Houston Press ran a fabulous essay that demolishes one of creepsters’ main defenses: that they’re awkward with women. After listing a bunch of first-person narratives by women who were groped, grossly propositioned, leered at, and otherwise abused, Jef Rouner writes:
This is not being “awkward.” Ross from Friends was awkward when he would flirt with girls by naming types of gas. This is being a creep and hoping that a combination of societal expectations and fear of escalation on the part of the person you’re creeping on will allow you to get away with it consequence-free.
It’s easy to hide this as the lasting repercussions of childhood bullying or frustrated romantic hang-ups from adolescence, but, sorry, that’s a cop-out. The “nerds are sexless losers who can’t get a date” was already an aging trope when I was growing up in the ’90s, and in a post-Matrix world where hackers are also ninjas and occasionally Jesus, this sort of idea doesn’t really fly. Geek went mainstream a long time ago. Calling yourself an otaku is not a get-out-of-all-social-responsibilities-free card.
Truth is this behavior is not a clumsy misunderstanding of how courtship and human interaction work. It’s the end by-product of years of ingesting rape culture telling you that touching women without their permission or assigning them as sex partners whether they’re interested or not is okay. You can choose to understand this, or you can choose to ignore it and pretend it isn’t there. However, do not be surprised if women avoid your company when you do the latter. It’s not because you’re awkward. It’s because you scare them….
Life is not a John Hughes flick, and there’s a reason why when most of us re-watch the “loser pursues the girl until she loves him” genre of film, we start to feel a little sick to our stomachs. Duckie Dale was a creep, Lloyd Dobler wasn’t much better, and if anyone acted like Randy from Valley Girl around my daughter, I would have that bastard under a restraining order.
Amen. Read the whole thing: it’s great.
Meanwhile, Laura Hilgers writes powerfully in the Times of the economic toll her daughter’s rape during her freshman year of college had on her family:
It would be impossible for me to describe in the space of a newspaper article the emotional toll this took on Willa and our family: the grief we felt that our child’s body (and soul) had been violated; the anger that we (and the college) could not protect her; the fear that our once spirited, ambitious daughter might never be more than a shell of herself. But I can offer, by way of illustration, a financial reckoning — collateral damage that demonstrates the devastation, and that rarely comes up in the national discussion on campus sexual assaults.
The financial burdens of an attack can be overwhelming. A 2014 White House report noted that the cost to survivors (of all types, not just college students) can range from $87,000 to $240,776 per rape. While the numbers are staggering, they seem abstract until your family is the one paying the bills. In our case, they were on the higher end of the range.
Then she breaks it down, the major categories being lost wages (parents and daughter, who is now 22 and starting her sophomore year—so about three years spent recovering), addiction treatment and rehab, lost tuition, therapy, and various unreimbursed medical expenses. She and her ex-husband–”writers not investment bankers,” she notes–paid by borrowing from family and their retirement funds; also using the proceeds of a house they sold.
We’re fortunate to have top-tier health insurance, which helped defray many of the costs. But this is still an extraordinary amount of money, and I often wonder how survivors from less privileged backgrounds recover from these attacks. It’s not a hypothetical question.
No it isn’t—and I’m sure the answer is devastating.