Further Explanation Of Why “Creepy” Can Be A Useful Term

Here at MSP, we’ve touched on the continuing debate on whether the word “creepy” is useful or reductive, including its place in the geek community, its relationship to respecting boundaries, and how not to be creepy in public.

Feminist blogger Xenologer wrote a comprehensive post explaining why women “need a word to refer to guys who freak us out and make us feel unsafe, and that word for ‘failed my risk assessment’ doesn’t need to meet the approval of men.” Basically, while the word “creepy” is about men, it is not for men. This is a useful way of thinking about the word and its functions; it refers to the insider/outsider distinction we use in the study of folklore (often termed esoteric/exoteric). Sometimes the insiders of a group use special terminology related to their social needs, which outsiders can misunderstand, and this may well be one of those cases.

The Xenologer post also contains a TON of links explaining the underlying concepts of “creepy,” so check it out if you ever find yourself discussing the merits of the word.

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About Jeana


Jeana Jorgensen, PhD recently completed her doctoral degree in folklore and gender studies at Indiana University. She studies fairy tales and other narratives, dance, body art, feminist theory, digital humanities, and gender identity.