Dear Creepers: Let's Talk About Our Rights

Friday, August 10, 2012

dear creepers: Let's talk about our rights.

Part 2 in the Creeper, No Creeping discussion.

First, some women were harassed at ReaderCon, and things got ugly on the internet. The uproar from women who have been creeped at cons, combined with the verbal smackdown of men who will no longer stand by and watch women be creeped, made a difference: the ReaderCon creeper received a lifelong ban.

And this is great. Yay!

There have been several amazing blog posts about how women feel victimized, how creepers can stop making people feel this way, and how society and con society in general should stop letting these things happen.

This is also great. Further Yay!

And then came... THE COMMENTS.

Then came the Creeper Apologists.

Guys starting with "I'm not a creep, BUT..." or "my friend is a really nice guy, it's just..." or guys who want to jump in about gender, sexuality, spectrum disorders, awkwardness, depression, or how they have a right to ogle things clearly put there to be ogled because they paid just as much to get into the con as the girl in the Slave Leia chains.

And here's where it's no longer great.

Here's the thing, Sassy Commenter Guy *and* Creeper Guy: 



It's not about science, evolution, society, jiggly bits, costuming choices, spectrum disorders, fandom, or how well you write an argument in a blog post comment. It's about the fact that if I am uncomfortable, I have a right to respond to that discomfort in a way that may, in fact, make the other person equally or more uncomfortable.

It's about the fact that I have a right to unapologetically say NO that negates all your other rights.

It's about the fact that I don't owe you anything.

It's about the fact that cons, fandom, and geekness aside, no one owes you any respect that you don't earn.

It's about the fact that if you can break the social contract, so can I.

I personally believe that people are one step removed from the animal kingdom, and as such, we have millions of years of instinct and biology working against our ability to hold a fragile tea cup and discuss gender politics using three-syllable words. I know hetero males are hard wired to look at boobs. I know long hair on a woman is nature's billboard telling you LOOK, A HANDLE FOR IMPREGNATING! And I know that the only rules that keep you from violating me in a back alley are the goodness of your heart, your mama's teachings, and a social contract that neither of us ever actually signed.

I mean, I get that.

But you know what? There's a side of that social contract you forget.

The side where I never signed anything saying how I would respond to you.

If you touch me, lean in, say something skanky, I have a right to do the following:

1. Speak or shout at any volume to tell you that I am uncomfortable.
2. Call you a creep, a perv, or a jerk.
3. Tell everyone I know that you are trouble with a capital T.
4. Call a more chivalrous dude to come stand near me and stare at you and tell you to back off and/or physically threaten you, if I feel that your physicality has put me in danger.
5. Tell someone in authority that I think you might be dangerous.
6. Step back. Hold a hand up. Smack whatever part of you touches me.

That's the thing about the social contract: just as I cannot control what you do, you can't control what I do.

So, yes, you may be within your rights as a biological being to do whatever it is that you're doing that makes me uncomfortable. Your brain may work differently. You may know all sorts of laws and arguments. As a bag of meat/upright ape walking around, I acknowledge that. I might even understand it, from a scientific and psychological viewpoint.

But don't forget my rights. Don't forget that I have power, too. Don't forget that I have a right to make you uncomfortable, whether through shaming or intimidation or using whatever laws or muscle I have to keep you away from me.

Ladies, when a man tries to make you feel bad because you called him a creeper or told him he was making you uncomfortable, please remember that his feelings belong to him. Creepers deserve to feel bad. Creepers deserve to be called out. Creepers need to know when what they're doing makes you feel like a victim. And if creepers disagree?


So here's the deal. You hold up your end of the bargain, and I'll hold up mine. 


dear creepers, part 1 : don't tell me how to lace my corset

a fantastic post by author Jim C. Hines, which includes links to 3 more amazing blog discussions