In his most recent piece for The Atlantic, Hugo Schwyzer makes a case for using the word “creepy” to describe the unwanted advances of a guy. There’d been some backlash against the word, as slighted men argued that “creepy” is too subjective, and what makes someone’s advances either romantic or off-putting often depends entirely on factors that have nothing to do with creepiness: whether the man is attractive, whether the woman is already interested, etc.
But Schwyzer argues that it’s not only a woman’s right to be sexual, to choose what she finds attractive and what she doesn’t, but also to feel safe while doing so. “Creepy” doesn’t go on your permanent record, and it won’t affect your future employment, but if a woman doesn’t like how you’re coming onto her, it’s a label she should feel free to use.
“Enjoyment can’t be coerced. Congress can’t pass a law requiring people to be delighted by the advances of others they find unattractive. I can get my children to eat broccoli by alternating promises of rewards and punishments, but I cannot do anything to make my daughter love vegetables as much as she loves ice cream. Similarly, no law can compel “Ashley,” a barista at the local coffee shop, to feel the same way about the advances of an older co-worker whom she finds repellant as she does about those of the young hottie who joins her on the opening shift.”