Self-Compassion for the Creepster
Creepy, creepster, creeper, perv, starer, weirdo, sketchball, sketcher, sicko, sick monkey, degenerate, freak, freakboy, psycho, and stalker have all been words used to describe individuals with voyeuristic or predatory tendencies that stare, stand too close, or actually touch someone who is undesiring of these advances. For many of us, simply hearing one of these words is a trigger. Especially in the age of phone cameras, it is an all too common experience to have someone observe you without a wish for reciprocity or without giving permission.
For the longest time, I heard these stories told by women who have had men lurk around them at the bus stop, or in a store, at the bar, or even waiting in line for the bathroom. Seriously, can’t a woman attend to her biological needs without some stranger advocating for sex? I don’t know about you, but nothing quite takes me out of the mood as needing to use the bathroom. Can we invent the word, anti-aphrodisiac? If lurking were not bad enough, some of these men have said inappropriate, often sexual things and some have actually touched these women without their permission. One such person is known as the grinder, this social genius actually believes that a way to a woman’s heart is by sneaking behind them in a bar or club and grinding on them while the music is playing. This is not romantic, it is why mace, the taser, and a move my girlfriend calls “the groin punch” were invented. She actually uses a different word than “groin,” but you get the idea.
Recently, I have heard these stories from men as well. Most of their stories also involve being approached, spoken to, or even touched in ways that made them feel uncomfortable by other men, but some cited women too. For those who are wondering, both straight and gay men have made these reports. Unwanted advances are unwanted advances. They do not discriminate by sexuality, gender, or culture. For men, many of their stories take place at the, gym, the gym locker room, and at bars, and if you can believe it running of all activities. Excuse me sir, I see that you are out of breath, sweating, and did I mention running, but maybe you could spare some of your resources for an uncomfortable encounter? James Bond had a car outfitted with oil slick, smoke screen, and a jet pack like 50 years ago. Where is this technology now? You know for like a fanny pack. A little oil, smoke, and one jet pack button, and your day just went from creepy to dreamy!
The camera phone is kind of magic. It holds the ability to record wrongdoing and threaten potential victimizers with public transmission. In some cases, it has been used following a moment in which harm took place to gather support and perhaps justice for a transgression. However, the camera phone can also be used for harm. Since it is so widely accepted to record events, and place them on social networking sites such as Youtube and Facebook, many people feel they can record anything. This kind of entitlement means that folks who are just trying to workout at the gym, simply walk down the street, or enjoy a drink and festivities at their local watering hole are vulnerable to unapproved recording. Unapproved recording, in itself, feels creepy.
There are two ways to receive this information. First, creepiness or creepsterism is on the rise, which means that this kind of suffering is increasing. Second, and perhaps my preference, is that because more people are being affected by creepy actions, there are more reasons for all people to be invested in addressing and deterring future creepy interactions.
What can we do from a self-compassion perspective?
In the Moment
As is the case with any form of abuse, get that information out there. If you feel comfortable enough in the moment, say something then, whether you are the recipient or observer of creepy behavior. Excuse me sir or madam, could you please stop your really creepy behavior? Yikes, creep alert! Or the traditional but effective, Get away from me! Creepiness tends to be forceful aggression’s and sometimes genuine attraction’s insecure little brother. Because these actions are not backed by confidence but rather fear (of rejection), they are susceptible to giving way simply by being acknowledged.
By fear of rejection, I mean that confident people do not feel that they need to take something from an unwilling participant. They are having enough success getting their needs met by being authentic and openly interested. There is nothing confident about creepiness, it is simply a sad way of hiding every part of yourself that might be rejected if revealed with a distracting and aggressive word, posture, or behavior. Confident people don’t creep.
If you feel too uncomfortable to say something, literally mention it to anyone you can around you for support and also for your safety. Not feeling comfortable enough to speak out when we are being aggressed has nothing to do with weakness. It is the body’s and mind’s puzzled response to unsolicited, injurious attention. Sometimes your mind is simply flooded with so many options that it can’t choose one. Either way, because you are suffering, you deserve compassion and compassion in the face of an attack (any attack!) is to find safety and well being.
If you are unable to speak and cannot find anyone to support you, just get out of there. Getting away from someone causing you harm is not cowardice, it is intelligent. To live a good life we try to take on the least amount of harm and the most amount of well-being. Do you think our ancestors survived by showing the woolly mammoths they were not afraid? No way. They got the hell out of there, and those mammoths probably weren’t even thinking about sex. Having compassion for yourself means acknowledging that you will not always have the energy or disposition to fight. That is why there is flight and, of course, the rest of your human tribe. Friends and family of convenience are not much in the way of friends or family. We are grateful to be needed and to need you too. Its what solidifies and adds context to our relationship like a beautifully carved necklace. Unless you would prefer to just have a big piece of wood on a string, and then its like that.
Anything that you do to preserve your well being is action. Even choosing not to respond is an action that your mind has decided upon to keep some part of you safe. Your body and mind are both intelligent and powerful. They keep as much of you safe in the moment as possible, and continue to search for ways to keep you safe in the future. Be kind to them, it is natural to regret things you did not do in the moment. If you have the opportunity to regret them then it is clear that your body and mind have kept you safe, at least safe enough.
After the Moment has Passed
Once the creepy actions have passed, suffering is likely still present. Any kind of aggression tends to leave their tracks in our lived experience, and like undigested food or a quarter, we want to process it or pass it all together. For that, there is compassion. Find friends to support you. Organize a friend group for future adventures so that you feel safe when returning to the scene of the crime. Take time to do some traditional self-compassion practices like acknowledging the suffering; naming it; wishing yourself safety, kindness, self-acceptance, and ease; and of course giving yourself kindness. If you choose this practice, please do so at least initially with your eyes open.
Particularly traumatizing events can lead to rumination and some of the crueler parts of our imagination, if sought after with our eyes closed. Of course, this does not mean that you have to be afraid of sleep, but if you have scary dreams when you awake be extraordinarily kind to yourself. Do the self-compassion phrases, wrap yourself in a warm blanket or shower if you find yourself hot and sweaty. Make yourself a cup of tea or hot chocolate and watch something that simply makes you feel good and safe. The suffering you get will always be more than enough, you will never make it less by trying to overpower it or increase it.
When you have time, join groups that support each other around creepy events. Take self-defense classes. There is nothing wrong with taking action that helps you feel more at home and safe in your body. You owe it to no one to accept harm. Protecting your well being is being self-compassionate. Plus, who knows? You might just find that you enjoy that kind of physical activity and you might make some new friends. Kee-yah!
May you be safe. May you be free from creepsters. May you have the wisdom to not blame yourself if you are met with creepy actions. May you have the compassion to get yourself to safety, and give yourself kindness by advocating for support and engaging in self-compassion practices. Whatever harm befalls you, remember that who you are is such an intrinsic part of your experience that it cannot be poached or preyed upon. You will always be whole, and wise people will always root for your happiness and well-being.
365 Days of Kindness. Day 37. In the Books.