Earlier, there was a tweet that I retweeted and it crawled up under some skins —
That tweet was:
‘Always concerned when guys worry if their behavior at cons is “creepy.” When I go to a con, I just don’t do creepy things.’
As it’s Twitter, you have that 140-characters-has-to-carry-an-elephant’s-weight-of-meaning-and-history-and-context-and-time-and-place-and-space-and-inebriation-level.
That said, it’s a tweet I like and a tweet I agree with, but it requires one thing:
An understanding of the word creep, creepy, or creeper.
Those are words that are admittedly shortcode for something else these days — it references that very-bad-behavior by people at cons or in fandom wherein some folks (frequently men) feel it necessary to harass others (frequently women) in a mentally or emotionally or even physically threatening way.
It does not mean: awkward, or socially weird, or whatever. This is fandom. We are all in some way slightly goofy folks and we all have our foibles and of course you’re free to worry about whether or not you’re coming across right with other people. That’s normal! Totally fine! What’s not fine: sexism! Or racism! Or stalking people! Or whipping out your genitals and touching others with them! You might be saying, “Ho, ho, ho, Chuck, you so like to reference genitals in your blog post in a hyberbolic way,” except, no, no, this actually happened at PAX. This is a thing that keeps happening. And I want fandom to be safe! And inclusive! Because when it is, it’s totally rad.
This is not arguing from a place of privilege. Privilege is a wealthy white dude asking why that homeless guy doesn’t just “surf up a job on his iPad.” This is basic human contract stuff. This is Human Interaction 101 — no, you know what? This is entrance exam stuff. This is the test you should have to take before you get let out on the playground with all the other human beings.
Now, you might argue that saying something like, “Don’t be a total rapey-faced skeev-hound” is going to fall on deaf ears. One assumes I don’t have an eager audience of almost-rapists in the wings just waiting to find out which way the wind blows. I get that, and you’re right. Just the same, I wanted us all to be on the same page when we talk about creeps, creeping, and creepers.
It’s way beyond social awkwardness. If social awkwardness were a crime, cons would fail to occur in the first place. Hell, I’m always trying to put on a good impression — which is another way of saying, “I’m worrying about making a bad one.” Who isn’t? We’re all humans. We all worry about how we come across.
So, back to the original tweet:
Stop worrying about being a horrible person and, y’know, actively work on not being a horrible person.