Recent posts

Tips For Men With Good Intentions

Actually, this fabulous blog post by my feminist friend Xenologer is less of a collection of tips and more of a comprehensive guide to understanding how male privilege can negatively affect the interactions of well-intentioned men with women. Using simple language and concrete examples, and packing a ton of links for further reading, Xenologer unpacks how guys who don’t perceive themselves as sexist can have happier and healthier interactions with not just women, but everyone around them who’s impacted by patriarchal power structures – which is to say everyone, really. Here are some of my favorite points from her post (though really, you should just go read the whole thing):

Recognizing your privilege is important – and perhaps more importantly, you don’t have to feel bad about being privileged. When feminists point out instances of male privilege, we’re not trying to shame you for having it: “You are definitely not a bad person for having male privilege, and you don’t need to be a sexist male to have it. It’s not ‘misogynist privilege,’ after all. Continue Reading →

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. Continue Reading →

The Puzzle Box Model Of Sex

Recently, I saw a blog post called “I am not a puzzle box” making the rounds on Facebook. It was popular for a very good reason: it provided a metaphor that explains why “creepy” behaviors and harassment are so often made out to be innocuous, normal, or the fault of the victim. The author’s main point is that to the men who’ve been enculturated with the “puzzle box” viewpoint, “inside every woman, there’s a tasty Sex Treatâ„¢, and there’s some way to get it out. Some combination of words, of behaviors on the man’s part, some situation will pop that box open and the treat will be his!” This means that if a man plays the game right – he’s polite to a woman on a date, he opens doors, he’s appropriately flattering, whatever – then his proper reward is sex. Continue Reading →

How To Approach A Stranger And Not Be Creepy

My last post on sexual harassment and the problem of being creepy had a lot of “don’ts” in it, such as don’t corner someone you don’t know, don’t invade their personal space, and so on. But what about the “dos”? One blogger, an author I know (Marie Brennan), listed a bunch of her “dos” in this post. She introduces her post by linking to John Scalzi’s An Incomplete Guide to Not Creeping and writes: “See, sometimes you get guys responding to this kind of thing by wailing that they’ll never be able to compliment a woman again, or whatever. And that just isn’t the case. Continue Reading →

Sexual Harassment And The Problem Of Being “Creepy”

Geek culture has some problems with sexual harassment and misogyny, sadly, many of which manifest at conventions in the form of stalking and generally creepy behavior. Genevieve Valentine’s experience at Readercon is only one of the most recent and publicized examples. As I’ve discussed previously, “creepy” may not be the best term for these kinds of behaviors. For one thing, the word itself is vague, and can mean different things to different people. For another thing, the term can be used to indicate unwanted social or sexual attraction regardless of the other person’s intentions. Continue Reading →

Deconstructing Predatory Male Sexuality

So, that guy who was hitting on you in an unwanted way? Kinda creepy, right? Or not, as Clarisse Thorn would have it, in her post asking us to analyze the reasons for demonizing men who express their sexual needs. She asked us to think about what the word “creep” really means; why it’s such a terrible, stigmatizing act for a man to express his sexuality; and why it almost always comes across as predatory, or at best creepy or weird. Continue Reading →