numbers, these chicks dig me, I'm a stud." And, like someone else mentioned, sometimes they would score, which just reinforced things.
posted by cabingirl at 5:51 AM on November 9, 2009

mr. remy exactly picks up the faint hint of male-bashing as a form of class snobbery going on here, and throughout the other threads on this subject lately.

The precise question asked above is, what makes men keep trying? And the answer, I fear, does not lie fully in appeals to individual psychology, cultural norms, ethical agency, or patriarchy as an institution.

I have lately and often found myself taking the position in MeFi/Askme discussions that we discount evolutionary explanations here easily and at our peril. Every single one of us is participating in a great and pre-choreographed dance of sexual selection, all the time, whether we're aware of it or not. The elements of this dance vary somewhat across cultures, classes, historical eras (same as cultures, really), and particular individual minds (and bodies). But the end goal is the same. An "advance" is a performance of reproductive fitness in some code or another, always. So, indeed, is the rejection (or acceptance) of an "advance." "Creepiness" here is code for an inadequate performance of reproductive fitness.

I spent a decade playing in bars and nightclubs as a musician. I can assure you anything is possible. But on balance, where the mating game is the clear focus of the context, aggressive men can have plenty of success, and passive men tend to fail. Granted, I'm talking about a mostly working-class social world, and one where alcohol lubricates an already sexually focused atmosphere (why do you think guys become musicians, huh?) and where near instant gratification is a distinct possibility, and running through the options the point of the event. But having seen the dance in that setting so many thousands of times, I've come to see it everywhere, running at a more leisurely speed and in a more sublimated form. I would not discount the explanation that said the major issue here was not a failure of character on the part of a "creepy" guy, directly, but a misinterpretation of the context (of course, it is a failure of character to force your interpretation of the context of an encounter on another). Everyone is making "advances" and responding to them all the time. Mostly, those advances and responses are sublimated, mediated, and culturally constrained through socialization and overt enforcement.

Cultural constraints on male sexual aggression vary widely across human societies and history. Within any society, they vary by context and across social hierarchies. The particular attitudes toward male sexual aggression being so forcefully expressed in our time in the wake of the feminist movement's radical critique of patriarchy are relatively novel and emergent in human social history, like many other radically humanist and liberal ideals, with which they are caught up in mutually reinforcing relationships.

It doesn't boil down to "creepy" vs. "good" people. But the answer to your question is because men are programmed, broadly speaking, to be sexually aggressive by evolutionary history, and women are programmed to be sexually selective in response. Doesn't make it right to ask a woman on the subway for a date (but it doesn't make it wrong either).

But don't underestimate the hold patriarchy still has on our culture, or our behavior. We're primates with language and culture, which gives us self-awareness but not yet the ability to change our natures fundamentally (genomics is getting there), which is an ongoing problem for us.
posted by fourcheesemac at 6:13 AM on November 9, 2009 [12 favorites]

I should clarify my last sentence: I don't believe patriarchy is our "nature" as such. It is a longstanding human institution (across many cultures, but perhaps not all) that has evolved to channel our natures to collective social ends. My point is that the current critique of patriarchy is at an early stage of its influence on human social behavior.
posted by fourcheesemac at 6:18 AM on November 9, 2009 [2 favorites] it just me or does it seem like no-one is properly reading the "amazing" thread? By now, no-one has an excuse for not realizing this: men and women have completely different experiences regarding their personal safety. Men generally do not face the frequent threats that women do, therefore they don't naturally empathize with womens' fears, therefore they don't restrain their behaviour such as not to inadvertently trigger these fears in women.

But... I'm not sure you've read this question closely enough. Your implication here is that, in the absence of empathy for a woman's feelings, it would be a man's default position to engage in a behavior that is usually ineffective in obtaining the end the man is seeking. So the lack of empathy isn't an explanation for the continuation of the behavior, even though it's an explanation for why the behavior isn't censored on empathetic grounds.

The reasons are presumably a combination of intermittent reinforcement and a total lack of self-awareness. (Im the worst cases, it could also be positive payoffs — a direct enjoyment of making a woman feel uncomfortable — but that, perversely, would seem to require the possibility of empathizing with the woman's feelings but then deliberately choosing to act against them.)
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 6:32 AM on November 9, 2009

A couple of weeks ago, I went to a bar with a good friend, and she and I were talking and laughing with each other because, you know, we're friends. I noticed this guy sitting by himself staring at us. Not moving, just staring. Creepy, but we were in a crowded bar and I didn't really care. Except when I got up to go to the bathroom (i.e. the second my friend was by herself) he immediately walked up to her to tell her that the two of us looked so happy talking to each other, we were so beautiful, etc. By the time I got back, he was back to sitting and staring. Best I can figure, he saw two women having fun without a man around and decided we'd be all, "Oh, random guy, thank you for saving us from being without a penis tonight."

Actually, at that same bar a few weeks earlier, I accidentally picked up and took a few sips of some random guy's drink, which was embarrassing, but not as embarrassing as the guy deciding (after I apologized and offered to buy him a new one) that that was the perfect icebreaker for him to stand at the fringes of my group of friends... and stare... all night.

I'm sure both guys were decent people in general, but they both seemed to buy into the idea that women go out on weekends in order to be picked up-- which, of course, some do. The problem is the persistence here, like if you wait long enough and I drink enough I'll turn into the kind of woman who actually wants to have sex with you (protip: if this is your approach, I won't).
posted by oinopaponton at 6:37 AM on November 9, 2009

This conversation doesn't make a lot of sense unless we're distinguishing between deliberately offensive behaviour and unintentionally awkward behaviour. Even if they look similar from the outside they have completely different motivations, and the question is about motivation.

On the latter: attractive men know that behaving like a jackass isn't going to hurt their chances much, because creepiness is highly subjective and there are enough people out there who will put great effort into rationalising an attraction to a good-looking but obnoxious person. Unattractive men (particularly short men, who get treated with indifference or open contempt most of the time) have probably spent years trying to be nice and gotten absolutely nowhere, so they figure that even if they face an 0.5% success rate it's better than actual 0%.

Also, everyone gets better at everything with practice.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 6:40 AM on November 9, 2009

Mod note: hi - welcome to a topic that doesn't go well on MetaFilter, if you could make an effort to not fight with the other posters and engage the question or not start more fights here it would go a long way toward not having this be yet another place to tell people they're wrong about sexism, thank you very much.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:44 AM on November 9, 2009

Truly? I think it springs from an unquestioned sense of entitlement to a woman's attention.
posted by Ouisch at 6:49 AM on November 9, 2009 [4 favorites]

(And I'm not saying all men have that sense of entitlement; certainly not. I'm referring to those men who feel the need to insert themselves in some totally inappropriate way into a woman's personal space.)
posted by Ouisch at 6:51 AM on November 9, 2009

Here are a variety of explanations in this thread:
  • Because it does work sometime.
  • Because they don't realize that it doesn't work.
  • Because they don't know they're being creepy.
  • Because they don't really want a date or to get laid, they just want attention.
  • Because they are doing it on purpose to have power over women.
  • Because it gives them a sense of control over something that they don't understand (I think there is a distinction between power over women and power over their own situation).
  • Because it works when the status imbalance is less.
  • Because others (friends, people on message boards, pickup-artist "consultants") have told them that it does work.
  • Because they feel like it should work, or they deserve for it to work.
Surely they are each true for a subset of men and none of them are true for all men who exhibit this behavior. I would be really cautious about accepting any universal explanation for this behavior, especially the glib and simplistic ones. Anyway, I'd like to add this explanation:
  • Because nothing else works, so they might as well do this thing that doesn't work either.
Some of these guys won't have had success with any other method, so this can't be any worse for them, even if they know they haven't received any results with it.
posted by grouse at 6:52 AM on November 9, 2009 [13 favorites]

We men are often not very creative creatures. We see another man do something, and see it work for them, so if being ourselves isn't working, we'll try what he tried -- never mind that we might not be as desirable as the guy were mimicking, and that he could have used just about any strategy successfully... it worked for him, so it should work for us!

I lost count of how many times I saw this in the SCA in particular, where there seems to be an entire underclass of creepy single guys: one charmer in a area would have constant success with behavior that would make anyone not starved for attention ill, but because he was charming everyone thought it was fine -- then when a dozen guys not a tenth as confident or attractive tried the exact same spiel, they'd get openly derided for being "creepy" and in some cases driven completely out of social groups because of it.

They never seemed to understand why, either -- which just reinforces how thoughtful and original we guys often are about such things. We want dating to be logical, but it's not.
posted by Pufferish at 6:58 AM on November 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

Well from experience with a husband who thinks groping me is ok, he says it's because he finds me attractive and I should be lucky. It works the opposite for me. I find it obnoxious, annoying, and I just want to punch him in the face because he's obviously hard of hearing.

But seriously, they think that it should be appreciated. So you can chalk it up to "they don't know any better" but I can't find that as an acceptable answer. Yet I also can't find a logical reason to find a different answer.
posted by stormpooper at 7:11 AM on November 9, 2009

Simply, guys who are completely incapable of being socially adequate will, by virtue of perseverance, run into socially awkward women if they keep trying.

That guy who doesn't know when to go away at the bar? He's an acquaintance of that woman at work who stands by the water cooler pondering aloud whether her recent sexual exploit is wise, not realizing this isn't a work-appropriate topic in the least.

Some people just lack filters for social common sense.
posted by mikeh at 7:12 AM on November 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

As it was explained to me by the person I've seen have almost complete success with hitting on girls (at the bar, at the beach, at fireworks), it's a numbers game. If you get shot down 99 times, but succeed once, you've still succeeded. He was always on me to give his strategy a try, but for me, soul-crushing rejection was usually best experienced no more than once a month, rather than five or six times a month.

"Creepy guys" see guys who aren't perceived as creepy, and they see them doing what they wish they could do. They ask, or they check online, or they try out the pick up artist stuff. They've got no success, so they go to the people who do, which unfortunately makes going to the bar/beach/fireworks so unpleasant for so many people.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:15 AM on November 9, 2009

Mr. Remy, I'm curious if you think any of the following are "real creeps" or if I'm just one of those snobby bitches pissed off that someone of lower social status has dared to approach her.

Shouted from a moving car: "White bitch! Hey! Let's get married! White bitch!"

Walking down the street: "Mmm, mmm, mmm ... (no reply from me) ... yeah don't say anything, I LIKE watching that ass walk away!"

That time a guy started asking me my number at a bus stop after dark, and after I said no, followed me in the nearby 7-11 I went into to get away from him, getting more and more agitated and angry about why I wouldn't give him my number.

Last week, when I was minding my own business waiting for a train. A guy started openly staring at me. I got uncomfortable and moved, and he came to where I was and kept staring. Then he started waving at me. When I didn't acknowledge him, him, he started waving right in my face. When I got up to leave, he yelled, "try SMILING." I gave him a dirty look, and he yelled "FUCK YOU!" Then kept waving at me even after I got on the train and left.

Like Empress Callipygos said, these aren't just sweet, well intentioned guys who happen to be dorky and awkward. (Guys like that are who I usually date!!!!). Or guys who are just unattractive. They're usually either disgustingly crass, *extremely* aggressive where they utterly ignore statements of disinterest and pleas to be left alone, or aggressive, crass and frightening.

I can't speak for anyone else, but I think everyone knows the difference, and nobody was complaining about the sweet, dorky, awkward guys.

Also, this isn't rare. It happens to me at least a few times a week when I take public transit, or when I live in a big city. And I'm run of the mill, average looking person, far from a supermodel.
posted by Ashley801 at 7:21 AM on November 9, 2009 [8 favorites]

But presumably it never goes anywhere, so these guys never have any success with the routine

This premise of your argument fails. It works 1% of the time. Its a volume dealing strategy. Low investment with rare payoff.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:23 AM on November 9, 2009

Ashley, you're building a straw-man argument here, and I think the answer to your question is apparent in the asking. Nobody's saying or implying that shouting rude things through a car window is appropriate, acceptable, or anything less than gross and upsetting and - yes - creepy.

But I was answering the question posed: what drives the creepy/obnoxious guys to continually hit on girls in the creepy/obnoxious manner? with an experience that – in some cases - 'creepy' is a pejorative that has less to do with the subject than the speaker.
posted by mr. remy at 7:48 AM on November 9, 2009

mr. remy-- being stared at and followed around (which is the tactic taken not by the aggressive guys but the shy ones) is actually incredibly creepy. Even in the most benign situations, even when you know the guy tracking your every move is a "nice guy," it feels like you're a mouse being stalked by a cat.
posted by oinopaponton at 7:53 AM on November 9, 2009 [3 favorites]

Who knows. Here's my take:

There are a lot of different types of creepy. But in most cases, what we're talking about is coping mechanism. The creepiest of creepy guys always seem really sad and pity-worthy to me, but maybe that's because I'm not on the receiving end of their creepiness.

Women are the deciders when it comes to sex. Guys, except for those of us who have made prior commitments, will pretty much have sex anywhere, anytime and with anyone. Maybe that's not 100% true, but it's close enough. It's true in a lot of the animal kingdom, too. Guys don't have power, and so the really undesirable guys are shut out. It's kinda a vicious circle, too...failure with women leads to never spending enough time around them to learn how to succeed. The odd success with a woman susceptible to creepy tactics won't help with that.

Men get incredibly fucked up by being unable to have intimate relationships with women. I'm thinking of middle school here. Imagine being trapped in that state your whole life because you never learned the right way to deal with women. All that rejection for year after year after wonder why men get so angry? I hear women say that men can't understand what it's like to be constantly on guard around men. What I don't hear, but which is probably also true, is that most women can't understand how powerless men feel around women. Or the sense that, even though things are fine now, you might find yourself horribly isolated at some point in the future.

Sex and intimacy drive most of our behavior, right? If you're denied that because you never learned how to get it, you're going to be missing out on a lot of the human experience. How can you not become a weird creep begging women for (or intimidating them into) sex? Jesus Christ, watch any nature documentary about primates and look at the hollow, desperate eyes of the poor monkey who doesn't get any monkey nookie.

Have a little bit of pity for the creep. He's just the unlucky guy who never figured it out. It really could be any of us.
posted by paanta at 7:57 AM on November 9, 2009 [2 favorites]

The problem here is that there are several categories of creepiness. People who don't get this really need to go back and read that original thread to realize that creepiness is not a simple courtship behavior gone wrong.

Category 1: Creepy guys who do it either because they find success 1/100 times, or because they mistakenly believe that they will find success, or because in their culture such creepiness is an acceptable mating ritual.

Category 2: This slice of creepiness amounts to no less than sexual harassment, specifically intended to humiliate, demean, and threaten women. Sometimes guys do this to show off to other guys (e.g., catcalls from the sidewalk). Often Category 1 guys move into this category after their advances are rejected. This category is about power and anger, not about actually trying to get a date.
posted by yarly at 8:04 AM on November 9, 2009 [2 favorites]

If you're denied that because you never learned how to get it, you're going to be missing out on a lot of the human experience. How can you not become a weird creep begging women for (or intimidating them into) sex?

Uh, what? This is a huge insult to the vast majority of men who understand that their sex drives don't give them the right to rape or harass women.
posted by yarly at 8:07 AM on November 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

Okay, I haven't seen this angle in this thread though it did show up in the long thread on Metafilter – that is, in regards to the really aggressive creepy types on the street that Ashley801 mentions – that the aggro-creepy behavior starts as a performance for their male friends: "I am attracted to women! I think about sex which I have regularly with a variety of women!" "Me too! Let me show you how hot I think women are!" And then the aggro-creeps continue behaving this way when their friends aren't around, continue doing this way past jr. high where they learned it, and so on.

on preview yarly just brought it up
posted by furiousthought at 8:12 AM on November 9, 2009

... keep hitting on girls if they never have any success?

Because they sometimes are sucessful.
posted by chunking express at 8:19 AM on November 9, 2009

Indeed, the premise of the question is false.
posted by fourcheesemac at 8:41 AM on November 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

mr. remy-- being stared at and followed around (which is the tactic taken not by the aggressive guys but the shy ones) is actually incredibly creepy. Even in the most benign situations, even when you know the guy tracking your every move is a "nice guy," it feels like you're a mouse being stalked by a cat.

For goodness sakes.

For the second time, I don't disagree with that -- being stared at and followed around by somebody = obviously, verifiably creepy! Again, for emphasis, staring and following somebody around = creepy. Being stalked around the room like mouse followed by a cat = wicked creepy! Nobody disagrees with this. Nobody ever did. Nobody defended it. Not explicitly, not implicitly, not in any way whatsoever. Nobody ever said any of this was okay. Nobody said anybody had to put up with it. Nobody is blaming the victim. Nobody's calling into question the victim's integrity. Nobody's expressing happiness with these situations. Not now, not ever.

In response to the original question, Why do creepy [...]guys keep hitting on girls if they never have any success? I intended to signify that 'creepy guys hitting on girls' is not a monolithic action. That the whole notion of 'creepy guys hitting on girls' is fine-grained and varied, as granular and situationally-specific as can be, and that the question can hide a big bias. This 'hitting on' has nothing to do with ultra-pervy wolf-whistles from cars, creepy leering dudes in subway stations, pantsless perverts in the park, overly persistent clubbers who can't understand a brush-off, drunk date-rapists or, cat-like roomstalkers whom we all agree are gross, disturbing, social miscreants. These are, obviously, creeps. And we can all provide examples of them.

In short, the substance of my post was to say that often I have seen (especially in conversations between my female middle school students) "creep" and "creepy" deployed as generic socially castigating slurs for males who show ANY interest in them - romantic or otherwise - but do not measure up to their standards. And in those not uncommon situations, the damage is much, much greater to the boy than the girl. Sometimes (and I'm thinking of one of my worst days as a teacher) very nearly to violence.
posted by mr. remy at 8:48 AM on November 9, 2009

err, This 'hitting on' has nothing to do with ultra-pervy wolf-whistles.... should be This 'hitting on' examined as a separate phenomenon from situations like ultra-pervy wolf-whistles...
posted by mr. remy at 8:57 AM on November 9, 2009

The substance of my post was to say that often I have seen (especially in conversations between my female middle school students) "creep" and "creepy" deployed as generic socially castigating slurs for males who show ANY interest in them - romantic or otherwise - but do not measure up to their standards.

Ok. But the subject of the original thread, and this question, is not mean jr. high girls. It's about women being harassed in public.
posted by yarly at 9:09 AM on November 9, 2009

With all due respect mr. remy, I believe in the context of the two posts mentioned in the question, the OP is specifically asking about the aggressive/creepy behavior that you are dismissing (i.e. ultra-pervy wolf-whistles, et al) as opposed to the use of the word "creepy" to dismiss benign interest from men who don't meet arbitrary standards. While I think your observation is interesting in its own right, I believe it is tangential to the original question.

To address the original question, I believe that creepy/aggressive behavior is much more about exerting power over someone than it is about attempting to make a connection.
posted by turaho at 9:11 AM on November 9, 2009

Four reasons, any one or any combination of the three may apply:

1) They don't think they're creepy/obnoxious

2) They don't care if they're creepy/obnoxious

3) They don't know what else to do.

4) It works sometimes.
posted by spaltavian at 9:34 AM on November 9, 2009

I want to add that the imagined success rates being thrown around in this thread... one percent, five percent, are actually much lower than the reality, depending on what kind of awkward behavior is being discussed.

I regularly hear women relating anecdotes about how they met the guy they're currently seeing, or a guy they're considering seeing, wherein the guy began the first conversation by stopping her on the street to pay her a compliment, or gave her a painfully bad line at a bar (or in a grocery store, or at the mall). There are a lot of women out there for whom strong and nuanced social skills are not high on the list of priorities in looking for a companion.

Culturally speaking, people with different ideas about appropriateness get separated, or tend to self-separate, so it's easy to not see how the other half operates, as it were. For example, none of the women that I mentioned above have college educations. This is not to say that they're stupid, but rather, that their expectations are different. Getting approached by a guy who has the appropriate combination of tact, style, and appearance to qualify as non-creepy to a lot of women here is something that just may not happen often enough to some women for them to reasonably expect it.

Also, on a completely different note, I think there is a kind of cultural programming that happens with American movies and TV, wherein guys are led to believe that, given a serendipitous set of circumstances, they may land the most gorgeous girl they know, no matter how awkward they are themselves, and no matter how unlikely it seems at first blush.

And, in fact, evidence exists that this does sometimes happen. In the absence of a clear instruction manual for how to relate to women, and with so much evidence (some real, some imagined) that you just never can tell, many guys decide that it's worthwhile to just keep rolling the dice. The chances of winning are better if you play a game of skill. But not everybody has the temperament for poker; some of them stick to craps. You don't win as often, but the game itself is much easier to play.
posted by bingo at 10:02 AM on November 9, 2009

A lot of people, like ellehumour, mention "entitlement":

My experience with these creepy guys isn't that they're just desperate for human contact so much as they feel entitled to my time and attention, all the time [...] it is my duty to humour him and feed his ego. If I do not do this, I am a total bitch

In our culture, do you really think these guys feel entitled to women's attention, and therefore have no idea that what they're doing is wrong? I always thought that when they insult a woman for ignoring them, they don't really believe she's a "total bitch"; they just say that because they're angry.

The "entitlement" view implies that they hit on women because they think it's OK. I always thought they did it because they just didn't care that women hated it.
posted by k. at 10:09 AM on November 9, 2009

Against my better judgement I'm going to jump in where mr.remy left off and try and illustrate how 'creepy' seems to be a individualistic perception. There's already been the statement that "following me" is a very creepy thing. So to find out how sensitive to context this was I googled "cute guy followed me" and got the following results:

Today a cute guy followed me from the main hallway of our school all the way down the athletic hall just to talk to me (I don't know him) and I was kind of mean because I didn't know how to react right away. I don't want to keep scaring guys away because my initial reaction is so harsh! Help! How can I keep my cool and talk to them like I talk to people that I know?

A cute guy followed me around at Target tonight, but alas, he didn't hit on me

Years ago, a cute guy followed me home from college, so I kept him. Then I married him :)

but cute guy followed me outta the place and called out to me…..for the next 10 minutes all we did was laugh our butt off….he started and i cudn’t resist laughing at myself…it is fun to laugh at yourself sumtimes

Similar results can be found for "cute guy stared at me".

I'm not trying to defend guys acting creepy, it's not cool for anyone to feel threatened or made to feel uncomfortable. I just wanted to point out that some women, under the right conditions, didn't seem to mind being followed or stared at, did not find it creepy, and instead it seemed they found it to be a positive or desirable thing.
posted by forforf at 10:10 AM on November 9, 2009 [4 favorites]

forforf, I'm sure you tried it out yourself, but the google results when you remove the "cute" are pretty telling, as well.
posted by oinopaponton at 10:13 AM on November 9, 2009

(I'm not saying that being cute makes it okay for you to stalk girls)
posted by oinopaponton at 10:14 AM on November 9, 2009

imo the creepy harasser is not someone who thinks of women as other people, but as collections of sexual organs to which they can gain access if they can guess the "password" (the secret combination of words, attire, etc. that all the "how to get women" media tell them to use).
They keep trying because they when they fail, it's nothing to do with them, but either an incorrectly guessed/executed password or a flaw in the woman. Or they perceive the rejection as merely a stage of a continued flirtation. See Wolowitz on The Big Bang Theory for a perfect representation.
posted by Billegible at 10:16 AM on November 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

Here's a data point for you, for, "because it works": a, uh, friend, has a relative who is "that guy"...and you would not believe the amount of tail he pulls in on nights out at bars.

Note I didn't say, "you would not believe the amount of satisfying relationships he has had with quality, caring partners."
posted by availablelight at 10:30 AM on November 9, 2009

I have read the other threads and while I genuinely agree with 99% of what is being hashed out there re: the difference in the way men and women experience the world, I have to take issue with the usage of terms like "creepy" and "pervy."

First of all - it's a little unfair to respond to requests for clarification with a dismissive, "Oh, you know. We all know it when we see it."

What do we know about creepy or pervy? What behaviors do these words attempt to describe? Today I found a fairly good working definition in a fantastic comment made by muddgirl and idiopath. The model of the potential rapist described in that essay seems to work for me. But I also read this recent doghouse comic and it also seems to resonate.

I once had a close friend in college who was hit by a car. It wasn't bad - she was knocked over in a pedestrian cross-walk and scattered all her books. She gathered up her books - and then, the crazy part - she actually apologized to the guy that hit her. When I asked her why on earth she would do this her response was that he was a really, really cute guy from her math program and she felt so embarrassed by the whole thing. I dunno. Words like "creepy" and "pervy" seem really subjective to me.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 10:32 AM on November 9, 2009

See Wolowitz on The Big Bang Theory for a perfect representation.

If you've seen this show, this is a really apt statement. Wolowitz is portrayed as being an ubernerd, still lives with his mom, very smart but not "people smart" but likes women, a lot and is desperately sex-starved, lonely, and borderline-creepy [my assessment, other people's might vary] when engaging with women. Some women find him amusing, some blow him off but rarely (if ever?) on the show is a woman seen as being scared by him. This is probably due to a combination of things

1. this is a sitcom and he is supposed to be funny
2. he is playing a nerd so he's sort of supposed to be built-in harmless in addition to being physically small
3. the nerd thing casts him as sort of the underdog you're supposed to root for and you know at some level that he's not a sekrit rapist.

That said, I'm always a little squicked watching his character operate because while *I* know those things as a watcher of the show, I don't know if it's immediately obvious to these women he's "wooing" and some of his overtures do seem like totally creepy moves. Of course he's supposed to be a little creepy but not in a scary way just in an "oh please" way. At the same time his friends don't actually say "dude you are totally creepy leave those women alone" in a way that I would hope they would were this a real life situation. And sometimes he gets laid.

I think this also plays into what bingo was saying above. There are enough media representations of "creepy/awkward guy gets the girl! love triumphs!" stories that someone who is merely awkward may come across as actually creepy because they're just trying to sort to follow the rules as they understand them which is to wait until you actually get a no ["nevar give up!"] and to be persistent. I think there's a large collection of "how to behave" rules that an average person can sort of shuffle and balance and coordinate but that an awkward person may really botch trying to sort of figure out which rules are more important than which other rules. And since a lot of knowing how to do this sort of thing well involves being able to read signals and etc, contradictory rules and lack of signal reading can spell doom.

I've definitely been in in situations where I got weird creepy vibes from people (too close to my personal space, being too overtly sexual in a non-sexual context, too much talking about their penises, whatever) who I am 100% certain 1) weren't intending at all to be creepy 2) would have been ashamed to think that their actions were interpreted as creepy 3) really were trying, and failing, to be appropriate to the situation. In many/most cases I sort of ignored their weird behavior because I didn't feel threatened by it but also didn't want to talk about it with them. So, I assume other people might have gone on to date these people because they didn't mind this behavior personally while someone else would have found it "get away from me" creepy.

This says nothing about the guys who yell from cars at women and some of the other things that people have reported, I still find that somewhat mystifying, though it happens to me on a fairly regular basis.
posted by jessamyn at 10:32 AM on November 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

or what forforf said.

also also adding that posting in the thread is against my better judgment.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 10:35 AM on November 9, 2009

Ahh I see but on further reflection it appears that perhaps I am guilty of blaming the victim here. It should not be the woman's responsibility for creepy behavior occurring, only because they fail to condemn creepy behavior on the part of attractive men.

Allow me to rework what I've said or implied earlier.

I don't believe it's the responsibility of women to treat all men equally. Human beings are at liberty to treat other human beings however they like (barring a violation of another's liberties) and the responsibility for the decreepification of society does not and should not rest on the shoulders of women.

However, often times I have seen "creepiness" modulate based on tertiary characteristics, namely, income and physical attractiveness. So maybe creepy guys have seen attractive, wealthy males exhibit this kind of behavior and be successful with it, though the success has nothing specifically to do with their creepy behavior. However, these lower-order creepy males cannot sufficiently emulate "money" or "attractiveness" so they emulate the creepy behavior which they falsely reason must be the cause of the sexual success of the other males.

It is, of course, distressing that women respond positively to wealthy, attractive men who exhibit creepy behavior and it would be best if everyone united to condemn this bullshit, but it is not up to us (males) to tell women how they must act if they want to curtail creepy behavior. Rather, it is up to us to call each other out on the creepy, regardless of how much money or how attractive we may be.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 10:44 AM on November 9, 2009

forforf, I think the main difference is that since the girls you mention find the guys in question "cute", they are probably giving out positive body language towards them, and responding to encouraging body language is not really creepy at all. The creepy guys people are referring to are the guys who approach girls despite their negative or defensive body language and keep going or start acting in an offensive way even when the girl makes it clear that she is not interested in nor comfortable with the interaction.
posted by Jelly at 10:47 AM on November 9, 2009 [3 favorites]

How is creepiness ever related to money and appearance? There are some really creepy wealthy, objectively good-looking dudes out there. I've unfortunately had run-ins with quite a few. There are also a whole lot of poor, ugly guys who don't creep me out at all, because they respect boundaries.
posted by oinopaponton at 10:51 AM on November 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

Like Balrog, I hope my post isn't seen as trying to defend creepy behavior, I think it is the responsibility for those initiating social interactions to ensure their actions are appropriate. I was only trying to point out a couple things. One, that the same guy could do the same thing to two different women, and those women could have diverging views on the attractiveness of that action. Second, to attempt to put a bit more quantifiable context around the previous answers of "they do it because it works", to highlight that there are actual cases of typical creepy behavior not being perceived as being creepy (for whatever reason).
posted by forforf at 11:44 AM on November 9, 2009

It's the way some men think a man is supposed to act? At least that's my impression. Chest pound/fist bump status.

Women do a version of this gender stereotype thing that's equally annoying but I guess it's apples to oranges because it rarely ends in rape.
posted by laptolain at 12:56 PM on November 9, 2009

@ K. - if there's no sense of entitlement, then why would they be angry at being shot down? Who gets angry about being denied something that they believe the other person has the absolute, unequivocal right to deny them? I don't mean frustrated, but angry - angry enough to reduce another person to "bitch".

On another note, I'm increasingly frustrated by the dialogue going on here and I'm not sure what to do about it. Guys: you can speculate all you want about what behavior you feel is creepy, but I wonder if some of you just don't realize how paternalistic it sounds when you repeatedly make the point that creepy is "subjective" and talk at length about how womens' individual desires may or may not play into perceptions of "creepy" - as though any of that matters when a woman is being harassed and feels unsafe.

Which is the issue here. Men who make women feel unsafe. Men who harass women. Cases in which women are uncomfortable and afraid.

I am sure you do not mean to imply that womens feelings of unsafety in these situations are inherently in need of questioning (by men) at best, and outright duplicitous and malicious at worst. But that is what you are implying, unfortunately. Either you recognize the right of individual women to judge for themselves what people and situations are creepy and take whatever reasonable measures they can to keep themselves safe, as, you know, autonomous adults - or you think it's acceptable to second-guess women when they say "this creeped me out" by going over and over how subjective womens' desires are and blah blah blah.

This is the kind of second-guessing that women get all the time. ALL THE TIME. It is impossible to have a creepy encounter and tell more than a handful of people about it without getting some dudebro all up in your grill with "are you SURE it was creepy? Are you sure maybe you weren't just overreacting like a hysterical woman whose instincts are inherently unreliable? HMM?" And the real kicker is, when we ARE raped, the tables are turned and the line of questioning becomes, "why didn't you realize he was dangerous/creepy? If it was REALLY rape/abuse, why didn't you resist it more? Why didn't you run away/try to call bystanders/whatever whatever?"

Do you see where I'm going with this? It is one big cycle of invalidating womens' experiences and instincts! It's like the circle of life, only more rapey!

We can totally have this conversation in ways that don't perpetuate this circle. We can totally talk about what factors might contribute to someone feeling creeped out and threatened by someone else without doing this. I believe in our ability to accomplish this!
posted by ellehumour at 2:27 PM on November 9, 2009 [8 favorites]

There are so many AskMetafilter threads on the OPPOSITE side of this question, where (basically), a single guy posts up a question on how to get more girls in his bed or relationship-wise, and just about half the posters on the thread say stuff like email 10 or 20 women a day to get used to rejection and widen the field of candidates or to ask more than 5 or 10 women a week on a date.

I suspect those threads might give you a great insight to desperation than any of these answers here will.
posted by moiraine at 2:54 PM on November 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

If you look at most classical literature it's littered with examples of rape portrayed as normal mating behavior. In ancient Greek writing, rape goes on pretty much anytime a man gets to do it. Even in Victorian times amongst nobility, there's the often referred to game of chasing the woman, who is all the while screaming no, which ends in mutually satisfying intercourse. I would guess that in most countries today, the informal rule is that if a woman is in a position to be raped she should expect to be. In many countries, when a woman is raped, that's lawfully her fault and she is punished, sometimes stoned for it.

Go back 50 years in United State's history and I doubt rapes were hardly prosecuted at all. They were an accepted part of life. Seen Mad Men? It's hard to believe, but in the mid-sixties divorce could not be granted without the husband's consent. Go to any boarding school today and there will be rules about leaving a boy and a girl alone in a room. Subtle clues litter almost every advertisement you see that man is a rapacious animal that will take every advantage of a vulnerable woman.

Attitudes are changing, but we've hardly turned the page on woman's rights. It's the same thing as blacks, Irish, etc. being considered inferior. A lot of guys feel entitled to have sex with any woman who's on her own or dressed up, etc. This frustrated entitlement leads to anger, feelings of impotence, etc. It's not just societal convention, it's also nature. Animals fight, kill, and rape as a matter of course. There are so many needs wound up in this: status, procreation, sex-drive, self-worth. It's not surprising guys do this. What's surprising is that we've come far enough that you can ask the question.

Woman is the nigger of the world. Reading these threads is like being hit in the stomach. I thought I understood this stuff, but almost every female poster is describing themselves as second class citizens. That's stupefying.
posted by xammerboy at 7:02 AM on November 10, 2009 [4 favorites]

"Because they don't think they're creepy/obnoxious guys."

Or, to YOU they're creepy. To others, they're just Average Joe.

Remember, if she thinks you're cute, it's flirting. If not, it's sexual harassment.

There are quite a few people that view anybody that they did not initiate contact with as a potential threat or 'creepy.'
posted by drstein at 8:25 AM on November 10, 2009

On the other hand, there are a lot of kind, respectful guys (like me!) out there who are prone to overcompensating for this kind of thing and consequently avoid initiating interactions with women for fear of seeming like a creep. Little of the discussion that I've read here offers useful, practical behavioural tips for guys like me. I've used up me Question this week, otherwise I'd Ask.

Anyway, I watched 'Gone with the Wind' for the first time earlier this year. I'm sure it's a great film and so forth, but I just couldn't get past the two Rs - rape and racism.
posted by SebastianKnight at 8:31 AM on November 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

Remember, if she thinks you're cute, it's flirting. If not, it's sexual harassment.

What is this supposed to prove? Yes, sexual harassment is *unwelcome* sexual conduct. That is what it is.

So, what did you mean by that? If you, as a human being, welcome some sexual conduct, from certain people, under certain circumstances, you welcome it all? Or if you don't welcome it all, you should have to, or should at least put up with it?

If so, do you yourself abide by the same principle? If you'd be okay with finding a supermodel had broken into your house and was waiting in the shower, but not okay with finding out old the weird old man down the street had done the same thing, or if you called the cops on one but not the other, would you see yourself as an arbitrary hypocrite?

And yes, not all people see the same thing as creepy. I'm sure there are women out there who don't mind having their body parts discussed loudly and lewdly in public.

Similarly, not everyone sees the same things as being rude, or polite. I'm sure there are people who would think nothing of being asked their weight, age, salary.

Still, in our society, we have a widely accepted baseline of polite behavior. It's the same thing for creepiness, and it's disingenuous to pretend otherwise.
posted by Ashley801 at 1:51 PM on November 10, 2009 [5 favorites]

posted by randomstriker at 8:13 PM on November 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

So, Ms Ashley801... what's this widely accepted baseline of polite behavior and creepiness that you claim that we have?

The rest of your post pretty much proved what I said. Not everyone sees the same things are being rude, or polite - or 'creepy.'

So far you're the first person that has gotten all bent out of shape about that phrase. It really just illustrates what is a very common double standard.
posted by drstein at 1:49 PM on December 3, 2009

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