To the Creeper We’ve All Encountered

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Dear Creepy Men Everywhere [Creepers],

I’ve had enough of you making me feel awkward just for existing as a female.

We met one of you at a baseball game on Saturday night. You picked up on my sister-in-law’s name and started saying, “Hey Bethany, do you know what the numbers on the scoreboard mean?” You started this conversation randomly, for we hadn’t even noticed you were sitting behind us. Your question wasn’t creepy, it was the fact that you referred to her by name, which you only knew from eavesdropping on our conversations.

This continued until you were saying things like, “come on girls, get up and dance,” between innings, although you remained in your seat. You wanted to see us dancing in our shorts and sleeveless shirts, just inches from your face in the stands. Your constant chattering and attempts to befriend us, made my husband feel so uncomfortable he encouraged us not to engage in conversation or go anywhere alone. That overly friendliness is how something darker, possibly illegal starts, isn’t it?

You asked how old my sister-in-law is and stated that it’s because of “girls like her” that he gets carded when buying a beer, because she just so happens to look 16 when she’s 21.

You made my husband feel obligated to converse with you, just so that you would leave his sister alone for a minute.

You made us contemplate switching seats, although we were sitting in the seats we paid for, behind home plate. We weren’t “asking for this behavior,” just going about our day.

You weren’t drunk or belligerent. You never touched us or followed us when we went for snacks. We couldn’t tell anyone that you were bothering us, because that’s all you were doing, nothing that could put you at risk of being asked to leave.

You made us want to change our behavior simply because your behavior was out of line. 

And you know what? We should have made you change your behavior, by bringing it to your attention and firmly asking you to stop. 

Just today, another one of you, an older male patient, greeted one of our female audiologist by asking, “Oh, are you the doctor? You’re a pretty doctor!”

UGH! This is not a compliment. It’s creepy. I happen to have a very handsome dentist, but that’s not how I greet him. Why? Because it’s rude, disrespectful, and inappropriate.

Why is the behavior somehow now allowable? Because we’ve let it go on.

The audiologist simply gave a weak smile to mask her how uncomfortable she was, a smile which you saw as encouragement.

At the medical practice I work, we routinely note in patient’s charts that they can only be scheduled with male providers because of the way patients are making females in the office feel because of inappropriate behavior (that includes comments, hugging, and trying to photos of females in the office).  Our hands are tied, as we cannot turn them away for care.

Most of my friends have been cat called on the street. I’ve had men make up pet names on the spot, to seem friendly, but a wink and a “Hey, “Sweet Cheeks,” is not acceptable while I pump gas, buy lunch, or work at my job that involves the public.

I was raised to always be polite, turn the other cheek, be seen and not heard, and not engage when someone did something I didn’t like, but I was also raised to be brave, and confident, and to respect myself.

It is this struggle that I believe allows for creepers to continue to creep women out all over the place. Girls are raised to be polite, accepting, and kind. But then once girls are adults, women don’t know how to respond when someone who could be our father is flirting with us, a guy we hardly know whats to hug us, or a random stranger thinks it’s okay to be a complete weirdo. These creepers expect us to go along with it, our blushing cheeks encouraging them.

I’ve been called sensitive, but I prefer hyper-aware. In the past I’ve ducked my head and tried to avoid any confrontation. No more. Instead, I’m calling people out for their behavior when I feel it’s out of line. This can be done in way that is not rude, but is firm.

Maybe I’ll come across as cold, but I have the right to feel safe and you do not have the right to harass me just because you think you can get away with it.

Creepers are gonna creep, but it’s time they stop getting away it.

Signed,

Kathryn, tired of being creeped out

MY TIPS:
– Don’t be afraid of being considered overly sensitive or rude. If you’re creeped out, listen to that feeling and trust your own instincts.

– Practice some brief but powerful statements like, “please leave me alone,” or “I don’t know you, stop talking to me.” You have power in these situations. Say something right away because you don’t have to sit there and take this behavior.

– If the situation is escalating, leave the situation, go to a crowded place, let someone, know, call the police if you feel the need.

– Stay in a group when you can and don’t let anyone know you are alone if you are indeed, alone.

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