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Dr. Nerdlove prescribes No Excuses
May 7, 2014 5:32 PM   Subscribe


 
The point that you can tell the genuinely socially awkward accidentally doing something creepy from the creepy blaming it on social awkwardness by their reactions was well made. That the genuinely socially awkward will generally be backing away apologizing frantically, not trying to guilt the target.
posted by tavella at 5:49 PM on May 7 [59 favorites]


The tale of “FedoraBeard vs. The Hot Topic Clerk” was eeeeeeeeeeeeee.

I very much like the last paragraph: Being awkward isn’t a permanent condition; it’s something you can overcome with education and practice. But getting a pass on creepy behavior doesn’t help you learn, and it’s not on other people to teach you. Being willing to own your mistakes – not to explain them away as not your fault, to make it about her failings or otherwise pretend it’s not a problem – and being able to do so with grace and sincerity is the real way you show that maybe you’re not a bad guy after all. You don’t insist that you “deserve” a second chance or the benefit of the doubt, you earn it.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:51 PM on May 7 [3 favorites]


I don't know that awkward is that curable, but it doesn't really matter. The problem isn't that people are awkward. Lots of people are awkward. Lots of guys who are not creeps are awkward. The creeps are the one who assume they need a "no" signal to stop instead of a "yes" signal to start. But I myself have done mental backflips trying to find nice ways to say that to guys, when I was younger, because it mattered to me so much that the geek community was inclusive. It's a hard spot to be put in for the non-creepy socially-awkward.
posted by Sequence at 5:54 PM on May 7 [7 favorites]


It's always seemed to me that using social norms to either push women into overlooking boundary violations or collect external excuses for inappropriate behavior is a fairly sophisticated strategy that truly socially awkward people could not pull off with the requisite subtlety.
posted by prefpara at 5:56 PM on May 7 [48 favorites]


Hmm. I think I'm pretty socially awkward, and I definitely have social anxiety, so I have some sympathy for socially awkward guys who freak out about these discussions. I don't actually think that most socially awkward guys would act like creepers. Being socially awkward is really not the same thing as being creepy. But if you have social anxiety, you spend a lot of time trying to convince yourself that you're not about to commit some terrible faux pas that will ruin your life forever, and it's got to be incredibly anxiety-inducing to hear discussions that seem to confirm that you do, in fact, risk crossing some boundary that cause people to think you're a terrible person forever and ever. (And that probably won't actually happen even to genuine creeps, but that's what it sounds like.) So I think that socially anxious guys sometimes end up defending creepers, even though they are not personally creepy, just because they're so anxious about the possibility that they could behave creepily and make all their anxiety nightmares come true.

I don't know what to do about that, really, because if I knew how to make socially anxious people be rational, I would be a vastly happier person than I am.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:59 PM on May 7 [37 favorites]


I agree, but the description of creepiness isn't quite right.

Let’s run down just what makes someone creepy again:

Behaving in a manner that makes someone feel uncomfortable, unsafe or threatened.

Behaving in a manner that pushes against an individual’s boundaries – especially repeatedly.


To be more precise, creepiness is (awkwardness x forwardness / attractiveness) ^ persistence. (I think someone posted this here before, but I can't find it).
posted by Hume at 6:03 PM on May 7 [6 favorites]


I'm just here to say, as someone who once had no idea about any of this stuff, I'm really happy that the topic of boundaries has sort of become a mainstream area of discussion.
posted by sibboleth at 6:07 PM on May 7 [20 favorites]


I won't lie, I kinda TL; DRed that after a while, but the part TPS quoted is pretty right, in essence. But it's all also a bit breathless and dramatic, which is exactly how people who are socially awkward already feel in social situations. Probably what people who are genuinely socially awkward (not creepers who use being "socially awkward" as an excuse, and who won't care about this article anyway) really need is someone to back the pressure off. Realize that you will fumble the social ball, realize this isn't the end of the world*, realize the more you do it, you better get at it, but that you have to do it to get better. If you're going to a con, practice first by trying to engage with people in your everyday life! This could end up being a net benefit in ways that have little or nothing to do with cons at all!

*And I want to stress I am talking about verbal gaffes, nervousness, et cetera, and not the behavior of harassment. This is not being socially awkward. Harassers know what they're doing. People who really are socially awkward are something else.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:08 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]


Creepiness is absolutely 100% not related to being unattractive. Thinking it is related to being unattractive is a thing the creepers have pushed to make it out like it has to do with the standards of women, that good-looking guys can get away with this stuff without the attention being unwelcome. Sometimes attention from attractive guys is welcome. But sometimes attention from guys considered not very conventionally attractive is also welcome. The fact that one's attention is unwelcome is not a judgment on appearance, it is a judgment on behavior.
posted by Sequence at 6:13 PM on May 7 [80 favorites]


That the genuinely socially awkward will generally be backing away apologizing frantically, not trying to guilt the target.

In not generally a fan of the "This" convention, but THIS.
posted by arcticseal at 6:17 PM on May 7 [2 favorites]


The tale of “FedoraBeard vs. The Hot Topic Clerk” was awesome.

Now I love her too.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 6:19 PM on May 7


I've known and know plenty of socially awkward people who manage to be socially awkward without being creepy or physically inappropriate. I suppose there might be some overlap there, but in my experience, women (who are usually the ones most often subjected to the "oh he's just awkward" excuse-making) are quite good at being able to tell the two apart. We get a lot of practice.

Also, I would like to give a shoutout to the socially awkward woman, who is almost always totally unacknowledged in these discussions, and is likely to be the most frequent victim of the creepy-guy-pretending-to-be-awkward.
posted by rtha at 6:21 PM on May 7 [56 favorites]


What's the story with this Doctor NerdLove guy? He suggests that he's tangentially "pick up artist" related or started out that way, but then he also criticizes that community, espouses enthusiastic consent, etc. I'm not really against him, just curious.
posted by naju at 6:23 PM on May 7 [3 favorites]


The thing is, those young adult years when guys who are socially awkward are making mistakes because they're learning (guys who aren't are learning too)? Girls who are socially awkward are also learning (so are girls who aren't awkward) -- so yeah, sometimes they will confuse creepy and awkward, and asshole and confident. There's all this discussion about how People Know The Difference, and while it's true in general, it also takes some time for women to learn the difference.

And as rtha says: women can be socially awkward too. (Or creepy.)
posted by jeather at 6:24 PM on May 7 [2 favorites]


I think this has a really good explanation of the difference between "awkward" and "creepy" and wish that had been emphasized more in the thesis instead of the more standard "social awkwardness is no excuse." I have a suspicion that someone who is socially awkward and feels put upon and is vulnerable to succumbing to the PUA bullshit might not read far enough to get to that part.

And I'm gonna throw my hat in with the attractive has little bearing on creepiness. Attractiveness just means that it may take longer to find out they don't take 'no' for an answer. Most creepers I've met aren't that socially awkward and may seem fine until you interact with them for a while. It's just that creeper + socially awkward means obvious more quickly that they do not care about other people and their boundaries.
posted by Zalzidrax at 6:25 PM on May 7 [4 favorites]


I thought overall this was pretty good. The bit that really stuck out to me:

they don’t want to trip over people's boundaries. You can almost always track the exact moment they realize that they’ve done something wrong by the way they desperately try to backtrack, apologize and generally try to reassure the other person that they didn’t mean to and they’re so embarrassed and are kind of freaking out and, and, and…

I'm lucky in the sense that the ways I tend to trip over boundaries lead to my coming off as curt or aloof... When I'm not just intensely boring and won't shut up about something you don't care about at all. I'm generally intensely socially anxious and .... Well. Can't decide whether I'm actually better than I used to be these days or just more aware of my limitations and so better able to manage things by knowing what situations to avoid (which has its own costs).

But that quoted bit is exactly what happens when the terrible realization is made. And what they don't even mention since it's less germane to their point is that many socially anxious people will agonize and beat themselves up over these sorts of things for hours or days later. Sometimes even years later, these awful experiences and the associated guilt will just... pop into your head out of the blue. "Hey. Remember that time I was fucking awful?"

Worst of all: Sometimes there wasn't even an actual problem, just one that's perceived after the fact.

In any case, fuck those who use the actual problems of non-shitty people as a fig leaf for hiding their shittiness.
posted by sparkletone at 6:43 PM on May 7 [24 favorites]


Social awkwardness may or may not be curable, but it can be mitigated through experience and learning rules. I think your average awkward person can manage this, possibly with therapy and meds if they need it. The help is out there.

I have met lots and lots of socially awkward dudes, I have to say, and only a few of them acted anywhere close to creepy. The creepiest dudes I met were usually not especially nerdy and were the ones who came right up to you and started with the lines and the standing-too-close. The awkward guys were usually too afraid to talk to you or could only talk about the one subject area they felt secure/obsessed with. Which is boring, but not creepy.

I actually dated a guy who was as awkward as they came, which mostly manifested in not knowing how to pitch his volume of speaking and being one of those guys who lectures instead of talks, but not in grabbing me inappropriately or trying to push things between us too far.
posted by emjaybee at 6:47 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]


Some of the creepiest people I've ever known have been incredibly attractive. Attractive has absolutely fuck-all to do with whether you're pushing someone's boundaries in an agency-defying, threatening way.
posted by KathrynT at 6:53 PM on May 7 [31 favorites]


What's the story with this Doctor NerdLove guy? He suggests that he's tangentially "pick up artist" related or started out that way, but then he also criticizes that community, espouses enthusiastic consent, etc.

It's like finding a unicorn, isn't it?

In my imagination, he worked his way through every manipulative pick-up manual there is before concluding that the best way to convince women to sleep with him would be to genuinely respect their autonomy.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 6:54 PM on May 7 [13 favorites]


In reality he's probably posing as an ally in the hopes of getting laid.
posted by grumpybear69 at 7:08 PM on May 7 [5 favorites]


Creepiness is absolutely 100% not related to being unattractive.

Yes and no. I think it's a poor choice of words, and mentally reframe it from "attractive" to "attracted", or even better, "welcome". The idea that "pretty people can do it" annoys both creepers and creepees for different reasons, but that idea is misconstruing the attraction element. It's not about whether the person is conventionally attractive, but whether some attention from that particular person is welcome at that moment. Ie it's not about attractiveness yet does involve attraction, especially in the broader umbrella sense. And so... confusion and fury.
posted by anonymisc at 7:08 PM on May 7 [5 favorites]


What's the story with this Doctor NerdLove guy?

It's like finding a unicorn, isn't it?


Or a pony with a piece of 2x4 epoxyd to it's head. Doing a quick histogram of major SF cons (because yeah, I'm that kind of geek) kind suggests that the convention season is pretty much any month but December (or, oddly enough, September) which kind of makes me wonder about his Nerd bonafides.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 7:14 PM on May 7 [3 favorites]


Well, it's not even that though. If I'm attracted to someone I may not realize they're creepy until we're further along in the process, but I guarantee you, at some point in an interaction between two people, they're going to have differing ideas about what should happen next. So if I'm attracted to a guy, I may not find his attentions unwelcome, I may enjoy talking to him, I may even enjoy flirting with him or (gasp!) making out or having sex or whatever. But when the time comes when I say "hm I'd rather not" and he says "oh I think you rather would," that is creepy. If anything, attractive creepers are much scarier, because I'm more likely to run up against their creepiness when I'm isolated or intoxicated.
posted by KathrynT at 7:16 PM on May 7 [5 favorites]


In reality he's probably posing as an ally in the hopes of getting laid.

I think it's worth taking people at their word in these situations. FWIW I found a post explaining where he stands on the PUA stuff. I don't know how I feel about it. He has some positive attitudes, yes. But at the end of the day, isn't he just another guy teaching how to run game on women. Those same blatant tricks that everyone can spot a mile away. There are probably people running PUA techniques at conventions because of his advice; even if boundaries are respected, aren't women there to enjoy the convention, not get hounded by strangers trying to hit on them?
posted by naju at 7:18 PM on May 7 [2 favorites]


That facebook exchange reminded me of a bit of advice that a woman at work told to an intern a few years ago, a younger guy who was somewhat socially awkward and inexperienced in the dating world, but a legitimately nice guy who was asking us married folk how he should approach a woman he was interested in. He had thought up some sort of intricate, mysterious note-leaving plan, and then start a conversation thing the following day. She stopped him right there and said, if I remember this right:

"Look, a lot of people say women like mystery when it comes to romance. What they don't say is which kind. 'I wonder what he's planning for our anniversary' is a good mystery, there's all sorts of good things to imagine. 'Who's been secretly watching me and wants to surprise me' is the kind that makes you imagine bad things, like what my autopsy report is going to say."

He felt immediately embarrassed and apologized, and started to really beat himself up about it. He thought that the effort would make him seem more interesting to her than he thought he was, and after a bit figured he had probably been intricately planning to counteract the part of him that told him he shouldn't even try to converse with women he found interesting. Somewhere he had been told, or had seen somewhere, that his plan was viable, but never realized how it could be interpreted in a very disturbing way. That look of realization in that moment 'mystery' was explained to him was something to see, though. More questions and discussions followed over the next few weeks, and I think things worked out OK for him. Those conversations probably ended up saving him from a lot of future trouble and heartache and a creepy reputation simply out of inexperience.
posted by chambers at 7:21 PM on May 7 [50 favorites]


If I'm attracted to someone I may not realize they're creepy until we're further along in the process,

That's an example of an (initially) false negative, but I think that what is getting the socially-awkward crowd all het up is the spectre of the false positive. The false positive has welcomeness as a factor - not just behavior. That's why it scares people - because their own behavior is up to them, but their welcomeness in the mind of someone else is unknown and potentially difficult to establish.

(I've seen enough occurrences of behavior being called creepy in one instance and the same behavior in the same situation (from someone else) being welcome and not-creepy to the same person, that I'm happy to accept that behavior really is not the pure defining factor in many designations of "creepy". On the bright side, situations in which one person is deemed creepy for reasons that would not peg someone else, tend to be superficial and low-stakes and possibly drunken. Not much risk of someone getting branded for life or anything. :) )
posted by anonymisc at 7:41 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]


Behaviour isn't the only factor -- someone can be having a conversation or lost in thought at one moment and not in the next, or there could be eye contact prior to the visible behaviour, or you could have been warned that one person is creepy and another isn't.

But just being uninterested in someone who comes up to you doesn't mean you think they're a creep -- it's how they respond to your lack of interest.
posted by jeather at 7:49 PM on May 7 [7 favorites]


Yes, agree with many here that social awkwardness is a broad term - too broad - that lumps many men into the "creepy" category who simply should not be there.
posted by Halogenhat at 7:49 PM on May 7


if i'm attracted to someone, they aren't shoving past my boundaries because my boundaries aren't up. that's the attraction difference - something that the pua assholes try to reframe as "you'd like it if brad pitt did it!" or whatever - but really, it's if i'm welcoming it's not creepy. if i'm not welcoming it is creepy. i understand that's hard for the socially awkward. i'm socially awkward and plagued with anxiety - i get it. but reducing women's choice to unimportant is the backbone of the attraction argument.
posted by nadawi at 7:51 PM on May 7 [21 favorites]


jeather put it way better than i did -

But just being uninterested in someone who comes up to you doesn't mean you think they're a creep -- it's how they respond to your lack of interest.

this. 100%.
posted by nadawi at 7:52 PM on May 7 [17 favorites]


I think I've found the source of nerdlove's odd self-labeling:

Pick-Up – currently the default label for any sort of sexually oriented dating advice for men

That's not at all what most people mean by PUA, but that's apparently what he means when he says he's into pick-up. By that idiosyncratic definition there is such a thing as a feminist pick-up manual for women, which he cites.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 7:57 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]


I thought this was pretty terrific, especially the part delineating the reactions of the genuinely socially awkward/anxious vs. the creeper. As someone who has medicated-levels of anxiety, I recognise that response all too well, of being embarrassed and apologetic for even perceived errors in social situations. It's true, even decades later a memory of a mistake can come back full force and make me physically flinch at it.

But beyond that, I also thought it was good how the post talked about social responses to creeper vs. awkward. Not only the 'getting defensive instead of apologetic' part, but also the 'social support' part. It's where it goes beyond individual behaviour to a culture, for me, and I liked how the author pointed out that a true awkward person doesn't need defending in that way.
posted by gadge emeritus at 7:57 PM on May 7 [2 favorites]


Best thing for a woman to do when she is not interested in some dude's advances is to tell him to fuck off explicitly so there's no room for misinterpretation.

Best thing for a guy to do when a woman tells him to fuck off is to fuck off.
posted by Renoroc at 8:09 PM on May 7 [6 favorites]




There's a big difference between not knowing boundaries, and not caring about boundaries. A nerd is the former, a creep is the latter. As they say, even a dog knows the difference between being tripped over and being kicked.
posted by mrbigmuscles at 8:25 PM on May 7 [5 favorites]


Best thing for a woman to do when she is not interested in some dude's advances is to tell him to fuck off explicitly so there's no room for misinterpretation.

Best thing for a guy to do when a woman tells him to fuck off is to fuck off.

I was writing a much longer post to say the same thing so much less eloquently. Thank you.
posted by Edgewise at 8:27 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]


I just want to make the point that the socially awkward men who are pissed off at this whole thing about "but what if I'm a false positive? what if she thinks I'm creepy? I don't mean to!" and direct it at women are way the hell off target.

It has close to nothing to do with women and being pissed off at women is ingroup fighting. Don't do that.

Be pissed off at the predatory men who use your troubles, your fears and anxieties and difficulties, as an excuse to harass, assault, stalk and rape people and make you -- not them, you -- look like you're the kind of person who does that shit.
posted by E. Whitehall at 8:28 PM on May 7 [7 favorites]


What's the story with this Doctor NerdLove guy?

Dunno, but every time I see his name I start humming "Calling Dr. [Nerd] Love."
posted by octobersurprise at 8:28 PM on May 7


There are a number of reasons why women don't want to jump immediately to "fuck off" the second a guy who they're not interested in approaches them; it's not a magic, risk-free solution that will make creeps leave them alone.
posted by jeather at 8:30 PM on May 7 [54 favorites]


but what if I'm a false positive? what if she thinks I'm creepy? I don't mean to!"

that's nothing but a defense mechanism for beginner creeps in denial
posted by mrbigmuscles at 8:34 PM on May 7 [4 favorites]


I went through a long period when I didn't really get that no response for an extended period of time means she's just not interested. It really dragged out the feelings of rejection. In fact, even nowadays when I'm much more confident and aware of such signals, the fact that such a signal requires such a long period of waiting... It's really annoying. And different people act differently.

I think the lack-of-response-NO is fine for situations where you haven't met or had much of an exchange (you shouldn't have to acknowledge every OKC message in your inbox). But in my experience it is used pretty often to avoid the awkwardness of the direct NO. I think if you've met someone face-to-face, on purpose, you kind of owe it to them not to just ignore their phone calls or texts. Is it really that hard to type out a short message like "I'm sorry, you were really nice but you're just not what I'm looking for"?
posted by cman at 8:36 PM on May 7


The problem, cman, is that a not-insignificant number of guys go absolutely ballistic when confronted with a clear, absolute "No". Simple neglect provides plausible deniability while not having to deal with crazy verbal abuse. If she doesn't answer your calls or texts, it's "no". That's what that means.

Every woman has at least one story along these lines. Just ask them. On metafilter here, there is one that stuck in my head, about some woman being hit on at a bus stop, and when she turned the guy down, he followed the bus, screaming and slapping the windows. That's what they have to deal with.
posted by mrbigmuscles at 8:42 PM on May 7 [60 favorites]


Yes on the screaming and slapping the windows thing. Or the dude who decides that he'll show *you*!! and harasses you for the next 8 months.

Learning how to back away slowly and imperceptibly -- it's a life skill. Men do this too, they just don't realize it. It's what you do when you get past a charity solicitor or an aggressive homeless person on the sidewalk -- make yourself invisible, avoid calling attention to yourself, deke and cover.
posted by jrochest at 8:47 PM on May 7 [15 favorites]


I've never understood this whole "he's just social awkward, cut him a break" thing anyways. To me if you're so socially anxious or clueless or whatever that you cross social boundaries, doesn't it seem like being knocked back for it is the best way for you to learn? It's the way the rest of us learn. You do something stupid, someone says "Hey that was stupid", and you go "Whoops" and try not to make that mistake again. Buffering people's bad behavior because you might hurt their feelings is both patronizing (what, are these guys so fragile they are unable to handle criticism?) and does them no favors in terms of their long-term ability to learn social cues.
posted by supercrayon at 8:49 PM on May 7 [12 favorites]


Or, to rephrase, if the whole premise is that this comes from a place of ignorance, then I don't see why indulging that ignorance is a solution.
posted by supercrayon at 8:52 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]


John Scalzi has a saying: "The failure mode of clever is asshole."

My correlation: "The failure mode of flirtatious is creepy."
posted by suelac at 8:53 PM on May 7 [17 favorites]


if the whole premise is that this comes from a place of ignorance, then I don't see why indulging that ignorance is a solution

Also, there's a lot of evidence that the real predators know very well where the boundaries are, and their decision to ignore a woman's boundaries is in fact a decision. It's strategic: if a woman doesn't enforce her boundaries, they know she's a good target.

A study that just came out revealed that men who prey on women in bars tend not to be drunk themselves, and concentrate on drunk women, because (one assumes) drunk women are less likely to enforce their own boundaries. These aren't men who are incapable of recognizing boundaries: they are predators looking for people whose boundaries they can cross without being penalized for it.
posted by suelac at 8:57 PM on May 7 [13 favorites]


mrbigmuscles: If you're at a bus stop, get hit on, and in person ignore the advance, then that is quite direct. This is unlike a digital conversation, like the FB convo mentioned in the article. In such a conversation, (or a text, or a phone message), no response could me NO, or it could mean the person is busy or gone or hasn't looked at their phone/computer.

And someone approaching you randomly on the street doesn't deserve much effort on your part. I'm speaking about situations where you have gone on a date or two. In such a situation I believe you do owe at least a nicely worded, one-sentence rejection.

But I am curious if anyone has any actually creepy stories about guys (or girls) you've dated briefly who won't take NO for an answer. Cause I honestly think the ignore-NO is done out of laziness or to avoid awkwardness.
posted by cman at 9:06 PM on May 7


like the FB convo mentioned in the article. In such a conversation, (or a text, or a phone message), no response could me NO, or it could mean the person is busy or gone or hasn't looked at their phone/computer.

No, man, that's what I'm saying, this is creep thinking here. If she stops responding, and doesn't answer in a day or two, that's it, you're done. Move on to the next one. You never need to prompt a woman for a response - she'll respond if she's interested. The odds that there was a car accident or she dropped her phone in the toilet or whatever are vanishingly slim.

With regard to your request for stories, browse AskMetafilter, or really just try looking on the Googles a little, or talking to a female friend. They are legion. (this is the cue for somebody to link to the bus stop slapper thread)
posted by mrbigmuscles at 9:12 PM on May 7 [23 favorites]


cman: But I am curious if anyone has any actually creepy stories about guys (or girls) you've dated briefly who won't take NO for an answer. Cause I honestly think the ignore-NO is done out of laziness or to avoid awkwardness.

Before I was in my current happy, long-term relationship I did it for precisely the reasons mentioned above - to avoid the violent/abusive/over the top negative reactions.

You can never tell for certain which people are going to react badly, and it's not worth the risk. A quiet backing away from the situation (with plausible deniability if they do try to force the issue) feels safer.

I've been lucky in that my own experiences have been mostly of the 'verbally abused/followed me to scream at me/online-stalked to abuse for a few months' variety and not actually physically harmful, but i've had a number of friends who've had it worse.

(I'm thinking particularly of a neighbour who turned a guy down, then had him show up drunk at her door at 3am to shriek abuse and try to break her door down. It turned out okay for a number of reasons, but most of those reasons were luck and the fast response time of the police. Those things can't be relied on.)
posted by pseudonymph at 9:22 PM on May 7 [3 favorites]


Good article. An incident a few years ago sort of rocked my world and made me realize that I was a creeper, and it really made me take stock and analyze just what I was doing wrong.

So...sort of long story sort of short. I lived in the city and took the train to work. I had a kind of crush on one of my colleagues in the same company, but I only ever interacted with her in a large group setting, like in meetings or at a busy table in the company cafeteria. I'll call her Sally.

Anyway, one day after work, I was standing on the platform waiting on my train when I noticed Sally a bit down the platform, waiting on the same train. I moved down to where she was, and I thought I was being very cool and nonchalant (spoiler: I wasn't). As I get to about where she's standing, the train arrives and we both go in the same door. It's crowded, and we have to stand. I smile and greet her, and start smalltalk. I had my hand on a railing, making it fully extended, and there was another person directly to her other side, so she was effectively locked into talking with me. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. I was completely oblivious to this.

We go just one stop, or maybe two, and when the train pulls in, she says "Well, this is my stop."

I said, "Oh, really, here?"

She said, "Yeah, I'm meeting a friend who lives here. See you later," and she gets off. I smile and say bye and that was that.

I never ran into her again, nor found an opportunity to talk to her again, and about six months later I quit the company. Ce la vie. It was only looong afterwards that I, for some reason, reran that scene in my head--"I'm meeting a friend who lives here...I'm meeting a friend who lives here..." and it finally hit me like a thunderclap that that had been an obvious lie. There was no friend. Sally was just getting the hell away from this creepy guy at work whose name she didn't even know, and who so desperately slunk down the platform to hit on her in the train. Putting up his arm to block her in and force a conversation. So of course she bailed.

During that whole exchange, I didn't know I was being a creeper. Zero percent awareness. I just thought I was doing my thing to get to know someone better, someone I was really attracted to. (And that is part of it; what I did wasn't completely reprehensible.) But I didn't think about how it would be taken, and when I though about how Sally might've, must've, talked to other colleagues about how "that guy is a creep," it filled me with a shame and embarrassment that's hard to put into words.

The retroactive embarrassment I felt for a long time did a lot to inform my decisions when it came to interacting with people--not just cute women I felt an attraction to--but most everybody. And I felt--and still feel--and extremely strong aversion to making anyone feel like that again, so I suppose some good did come out of it.
posted by zardoz at 9:28 PM on May 7 [44 favorites]


The tale of “FedoraBeard vs. The Hot Topic Clerk” was awesome.

Now I love her too.


"Are you the Kitty who shot down FedoraBeard? Because I have to tell you, I think that was awesome..."
posted by turbid dahlia at 9:34 PM on May 7 [2 favorites]


Best thing for a woman to do when she is not interested in some dude's advances is to tell him to fuck off explicitly so there's no room for misinterpretation.

Yeah, it would be nice if everyone could state their desires explicitly so that there was no room for misunderstanding, but I don't always feel like being called a stuck-up bitch, a cunt, or a tease ("you wouldn't dress like that if you didn't want attention").

That said, explicit rejection would be easier if the advances were explicit in the first place. A lot of men play the plausible deniability game. The assholes use it as a way to shift embarrassment at being rejected onto you - "hahahaha you thought I was interested in you no way." The non-assholes might just want to engage in an emotionally low-stakes interaction before working up to asking you out. The problem is, it's not always possible to tell the difference between dudes who are just being friendly and dudes who are interested, and, if you do sense interest, it's not always possible to tell if it's an asshole or a non-asshole.

Real-life example: There's a dude who is sometimes at my bus stop. He's significantly younger than me but he probably doesn't know it because I don't look my age. One day he struck up a conversation with me. He was friendly, but subtly trying to impress me the way some guys do when they're interested in a girl. I got the sense that he wanted more than a friendly chat, but it's not like he handed me an embossed card saying, "Would you date my 21-year-old undergraduate self?"

Did I say "Sorry, dude, I'm not interested in you romantically but if you just want a friendly chat I'm fine with that"? No, because he didn't express his intent explicitly, and that makes expressing disinterest explicitly a minefield.

A lot of people love to complain that women expect men to be mind-readers but forget that women aren't mind-readers either. And while they might claim to prefer having their own advances rejected explicitly, they forget that this is not the case for all men - and that many women have had experience with men who reacted badly to that.

The only response a woman can make that no one seems to have a problem with is returned interest.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 9:42 PM on May 7 [58 favorites]


cman: Check out Dr. Nerdlove's other recent post on Understanding the Dangers of Dating for some elaboration on why women can't always be up-front with their refusals.
posted by cadge at 9:46 PM on May 7 [10 favorites]


That's the thing mrbigmuscles: It wasn't creep thinking. It was lack-of-experience-and-being-unreasonably-hopeful thinking. And it didn't lead to slapping on a window or doing anything vaguely threatening. I may have (and this is when I was just figuring out the whole dating thing) sent a reminder text or something. And like I said, nowadays I get that in 1-2 days that means no. But my point is that having to wait so long for such a signal is stupid when it's so easy to just respond politely with "sorry, not interested". Maybe that's just my engineer brain.

I actually did ask a lady friend before responding to you. She's admittedly an outlier, which is why I'm friends with her, but she thinks "creeper" is overused as a label for any unwanted advances. "Bitches use that word", she said. She's so modern. I know.

I'll check into AskMefi. I'm certainly open to the idea that it's generally safer for women to use the ignore-NO all the time at the expense of some inexperienced men to avoid the truly hideous possibilities of actually creepy guys. I just don't see it yet. I suspect it's done more out of fear of awkwardness and not wanting to deal with another person's hurt feelings, because that's exactly how I feel when I'm in the situation of rejector. But while I haven't been the smoothest break-up artist, I never flat-out ignore someone who's trying to contact me if we've already gone out on a date. It just seems wrong.
posted by cman at 9:50 PM on May 7


I think if you've met someone face-to-face, on purpose, you kind of owe it to them not to just ignore their phone calls or texts. Is it really that hard to type out a short message like "I'm sorry, you were really nice but you're just not what I'm looking for"?

Sometimes, yeah. Especially if part of the reason he's not what you're looking for is because of his inability or refusal to acknowledge your boundaries, etc.

Sending a message like that is flat-out rejecting someone. Some guys will take it fine, some guys will be indifferent, and some guys will lose their shit, because how dare an ugly slut like you reject them. They were only going out with you because they felt sorry for you/wanted to bang you/made a bet, you dumb bitch.

Fading away or just not responding is less risky. The guys who weren't going to lose their shit at you because you don't want to go out with them are unlikely to lose their shit because you're not responding. The guys who were indifferent are still probably going to be indifferent. The guys who are going to lose their shit at a rejection, though, will sometimes not notice that you didn't respond, or they'll take no response better than they'll take a flat no.

Also, saying no is hard and scary. Women are trained from a really early age not to say no. Girlchildren are told that Uncle so-and-so's too-long touches are just him being friendly, that polite little girls don't get angry, that we should be flattered that he chased us on the playground. And then we get older and it's quickly made clear that saying no too much will hurt you, professionally and personally. Because you'll be perceived as snobby, or as cold, or as bitchy, or as uncaring. Because women are taught to be self-sacrificing, and saying no is prioritizing yourself over whomever's asking you.

In my experience, saying no is almost always the riskiest course of action for a woman, and the more someone knows about you, the riskier it is.
posted by MeghanC at 9:50 PM on May 7 [39 favorites]


Best thing for a woman to do when she is not interested in some dude's advances is to tell him to fuck off explicitly so there's no room for misinterpretation.

You mean like that 16 year old girl did last week? The one who got stabbed to death for telling some creeper that she couldn't go to prom with him because she was going with her boyfriend? Yeah, sure, being direct is always the best thing to do.
posted by elizardbits at 9:50 PM on May 7 [82 favorites]


What's the story with this Doctor NerdLove guy?

Back in the early 2000s, the Warren Ellis Forum had the reputation for being pretty women-friendly for a comics forum. We were still outnumbered by guys, of course, but there attempts made to push back on the stereotypical creeperism you'd expect to find in such a place.

Eventually, the WEF closed, but quite a few of the regulars kept in contact on other forums, and in one of them a few people started a regular thread just giving dating advice for nerds, specifically to help one guy in Seattle but anyone could chime in with questions and answers. Harris was pretty good at it, so he made a separate blog to address questions in a longer format, and it kind of took off.

If ArtW was still around he might remember more, but from what I remember that's basically the gist of it.
posted by rewil at 9:51 PM on May 7 [9 favorites]


But I am curious if anyone has any actually creepy stories about guys (or girls) you've dated briefly who won't take NO for an answer.

My first "boyfriend", if one can call it that, was an older boy--a junior or a senior but I'm pretty sure he was 18 anyway--who came to sit at lunch with me one day in tenth grade and proceeded to do so every day even though the girl I usually sat with and I tried to ignore him. He started asking me out after about a week. I told him I wasn't interested. He asked again. I said no. I said no every day for about two weeks before I finally said yes because I was fifteen and I didn't know what else one was supposed to do in those circumstances, because he was getting more insistent every time.

I will spare details but it went south from there when I didn't give in to every whim he had, from the unfortunately obvious to stupid stuff. He "dumped" me... a week later, two, three? Something like that. My dad started driving me to and from school so I wouldn't have to walk alone.

Prince Charming is now, for reasons completely unrelated to me, a registered sex offender.

Normally I'm very much a "let me Google that for you" sort of person, but Jesus Christ, cman. Have you never seen a television? Are you not on the internet? Do you not know what sexual assault is? Have you seen the news, ever? Do you think every story you've ever heard about this sort of thing was fictional?
posted by Sequence at 10:01 PM on May 7 [32 favorites]


cman: "But I am curious if anyone has any actually creepy stories about guys (or girls) you've dated briefly who won't take NO for an answer. Cause I honestly think the ignore-NO is done out of laziness or to avoid awkwardness."

Ohhhhhh geez, there's so, so many. I'll tell you some friends' ones from college because I can be more objective (with distance both personal and temporal!). This guy I know broke up with a girl he'd been on a few dates with and she played cymbals outside his dorm at 3 a.m. while screaming that he was a bastard. This falls into the category of "so bizarrely outside the realm of normal behavior that it's funny," and honestly I giggle when I think about it because it was so weird, but only because she didn't, like, subsequently axe murder him and nobody got arrested for disturbing the peace.

A female friend who went on two or three dates with a guy, told him she wasn't interested in going out again the next time he asked her out, so he obtained her work schedule to follow her around (typically after dark!) on campus in the hopes of speaking to her again. The next semester he was still at it and disrupted a couple of her dates with other guys (at on-campus school-sponsored dances). I walked her back to her dorm at least a dozen times because of it, and he was ALWAYS. THERE. And a couple of times he tried to intercept me after I dropped her off to beg me to intercede with her. UGGGGGH.

Another female friend who chatted with a guy at a couple parties, they had a bit of spark, but she got kind-of a weird vibe from him a couple of times and she was really busy with her thesis, so when he asked if she wanted to go out, she was like, "Oh, thanks, I'm really flattered, but I'm too busy with school to date right now." He kept IMing her, e-mailing her, calling her. At first she was polite but clearly disinterested and trying to get out of the conversations; then she stopped responding. Then he started IMing her more and more sexually explicit stuff, I guess on the theory that since he was striking out anyway he might as well swing for the fences. It was gross.

There was this one guy -- omg he was famous in my (all-women's) dorm -- who was just at it CONSTANTLY and EVERY time someone said no to him he took at as an invitation to try harder. The one that sticks out in my mind particularly was after being turned down by a girl on my hallway, he bought her a six-foot-tall potted cactus and left it in her doorway because "Everyone loves a cactus!" he told me as he delivered it and I happened to be walking by on my way to the bathroom. I literally asked him, "What is WRONG with you?" and he responded cheerily, "That way she'll know I'm different from other guys! Because I got her a cactus! It won't die like flowers!" He wasn't dangerous (or so was our collective judgment after FOUR YEARS of this non-stop to various women), he was just inappropriately and sometimes distressingly persistent and, as he liked to brag, he NEVER took no for an answer -- just the beginning of a negotiation! (He always spoke in exclamation marks! Like a gerbil on meth! A really happy gerbil!) And he was always BUYING gifts, inappropriately large ones, ones that made women feel awkward like he was trying to create a sense of obligation. But seriously the only way to get rid of him was not to engage, at all, even to turn him down. Just to completely ignore him if he approached you. Because if you answered him at all, he took it as an opening. Man, I have two dozen stories about that guy ALONE.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:07 PM on May 7 [36 favorites]


I'm certainly open to the idea that it's generally safer for women to use the ignore-NO all the time at the expense of some inexperienced men to avoid the truly hideous possibilities of actually creepy guys. I just don't see it yet.

You probably didn't mean this to sound like experiences that many, many women have actually had (continue to have) is an idea, like, a thing we imagine, a thing that is open to interpretation by someone who hasn't had that experience, but that's how it sounds. It's not an idea, and it's really not something that most of us who've had it are going to be willing to have someone we don't even know start "Well, maybe it didn't happen that way, really," with us.

Women are excellent judges of what is generally safer. We get a lot of practice, and god knows we get a shitload of advice.
posted by rtha at 10:08 PM on May 7 [59 favorites]


“Giving out random shoulder massages to women we don’t know is how we say ‘hello’ in my country. Why do you insult my culture?”

Wait, which seasons/episodes of SNL was that?
posted by hal_c_on at 10:11 PM on May 7


He wasn't dangerous (or so was our collective judgment after FOUR YEARS of this non-stop to various women), he was just inappropriately and sometimes distressingly persistent and, as he liked to brag, he NEVER took no for an answer -- just the beginning of a negotiation! (He always spoke in exclamation marks! Like a gerbil on meth! A really happy gerbil!) And he was always BUYING gifts, inappropriately large ones, ones that made women feel awkward like he was trying to create a sense of obligation. But seriously the only way to get rid of him was not to engage, at all, even to turn him down. Just to completely ignore him if he approached you. Because if you answered him at all, he took it as an opening. Man, I have two dozen stories about that guy ALONE.

I hope that at least one of those stories is about his mother.
posted by rue72 at 10:14 PM on May 7


Women are excellent judges of what is generally safer. We get a lot of practice, and god knows we get a shitload of advice.

I appreciated that comment!
posted by hal_c_on at 10:16 PM on May 7


I'm speaking about situations where you have gone on a date or two. In such a situation I believe you do owe at least a nicely worded, one-sentence rejection.

I think this kind of lack of response also needs to be understood within the framework of established social etiquette on social media, texting, e-mail, etc. For a lot of people, simply not responding to a Facebook message or text is considered a socially acceptable way of either ending or postponing a conversation. And I mean this just as much for non-romantic settings. I have at least three friends or acquaintances who currently never responded to Facebook messages I've sent in the past and I confess I do this fairly often when I don't have the time/energy to engage with people, or if I have no interest in getting closer to someone, romantic or otherwise. It has become a commonly acknowledged social convention for filtering and managing one's social life, especially in an age where social media and technology makes it incredibly easy to communicate with anyone instantly. It is virtually impossible to avoid people, which is one reason that when my mom texts me for the thousandth time in one day, I just don't respond, rather than write back "No thanks, mom, I don't feel like talking to you right now".

But with my mom at least, I know eventually I'll need to respond to her texts. When it comes to dating, unless you were friends prior, you only really have a tenuous social connection with that person, even if you've gotten to know them on one or two dates. Neither of you as near-strangers really owe each other much, and a date is not an especially binding social event. Maybe people closer to middle age treat dates as this very formalized ritual, I don't know...

I mean, yea, ideally I think it is nice to reply with a polite "No, thank you, I don't think we hit it off". However, I think a lot of women choose silence not merely as a safe option to avoid an angry reaction, but actually do so because they consider silence to be the most polite option. Considering that silence in itself is widely considered a "soft" no, for many people, the act of explicitly saying "no, thank you, I'm not interested" basically is the equivalent of saying "I was so put off by you that I feel that not responding is simply not enough: I feel compelled to tell you that I don't want to interact with you."
posted by adso at 10:16 PM on May 7 [8 favorites]


But I am curious if anyone has any actually creepy stories about guys (or girls) you've dated briefly who won't take NO for an answer.

Are you new to humanity? Every single female human being I know has a dozen of these stories.
posted by elizardbits at 10:17 PM on May 7 [44 favorites]


Also, I am way too Midwestern to be comfortable delivering a hard no, and I am increasingly resentful of people who take advantage of this clearly understood cultural standard of communication (in the Midwest) and use UTTERLY CLEAR soft nos that are designed to let people save face and preserve social harmony as an opening for negotiation. Not just creepy men, but salespeople with a corporate script designed to "pivot" every refusal, overeager charity fundraisers, whoever.

I am starting to really fucking resent that my preferred mode of communication, which is utterly clear in my cultural context, is being twisted to make ME uncomfortable and to try to force me into agreeing to do something I don't want to do ... using indirect modes of communication as coercion while simultaneously claiming not to understand MY indirect mode.

I'm a decade out of the dating pool but guys insisting "Women just need to give a hard no!" make my blood boil. I am allowed to communicate in ways that are comfortable for me, thank you very much, and its not okay to use that as an excuse to be a creep. It's not even that Hard Nos can be dangerous - although they can - its just that this is how I am and why should I have to totally change my culture and language because I'm the woman in the interaction? Why isn't the onus on the gentleman (or salesman) approaching me to learn MY language, since he started the interaction to begin with? Just, ugh. Its another way of denying women agency and its really getting under my skin lately.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:33 PM on May 7 [63 favorites]


But I am curious if anyone has any actually creepy stories about guys (or girls) you've dated briefly who won't take NO for an answer. Cause I honestly think the ignore-NO is done out of laziness or to avoid awkwardness.

I ended a relationship when I was in college, and the guy responded by badgering me for sex on an almost daily basis until he finally locked me into his room, harangued me for three hours, and then raped me. Is that "actually creepy" enough for you?
posted by KathrynT at 10:59 PM on May 7 [39 favorites]


I wish I could resurrect the ghost of Erving Goffman and convince him to start a dating advice column...but I would add:

Another reason why most people never give an outright "no" is because plausible deniability runs both ways. It's exactly the reason why flirtation exists; it is a coded language where each person speaks through innuendo and each can plausibly deny romantic intentions if it turns out the other person is not interested. So it leaves enough space of doubt where you are never 100% sure whether they are simply flirting for fun, whether they are indeed interested, or whether they are even flirting at all. Simply not flirting back (in most cases) or not showing interest is enough to let the other person take a hint and move on without losing face. Giving a hard "no" then becomes a big risk - a potential for an embarrassing and uncomfortable situation, instead of a quiet and unspoken backing off from both parties.

The more aggressively someone flirts, the less reason there is for the other person to have to say "no" outright in order to get their message across. Because if one person says "Hey sexy, I want to worship your body" and the other responds, "yea...uh...thanks. I think I have to go", then the message is VERY clear. People who willfully ignore those messages are the ones who are trying desperately to stretch the limits of plausible deniability that normally operate under these social situations.
posted by adso at 10:59 PM on May 7 [9 favorites]


Am I new to humanity? Seriously? Did I offend you with my lack of equivalent life-experience? I appreciate the more civil responses from other MeFites. The personal responses are much better than googling it (the internet is so full of hyperbole). In my circle of friends I can only think of one instance of violence after refusal, and it was not in a situation where ignoring the person was even a possibility (they were mid-sex and she was refusing anal). Maybe I'm not talking about the right things with my friends. Maybe my female friends don't feel like bringing up this sort of topic with a male friend. Maybe they have a different threshold for what they consider dangerous. Maybe they live in different neighborhoods/social circles and don't have the same kind of experiences "every single female human being you know" has. That's what I'd hope to learn, in order to reconcile the stark difference between what I read here and my personal experience. But I forgot the rule about not commenting until you have absorbed a whole internet's worth of rape stories.
posted by cman at 11:16 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]


You shouldn't need a whole internet's worth, that's the point. One. One is all it should take.
posted by Sequence at 11:18 PM on May 7 [30 favorites]


That's what I'd hope to learn, in order to reconcile the stark difference between what I read here and my personal experience.

So what have you learned, now that you've gotten the stories you asked for?
posted by KathrynT at 11:20 PM on May 7 [8 favorites]


Yeah, seriously, cman, you don't even need rape stories. You just need stories of utter grossness.

This one woman I talked to was telling me this great story about how she knew this guy at work and he cut off her hair and sent it to her in an envelope. And when she didn't respond or do anything, he sent her another lock of hair, burnt. Like she opened the envelope and it was burnt hair smell all the way, and apparently he did this because she was a bitch who wouldn't go out with him! Just secretly cut off her hair! And sent it to her! In an envelope! Twice!

I think we spent like half an hour over drinks trying to figure out how he could've done it, because she said it was definitely her hair -- her curls + colour was pretty distinctive, and the best we could come up with was that it was an open-plan office and he'd basically taken scissors to her hair or something while she was on the phone, because she gets megafocused when she's dealing with the more difficult clients. (The alternative was that he cut it off her while she slept, which she naturally liked less than the scissors-in-the-office theory.)

This dude was probably convinced that they had a date at some point along the line, and she just didn't remember because she was a bitch or something. That was not her recollection at all -- she said she remembered replying to one email from him, ever, about work. And that was that. But somehow that was justification for sending her locks of her hair!? Burned!?

Bear in mind -- that is a comparatively harmless, hilarious story, and it still crosses so many boundaries of appropriate behaviour. So many boundaries crossed, and she was so creeped out that she transferred state offices to get away from this dude who wouldn't stop passing behind her at random, and it was still a comparatively harmless, funny story compared to at least three of my own that I can think of without even trying.

You don't need a wealth of stories. You just need to understand that you hear one story, you've now heard a thousand or a hundred thousand unsaid that are exactly like it.
posted by E. Whitehall at 11:24 PM on May 7 [20 favorites]


[Everyone, this needs not to become the all-about-cman thread. Cman, you need to dial it back now, and discontinue demanding proof or reconciliation of the facts as you understand them from your personal experience / group of friends and experiences as related and being discussed by others.]
posted by taz at 11:33 PM on May 7


cman: Maybe they have a different threshold for what they consider dangerous.

Here's an instant example of that for you: above, I wrote that I hadn't had any actual violent experiences myself. And I genuinely thought that, until reading KathrynT's comment reminded me about that time I gently said no to a guy and he politely listened to my refusal and seemed to take it in good stead.

And then the next night, when i'd come down with an illness and had a terrible fever, was mostly delirious, he stayed behind when our other friends left, on the pretext of watching over and taking care of me. I was too hazy to say much of anything and had gone to bed and the others, remembering how chill and friendly he'd been about my turning him down, felt safe leaving me with him.

And then he waited until he thought I was too asleep to wake up and molested me.

And the point i'm making here is that I genuinely didn't even remember that when thinking about replying to you, because it blends in with the multitude of other experiences i've had such that it doesn't even register as 'violent' to me.

I'm not an outlier, which is partly why people here are reacting strongly to what reads as your obliviousness of something that is just enragingly regular life for many of us.

[Edit: sorry mods, I posted this without seeing your comment immediately above.]
posted by pseudonymph at 11:34 PM on May 7 [15 favorites]


Maybe my female friends don't feel like bringing up this sort of topic with a male friend.

Don't underestimate this. Check the lifetime odds (for the US or whichever country you're in, subdivide it by demographic to match your circle of friends if you'd like. And just start counting off people.

I know that out of the general pool of 'women I know as friends reasonably well', the rate of incidence for rape (much less 'general creepy incidents') (that they've been willing to mention/describe to me, at least) is about 1/3. It doesn't take much to guess that that would suggest that the odds of experiencing something like this rapidly goes towards 100%.

So when people are so willing to tell you (generic you) what they've experienced, listen. I try to remember that one myself, more often.
posted by CrystalDave at 11:39 PM on May 7 [8 favorites]


Imagine somebody coming up to you on the street: "Hey, you seem cool, can I pop that blackhead on your forehead?" Who are they? Why were they looking at you enough to even notice that blackhead? Who knows. Nobody comes up to you when you're in your suit on the way to an interview to ask for help getting a bit of popcorn out of between their molars. It isn't the responsibility of people to fend off those questions. That person who doesn't know you probably doesn't want to examine that mole on your thigh and see if it looks suspicious, and they also probably don't want to sleep with you, because you aren't that close.

Now--some people are totally comfortable with all of those things, but in that case, let those people work out ways to let each other know. You can go look for someone on zitpoppr, the casual mutual-grooming site, and go have fun, but don't ask me if we don't know each other well enough for me to have brought up my passing interest in amateur surgery.
posted by Sequence at 11:43 PM on May 7 [7 favorites]


I'm going to favorite Sequence's comment, because in six months time when some dude in California just sold his company to Facebook for a billion dollars after "ZTPPR" was the number 1 app in iTunes for 3 months straight, I want to be able to message Sequence and be all like "DUDE! GOTTA DITCH THOSE VOWELS MAN!"
posted by WeX Majors at 12:41 AM on May 8 [2 favorites]


When I was in my early twenties a customer where I worked as a waitress asked me out continuously over the course of three or four months despite my constant, consistent, polite refusals. Because I was at work, I felt sort of trapped as he always knew where I would be, I couldn't simply up and leave and, obviously, I had to be polite to my customers. This person made me very uncomfortable. I purposely mentioned a made up boyfriend a couple of times to provide him with an out. I could sense the whole thing escalating and knew perfectly well at what that could mean. He didn't care. He was always there, always harassing me, laughing off my discomfort, teasing me or otherwise trying to elicit my sympathy, pathetically trying to convince me of what a great guy he was.

I finally snapped one day ("I said NO!") and turned to get away from him when he grabbed my arm and yanked me towards him so violently that I dropped my tray of drinks, was thrown off both of my shoes and twisted one of my ankles. He twisted my arm and screamed in my face, "don't you ever walk away when I'm talking to you!". Some customers and a bartender thankfully pried him off me and he was kicked out. But the police were not called. Back then (~25 years ago) it was assumed to be 'nobody's business' or 'domestic' when a man and woman were seen 'arguing' in public.

Worse, I didn't call the police. I was conditioned to believe that I was at least partially responsible for his reaction by virtue of being young and pretty. That guys like this guy had fragile egos and were wounded by all the rejection they encountered from women. The message was not only 'be nice or else', but 'be nice or else and it's your fault'. Though he was banned from that night club, I felt totally unsafe and quit that job shortly afterward. This is one example I'm willing to share. When people share or discuss their collective experience - when women say, 'this is what happens when we are direct, this has been our experience', believe them.
posted by marimeko at 1:30 AM on May 8 [34 favorites]


I was conditioned to believe that I was at least partially responsible for his reaction by virtue of being young and pretty.

So the question becomes, how do we teach young girls the right thing is not to question their potential culpability, but rather to pull out a case cutter and cut this asshole to ribbons? Because I'm afraid that without training assholes that their assholery can be fatal, they'll never learn.
posted by mikelieman at 1:56 AM on May 8 [3 favorites]


I found a bit of back story on Hot Topic Kitty's tumblr: Creepy Fedorabeard had slipped her a note with his # when he first bought the action figures. When she didn't respond to that he proceeded to stalk her on FB.
posted by brujita at 2:01 AM on May 8


A good way not to be a creep: Rather than keep pushing till you get explicitly told to fuck off, stop unless you get clear, enthusiastic consent to proceed. It flirtation, is sex, in everything.

Nobody ever didn't meet their soulmate because they chose not to lean on an unspoken boundary. Nobdy on earth owes you an explanation. You'll never go wrong listening for YES rather than pushing till NO.
posted by mostlymartha at 2:02 AM on May 8 [16 favorites]


So the question becomes, how do we teach young girls the right thing is not to question their potential culpability

This will be the natural result when we start teaching young boys the right thing is not to be a creep.
posted by solotoro at 2:25 AM on May 8 [7 favorites]


This will be the natural result when we start teaching young boys the right thing is not to be a creep.

Well, the issue here is that many young boys already know that lesson. Let's say for discussion, that 90% of people are harmless. 10% you have to be aware of, and 1% are truly dangerous.

So, let's say that generally young boys already know not to be a creep. So, the "BROAD BRUSH" doesn't help.

We need to use a finer brush to get to the 10% who need remedial instruction, and like I said, for the dangerous, well, like any police officer is trained, if you feel you're in imminent danger, you remove the threat using whatever resources are available and required. Problem is, I fear, that the Stand-Your-Ground laws will only seem to work for white MALES.
posted by mikelieman at 2:46 AM on May 8


I wish I'd had this article to point to the earlier times we've discussed creepers here on the Blue.
posted by Gelatin at 3:06 AM on May 8


My preferred term for a male creep is wildman. If he doesn't carry on after a simple "I'm not interested" then he's a wildman and should be treated like an escaped zoo animal. i.e. practice caution in how you deal with the situation, the same way you would if a crazed goat were in the same room as you.
posted by Taft at 3:24 AM on May 8 [8 favorites]


QFT from Hot Topic Kitty:

"If you have to tell somebody you're a nice guy, you're doing something wrong. Or you're not actually a nice guy, you're a pushy fucking creep...."
posted by brujita at 3:45 AM on May 8 [12 favorites]


I'm certainly open to the idea that it's generally safer for women to use the ignore-NO all the time at the expense of some inexperienced men to avoid the truly hideous possibilities of actually creepy guys. I just don't see it yet.

I can give whatever response I choose to overtures - I don't owe anyone a polite no. This is because I'm an autonomous person and not some sex vending machine temporarily without an owner.
posted by winna at 4:09 AM on May 8 [39 favorites]


I can give whatever response I choose to overtures

That's really the crux here. We're trying to reverse engineer asshole's behaviour and construct a pattern to minimize stress and anxiety and present the 'best' way of handling them.

Sometimes forgetting that "The Best" response isn't one particular approach to dealing with assholes, it's the freedom to say and do whatever you choose -- including forming a reply to a jerk.

There used to be this tired-comedy-staple where the Feminist would go from "No" directly to mace. But, why does it seem in so many cases that that might not be the worst approach?
posted by mikelieman at 4:24 AM on May 8 [1 favorite]


It is striking how at odds the depiction of courting often represented in mainstream media is with the lived experiences of women. How many times have I seen a guy come out of the shadows when a woman is opening her apartment door and physically stop her from shutting the door in his face, only for her to capitulate and acquiesce to his advances? Silly women, don't know their own minds until a persistent man can show them the way.
The patriarchy hurts everyone, but it does seem to be the women who bear the brunt.
posted by asok at 4:27 AM on May 8 [1 favorite]


I once broke up with a woman. The next day, she sent emails to our mutual friends talking about how crazy I was for giving up on our relationship. She also came to my workplace to try to come talk to me. I avoided her (someone warned me she was there), and have never spoken to her again, and would not speak to her if I saw her. I have since put "nice guys" into the same category in my mind; it's the insistence that you're ruining your life by not being with them that defines the category.
posted by sonic meat machine at 4:28 AM on May 8 [5 favorites]


I know it's another unicorn thing, but I would really love it if threads about how not to harass women/be a creeper/respecting boundaries didn't contain at least one person who thinks this is a rare occurrence for us, or that we owe dudes explanations for why we don't want to be harassed.
posted by Kitteh at 4:49 AM on May 8 [27 favorites]


Guys, I dunno if we've focused enough yet on what women are doing wrong in situations where men are behaving inappropriately. One more big push! We can do it!
posted by prefpara at 5:07 AM on May 8 [30 favorites]


Not to make this comment about anyone in particular; but if you're someone who is looking for evidence that too many women have been sexually assaulted or raped:

Nearly woman I've been friends with has shared stories of being assaulted or raped. By relatives, coworkers, bosses, strangers and even partners or significant others that they thought they could trust.

Yes, the women in your life may not be comfortable with sharing this information with you. If so, the problem may actually be you. Because you might not actually be listening.

Women are also reluctant to share this information (especially if you might be that guy) because it's usually traumatic to talk about, and it can expose the woman to being re-assaulted and re-victimized while in a position of mental or emotional vulnerability.

In this tally I'm not even counting the daily verbal harassment, random groping, cat-calling or crossing boundaries after (or before!) rejection. If I include this harassment and unwanted attention, that statistic rapidly climbs to 100%.

It's really fucked up that it's so common. Hell, I've been that guy in the sense I didn't take a few breakups very well. I've never hit or assaulted anyone, but I have freaked out and lashed out emotionally in ways that didn't respect a woman's choice to choose and say no.

And there really isn't much of a difference. It's still a threatening invasion of personal space and security.

For anyone to claim (paraphrasing) "It can't be that bad. I've never heard this before, therefore you must be wrong." in the midst of a lot of women saying "this is how bad it is" is infuriatingly tone deaf and willfully, painfully ignorant.
posted by loquacious at 5:15 AM on May 8 [27 favorites]


What always floors me - and it doesn't just happen here but in discussions of this sort that I've seen all over the place - is that there'll be someone who leans more towards the side of "It can't possibly be as common as you say it is," and among a dozen stories from women who've all had to put up with this shit, there'll be one woman who says she hasn't, and the person in question will somehow take this as evidence that bolsters his argument.

Which is crazy for a lot of reasons, but moreso if you tried applying that logic to other situations. If twenty people ate dinner at the same restaurant, and then the next day, nineteen of them are squirting hot brown horror out of both ends of their bodies and one of them feels fine, no one in their right mind would say, "Well then clearly there's no problem here, because that one guy's okay."
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 5:42 AM on May 8 [24 favorites]


I know it's another unicorn thing, but I would really love it if threads about how not to harass women/be a creeper/respecting boundaries didn't contain at least one person who thinks this is a rare occurrence for us, or that we owe dudes explanations for why we don't want to be harassed.

I used to have a secret bet with myself on how long it would take before any given thread on sexual harassment would turn into dating tips for dudez but gave up because it was too damn inevitable and it depressed me.
posted by winna at 6:06 AM on May 8 [12 favorites]


Worse, I didn't call the police. I was conditioned to believe that I was at least partially responsible for his reaction by virtue of being young and pretty. That guys like this guy had fragile egos and were wounded by all the rejection they encountered from women. The message was not only 'be nice or else', but 'be nice or else and it's your fault'.

When I was sexually assaulted at school, the principal told me it wouldn't have happened if I'd just been nicer and friendler to the boys who had done it. That training starts early.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:15 AM on May 8 [6 favorites]


The author confuses two different questions:

1. Is social awkwardness an excuse for at least some of the relevant kinds of unpleasant actions?

and

2. Should people be allowed to invoke their own social awkwardness when seeking to excuse their own unpleasant actions?

He gives a pretty interesting reason to think that the answer to 2 might be 'no,' but he gives no good reasons to think that the answer to 1 is 'no.'

The answer to 1 is pretty clearly 'yes.' If Smith intentionally tries to freak you out with unpleasant actions, Smith is a bad person. If Jones accidentally freaks you out because he hasn't mastered the often-very-difficult-to-master intricacies of our largely (but not entirely) arbitrary habits of social interactions...well, you still might be equally freaked out.... So in terms of consequences, Jones's actions might be as bad as Smith's...but Jones is not a bad person. Jones made a mistake. There is a good excuse for Jones's actions. We do not typically conclude that mistakes are as blameworthy as intentional wrong-doing with respect to their consequences for the moral status of the agent.

As a (sub-)culture, we our attention is now intensely focused on the plight of women in these situations. Our dander is up, and we're mad at the guys in the stories. So we're basically looking for ways to criticize them, and we're skeptical of their excuses. Nerdlove does make a decent point, but its goodness is probably being exaggerated. Even ignoring the important confusion above, he might be taken to be saying that the socially awkward will *never* invoke their own awkwardness in their defense. That's certainly false. Though, again, he does seem to be on to *something* when he writes that we might expect the truly awkward to be hesitant to do so.

These matters are weirdly complicated, IMO, and a matter of resemblances and probabilities. How suave and interesting man M seems when he approaches woman W is going to be a matter of degree. W's response will often be equivocal or unclear. Add to this that many men realize fairly early on that persistent men are vastly more successful in these matters than ones who are easily dissuaded. This can all be complicated even for the socially adept. Now add in social ineptitude... God, what a mess...

None of this excuses truly creepy assholes who treat women (or anyone else) badly. But trying to draw bright clear lines and articulate zero-tolerance policies (e.g.: awkwardness is never an excuse!) under these conditions just seems completely wrong-headed to me. There are going to be innocent errors, and innocent errors are commonly less bad than intentional wrong-doing.
posted by Fists O'Fury at 6:55 AM on May 8


When I was sexually assaulted at school, the principal told me it wouldn't have happened if I'd just been nicer and friendlier to the boys who had done it. That training starts early.

Well isn't that awesome, because here I was just thinking about how every unfortunate situation I've been in has been the result of being "nicer and friendlier" to clearly troubled (or at least "awkward") boys and men that peers of mine knew to avoid (without worrying about seeming cruel or "stuck up"). And all these unfortunate situations happened when I was an "ugly duckling" and also when I was finally considered conventionally attractive; when I was young, and now that I'm not so young (but still younger than the guys doing the creeping); when I've been "dolled up" and when I've been slumming it.

I was going to say that the only advice your principal could have given you to prevent sexual harassment and violence was, "don't have a vagina," but then of course I remembered that transwomen who haven't had genital surgery are regularly punished for "asking for it" too. Just don't present as female, I guess. Or as someone else here said seems like the only "acceptable" response: just never say no.
posted by blue suede stockings at 6:59 AM on May 8 [5 favorites]


Add to this that many men realize fairly early on that persistent men are vastly more successful in these matters than ones who are easily dissuaded.

it might be useful for men to consider that what they see as "successful" isn't being defined that way by women. yes - men who are more persistent can often get their dicks wet, but a not-small percentage of those guys are the ones featuring in stories here - guys who persisted maybe right up until they've raped someone. since most rapists never even get reported, there's a fuckton of "i knew she wanted it, so i persisted!" stories that are told among men which aren't as consensual as they're letting on.
posted by nadawi at 7:08 AM on May 8 [16 favorites]


When I was sexually assaulted at school, the principal told me it wouldn't have happened if I'd just been nicer and friendler to the boys who had done it. That training starts early.

Yes, exactly this. The whole "why didn't you just give him a chance" bullshit, which was even more grotesquely applied in my (heavy, awkward, and very tall for our 8th grade class) friend Hannah's case when she was told that she should be "happy that someone was paying attention to her, after all".

Of course an honorable mention should go to all the adults who openly shamed and disdained me for getting my period at the age of 9 and a half, as though I somehow chose to bleed everywhere all of a fucking sudden, as though I chose to have disgusting men of every age make jokes AT A 9 YEAR OLD about how if it bleeds you can fuck it. See also my friend Zoya who had 32DD breasts in 5th grade, who was treated like absolute filth by adults, primarily female teachers, who acted as though all the torment set upon her from boys over her large breasts was something she deliberately chose, something she must have wanted, something she deserved.

We were children, and we were fucking betrayed and openly shamed by the adults who should have protected us and defended us, we were taught to hate ourselves, hate our bodies, and if I saw any one of them screaming and on fire I would warm my hands over the cheerful blaze before carrying on with my day.
posted by elizardbits at 7:17 AM on May 8 [64 favorites]


The thing about people men (let's not kid ourselves here) not realising how common such things are is that most of the genuine creeps can be compared to online griefers. Most us under about 40 have played MMORPGs or online FPSs, and most of us have at some point or other been subject to spawncampers, corpse campers, team killers, gankers, spammers, and the rest of the rogue's gallery. And what griefers get up to when griefing can get quite ridiculous.

Only a small proportion of the population on any server are griefers (yes, even on EVE Online) are griefers. But they are definitely there - and can be really obnoxious to anyone's enjoyment of the game. Many of them are also good at keeping it secret (think gankers when there's someone higher level around) unless they think they are in like minded company.

So unless you are the target it's generally as easy to be unaware of what is going on. Also how common it is depends on which scale you are using. If we say 5% of the population of the server is griefers that's huge. On the other hand griefers grief more than one person. If each griefer griefs 20 people and 5% of people are griefers...
posted by Francis at 7:18 AM on May 8 [5 favorites]


Fists O'Fury: The author confuses two different questions:

1. Is social awkwardness an excuse for at least some of the relevant kinds of unpleasant actions?

and

2. Should people be allowed to invoke their own social awkwardness when seeking to excuse their own unpleasant actions?

He gives a pretty interesting reason to think that the answer to 2 might be 'no,' but he gives no good reasons to think that the answer to 1 is 'no.'


In saying that the answer to #1 is "no," I think you may be conflating "excuse" with "cause" or "reason."
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:20 AM on May 8 [1 favorite]


But trying to draw bright clear lines and articulate zero-tolerance policies (e.g.: awkwardness is never an excuse!) under these conditions just seems completely wrong-headed to me. There are going to be innocent errors, and innocent errors are commonly less bad than intentional wrong-doing.

Well, a few things:

One, everyone who engages in creepy behavior, intentionally or otherwise, is going to say that it's a truly innocent error. They'll probably believe it, too, because that's how people are.

Two, whether they really were just socially awkward or a horrible manipulative scheming creeper, the end result is the same - boundaries are ignored, someone won't take no for an answer, whatever - so intent doesn't really matter here.

And three - and probably the most important one: So what if it's an innocent mistake? Does that entitle someone to be treated differently? If a dude consistently ignores a woman's social cues and boundaries in an attempt to get her to date him, can he then file for an "I Didn't Know Any Better" exception, and then she has to date him? If it's an innocent mistake, what obligation does that place on the woman?

The only difference between a malicious act and an innocent mistake in this case is that the dude who committed a malicious act doesn't give a shit what went wrong and just goes and tries it on someone else (or the same person again); and the person who committed an innocent mistake will hopefully realize he creeped a woman out, leave her the hell alone, and resolve to learn from the experience.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 7:23 AM on May 8 [9 favorites]


If Smith returns a book late to the library because they don't care when it's due and Jones returns a book late because they genuinely made a mistake about its due date, they both have to pay the late fine. The motivation behind the lateness - accidental or intentional - doesn't matter, late book is late. When it's time to settle the fine up, both can try to excuse their behavior (one genuinely the other not so much), but again, that doesn't matter. The harm has been done - late book is late.

What Smith and Jones decide to do after that matters. If Jones is truly sorry about mistaking the due date, they will be sure to not do so in the future. Smith will continue to not care and will have to keep paying fines. Smith may balk at this and try to excuse their constant lateness as a series of mistakes or how the due dates were not clear or whatever, but they need to keep paying the fines. No excuses.

Is this fair to the genuinely mistaken Jones? Probably not, but such is life. It sucks that the Smiths of the world have taken away some of the leeway for Jones, but it sucks more for everyone else who was waiting for the late books. Jones, however, has the power to decrease the suckage by being sure to follow the due date and return the book on time. Maybe Jones does not get to spend as much time with the book as they wanted, but luckily there are plenty more books in the library for them to check out.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:23 AM on May 8 [41 favorites]


Also, now I have this stuck in my head. Forever.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:24 AM on May 8 [2 favorites]


These matters are weirdly complicated, IMO, and a matter of resemblances and probabilities.

Yes, they are a matter of resemblances and probabilities. If a woman thinks a man is probably a creep because he resembles a creep, because he behaves like a creep, I don't blame her, and I shouldn't blame her, for treating him as a creep. Women deal with creeps on the regular, so I feel pretty good trusting their judgment on who is and is not behaving like one.

As Famous Monster says, intentions don't matter. The boundary has been crossed. The harm has been done. Go read any of the stories in this thread and, imagining yourself in the place of the people who were harassed (not in the place of their harassers), ask yourself if it really matters what the harassers' intentions were.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 7:30 AM on May 8 [9 favorites]


I could not love robocop is bleeding more for that last comment. That's exactly right. The question the original blog post is asking is not, with respect to each individual case, how best to approach the question of assigning moral blame. The question is, how do we best protect the victims of inappropriate behavior? It's by actually policing it broadly, not by approaching each instance as an isolated inquiry into all possible excuses for that one bad act.
posted by prefpara at 7:32 AM on May 8 [10 favorites]


I think the difference between socially awkward and creeper is pretty much a clear bright line. If you don't take no for an answer and try to blame it on the other person when you overstep their boundaries, you're a creep. This works for all creeps I know and zero socially awkward people I know. I'm a D&D playing Trekkie of a computational physicist. I've met a statistically relevant (if biased) sample size of socially awkward people.
posted by Zalzidrax at 7:45 AM on May 8 [4 favorites]


The author confuses two different questions etc etc etc

Did you really need 4+ paragraphs to say that the real problem here is that women are mean to awkward guys for what you think is no good reason? Actually, now that I think about it, that would actually have been less tone-deaf than droning on and on about how women are being treated 99.99% of the time is no excuse for them to be upset at the .01% of interactions that they might, hypothetically, just maybe, kinda be due to extreme awkwardness.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:04 AM on May 8 [12 favorites]


If you don't take no for an answer and try to blame it on the other person when you overstep their boundaries, you're a creep.

Yup. I sometimes wonder if the "I'm just socially awkward" creepers realize that their insistence that everyone else conform to their limitations, and that they are somehow the true owners of "nerd spaces" like conventions, comic book stores, and anywhere the oxygen level is sufficient to support human life, are just replicating the same alpha-bro douchebag entitlement they profess to hate.
posted by Panjandrum at 8:19 AM on May 8 [17 favorites]


As a (sub-)culture, we our attention is now intensely focused on the plight of women in these situations. Our dander is up, and we're mad at the guys in the stories. So we're basically looking for ways to criticize them, and we're skeptical of their excuses.

Yeah, just fyi this section of your comment strongly suggests you don't think there's anything, or you don't think there's much, to criticize or be mad at in these guys' behavior, and that it's somehow strange that the focus here tends to be on the plight of women rather than on the less serious "plight" of men on the other side.

I don't think "Oh no, this woman may reject me because she misinterprets my intentions, which are 100% good, I know for sure" is a compelling problem compared to "This man may go away, but he could also decide to persist and make my life hell whatever I do."
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 8:23 AM on May 8 [17 favorites]


These matters are weirdly complicated, IMO,

Not IMO, no, and probably not for a lot of women who are subject to this kind of thing. Except, as I've mentioned, for the socially awkward woman - but dudes who insist that we closely examine every possible motive of the men who approach us to ensure that we never, ever hurt the feelings of the socially-awkward-not-a-creep dude can never be arsed to consider or mention that the feelings of women, socially awkward or not, must be examined just as closely.

and a matter of resemblances and probabilities.

Well, from my experience, the dude who ignores my boundaries and signs that I do not wish to enjoy further attention from him has a high probability of being a fucking creep. I will never feel bad about putting my own safety and comfort first, and it's really not my job (since I am not a kindergarten teacher) to make sure that no one is ever made to feel embarrassed or hurt when I tell them no.
posted by rtha at 8:38 AM on May 8 [14 favorites]


I read the linked post and was going to comment here that while I liked where it started from, I felt that it doesn't really drive home the conclusion that social awkwardness is not an excuse. If you're socially awkward -- and I'm a 46-year-old database dude who was into Doctor Who and Magic the Gathering so I know of whence I speak -- that sucks, but you need to work around it. It may not be compassionate but the truth is, you need to fake it till you make it. There are people on the autism spectrum that just have to learn what social cues are and go along with them even if they don't completely understand them because the world isn't going to just give them a bye on everything. And you have to do the same thing. It's not everyone else's responsibility to figure your shit out and adjust to compensate; you have to put in some work too. I had to do it, a number of my nerd friends had to do it. It sucks to be shy and not understand social rituals, but a lot of disabilities suck and require someone to do more than just sit there and whine and expect to get what they want.

I'm glad this point was brought forth forcefully in the comments. "Social awkwardness" is an explanation, not an excuse, and it doesn't mean you don't have to try. It unfortunately means you have to try harder.
posted by Legomancer at 8:49 AM on May 8 [4 favorites]


Yup. I sometimes wonder if the "I'm just socially awkward" creepers realize that their insistence that everyone else conform to their limitations, and that they are somehow the true owners of "nerd spaces" like conventions, comic book stores, and anywhere the oxygen level is sufficient to support human life, are just replicating the same alpha-bro douchebag entitlement they profess to hate.


Yes- it is one of the Five Geek Social Fallacies.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:50 AM on May 8 [6 favorites]


Also, if you're someone who is genuinely socially awkward and who gets what you think might be a lot of unfair rejection, your problem is not the women involved, it is the creeper assholes who are making everyone's life harder (and who probably would be just as likely to use your own social awkwardness against you for other reasons).
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:54 AM on May 8 [4 favorites]


> If you don't take no for an answer and try to blame it on the other person when you overstep their boundaries, you're a creep

Several years ago I was on the bus and a guy moved from the back to sit across the aisle from me. "Would you like to chit-chat?" he asked. I said "no," he moved back to where he'd originally been, and that was that.

I remember because it was such a weird event. It annoyed because I don't like being approached for conversation by strange men, but I do appreciate that the definitely socially-awkward guy took "no" for an answer.

I hope he worked on his social skills and eventually found a woman to chit-chat with.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:57 AM on May 8 [8 favorites]


[bunch of comments removed - touchy topic, make it clear you're trying to good-faith engage in it.]
posted by jessamyn at 10:28 AM on May 8 [1 favorite]


It annoyed because I don't like being approached for conversation by strange men, but I do appreciate that the definitely socially-awkward guy took "no" for an answer.

I have a lot of examples like that also. I think many many women are forgiving of one-off boundary disrespecting. Even though it's irritating, it's part of living in the world where everyone is not exactly like you. That said, this alone is sort of tiring enough, and the little zing of "Oh shit is this going to be a THING" that goes through me every time I see this weird scenario play out (with me, with other people) is a data point that should probably be counted in all of the "Things you should take into consideration when you are deciding how to approach someone" calculus that awkward people are doing anyway.
posted by jessamyn at 10:29 AM on May 8 [5 favorites]


the little zing of "Oh shit is this going to be a THING"

I had that zing last weekend, when we were at our local diner place for brunch, and the guy next to me at the counter asked for some touristy advice (it was very askme: "I have the rest of the day free in the city, and I like art and also nature; what should I do?" and the answer of course is Golden Gate Park). And that was all - he just wanted a local to say yes, you should go to that place and do that thing, and you will have a good time, and parking is annoying but not impossible and will take less time than getting there by bus.

It was nice. I love stuff like that, really. I know that in threads like this I might seem like someone who snarls at any stranger who even glances my way, but I can be damn chatty with strangers when the mood and context are right, and nine times out of ten it all goes great or at least completely unmemorably.
posted by rtha at 10:36 AM on May 8 [9 favorites]


I think another thing that sort of rankles me is that a lot of people, women and men, have sort of "etiquette exceptions" for people who are clearly working through challenges, whether they're outwardly presenting as someone with a mental illness, or you're in a context where you know people are dealing with some bad shit (ER waiting room, I don't know) or they are young children who presume don't know any better, that sort of thing. And so this sort of thing, the "But I was awkward!" thing seems to me to be trying to get into the exception rulespace except without having a bona fide exception.

Back to the actual article. Fedora-guy who was like "Well you haven't blocked me or deleted your account so I guess I'll continue...." is someone clearly Not Just Awkward. Like it's really a realistic expectation that a woman will delete her entire facebook account as a reasonable response to one guy messaging her? No, it isn't but it's this rules-lawyering "you didn't say no!" approach that lets the creeper keep going, which, Dr Nerdlove points out, is exactly what the truly awkward person won't do.

So it's a bit of concern trolling to even try to lump these behaviors together when most people can tell the difference decently well. But there's also the "treat me like I'm disabled, because it's tough being awkward!" aspect that is grating because a lot of this stuff can be learned, you just have to have a serious motivation to want to learn it and the vibe that a lot of people get is that there is a big chunk of people who think that they shouldn't be bothered. People who have real actual life-limiting disabilities that cause large-scale problems with human interaction should have our compassion and our tolerance and not be lumped with people who believe that their right to not be embarrassed trumps our rights to not be set upon by creepers.
posted by jessamyn at 11:07 AM on May 8 [23 favorites]


So here's a story where the guy was clearly in the Genuinely Wasn't Trying To Be Creepy camp, but where it was still creepy anyway.

Some years ago I volunteered at a week-long festival - think Burning Man but more structured and rainier. Volunteering allowed access to the Volunteer tent, where you could hang out and chill and get a massage or whatever.

One of the regular volunteers there was a man with a severe brain disability. He'd been there for years apparently. People tended to regard him kindly. I didn't know him all that well, but I was friendly with him when we talked.

Halfway through the festival I got sick. There was a show I wanted to see in the evening, so in between my volunteer shift and the show I went to the vollie tent and took a nap on the mattress.

When I woke up I found that volunteer guy spooning me.

I freaked out, and tried to talk to another volunter coordinator about it, but all they said was that he was harmless and had brain damage yadda yadda. Not good enough. I was so creeped out that between this and the sickness I just packed up my stuff and went home, before the festival ended.

Some time later - on the urging of a friend who was also a regular at this festival - I wrote a letter to the festival owners telling them about my experience. What I was most disgusted by was that nobody stopped him. This was a pretty packed festival, the volunteer tent always had staff and a whole host of volunteers in and out, and nobody thought to tell him that it wouldn't be a good idea to spoon some random sleeping woman? No, their excuses was all "but he has a brain injury! He meant no harm!"

Yeah, fuck that.

I think the response from the festival was pretty apologetic and aware of my concerns. I don't remember. But it significantly creeped me out enough to reconsider attending the festival again.
posted by divabat at 11:21 AM on May 8 [11 favorites]


on should-have-previewed: "treat me like I'm disabled, because it's tough being awkward!" haaaaaaa how apt.
posted by divabat at 11:23 AM on May 8


I think what gets lost is that the word 'creepy' is actually a description of the way it feels to be creeped on by another person. This feeling requires a word, and 'creepy' works. A lots of energy seems to get spent in this kind of discussion distinguishing just who the real creeps are versus the seemingly creepy but well meaning people. But, when someone feels creeped on, it doesn't really matter whether the person is legitimately socially awkward or a highly skilled boundary ignorer, the dread it elicits feels the same.
posted by marimeko at 11:37 AM on May 8 [8 favorites]


So it's a bit of concern trolling to even try to lump these behaviors together when most people can tell the difference decently well. But there's also the "treat me like I'm disabled, because it's tough being awkward!" aspect that is grating because a lot of this stuff can be learned, you just have to have a serious motivation to want to learn it and the vibe that a lot of people get is that there is a big chunk of people who think that they shouldn't be bothered.

I agree, very much so -- I've definitely seen it play out where folks are taking advantage of social forgiveness to not have to do any work to control their impulses, pay attention to other people, et cetera. It's a distinct problem, and one that I've been on the unfortunate end of -- as a person who can be very socially awkward, and often is read by other people as female.

It's hard for me, often times, to parse out whether someone likes me or likes me, and whether this is in a way that will cause consequences down the road, and if so what the follow-on effects of taking a certain path myself will be. Can I laugh and joke with this person, because they're nice and they're a member of my social circle, or are they flirting with me and think I'm flirting back? If I continue to go to this instructor who makes incessant double entendres -- and it's not like I don't either -- will something exceedingly awkward happen at some point when we're out on the nearly-empty range 30 minutes from nowhere?

In any case, I can be sure that whatever happens, I should have known better.

On the other hand, I'm a profound introvert with an odd set of social anxiety issues, such that I often end up having to depend on -- in my mind if not actually -- that I can try to do right and apologize when I do wrong, and that my friends at least will usually not hold me to strict account. That other people will at least try to tell me in words when there's something important they want me to do, if I don't understand what they're saying indirectly or how to act on it. In that sense, what I hear from "no excuses" and "you've got to read the signs" is "you have no safety net, and at any moment you're going to end up being blindsided by deserved condemnation; have you considered maybe just not having more than superficial interactions with anyone ever?"

As this mode of thinking has demonstrably bad effects on my ability to relate productively to people, I generally try and avoid getting exposed to it too much. I also tend to think that there are objective issues with it, beyond my particular issues, but I don't have a better solution to offer. Unfortunately.
posted by sparktinker at 11:57 AM on May 8 [4 favorites]


None of this excuses truly creepy assholes who treat women (or anyone else) badly. But trying to draw bright clear lines and articulate zero-tolerance policies (e.g.: awkwardness is never an excuse!) under these conditions just seems completely wrong-headed to me. There are going to be innocent errors, and innocent errors are commonly less bad than intentional wrong-doing.

Dude. That's basically an incredibly long "NOT ALL MEN!"
posted by running order squabble fest at 12:02 PM on May 8 [7 favorites]


In a thread a while ago about Captain Awkward's awesome post about creepers, Dynex quoted a commenter on a related article:

"If you step on my foot, you need to get off my foot.

If you step on my foot without meaning to, you need to get off my foot.

If you step on my foot without realizing it, you need to get off my foot.

If everyone in your culture steps on feet, your culture is horrible, and you need to get off my foot.

If you have foot-stepping disease, and it makes you unaware you’re stepping on feet, you need to get off my foot. If an event has rules designed to keep people from stepping on feet, you need to follow them. If you think that even with the rules, you won’t be able to avoid stepping on people’s feet, absent yourself from the event until you work something out.

If you’re a serial foot-stepper, and you feel you’re entitled to step on people’s feet because you’re just that awesome and they’re not really people anyway, you’re a bad person and you don’t get to use any of those excuses, limited as they are. And moreover, you need to get off my foot.

See, that’s why I don’t get the focus on classifying harassers and figuring out their motives. The victims are just as harassed either way."

The genuinely socially awkward will be horrified and embarrassed that they stepped on a foot and will either flee or genuinely apologize and feel bad about it, being very conscious of not stepping on (at least those) feet again.

The creeper will try to justify with any of the reasons above.
posted by HermitDog at 12:05 PM on May 8 [42 favorites]


The genuinely socially awkward will be horrified and embarrassed that they stepped on a foot and will either flee or genuinely apologize and feel bad about it, being very conscious of not stepping on (at least those) feet again.

Essentially so, except that when they flee they will oft enough stomp the hell out of those feet and those of like fourteen other people on the way out, then go home and freak out about how they can ever exist in an environment with feet again. At least IME.

To a degree that kind of falls in the category of "acceptable losses" -- but still, it's not always quite as neatly tied up as it gets described.
posted by sparktinker at 12:25 PM on May 8


intent doesn't really matter here.

I think it still matters. The predator is going to keep doing it again and again, the incompetent is trying to learn how not to, and will hopefully succeed. So my ideal outcome for the predator is that he gains a widely-known reputation or internet naming, to warn and protect others, whereas the incompent gets the kind of localized smackdown that makes a lasting impression on them rather than on the people around them - something they can ultimately recover from. Of course, we don't live in that perfect world where consequences will be appropriate and practical and available, but I prefer to at least aspire to it.

Even in murder trials, intent matters, though it makes no difference to the victim.
posted by anonymisc at 12:26 PM on May 8 [1 favorite]


women standing up en masse and saying - "these behaviors are not acceptable" should be something that the truly awkward appreciate. the more we discourage the type of interactions that we find frightening/questionable the brighter the line can be between "awkward" and "creep." unfortunately, in a lot of these conversations what i see is men saying things like, well persistent men are more successful or well, i guess i should never talk to anyone ever again. hopefully eventually enough men will want to figure out how they can take a step back and do things in ways that feel better to the woman they're trying to talk to.
posted by nadawi at 12:42 PM on May 8 [4 favorites]


There's a toxic dynamic I watch for that goes like this:

A: [does a thing]

B: you did [a thing], and it made me feel X!

A: you should not feel X.

That's what is happening when a creeped-out woman is told a sad story about the guy who creeped her out. Don't be creeped out, be sorry for awkward dude!

Wrong. The right response is: dude! Stop doing [a thing].
posted by prefpara at 12:44 PM on May 8 [23 favorites]


I think it still matters. The predator is going to keep doing it again and again, the incompetent is trying to learn how not to, and will hopefully succeed. So my ideal outcome for the predator is that he gains a widely-known reputation or internet naming, to warn and protect others, whereas the incompent gets the kind of localized smackdown that makes a lasting impression on them rather than on the people around them - something they can ultimately recover from. Of course, we don't live in that perfect world where consequences will be appropriate and practical, but I prefer to at least aspire to it.
Even in murder trials, intent matters, even though it makes no difference to the victim.


Smack 'em both down. They're doing the same things, after all. The awkward guy will recover and get better. The creeper will persist and the smackdowns will, too; he'll get a reputation as a matter of course. Intent may matter, but what you do after being called out is really the only way to tell what it is, and how you adjust your behavior matters much more than whether you meant well the first time around.

Also, we aren't talking about murder trials, where the rules, standards, and expectations are different from the court of social life. It's a well-worn comparison mainly because it helps repeatedly creepy men escape condemnation for what they do - not that I think that's what you mean here, just that a legalistic standard mainly helps the creeps, and they hold people to it to keep themselves safe. Intent may decide the difference between murder and manslaughter, but it doesn't decide whether the victim is dead; intent may decide whether a man is a creep or not, but it doesn't decide whether the woman they're talking to is creeped out.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 12:46 PM on May 8 [5 favorites]


I'm still parsing through a lot of this, but the one hat i wanted to toss into the ring related to the attractiveness of creeps thing.

And no, i'm not a "be attractive, don't be unattractive" truther.

Rather, my point is that i, being both a nerdy guy and having hung out a lot at shows/in a couple music scenes/with musicians and watched what goes on backstage and in those friend groups... that a disproportionate amount of creeps are attractive.

Not only that, but they have a large built up base of friends, especially lady friends and/or fans to back them up, vet them, and go "Oh so and so would NEVER do that, you must just be a jealous bitch!" and encourage the shunning of people who try and call the creeps out on anything.(in fact, as recently as a few weeks ago i saw something like this go down, in which the not-taking-no-for-an-answer creep ran a lady out for rejecting him in an essentially "either you accept me, or you're not friends with ANY of us" way quite explicitly)

Yea, creeps come in all shapes and sizes, but the really creepy career creeps are almost sociopathic in how good they are at making everyone surrounding anyone they intend to creep on support their version of the narrative. Even to the point that they won't even need to open their mouths to defend themselves, their friends will do it for them and the victim will be automatically dismissed.

The biggest serial creeps i met were people i was introduced to positively, and often initially even respected/looked up to as artists and cool people and just generally someone who was a mensch.

It was only over time and random observation, leading to more careful observation that i'd realize they were a charming, likable... boundary crashing creepy piece of shit.

And without fail, they were somewhere between pretty decently to really good looking.

A lot of times i feel like the gross/fat/greasy/neckbeard creeper is nearly a strawman. They exist, but comparatively i've only met a few... and this is coming from a chess club in school, multi day lan party, anime convention and fighting game tournament kind of dude. Most of them are somewhere between utterly normal looking dude to quite good looking, and i'd say the number of socially adept far outweighs the legitimately awkward, who as mentioned above will often show their true colors by apologizing for not knowing any better.

I also think it's worth noting that i've heard the former kind of creep make smart ass remarks about the latter kind of creep. It almost feels like misdirection.
posted by emptythought at 12:47 PM on May 8 [28 favorites]


-The genuinely socially awkward will be horrified and embarrassed that they stepped on a foot and will either flee or genuinely apologize and feel bad about it, being very conscious of not stepping on (at least those) feet again.

--Essentially so, except that when they flee they will oft enough stomp the hell out of those feet and those of like fourteen other people on the way out, then go home and freak out about how they can ever exist in an environment with feet again. At least IME.

To a degree that kind of falls in the category of "acceptable losses" -- but still, it's not always quite as neatly tied up as it gets described.


Well, then, there may be a demand or need for some kind of social support system for those unfortunate folks, to help them learn the coping skills they need to avoid those situations in the future. But the responsibility for creating that system, or even worrying about whether it exists or not, doesn't lie with, or have anything to do with, the people with the crushed feet.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 1:54 PM on May 8


Essentially so, except that when they flee they will oft enough stomp the hell out of those feet and those of like fourteen other people on the way out, then go home and freak out about how they can ever exist in an environment with feet again. At least IME.

Okay, this is where metaphors break down and sometimes it's necessary to take a step back.

Stepping on feet is something you can literally do accidentally, or because someone bumped you, or whatever. But social awkwardness is generally not a problem of lack of self control, it's just not knowing what the rules are to be able to fit in. Body language is hard. Social structures are hard. Absolutely. "Women are human beings" is not expert-level social interaction. A relationship might well be, sure, but in that case, you start with easy mode, which is "don't offer to worship strangers." If you know your perception rolls are really lousy, you start off hauling a ten foot pole into the dungeon and poking at things to make sure they're solid. If you get the party killed by wandering off into a trap, then having bad perception is not a reason that was okay, it is a reason why you should have waited for someone else to tell you things were all clear.
posted by Sequence at 2:49 PM on May 8 [1 favorite]


A little OT at this point, but I wanted to mention, for the people wondering what Dr. Nerdlove's deal is, and if he's just a jerk pretending to be an ally in order to get laid: my husband has known him for years, they were friends in college. Dr. Nerdlove was a bit creepy back then, what with the pick-up artist stuff and all, but has grown up a whole hell of a lot since then, and is genuinely a good guy who learned from his creepy past.
posted by sarcasticah at 2:50 PM on May 8 [1 favorite]


Yeah, that would be why I'm pretty limited in my dealings with certain corners of progressive thinking.

Folks can set their comfort level where they like -- the thing I'm saying, here, is that it doesn't work as neatly to say "the only people you're going to hurt with a zero-tolerance policy for social miscues are bad or defective people who should be isolated from decent society, so you can rest easy knowing that your hands are clean".

Anyway, I think I had better bow out of this discussion, as this is at times an extremely bad subject for me.
posted by sparktinker at 2:59 PM on May 8 [1 favorite]


Continuing the OT, my husband, who for some unfathomable reason is not a Mefite, read the article and the comments here and says:


I read a couple of the comments questioning his story. You can quote me:

I went to college with Dr. NerdLove (in fact, he was my freshman year roommate), and I can attest that his story is pretty accurate. In college, he was kind of a dick, though we had a lot of the same friends, and I was really good friends with his first girlfriend. We remained in a lot of the same circles and were part of the same weekly D&D troupe.

He was, and he's far from the only college male in this situation, looking to get laid as quickly as possible. And, despite being very smart, and not hideously ugly, the desperation was kind of overwhelming. (Sorry, bud, if you're reading, it's true.) We sort of lost touch right after college, but a few years ago we became friends again on Facebook.

The Dr. NerdLove that I got to know again was very different from the one I knew in college. This was confirmed when he started dating one of our friends from college, someone who would never put up with the PUA shit. They're married now.

So, yes, he's pretty genuine about this, and he's a great advocate for geeks who are not creepy assholes but are also completely clueless.

posted by sarcasticah at 3:07 PM on May 8 [8 favorites]


Folks can set their comfort level where they like -- the thing I'm saying, here, is that it doesn't work as neatly to say "the only people you're going to hurt with a zero-tolerance policy for social miscues are bad or defective people who should be isolated from decent society, so you can rest easy knowing that your hands are clean".

This isn't even being implied, let alone stated outright.
posted by zombieflanders at 3:10 PM on May 8 [11 favorites]


I probably get less creeper behavior than most people--or at least my stories aren't nearly as horrible as the ones in this thread--but I've been flat out scared and trapped by creepy men who wouldn't take no or I have a boyfriend (it's never worked!) as a reason to stop. It's happened off and on in life and I truly don't know how I've managed to get off scot-free (i.e. not raped or stalked yet) so far. I probably won't forever. Maybe it's because I'm not that attractive, I don't know, but every woman gets it at some point. I love it on the RARE OCCASION when a guy takes no for an answer, but I can count on one hand the number of times that's happened without scary drama behavior. It's almost guaranteed to bring on arguments because guys won't take no for an answer.

Waaay back on the original topic of Doctor Nerdlove, from what I've read of previous columns, the Doctor seems to categorize his younger self as kind of a creeper, definitely immature and socially awkward and basically behaving in a lot of off-putting ways to women while trying to get love. Naturally, this behavior did not get him love. Now that he's grown out of this shit, he's trying to advise the folks that were like him to grow up and stop acting like that and learn how to treat women right. And I applaud him for it. God knows nobody will ever, ever listen to women about this, so they might listen to him. The post explaining why dating is scary for women was very clear.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:38 PM on May 8 [2 favorites]


I wish I had read this when I was fifteen.
posted by Tevin at 9:28 AM on May 9 [2 favorites]


And an interesting (gross) piece from the other side (an ex who won't take no for an answer), and why women don't believe people who claim to be not creepy: they so often are.
posted by jeather at 9:56 AM on May 13 [4 favorites]


Yikes, jeather, that link is terrifying.
posted by KathrynT at 10:22 AM on May 13 [3 favorites]


But I think it's really worth reading, just because of how terrifying it is.

You can find it teased apart, in exquisite detail, over at Captain Awkward, including a fun Onion-style rewrite:
‘I don’t know why we can’t be friends,’ Nick Titlement says, as he drafts his latest e-mail to her, explaining very clearly why a restraining order is unnecessary, he just wants to talk. ‘It’s not like I’m a dangerous person or anything. I’m very respectful of her needs–it’s just that she really needs to still talk to me for me to know what those needs are.’

‘It’s actually very abusive of her to refuse to speak to me,’ he adds, carefully cutting letters out of a magazine. ‘This sort of emotional violence is exactly why some men become physically violent. Not me, of course. But, y’know. Some men.’

‘By cutting me off and demanding that I never contact her again, she’s telling me that my needs don’t matter. It’s like she thinks her not wanting to talk to me is more important than my wanting to talk to her. I just don’t get it.’

The Ex was unavailable for comment, according to her restraining order.”
It's really brilliantly written, as it goes; just enough detail that everyone will know who 'Emma' really is, including excerpts of her emails (but not his); details separated by just enough text that it's easy to miss the part where he was teaching a course she was taking, just enough use of passive voice to keep his actions out of the light. I can read it, or you can read it, and see why it's creepy or terrifying or gross, but there's enough plausible deniability written in that, if you're not already attuned to this, that you can take his side. (Ick.)
posted by jeather at 10:29 AM on May 13 [11 favorites]


that dude also thinks amazon's gender imbalanced hiring is a huge tragedy because he can't find a date.
posted by nadawi at 11:21 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]


From nadawi's link: "When we do meet in person, it’s been harder to capture their interest and nearly impossible to find one interested in a relationship. The women here seem more distracted than ever before "

that is not a numbers problem, dude.
posted by KathrynT at 11:30 AM on May 13 [7 favorites]


Dude's cri de coeur is tagged "human parts." Which makes me wonder: how many parts?
posted by octobersurprise at 1:54 PM on May 13 [1 favorite]


> that is not a numbers problem, dude

Not only that, but it looks like they're numbers he made up.
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:56 PM on May 13 [1 favorite]


And an interesting (gross) piece from the other side (an ex who won't take no for an answer)

I opened this on a break and forgot i had, then went and worked on a project at work for an hour or so.

"Oh yea, that link from mefi... hmm, i guess i'll read that while this thing boots back up". A few minutes later "Is this a serious thing, like did this get posted as something people were agreeing with as normal... because... wtf?". I was pleasantly relieved when i came back to find that thankfully, that was not the case.

I've lost count of how many "woe is me" stories like this carefully worded to really make the guy who will not take no for an answer sound like the innocent victim i've heard as a guy, from other guys.

This is far and away the grossest one though, holy shit. He couches it in so much attempted legitimizing stuff about how he's like, entitled to closure and how all of society is against him.

I'm also utterly not surprised that he's in seattle. It's completely anecdotal, but i've lived there all my life and every straight woman i know who i know well enough to actually have them make offhanded comments or seriously bring up that sort of thing, and ESPECIALLY people who moved here from elsewhere can not shut up about how many weird, entitled clingy guys there are here who always try and rationalize it as an everyone else but them problem. I'm well aware that's a general problem in modern society anyways, but it's like someone shipped them all here. Tech companies? Who knows, and i don't want to get too correlation/causation on there also being an abnormally high amount of autism and other issues like that here... but yea.

My point is that this guy sounds like some idealized, portlandia caricature onion-like averaging of generic seattle tech worker guy. This place is fucking full of friendzone truthers like him. It's basically a ton of paragraphs to spell out "you're not allowed to change your mind after we aren't even dating anymore without consulting me! how dare you!". It's like, sorry you got hurt dude but it's not her problem.
posted by emptythought at 2:15 PM on May 13 [2 favorites]


I probably get less creeper behavior than most people--or at least my stories aren't nearly as horrible as the ones in this thread--but I've been flat out scared and trapped by creepy men who wouldn't take no or I have a boyfriend (it's never worked!) as a reason to stop.

Just today, someone I know mentioned that the previously friendly guy fixing her TV had become enraged because, when asked what she was doing at the weekend, she had answered that she was hanging out with her boyfriend. Because why had she been being friendly to him, if she had a boyfriend?

That... weaponized jemble on Medium only seems to confirm that being a woman in the 21st century is to be experiencing life during wartime: whatever step you have to take to ensure your safety, it's justified by what happened to somebody who didn't take that step.

Jesus.
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:44 PM on May 13


> that dude also thinks amazon's gender imbalanced hiring is a huge tragedy because he can't find a date.

Oh holy shit, it's that guy? Yeah, the West Coast does have a gender imbalance due to social mobility, but it's not Amazon's fault.

And, yeah, there is actually something to be said about masculine/patriarchal problems with how men (modern and otherwise) deal with loss and emotions - but the answer to this isn't to... do what he's doing.

Because you can be a sensitive guy. And you can, y'know, actually have women as platonic friends. And when you respect them as friends and not just friends-plus-possibly-more and maybe-we'll-have-sex then these friends might actually be there for you to offer a shoulder to cry on and a hug not loaded with the threat of it leading to implied sex or sexual affection.

Because that's fucking worth it. In fact I'm going through some seriously depressed shit again, and very thankful I have a female friend - more importantly any friend - to talk to right now.
posted by loquacious at 5:25 PM on May 13 [1 favorite]


the previously friendly guy fixing her TV had become enraged because, when asked what she was doing at the weekend, she had answered that she was hanging out with her boyfriend

I'll bet he was shocked and dismayed to learn that he actually had to fix the cable.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:59 PM on May 13 [2 favorites]


Don't be fatuous, octobersurprise.
posted by zombieflanders at 3:38 AM on May 14 [3 favorites]


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