A lot of men (and probably other genders, but mostly men) like to creepily hit on people (usually women) in contexts in which it’s not ok to hit on people. (Eg: on the subway).
Girls start experiencing this before they’re considered old enough for sex ed.
Creepy men regularly do this in a way that’s slightly deniable.
Like sitting way too close. Or asking an almost innocuous thing. And it feels really horrible to be on the receiving end, but it can be hard to put your finger on why. And if you object, the man who started it will try as hard as he can to say you’re being unreasonable. Often, bystanders or people you tell afterwards will empathically agree and tell you he was just being friendly and that didn’t have to be rude.
This is not your fault. It’s not your fault that creepy guys are awful to you, and it’s not your fault that people punish you for refusing to cooperate with their creepy actions.
There is usually no polite way to object. Because they manipulate the rules of politeness so that you have to be rude to say no.
It’s ok to be rude in that situation.
Being in that situation doesn’t mean you’re a rude inconsiderate person. It means you’re asserting an important boundary in the only available way.
Most of these guys know exactly what they are doing. It’s not innocent awkwardness. It’s a different thing. It’s doing something they know they can probably get away with denying that they’ve done.
(People do sometimes do this kind of thing by mistake, too. But it’s not ok then either. And most people who do this, know damn well what they’re doing.)
I used to have to ride the bus a lot. I lived 30 kilometres from the city, so going to and fro from school, work, and social activities involved public transit. These busses were often at night, often the last one offered (around midnight), and involved driving along the highway/the middle of nowhere for long stretches.
There was a certain type of asshole who understood that.
It would come in different forms. Sometimes looks, sometimes sitting next to you when the bus was full of free seats, and sometimes just straight-up sexual forwardness. They knew you were STUCK on that bus, that you had no option. You couldn’t just get off a bus in the middle of a fucking highway at night.
Yeah, they knew what they were doing.
It’s a power thing. And if someone is making you feel uncomfortable you don’t have to take it… although I understand that it can be incredibly difficult to speak up sometimes. It can literally be a frightening thing. Is this going to provoke them? And of course, if it does, there will be people who blame you. ANGER.
I won’t even get started on my last job and the fact that people (especially middle aged men) just sort of.. randomly touched me a lot? Because I was wearing a name tag and apparently stripped of my humanity because of it? :I
Dunno, but I feel that there’s a big difference between a person who innocently/politely tells me that I look nice as we cross paths and a person who tries to exploit a power dynamic. I think there is a way to compliment (and even flirt!) with someone without making them feel, you know, unsafe.
Bottom line: tell assholes to fuck off.
I’ve heard that the best solution is to say, point blank, “stop being creepy” or “you are a creep” or some other variation. Straight out call them creepy, out loud, to their face, preferably around other people is the point. Being called creepy is the “lose” condition in this little game of theirs. By making it rude to outright say no, they convert your reticence from a sheer wall that says “do not pass” to a rocky, climbable cliff that says “you’re just not trying hard enough,” and if they still fail after all their persistence it’s because you’re a frigid bitch who doesn’t know how to take a compliment. But if you announce to the world how utterly creepy they are, they have to back off, because now everyone’s watching them and scrutinizing them for evidence that this might be true. I’m not sure what the psychology is that no one really cares that he’s being creepy until someone says it out loud, I just know it has a fairly solid success rate.