The Definition of Creepiness

Now let’s continue the discussion of the post I started to address in the previous article. Here is a list of behaviors the author of the post proposes to define as “creepy.” Let’s look at them one by one.

Continuing to talk to someone, especially a stranger or acquaintance, who has negative body language (closed up, frozen, shaking head, looking away, responding in monosyllables) or says they would not like to talk to you.

Continuing to talk to a person who asked you to stop is not creepy. It is harassment, so I don’t think this belongs on the list. However, this suggestion that one is to evaluate anybody’s “body language” for hints is very disturbing. What is it with this obsession to “translate” things that cannot possibly have a single meaning? An autistic often looks away, for example. This in no way means that s/he is not interested in continuing a conversation. A shy person often responds in monosyllables not because they want to reject their interlocutor but because they need time to feel comfortable in the situation.

What’s “closed up body language”, anyways?

Hitting on a stranger in an enclosed environment (such as a moving vehicle), a deserted area or very late at night.

So now we are not to flirt on airplanes? Buses? Trains? Bars at the time of last call? What is the problem with “moving vehicles” and late-night bars as places to meet others?

Telling a stranger how much you’d like to fuck them as your opening line.

Also not vomiting on people as your opening line is a good idea. Not stabbing them with a pair of scissors the second you meet them will probably lead to greater social success, as well. Seriously, does anybody except extremely drunk people make such comments to strangers?

Sending a person you went out on a date with thirty emails and ten phone calls.

If they let you know they don’t like that, then yes, it’s important to stop. However, this desire to impose one’s own rules of what’s normal precludes any acceptance on the part of the post’s author of the simple fact that different people have different courtship rituals. Some can feel pressured after receiving one phone call right after the date while others will be ecstatic to get 30 emails and 15 phone calls.

Pressuring a person into physical contact (anything from a handshake to sex) they don’t want.

This suggestion I  don’t get. The only way I can imagine of pressuring people into physical contact they don’t want is rape. Rape is not creepy. It is criminal. Any other “pressure” for contact, if we exclude the cases of parents pressuring their children for unwanted touching, is really hard to imagine between adults.

Hitting on people who are likely to feel pressured into saying yes, such as teenagers (if you are over the age of 21) or students or employees.

Once again, this has nothing to do with “creepiness”. This is sexual harassment, pure and simple. It’s a crime.

Taking someone out on something that is not a date, which you plan on turning into a date.

What if that someone is your husband of 10 years who decided to organize a surprise for you? Seriously, what’s with the need to create rules of behavior for everybody based on one’s own limited set of experiences? We are all different, and what’s creepy to one of us, might be romantic to many others. And, of course, vice versa.

“Accidentally” turning up in the psychology class, coffeeshop or laundromat of the person you have a crush on.

How about going to the same party where the person you like but are too shy to approach directly? Is that “creepy”, too? If we are talking about, say, students, one would have to become a virtual recluse to avoid showing up at any place where the person one likes might hang out.

Only talking to people you want to fuck at a party.

Just imagine the sad kind of society we will live in if prudes win the day and start shaming people about who they should or shouldn’t talk to at a party.

Poor social skills in general.

And this is my favorite one. Beware, autistics and intraverts! You are as creepy as a boss who sexually harasses employees and a teacher who solicits teenagers for sexual favors.

I usually really like the posts published on the blog I linked to but this one is very disappointing.

5 thoughts on “The Definition of Creepiness

  1. I think they’re just trying to describe some common ways of trying to entrap or corner people. I don’t think most of these can be taken as hard and fast rules.

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  2. those all are pretty stupind thing to say. Creepyness totaly depends on the people involved the situation they are living and the place where they are and lots of stuff. You can not make any “rules of creepyness”… and you absolutely can not put “poor social skills” and “rape” at the same level-

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  3. I don’t like the term body language at all.

    Anything short of sign language or dancing letters is not a language at all and relying on it for anything but the most basic expression (repulsion for example) is just plain bullshit.

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  4. Creepy people (to me, anyway) are the type who want to take advantage of you or manipulate you in some way; they always have some ulterior motive to benefit themselves while cheating the person they are trying to take advantage of.

    Some people who have poor social skills but who are honest sometimes come across as creepy simply because the cues are similar. They don’t always know when to stop engaging with someone who doesn’t want to engage with them, but they are not out to try to manipulate someone. It can be hard to differentiate, and some people don’t want to even try.

    If you are in a vulnerable position…or you feel that the person is trying to get you into a vulnerable position, then it can be very scary. Young women are socialized to be polite and be compliant when peoople cross their boundaries. Creepy people take advantage of this; noncreepy people who have poor social skills may not see where the boundaries even are.

    In general, I love meeting new people and will talk to most random strangers. However, there is the occasional person who really sets off my creep-o-meter. I can think of twice in the past 30 years when I was really frightened to the point of leaving the area as soon as I could and making sure other people saw me…yet, there was nothing in particular that someone watching would have noticed.

    People who have been victims of violent crimes have a much, much lower tolerance for this sort of thing than I do, and I can’t say I blame them. People need to do what they need to do to feel safe. If that means not talking to strangers, then that choice should be respected.

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    1. This is a great comment. I’d just make a small change:

      Instead of “Young women are socialized to be polite and be compliant when peoople cross their boundaries” I’d say “domineering, controlling parents socialize their children to be compliant and submissive.” This is not a gender issue.

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