The term “creep” has major issues. Foremost among them, a word that subjective can’t be as lethal as it is. The same adjective applied to an awkward teenager should not be used for a child molester. Many women do not consider the character of Christian Grey to be creepy but a guy talking to them that they find unattractive and misread as flirting with them they are liable to describe as creepy. It’s nebulous and often used for convienence. I would argue, as I have argued on this blog before, that terms be defined according to semantic consequentialism. That is, since words are conveyors of information, they should be defined based on how they convey information. In the case of the term “creep”, is there a real red flag or are they just, for example, beneath your league? In an era of internet shaming, words can “telephone” into a warped meaning so I would suggest that terms used to describe sex offenders be used sparingly. The biggest conspiracy theory in America is Q-Anon, a conspiracy theory based on paranoia of child sex abuse, so the word “creep” is dangerous to use loosely.
In the article on this blog, “Flirting on the Spectrum”, that is a fear I describe. When discussing dating culture, the common topics are red flags, boundaries, sexual assault, gaslighting, and similiar things. It is a fucking horror movie. There is no romance. There is no happiness. There is just DEFCON ONE. Which is not to say that there is no reason to fear but they aren’t terribly comporting with the science on who and what is dangerous and not because they’re not using foresnic psychology but pop culture and stereotypes. I remember slutwalk, an anti-rape campaign, a few years back. It was apparent that they believed rape culture was best described by Marxist conflict theory and that the patriarchial society covered-up rapes to reinforce their dominance over women and that the few who were arrested were basically a limited hangout. To which I would say “Hanlon’s Razor: Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity” The dangers faced by women are more lizard-brained and horny (literally and metaphorically) than maniacially contrived but the world of stereotypes about creepiness counteracts Hanlon’s Razor.
Yet, if creepiness has an objective definition, and I would say it, more or less does, that it is not nearly as offensive to people as it would seem. The average woman may not argue that Christian Grey is a creep and if Sheldon from Big Bang Thoery were asking them out, they would label them a creep. Creepiness should be defined as degree of dominance, sexual sadism, possessive traits, non-romantic eroticism, and the like. Now, some women may not like that because it precludes demographics of men who they find attractive. It conveys, though, useful information about what men are more and less dangerous and creepiness will just have to become a personality trait they admit to wanting in a man. Someone beneath your league merely asking you out is not a creep while a man who wants to degrade and objectify you is a creep. If creepieness is a concept to have objectivity and to be useful in conveying red flags, anyone who wants Christian Grey will just have to honestly admit they want a creep.
It would also preclude people like subway masturbators but as gross as what they do is, it is mostly harmless. If it is not around children and if they don’t follow the people they masturbate to, it is a puke-inducing but ultimately victimless crime. My Burning Man, hippie social libertarian, sentiments preclude me from wanting them to even be prosecuted. If they pose no threat to anyone, I think they should be condemned and discouraged but I am unwilling to afford them the status of sex offender or to treat them as such. It is my view on incest between consenting adults. I may not support it but I don’t support using the state monopoly on violence against it nor do I want to eviscerate them in an internet mob or something. We already have words like gross and disgusting. Creep is a word with the associations of child abuse and if used outside of that context, should be employed according to the gravity of its worst associations.
The word creep has gone the way of Wicca. Wicca used to have suffeciently narrow meanings and borders. Yet, they felt it too constraining to tell people they were heretics or even apostates. That’s, apparently, what the mean big religions do. So, they elected to abscond all doctrine and theology in favor of absolute pluralism. If someone calls themselves a Wiccan, now, it conveys little more than vague information on the person’s likely politics and subculture. Creep is a word applied to anyone a woman finds unappealing and has lost much of its use as a word. Because of its associations, like Wicca, creepiness may strike fear or disgust in people, but, like Wicca, it is too nebulous to mean anything. A Wiccan could be an OG Wiccan from the 1950s, a polytheist who sacrifices effigy dolls with a dagger or they could be an atheist who meditates to get closer to nature. A creep could be a guy who is awkward at flirting or a child molester.