Creep shaming

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Arguably, the worst thing a woman can say to a man, short of false accusations of rape, battery, molestation or sexual harassment, is the word "creep."
—"John the Other"[1]

"Creep shaming" is a term used to defend against claims that certain actions/behaviors, often towards women and often sexual in nature, are "creepy" (unacceptable behavior). The term is derived from "slut shaming" and is used predominantly by men's rights activists and other denizens of the manosphere. The logic in the term's use is that the man in question is made to feel ashamed solely for being male rather than the specific context of how he has behaved, and that the women shaming him are saying that they don't want men to flirt with women at all. Needless to say, this is (almost always) bullshit, since the implication is ultimately that there are few/no acceptable restrictions on seeking sex.

What some call "creep shaming" is actually pointing out a variety of inappropriate behaviors, including, but not limited to: persistent and/or disrespectful sexual propositioning (including cold-propositioning),[note 1] assuming that women are seeking their attention, failing to read obvious body language that expresses a lack of interest on the part of the targeted woman, and failing to take "no" for an answer. It's revealing that whereas some women are reappropriating the term "slut", MRAs aren't lining up to "own" the designation of "creep".

Making women vulnerable[edit]

The "anti-creep shaming campaign" is about discouraging people from protecting themselves from harm. A person sometimes intuitively feels they are not safe with another, but is made to feel guilty about acting on this feeling. Astute readers may recognize that as a tactic often used by anyone seeking to emotionally manipulate another; i.e. abusive behavior.

[I]t's a really freaking dangerous idea to twist a woman's open, honest communication about her boundaries/expectations into ‘creep shaming' that victimizes men.
—Jessica Wakeman[2]

An example which had some impact in the blogosphere in 2012 occurred when blogger Jessica Wakeman posted an "open letter" about a bad dating experience which had culminated in her being called "mean and bitchy" as well as "crazy."[3] In the comments thread, one reader posted a lengthy comment very much taking the man's side and explaining his behaviour as a response to feeling "creep shamed."[4] Wakemen responded to this comment in her next blog, entitled "Why 'Creep Shaming' Is Total BS", again prompting hostile comments from MRA supporters.[2] Other bloggers picked up on this issue, exploring the phenomenon of creep shaming as well as connotations of the word "creep" itself.[5]

Who complains[edit]

According to the MRAs who coined the phrase, creep shaming is a weapon that people (feminists in particular) use to "persecute" men, and an example of female "privilege."

An example of this worldview can be seen in this comment posted on Reddit in 2011, which has since become a popular talking point in both MRA and feminist circles:

Creep shaming is probably one of the most insidious and anti-equality things you can do. The ability to label men as "creepy" is just one privilege that women enjoy, and a constant source of fear of ostracizing that all men must fear in our society.[6]

The people who like to throw the term around tend to be bitter misogynists with a near-total lack of self-awareness, and therefore avoid paying attention to the whole context of what "creepiness" is. The term 'creep' describes effectively when someone has overstepped someone else's boundaries and may make it hard to avoid reflecting on the impact of this behavior. A person can only stop being a creep by genuinely respecting others and their boundaries more.

Lucas Werner claimed that the word "creep" is analogous to racist and homophobic slurs, and that it is ageist because it is often applied to older men who pursue younger women.[7]

Some uses of the creep shaming meme also tie in with other common ideas among misogynists, such as a disdain for women having agency and the pick-up artist view that if your attempts at seducing a woman don't work, there must be something wrong with her and not you. These misogynists also appear to believe that a woman trying to avoid a man she considers a possible threat is worse than the prospect of a guy not being able to pursue a woman. The subtext is that these guys don't want to acknowledge that they may actually have some personality issues to work out before most women will show interest in them, so instead they attack women for, essentially, having standards and an instinct for self-preservation. It's essentially entitled NiceGuyism turned into a debating point.

People who complain about creep-shaming tend to make the common assumption that equality equals fairness. Equality in the dating sphere is a goal both men and women should work towards but fairness has nothing to do with how one feels about someone else and it is entirely a judgement call made by someone else.

Another common criticism by men is that there is no equivalent of "creep" that can be applied to a woman.[8] There are many adjectives and nouns that are used to describe similar behaviour in women, from "bunny boiler" and "stalker" to "needy", "clingy", and "desperate".

Relationship with slut shaming[edit]

Practitioners of slut shaming and the anti-creep-shaming crowd are making the same fundamental assumption about human sexuality. Both are essentially arguments from biological determinism. Slut shaming operates under the assumption that women are not supposed to be sexually active and/or have sexual desires. Some versions of decrying creep shaming are taking the related traditionalist argument, that the male sex drive is all-powerful and therefore it is inappropriate to criticize "creeps" for being slaves to their genitalia: a concept which might itself be called creepy.

Creeps and flirting[edit]

There's a difference between "creepy" behaviour and flirting. The women who protest against actual creeps do not want to prevent men from ever trying to sexually or romantically pursue women, but draw awareness to the fact that there are respectful and appropriate ways of doing so.


The above aside, there exist legitimate disabilities out there, such as autism, that genuinely hamper social skills and social awareness by those who have the disorders in question and haven't yet learnt how to master social situations, so "creep shaming" may actually be somewhat, even if unintentionally, ableist on the part of those doing the "shaming." There is a caveat however in that disability and how it relates to supposed "creep shaming" is not something to use as a cudgel against feminists, though no doubt some rather disingenuous reactionary bigots will try.

See also[edit]


  1. In non-sexual situations; when you're at, say, SwingerCon 2016 this is probably part of the point.


  1. A Voice for Men, "Use of the Word “Creep” Demonstrates Female Privilege", John the Other, March 6, 2011.
  2. 2.0 2.1 The Frisky, "Why “Creep Shaming” Is Total BS" Jessica Wakeman, April 6, 2012.
  3. The Frisky, "An Open Letter To The Guy Who Called Me “Crazy”", Jessica Wakeman, April 6, 2012.
  4. Comment by ConfessionalID
  5. For example, see Olivia Davis, On “Creep” and “Creep-Shaming”., 25 April 2012.
  6. Comment by AntiBigots in a Reddit thread that is rich in butthurt.
  7. "Starbucks bans Lucas Werner". 
  8. Is there no such thing as a female creep?, Quora