How do you out-creep a total creepster? It’s a question for the ages, and one that writer Chris Brecheen had often pondered. For years, Brecheen listened to his female friends complain about getting unwanted attention by men on public transportation. No matter what they did — wear headphones, keep their heads down, ignore them –– men would continue to harass them on the subway. In a post on his blog last week, Brecheen addressed the all-too familiar story:
It is the narrative of how men hit on women in public places. A tired old story if ever there were one. A story where consent is not a character we actually ever meet, and where the real antagonist is not a person, but rather the way she has been socialized to be polite, to be civil, to not be “such a bitch”. … no matter how much of a Douchasauras Rex HE is being about not picking up the subtle clues.
On a recent subway ride, Brecheen, who lives in San Francisco, witnessed yet another creepster bothering a woman on the train. Despite an empty train car, the headphones she wore and the book she was reading, the man began pestering her with questions:
He waited until the train was in motion to make his move–a true sign of someone who knows how to make the environment work to their advantage. Then he leaned forward. ”Hi.” ”How you doing?” ”What are you reading?” ”What’s your name?” “I really like your hair.” “That’s a really nice skirt.” ”You must work out.”
When that failed to elicit the preferred response, he fell back on a favorite old chestnut for creeper dudes everywhere:”Hey, I’m just asking you a question. You don’t have to be so rude.”
And that’s when Brecheen sprang to act. He moved to a seat directly behind Number One Creeper and began going through a litany of unwanted questions. “I like your hair … it looks soft,” he said, which put the man on the defensive. “Wait, don’t be like that,” he went on. ”Lemmie just ask you one question … What’s your name?” To which the man responded: “DUDE, I’M NOT GAY.”
“Oh well,” responded Brecheen. “I could see not being interested didn’t matter to you when you were hitting on her, so I just thought that’s how you rolled.” Whether he was embarrassed or irritated, it did the trick. The creep left the woman alone for the remainder of her subway ride.
Subway creepers, just like most other creepers, go through much of life with their behavior completely unchecked. That’s because most women would rather do whatever they can to diffuse, rather than possibly escalate the situation. The threat of possible physical or sexual violence is not far from our minds, ever, in these scenarios. And that’s why what Breheen did is important. We don’t need men to come to our aid, per se, but it helps to reinforce the idea that their behavior is not acceptable. These creepy guys need to know that everyone is watching their behavior. And that’s going to take other men putting them on blast for being creeps as much as women do. [Chris Brecheen]
[Subway image courtesy Stephen Bures/Shutterstock]