Throughout, I’ve conspicuously avoided what some of you think was the obvious solution all along: Why not just kick McCreepy out of the group? I’ve avoided it for a reason, and not just to keep trolls from saying I advocate beating up guys and dragging them down the street just because we heard a rumor that he’s terrible at flirting.
The truth is that it’s not easy to know how to act on all secondhand scenarios. Speaking as a woman, sometimes all we really want is for the guy to apologize, smarten up, and knock it the hell off. Like I said before, most guys would be absolutely horrified to know they’d ever frightened or hurt someone. They don’t want to ever think they could be seen as one of those guys. Realizing they were hits them as hard as getting slapped with a DUI and never drinking and driving again.
Multiple people reading this right now have in fact sent an accidental nude to somebody. Some non-rapist out there has initially mistaken a “no” for a coy joke because it was accompanied by a nervous giggle, and then felt sick to realize they almost pushed themselves on someone. Some people have no sense of when their jokes are going too far, or when their compulsive texting becomes harassment. Sometimes there’s a lot of gray area, and you can’t just purge every man and woman from society forever for their first offense. But creepers know this and take advantage of it.
It is very possible to tell the difference, if you pay close attention. It can be subtle! But this is how gaming communities, religious groups, sports teams, and workplaces change for the better — people notice the low level creepy shit and stop it before it escalates. If your friends start complaining that the new guy in the group is making them uncomfortable, watch him. Is he constantly making violent and demeaning rape jokes? Does he follow the girls around like a glue monster, making weird excuses for touching them or being alone with them?
If so, you can say stuff like “Haha, funny rape joke, bro, but if you actually dared lay a hand on an actual human being, I’d yank your sad piccolo off and shove it down your throat,” or “What are you doing hanging out by her car? Please tell me you’re not some creep, because I have my friends’ backs and won’t stand for that shit.” Or even “Hey, you know that non-harassment policy we got you to sign when you joined? We actually mean it.”
Seeing is power. When you see, you can call him out, stop laughing at his jokes until he gets some better material, and double-check that your female friends are okay being left alone with him. You can give him the choice between stepping up and proving he’s a decent human being or scattering like a slimy cockroach that’s just had the light shone on him. Either way, you’ll have actually helped save the day.
Mags writes books with dead people and kissing and likes meeting strangers on Twitter. Bring cookies.
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