Can We Stop Calling Guys “Creepy?”


I think calling guys creepy is the female version of dudes calling girls “crazy.” Everyone knows that when a guy talks about his “crazy ex girlfriend,” what is he is really saying is that he lost interest/slept with her sister and then got mad when he had to deal with the reasonable consequences of his actions. Girls who call guys “creepy” are girls who solicit attention they have no intention of returning so that they can complain about it and feel better about themselves.

As a woman, it is very easy for things to shift suddenly into an unsafe territory. Feeling scared is, unfortunately, an appropriate reaction to situations that happen in everyday dating (or otherwise) life. But I want us to start making a differentiation between a man doing a creepy thing, and us feeling creeped out by it.

I think I really offended this guy by asking where the “least rape-y” area of his lake house was that I could sleep when my girlfriend and I crashed there after a party. In my defense, his friend had fondled me at least three times that night while i awkwardly laughed and pushed him off (who does that?) but I immediately felt badly, because that’s a really disrespectful thing to imply about a guy and all his closest friends.

What was wrong about that situation is that that dude’s friend was awful, and we all laughed it off because he was drunk, but it was gross — and was a situation in which I was appropriately concerned about what could happen later on if there were less people around to make a joke out of it. How do you express that feeling in the middle of a party? If I told someone I felt creeped out, I feel like the word would have been somewhat meaningless to them, as it’s often used in such a misappropriated, banal way. A guy can do something that is defined as “sweet” if you are interested in him and “stalker behavior” if you aren’t. It might be an honest mistake, or it might be someone who won’t take no for an answer — but it doesn’t convey feeling unsafe, really.

As much as it is a part of my culture, I don’t want to think about dudes as inherently creepy. Think about the meme blog OKC Enemies. There are legitimately creepy guys on it, sure, but there are also a lot of guys who are labeled “creepy” just because they happen to be really unattractive. That’s gross. I’d like my intuition to perk up when it’s supposed to, not just because someone I’m not interested in is talking to me. There’s an expression you should use when discussing the latter: “We should all be so lucky.” And that is miles away from creepy. TC mark


image – Cuba Gallery


More From Thought Catalog

  • Only L<3Ve @

    […] Thought Catalog » Life Add a comment […]

  • Nicole

    I’ll stop calling guys creepy when they stop being creepy.

    • Kelsey Higham

      “I’ll stop calling [girls] [crazy] when they stop being [crazy].”

      • Guest

        Fair enough

  • Mel

    “Girls who call guys “creepy” are girls who solicit attention they have no intention of returning so that they can complain about it and feel better about themselves”.

    Are you kidding me??????? You should be kicked out of womanhood.

    • jessucka

      uh, some women actually do this. “omg he asked me on a date and got me flowers HOW CREEPY.” this is hyperbolic, and goes on to inflate the said woman’s ego.

      this is not to say that some men AREN’T creepy (oh hi phallus on the train, rape eyes, cat calls), but women need to use the word more prudently, lest we become “the girls who cried creepy”.

      • nathaliew817

        Excuse me?! when I’m reading a book/talking to my friends/doing whatevs on the train/the terrace/anywhere public and some old/young/meh dude is staring all the time at me or one of my friends, even after whe gave him the evil eye, I think that qualifies as creepy.

      • P. Stevens


  • slp

    Shit is getting old, TC.

  • Liz

    When guys stop acting creepy, I’ll stop calling them creepy. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I only see creepy being used when it’s appropriately used to describe creepy behavior – like what that handsy guy was doing to you. Calling a woman crazy invalidates her emotions. Calling a guy creepy is a judgement call based on his actions and personal boundaries.

    • Darren

      Did you even read the entire article? She addressed this.

      “What was wrong about that situation is that that dude’s friend was awful, and we all laughed it off because he was drunk, but it was gross — and was a situation in which I was appropriately concerned about what could happen later on if there were less people around to make a joke out of it. ”

      People that are touching you inappropriately *ARE* being creepy! She’s agreeing with you. She’s saying women shouldn’t call men creepy just because they’re hitting on you (in an appropriate manner) and you don’t find them attractive.

  • Alexis Carole

    For what its worth, I’m a girl and I agree with you.

    There’s a difference between someone checking you out/being interested, and someone who is aggressive, overwhelming, or relentless with his advances. One is creepy, the other is normal. Overusing the word takes away meaning from it. I think you summed it up well.

    • Darren

      Thank you for clarifying, Alexis! It seems many of the female posters here are interpreting the article as “Don’t call a creepy guy out for his actions” when she is really saying exactly what you wrote.

      Great summary.

      • Emily

        I see that was her intention, but the way she wrote the piece, it wasn’t communicated effectively.

  • Darren

    Great article! I was mentally nodding my head the entire way through.

    I hate when I say something innocent amongst my co-ed group of friends and one of the girls responds with a “creeeee-peee” in that annoying drawn-out sort of way. No, it wasn’t creepy. It may have been silly or unfunny, but it wasn’t anything that would condemn me to the level of pedophiles and date rapists.

    Thanks for this, Johanna.

  • Some Guy

    I thought this was a thoughtful essay about a reasonable point, and I’m glad a woman wrote it.

    • John Johnson

      I agree

  • Katherine

    this article is creepy.

  • Drew

    I wholeheartedly agree with this. Most of the over-privileged pretty girls I’m friends with will use the word “creepy” to describe someone they do not find attractive but actually has the balls to hit on them; as if they are too good for the attention from someone so “out of my league.” This human will be the topic of conversation, as they secretly and desperately hope that they continue to get this attention just to feel the self-gratifying feeling of turning someone down and feeling desirable. In most cases, these boys are not, in fact, creepy. They are just not on the physical standards that these women are used to being associated with.

    Don’t get me wrong, there are creepy men, but a lot of women use the term to make themselves feel better about turning down a man, that actually have the confidence to talk to them, because they aren’t attractive enough. By seemingly protecting themselves from harm, rape, stalking, etc. they are also protecting themselves from the guilt of their own shallow standards.

    You may think that just because I am a man, I do not have an appropriate opinion. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t valid.

    • Melinda

      Guys who are acting legitimately creepy often feel that the women who feel that way are over privileged and stuck up. I’m sorry I’m not a bitch if I think you are being a creep for getting in my personal space. I feel a lot of the “nice guys” I’ve met have assumed that I was stuck up because I didn’t want them crossing my boundary’s. And joking about how much you would pay to have sex with me is crossing my boundarys. I think it is shocking how often men don’t realize when they are crossing the line from being aggressively flirtatious to creep.

      I agree sometimes its misused, but I don’t think a majority of the time it is. And I think that pretending women use it as an attack is stupid. Its another to disregard the culture we have built in the US.

      • Dogmudgeon

        That depends on your boundaries. It’s possible to have inappropriate personal boundaries, and enforce them with arrogance or entitlement (acting “stuck-up”).

        You sound as though you’ve run into some spectacularly rude fellows. It may help to keep in mind that once those boys grow a conscience, it will bite them in the ass every time they look in the mirror … or at their wife … or sons … or (especially) their daughters. I personally have never made many “creepy” gaffes, and they have inevitably been made out of stupidity rather than malice, but I remember and regret them all. (One of my worst was a remark I made while coming out of anesthetic. I have a perfectly good Excuse; I’m still ashamed.)

        Any man — or woman — who isn’t a stone-cold sociopath will have a similar reaction to their social disasters.

        Such criticisms apply to everyone. The only differences are in culture and style.

  • pampams0009

    I think some people missed the point of this article… she’s saying that labeling guys creepy is overdone and loses it’s effect so when a guy is actually been seriously creepy (like the jerk at the party) her calling him creepy doesn’t have the effect it should. As a woman, I agree with her I do think we call men creepy too much even when they aren’t really being creepy but are just interested in us.

  • Len Yeh

    Better question: when can I stop calling myself creepy?

  • Katie

    That ok cupid enemies blog is really depressing.

  • Nik

    What people find “creepy” is subjective. I witnessed an older gentleman make inappropriate gestures at a school age girl the other day. He wasn’t necessarily being aggressive but his actions, to me anyway, would justify calling him a creep. I’ve also had men look me up and down in the street in the middle of the day while I was dressed fairly conservatively. I think women (and anyone, really) have the right to be in a public setting without being made to feel uncomfortable or wary of their surroundings. I can understand what you’re getting at and I don’t think men should be judged so harshly if they’ve done nothing wrong but labelling people who feel uncomfortable by the male gaze or certain actions is really disheartening. Especially coming from another woman. That being said, maybe you should stop referring to things as “rape-y” unless you’re actually talking about rape.

    • shannon


  • macktruk

    If a woman calls a man creepy, It’s 90% of the time just a man who shows interest in a woman that doesn’t find him attractive.. (he’s CREEPY) .. And unfortunately that gets tied into images of rapists / perverts / and child molesters..(who are more along the lines of SCARY).. it has a pretty profound domino effect of social exclusion. My heart goes out to the socially awkward men out there that probably endure this label 100 times before finding a partner.. and end up equating their own normal sexual feelings with “creepiness”.. Bring on the therapy!!

  • LDiggitty

    I promise to stop calling dudes creepy when they stop being all creepy (aka, acting like pervs and staring at my tits).

  • shannon

    shaking with rage.

  • shannon

    no. no no no. no. no. no. no. everything about this is awful.

  • shannon

    ‘creepy’ is a term that (in my experience) is used when a guy makes a girl feel uncomfortable, and usually this is because of a lack of respect for boundaries with women.

    ‘crazy’ is usually (again, in my experience and in what I’ve read on this) attached to ‘chick’ or ‘ex-girlfriend’ or whatever when a woman dares to react with real, unpleasant human emotions.

    godfucking damnit.


    • Matt Decuir

      Might want to read this article and take a look at number 7:

    • Sylvia

      dude, maybe you’ve had different circumstances and different friends, but trust me, this happens. ive felt myself doing it when I know things weren’t actually that uncomfortable, and ive certainly seen others do it too. its nice to see you live in such an honest world.

  • Robert Wohner

    Is it possible that many women use “creep” as a way to coverup their own inability to respond to a stranger who has initiated conversation? I imagine it’d be more ideal if every guy that approached you in a coffeeshop was Joseph Gordon Levitt’s younger brother but that’s fantasy. Men of all varieties reasonably could want to try to know you. It’s possible to respectfully communicate a lack of interest but do so in a way that is considerate and not smugly self-satisfying. Instantly whipping out a creep-o-meter doesn’t create a culture where strangers feel comfortable taking a chance on getting to know someone. Which could be why cities like New York are filled with single, educated, interesting people but no one wants to make a move. Obviously, no one is advocating not calling out criminal behavior or harassment. But calling someone a “creep” is almost entirely unproductive.

    • jil

      I agree that there are those people who genuinely try and get to know which is great and all! But I have two problems here, one – I commute upwards of 3+ hours daily on public transit & at night, honestly no offense to anyone but I genuinely fear for my safety so when random guys pull their one liners – sorta creepy. second- what is the polite way to turn down such offer of interest? I have tried the ‘no, i’m not interested’ and yet they still try. Even if I try ‘oh, I’m taken’ the typical response is then ‘dw so am i’…see my point here? It’s hard to be nice to strangers when 90% of them actually do end up being creeps.

    • Katy

      Refer to Shannon’s comment above ^^^

    • Katy

      Wait, not Shannon. I meant Nik’s comment!

  • Tnpb7d

    Creepers exist and I use the word it is a way to express my discomfort to my friends and warn other female friends that my gut is telling me this guy can’t be trusted. Because we don’t just toss the word around, we take the situation seriously when someone expresses their creeped out feelings. Instead of expressing your frustrations about the over-use of the word to the anonymous internet, perhaps you should sit your social group down and have this discussion with them. And please include the word rapey in this discussion.

  • Jess Hurst

    Some guys are legitimately creepy, but that is precisely WHY we shouldn’t let the word be watered down by using it when a man is merely A) unattractive to us and B) interested in us. I believe that is what the author was saying.

  • Louanne

    So I should stop calling the guy that lurks in my alley outside my garage with a cigarette and a party hat creepy?

  • Madeline

    I understand the nuances of your argument (the word creepy should be not indiscriminately overused, no), but like most of the commenters, I am generally taken aback by this article. The paragraph that is most concerning to me:

    “I think I really offended this guy by asking where the “least rape-y” area of his lake house was that I could sleep when my girlfriend and I crashed there after a party. In my defense, his friend had fondled me at least three times that night while i awkwardly laughed and pushed him off (who does that?) but I immediately felt badly, because that’s a really disrespectful thing to imply about a guy and all his closest friends.”

    Why are you apologizing for being sexually assaulted in someone’s home? Don’t we want men to recognize and stand against dangerous/inappropriate/micro-aggressive behavior? I think so. You shouldn’t have to apologize to someone who should have been just as disgusted and taken aback as you and other women. If he doesn’t want his house to be labeled as “rapey” then he shouldn’t condone “rapey” behavior.

    Jezebel published a really interesting article on the word creepy and men’s discomfort with it that foils your argument well. The last paragraphs summarizes the rest of the piece well:

    “Though the word may be occasionally used unfairly (for example, to describe a physically unattractive guy’s genuinely respectful attempt at striking up a conversation), “creepy” serves a vital function. No other word is as effective as describing when a man has crossed a woman’s boundary; no other word forces a man to reflect on how his behavior makes other people feel. A guy can disprove accusations of being weak by displaying strength (often in foolish ways.) But a guy can only disprove the charge of creepiness by fundamentally altering his behavior to be more genuinely respectful of women.

    This, of course, is why some guys hate the word so much; it forces men to reflect carefully about how they make women feel. No wonder then that so many guys are campaigning against “creep-shaming.” After all, the sooner the term becomes socially unacceptable, the sooner men can get back to not having to think about women’s boundaries.”

    Of course, as with the use of any word, we should be careful with how it is used, but please don’t encourage women to turn off their intuition towards this type of behavior.

    • Emily

      This exactly. And fuck anyone who tries to invalidate my feeling uncomfortable. I guess some guys can’t fathom that their behavior might be construed as creepy or aggressive. Grow the fuck up.

      • creep

        girl, you crazy.

      • Quincy

        Uhm no Emily. In your own words, fuck that. As a gay black male, I don’t agree with this line of reasoning one bit. This is the sort of thinking that leads one down a very slippery slope.

        You know what types of people usually promote this style of thinking?…you know, the idea that your ‘gut intuition’, or your ‘feeling of discomfort’ is the most fail-safe method of appraising people? Racists for one. Homophobes for another…

        They use their ‘intuition’ to form some highly illogical and damaging assumptions, just like one may do in assuming many men are creeps. That’s highly offensive and inaccurate.

        What the article is trying to say is that this flawed intuition is akin to baseless and/or exaggerated slander. The term ‘creepy’ is overused, and because of this its true effectiveness has been at best, diluted, and at worst, totally confused.

        The Jezebel article says, “Though the term may be occasionally used unfairly…etc”. That’s an understatement and a convenient oversight. How about “often used unfairly”, more realistically? For the record, the use of the word “creepy” in situations where it truly is applicable makes sense to me. In fact, it’s vital. However, too often I’ve heard it being bandied around in less-than-applicable circumstances (i.e. guy who doesn’t meet her standards, genuinely interested in making respectable conversation only, gets labeled the creep…far more often than one would like to think these days).

        You know who bases their decisions on ill-informed, reactive (and sometimes naively selfish) emotions? Children. Difference is, you’re an adult with the ability to pass judgement and fly high on the power trip of the label train. Maybe you’re a little bit of both.

        Either way, grow up.

    • Sylvia

      man, the article actually says that we should use our intuition. its not telling you to turn it off. its just telling you to be careful about how it’s used. and you know what? you shouldnt feel that creeped out if a guy checks you out. yes, theres boundaries, but you check out hot guys, so guys can check out/ask you out, too. label the ones who start inappropriately touching you or saying inappropriate things as creepy, leave the rest alone.

      • Sara

        “you shouldn’t feel creeped out if a guy checks you out”???

        Who says? Are you the opinion police?

  • Madeline

    here is a link to the jezebel article, please read:

    • macktruk

      I just played a fun game with that article-

      Within that article, replace the word “man” with “woman”, then “creep” with “cunt” ..

      And then imagined Jezebelle throwing one hell of a shit-fit about it… gotta love your double standards.

      nobody wins a gender war.

      • Emily

        you are completely missing the point

blog comments powered by Disqus