Differentiating Male Entitlement From Male Sexual Desire
Some of the feedback I received from my posts on the use of the word "Creep" last month gave me pause, pause to explore both the male and female perspective on this word. I had an interesting discussion with a female colleague of mine who specializes in gender issues. She gave me more insight into the context and function of the word "Creep" for women, and it did start to make more sense to me. This did not settle my concern around some responses from mental health professionals as well as other comments in past discussions. Some comments were overtly diagnostic based from this concept of a creepy feeling from a man.
By all means actively avoid whoever you want for whatever reason. Women should do this and have absolutely no obligation to talk to or be polite to any man for any reason if they do not genuinely want to. If the man makes you feel uncomfortable, or comes off as "Creepy," then, absolutely, leave the situation. If I have not been clear enough, let me reiterate, I am not asking women to hunker down and remain in the presence of a man in the face of "Creepy" feelings. What concerns me is that licensed mental health professionals, people who are deemed stature by their respective state regulatory boards to give diagnoses that can be used in a court of law, are taking a word used to describe a feeling they have in the presence of another human being and making the conjectural leap to an extremely serious diagnosis of a mental illness. My further concern is that the original intention for the use of the word "Creep" by women, as a means to establish a precautionary social safeguard in case the man does turn out to be someone who is truly unsafe, has morphed into pure fact colloquially, and diagnostic with some professionals.
An article written strongly from the female perspective, which makes some really good points, makes an important distinction with regard to the dichotomy between male sexual desire and male entitlement: "She (referencing another article) does make really good points about how male sexuality is constructed as predatory, and how this needs to be changed, but I don’t think that means the word “creep” is invalid. If anything, the fact that the term exists shows that our society has evolved a highly imperfect restraint on predatory behavior. I do agree with Clarisse (from the other articule she is referencing) that this creates a confusing contradiction for some men— a lot of creepy dudes aren’t out to hurt anyone, but act out of cluelessness (though this doesn’t let them off the hook, as I’ll get back to)— and I agree with her that a world where male sexuality was more about pleasure and less about point-scoring would be one where there was less creepy behavior. But that world is a long time coming, and in the meantime, the word “creep” is a useful, commonly understood term for a set of behaviors that absolutely are a problem. It’s not that male sexual desires are the problem; male entitlement is the problem."
I get the issue around male privilege, but I don't believe that men serially hide behind cluelessness "as a strategy to avoid having to change" only so that they can keep engaging in behavior that leads to being rejected by women. I do agree that men need to be responsible for their behavior, and that not having perspective about their behavior making a woman uncomfortable is absolutely no reason that the woman should be forgiving and give the man a chance to do things right. Men do need to understand this, because it can be frustrating trying to learn how to harness and express this side of yourself in a way that is both authentic and respectful. Sure, it would be easier to keep trying with one forgiving woman who stuck around and made it feel safe to keep trying until you got it right, giving you constructive feedback along the way about what works and what doesn't work. That is just never going to happen, and it is not any woman's responsibility to do that for us. Many men I see in my practice are experiencing significant emotional pain from being rejected, and wholeheartedly want to learn what they can do differently so that they do not keep re-experiencing this pain. It is contingent on us men to learn this. There is always the long road of trial and error. But this can be a painful and lonely road, and without feedback it is difficult to know whether you're making progress or not. That is why I do what I do. I am here to inform men and give them a place to safely explore these issues around sexual desire, expression of that desire, and how to do it in a safe, respectful way, so they feel confident in their interactions with women. This is not the same as being entitled to have their expectations met by a woman if she does not want the same.
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