“You have the most beautiful eyes!”
He leaned over my desk to get a closer look but I had a sneaking suspicion it was my cleavage (barely visible cleavage at that) and not my face he examined. Yup! His eyes lingered too long on my neckline. To make matters worse this guy was older than my parents! My jaw tightened and I abruptly stood. His eyes widened and he took a cautionary step backward as though he sensed I might deck him. I certainly thought about it. Fortunately, the look on my face was enough to end the conversation. This time, anyway.
This scene has played out hundreds of times in my life (generally with more inappropriate subjects than my eyes) and often with repeat offenders. Some guy who is obviously a creep gives these “compliments” with a lecherous leer and I end up feeling like somehow his creepiness is contagious. But instead of the side effect of turning into a creep, too, my self-esteem levels fall through the floor. That and I want to run home and take a shower.
“What is it about me that attracts these creeps?” I would always ask myself. I would carefully scrutinize my outfit: Had I dressed too provocatively? The answer was always a resounding “No!” because these encounters usually occurred in the office where we adhere to a strict dress code. I would examine my behavior: Was I too friendly? Again, no, because I am a major introvert. Nothing about me had encouraged this guy.
The truth is that all women deal with this in one form or another. A woman could wear a Snuggie and sit stone-faced but a creep would still do what he does best. Because he’s a creep! No “stare of death” or lecture will ever change a creep’s mind. (Been there, done that… no such luck.) He thinks what he does is perfectly acceptable. The creep doesn’t even stop to think that he wouldn’t want his mother, sister or daughter treated this way. Because odds are he would care (a lot) but lacks the self-awareness to realize this.
So, how do I propose we ladies cope with the creeps? I think it’s important to talk about it. Sort of like group therapy, having a conversation with trusted friends or coworkers helps to diffuse the creep’s impact. (Take to social media if you have to. Just talk to someone!) It also gives other women an opportunity to share their creep encounters and gives everyone the “green light” to step in if you encounter this creep again.
Talking about these incidents also serves as education for the good guys (men who are not creeps). Let’s face it, creeps only respond well to “guy talk” because they see women as objects. Therefore, I feel strongly that the good guys are going to be the most effective weapon against the creeps. Even if they don’t manage to change the hearts and minds of these creeps, they can be a powerful example to the younger generations and make sure the creep goes the way of the dinosaur.
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