The comment was on a post I’d written about the purported “infidelity gene” and commenter Henry Vandenburgh brought up a really great subject:
I liked the article, above. What I don’t like is that the word “creepy” is getting a lot of play lately in taliking about fairly common forms of sexuality. (Obviously not incest, but many other things.) It’s usually used by women commenters.
As a woman writing for a men’s mag—a job that’s made me reevaluate my genderized tendencies more than I ever thought possible—this took me aback. It wasn’t even something that had ever crossed my mind. Was I playing too fast and loose with a word that Gordon dubbed “the worst thing a woman can call a man”?
Here’s his take:
Without a doubt, creepy is the worst casual insult that can be tossed at a guy. A guy can publicly scoff at something you say and be a “douchebag”; sleep with your best friend, never call her back and become an “asshole”; or cry while listening to Neutral Milk Hotel and forever be a “pussy.” But creepy is not that simple. It doesn’t relate to someone’s appearance, actions, or behavior. More accurately, creepy is a vibe. You can’t define it—you just know it. It’s when a guy looks at a girl for a little too long, when he friends her on Facebook a little too quickly, when he doesn’t understand that no actually means no, not “try harder.” It’s a tag that isn’t easily dispelled—after all, what are you supposed to say? “I’m not creepy! I’m NORMAL! I say normal things and act like a human being!”
For me, “creepy” had always been a word from childhood. The rubber Halloween spider stuffed at the bottom of our toy box? Creepy. That goopy half-liquid, half-solid Gak stuff? Creepy. Kissing boys? Really, really creepy. (And from what I’ve heard from boys in elementary school, vice versa.)
It wasn’t until middle school that the adjective became ubiquitous and applicable to guys in a less innocent (read: truly derogatory) sense. But even then, the weight of the word was never heavier than any other insult I’d shoot back at the boys mocking my inability to jump over a hurdle in gym class.
But it seems I was wrong.
So thank you, Henry, for making me think twice about how I use my words and for speaking for good men as a whole. How about the rest of you, readers? What are your thoughts on the “creepy factor”? Have any stories?