Earlier today I wrote a thing about why some specific quotes in this article are completely wrong and don’t actually recognize what’s really going on. I was just gonna reblog it here but I decided that a more in depth and better constructed response was necessary. (btw, that’s my blog too which is why there’s so much repetitious cross-over, my apologies to those of you who follow both if this is obnoxious, but, you know, thanks for the awesome following!)
So, once again, Jezebel gets things wrong and I think I’ve figured out why this happens so much: they don’t situate their analyses within a discussion of power dynamics. Really all oppressions are about inequitable systems of power and privilege (right?) which means that any discussion of something like the patriarchy needs to involve a discussion of the inherent power dynamics involved which is something they rarely ever do. Of course, there’s also a decided lack of intersectionality over there which is also really problematic and they tend to talk about things in binary terms which is an issue… but I digress.
I think by now many of us have heard the MRA bullshit about how “creep shaming” is so awful and poor guys are so mistreated by all this privilege women have and use and since all those poor menfolk are so oppressed by all this talk of them being creepers we ladyfolk need to be punished for our use of it and just stop doing it all together. Obviously that’s bullshit, I don’t think I need to go into why and that’s a separate article anyway. For now we’re talking about they psychology behind why all those deluded people are getting up in arms over what they term “creep shaming” and how the nearly always problematic Hugo Schwyzer failed to correctly analyze a situation that he clearly doesn’t fully understand.
Simply put, people who are accused of being creeps are not so angry about it because it “forces [them]* to reflect carefully about how they make [their victims]* feel” (“them” was originally “men” and “their victims” was originally ”women” but I think this is more accurate and inclusive) as Schwyzer claims but because such an accusation actually has power.
Let’s be real here. The typical douchey, entitled, cis, hetero, patriarchal male who a person might call a creep or describe as behaving creepily is an abuser, more specifically a sociopathic abuser. These people don’t actually see their victims as people at all, they see them as objects (these people are most often Nice Guys TM who think people they’ve identified as women are machine they just have to put kindness coins into until sex falls out, they find interactions with their victims to be transactional because those victims are not people at all, they’re tools for use and nothing more). Creepy behavior is most often abusive. It’s called out when the victim has been made to feel uncomfortable, disrespected, scared, uneasy, uncertain, insecure, objectified, preyed upon, and otherwise as though ze might be in danger from this person because ze doesn’t seem to recognize hir rights or personhood. Abusers don’t care about their victims feelings, for the most part they don’t even recognize that their victims even have feelings in the first place. Abusers are not going to “reflect carefully about how they make [their victims] feel” and are most certainly not going to be upset because somebody tried to make them do so. If that were the case then all other such instances would carry equal weight - like when the victim says the abuser is acting like a “jerk” or an “asshole.” Since we’re not getting the same response for these other instances in which the victims’ “perceptions” are “centered” in the moment (it’s not like a victim calling someone a jerk isn’t somehow attempting to center hir perception and yet that’s easily ignored and dismissed) something else must be going on here.
What’s going on here is that the label of “creep” actually has power, power that no other label or insult has which makes it a huge blow to the inequitable power dynamic that allows creeps to be creeps in the first place and, more importantly, allows them easy access to their victims. Schwyzer does bring up one good point, “At the heart of the “anti-creep shaming campaign” is a concerted effort to discourage women from relying on their instincts to protect themselves from harm.” because “calling a dude “creepy” labels him as a potential threat; a creep may not be imminently violent, but there’s almost always a sense that he shows consistent disregard for a woman’s physical or psychological space.” When a victim of a creep calls out that creepy behavior ze’s most likely not doing it to hir face! When the victim of a creep calls out that creepy behavior ze’s most likely doing it to other people. What ze’s doing is warning everyone to stay away from that person because that person is potentially dangerous. This is an incredibly powerful move because a) it takes control of the situation away from the abuser and places it firmly with the victims and b) it warns people thereby removing the abusers access to potential victims. That’s a huge fucking deal! It causes an incredible shift in the power dynamic that exists between creeps and their victims! That’s why, for instance, stuff like the hollaback movement/organization is so damn important - it allows the victims to take power for themselves and away from their abusers! And, as we learned from the lovely Jane Elliot, most entitled people respond to a loss of power the same way people respond to other important losses, with the 5 stages of grief, stages which include ANGER and DENIAL which is precisely what we’re seeing from all these MRA’s and their bullshit campaigns against “creep shaming.”
TL;DR - The real reason creeps get upset over being called creeps is because the act of labeling someone a creep involves a power shift in which the victim takes power away from the abuser and uses it for hirself. The MRA campaigns against “creep-shaming” are all about controlling victims so that they can regain their power and continue abusing. That’s it, that’s all there is to it. Because oppression is all about power dynamics. Always.