Repost: I think that one thing that men, who don’t consider themselves actively creepy men, can find it hard to get their heads around, is that they can still benefit from other men’s creepiness. But we can, and we do, and we continue to, unless we work at it. Here’s an example: let’s say that a lifetime of experience with creepy men has taught a woman that she will get an aggressive reaction if she rejects a man’s advances. A man might think that it’s enough that he himself has never been aggressive when facing rejection, but it’s not. In the context of other men’s aggression, and the power imbalance between genders, a certain amount of work is required of men to make it clear that it’s safe for a woman, or non-binary person, to turn us down. If a person cannot be confident of their safety in saying “no”, what can their “yes” really mean? (A lot of what’s written here assumes attraction to women and/or non binary folk. I’m mindful of that, and I hope that you can read in some of the ways that this might be different for men who are exclusively attracted to men.)
It’s useful to imagine what the world might look like if women, and non-binary folk, felt safe in the presence of men. How might the politics of sex, romance, and public space look different in that world? Imagine a world in which women, and non-binary folk, could safely go to bars on their own, bars free of the normalisation of groping and harassment, and they could go without male companions, or pretending they have boyfriends, could walk home from those bars on their own whenever they pleased, could go back to men’s places and rely on being able to consent, free from pressure, threat or coercion, and withdraw that consent, or communicate boundaries, at any point. Imagine a world in which sex, and romance, scripts weren’t heavily shaped by the threat of male sexual violence. I worry that a lot of men, who don’t consider themselves actively creepy men, might still prefer the world that we live in right now. I worry that these men recognise that a world like that imagined utopia might possibly be a world in which they get laid less. And I think that’s something men need to face head-on.