Taking No For an Answer

One of the things I have heard men say innumerable times over the years is that the only difference between a creeper and a regular guy is whether the woman calling the bloke a creeper finds him attractive or not.

I can’t speak for all women—well, okay, I could but that would be ridiculous cause last time I looked I was only one woman—a woman who has had the odd pass made at her, er, I mean me, over the years. And, you know what? The ones who take no for an answer? Not creepy. The ones who keep pursuing me, staring at me, talking to me when I’ve made it clear I don’t want to talk to them, the ones who call me a bitch behind my back while still pursuing me? The ones who follow me home?

Creepers.

Women have made passes but they’ve never engaged in creeper behaviour. When I said I was not interested that was the end of it. Now, that’s just my experience. I know there are women creepers out there, too, just not in any where near the same kinds of numbers. For one thing most women are much better socialised at taking no for an answer.

Let me repeat: what’s creepy is not that someone I’m not attracted to is attracted to me. That’s just life. It’s been the other way round often enough. Most of us have suffered from unrequited love/lust. It’s awful, but we all get over it, and move on to people who requite our feelings.

That’s not the creepy part. The creepy part is when the person who is attracted to you won’t take no for an answer.

Think of Pride and Prejudice and Mr Collins’ proposal to Lizzy. He doesn’t give a damn what she thinks or what she says. He wants what he wants. He’s appalling. Everything he says is about him not his object of desire.1 He doesn’t care about Lizzy. He can’t even see who Lizzy is. He repeatedly does not take no for an answer. It doesn’t fit with his narrative so it doesn’t compute.

That’s how I feel when some bloke won’t take my no for their answer. Like Mr Collins they can’t see me as an actual sentient human being with thoughts and feelings and desires of my own. They don’t care what I want. They only care about getting what they want.

So. Not. Sexy.

Also having to explain to a grown human being that they can’t always have what they desire? That just because they like someone doesn’t mean that someone is going to like them? Seriously? Aren’t we all supposed to understand that by the time we’re, like, three?

I would like to eat mangosteens every single day but I have learned to accept the fact that they are not in season every single day. That even when they are in season sometimes the weather means the crops are inadequate or destroyed. Sucks. And is clearly a major design flaw with how the world is. But, you know, that’s life. Full of disappointment.

Other things I want but cannot have: a sphynx cat,2, to be taller, to play WNBA-level basketball, everyone in the universe to read my books, world peace, a pony.3

In conclusion: Um, I forget. For some reason I have this overwhelming craving for a mangosteen . . .

  1. No matter how lukewarm that desire is. []
  2. We travel too much to have pets. []
  3. Oh, wait. I don’t want a pony. It’s John Scalzi who’s always going on about wanting a pony. []

7 comments

  1. Sean the Bookonaut on #

    Is that the Colin Firth/Jennifer Ehle version, because David Bamber is the personification of creepy.

  2. Justine on #

    Sean the Bookonaut: Good grief. I’m talking about the book. You know, the one published in the 1800s written by Jane Austen. Mr Collins is the personification of creepy IN THE BOOK.

    Stupid tv/movie adaptations. *shakes fist*

  3. Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little on #

    Wow. Coincidence.

    So, I’m at WorldCon, which has just officially ended, and I went right from the closing ceremonies to the “dead dog filk” party — sing until they kick us out of the room, sort of thing — and I was having a great time until the dude with the bodhran broke out the song which, now that I’ve looked it up, appears to be called “The Two Magicians.”

    It’s about the lusty blacksmith who gloats that he will have the fair lady’s maidenhead, would she or no, and then he chases her up and down the landscape in different forms, and then he catches her, and that’ll teach her not to be such a stuck-up b$tc#, won’t it?

    And a good part of the room — many of these people who were in righteous anger over the sexual harassment incident at ReaderCon! — all sang along happily and cheered when it was over. And I left and ran away to my hotel room, because it’s scary being surrounded by people who seem to consider a rapist a hero as long as the story’s dressed up in folk music.

    I’ve stopped shaking by now, but I still am not feeling particularly comfortable around random people wearing con badges, so I’m still hanging around in my room (and on the internet).

    It’s bad enough that so many men won’t take “no” for an answer. Why do we still cast such men as heroes and cheer on their conquests?

    Argh.

    So thank you for your post – it was exactly what I needed to read right now.

  4. Justine on #

    Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little: That song. Ugh. One of my favourite songs when I was fourteen was the Rolling Stones’ “Stray Cat Blues.” I listened to it again recently and ugh beyond ugh. Creepy full-grown man singing about a girl younger than the age of consent in the most creepy way possible. It made my skin crawl.

    The big problem is that popular culture is riddled with such songs, books, films—everything really. It’s no mystery why so many men don’t get that no means no when popular culture is schooling them on the exact opposite. When some of the most popular songs/books/movies of all time portray stalking as romantic. Aaarghh!

    Okay, so that wasn’t very positive. Um, at least there are more and more people questioning those dominant and very repellent tropes. There’s more and more art that does not glamorise stalking or rape.

    That’s all I got.

  5. Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little on #

    What can we say, right? It’s getting better. I pin my hopes on that.

  6. Sean the Bookonaut on #

    @Justine there’s a book? :0 … :)

    That adaptation is pretty close to the book unlike the 1987 Northanger Abbey which is Jane Austen meets the Rocky Horror picture show.

    The trouble with Mr Collins though is that he fits into the more bumbling, social inept creep. We don’t ever think that Lizzy will fall for him or not see through him.

    The other creep, the heroic rapist or the charming and articulate predator is the one that is harder to spot. I am thinking more Mr Wickham than Mr Collins. Wickham has everyone fooled.

  7. Sean the Bookonaut on #

    That being said charming predators still don’t take no for an answer. They have just developed more refined ways of breeching their targets resolve.

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