“Please Don’t be Creepy!”
This request, together with a profile pic of an attractive young man, was all there was to the Grindr profile...
It got me thinking about all the things that I might say or do to others that could creep them out.
The #MeToo campaign has highlighted the shocking extent of unacknowledged sexual abuse in the form of implicit casting couch imperatives for career advancement in the entertainment industry. There is also, now, an ever growing recognition of the high prevalence of workplace based sexual harassment in general.
Since sexual creepiness has been an integrally endemic background feature of my culture, the chances are, I’ve got some blind spots and it therefore behoves me to examine the extent to which creepiness has crept into me!
With this in mind I took the question “How might I be creepy?” to a week-long Faerie retreat. One of the glorious aspects of Faerie community is its queer diversity in terms of shapes, sizes, ages, genders, races, and sexualities. So I began to explore, privileged as I am, with elder, white, middle class, apparently-cis-male, predominantly homophilic status, how that capital might possibly be being unconsciously exploited in the pursuit of my erotic interests.
Faeries often tend to be seekers from a broad set of spiritual backgrounds. Newcomers to Faerie-space are particularly vulnerable, often, having rejected a rejecting and sex-negative Abrahamic belief system- possibly exploring for the first time a more earth-based and sex-positive framework.
So here’s what I came up with after a week of enquiry and meditation…
- The essence of creepiness is a mismatch between professed and actual intention. If I were to present myself as someone who is available to give help, advice, and guidance on how best to negotiate Faerie-space whilst secretly lusting after, and planning on the sexual conquest of a newfound ‘apostle’ then I’m being as creepy as a creepy fingered masseur who has offered the service of a massage but who is, instead, covertly taking sexual pleasure from the tactile sensation from his wandering hands!
- Emotional authenticity with full transparency of intention is key to establishing creepy-free relationships.
- When there exists some kind of power gradient across a relationship regarding e.g. youthfulness, attractiveness, maturity, experience, wealth, etc., I need to give voice to what is there, and explicitly acknowledge the real possibility that this differential of capital may be open to emotional or sexual exploitation.
- Super-creepiness happens when sexual overtures are made and continue to be made in the absence of a receptive audience. It becomes abusive if it continues after it has been made clear that the sexual attention is unwanted.
- Once intentions have been made clear, and the potential for abuse across power gradients has been explored then clarity of consent is paramount. “How would you like me to enter into intimacy with you? How would you like to enter into intimacy with me?” If these questions can be answered with clarity and if the answers can be honoured fully then we’re likely to have moved into a creepy-free zone!