Captain Awkward recently linked again to the infamous discussion on creepiness that basically the entire internet read back in August. Her answer is awesome and anyone who hasn't seen it ought to; the discussion section below, however, is somewhat uneven. The good Captain evidently had to send a lot of comments to the spam pile, because they were from idiots or rageaholics or mansplainers who couldn't spell to save their lives, and a lot of what did get through is fogged with a great deal of pop-psych and social justice vocabulary. It's well-meaning, but there are parts that could have used a lot less technical philosophy and a lot more swearing in majuscules, in my own humble opinion.

One of the things that wasn't covered terribly well, probably because it would have been taken as encouragement by the crowds in the spam pile, was how and why a lot of women are reduced to just saying, "because," when the creepy fuckers try to manipulate their victims by asking why they aren't allowed to do the creepy fucking things they do. "Because," is in fact a perfectly good reason to say no, and if the creepy fuckers don't accept that then they're in the wrong no matter what, but it seems that a lot of the people saying no are having a hard time clarifying for themselves what their reasons are. This is not a comfortable spot to be in -- the way that particular manipulation works is by making the target feel like they're a bad person for being irrational and arbitrary and altogether unfair, and that they could be a better person by giving Creepy McCreeperson a chance. You are not in any way obliged to elaborate on your reasons for these things to anyone, at any time, but it sure as hell makes it easier to ignore whiners if you've got it straightened out in your own head.

So now I get to play one of my favorite games, which is Illustrating My Point Using Attractive People I Find On The Internet.

Moggie has got me nosing out stuff about Noel Fielding at the mo', which is fine by me because there is a metric fuckton of Never Mind The Buzzcocks on YouTube and I think that show is goddamn hilarious. One of the more noticeable things about Fielding, right after the wardrobe and the way his brain takes off at right-angles to reality a lot, is that he can get really physical when interacting with other people. The Big Fat Quiz of 2006 and 2007 were both pretty much an hour and a half of him practically sitting on, and occasionally vanishing under the desk with, Russell Brand. He even does it a lot on NMTB, with people he presumably met just that morning. I've seen him lean on people, pat them on the shoulder, hug them, give kisses on the cheek, and share props, hats, and occasionally a cloak, with completely random contestants.

I have yet to see anyone dodge Noel Fielding. Nobody seems uncomfortable; most people reciprocate. He makes it plain that he very much enjoys having the ability to play with other people like this -- not everybody does. And it is often people like him that creepy fuckers point to when they whine, "How come he's allowed to touch girls, and I'm not?"

(nota bene: Fielding actually gets permission to do this from a wide range of people, but somehow straight male creepers never seem to care who gets to horse around with other guys. And not being a misogynist swine myself, I confess I don't know if it would make things better or worse that Fielding is fairly publicly of the opinion that other boys are also fun at parties.)

As far as Creepy McCreeperson is concerned, this is a wholly unfair kind of voodoo. From what they can see, guys like this go cuddling up to completely random people, and for some reason it's magically okay! And then they try it, and suddenly it's all ew! and cringing! and pepper spray! and so forth. A lot of them get very angry about what they see as some sort of completely arbitrary divide -- or bitter at not getting a chance because girls are shallow and only want a guy who is [insert superficial quality here]. They argue that there's no direct connection between how much money some dude has or what his hair looks like and how he'll act if you agree to dance with him. The only reason you'd link them together, the spiel goes, is that you're more interested in gold-digging or showing him off to your equally-shallow friends, than in being treated well.

This is not wholly without logic -- although it is completely missing the point.

For some reason, they fail to make the connection between the way someone deals with negotiating interpersonal space, and how much interpersonal space other people demand in their presence. It's not that Fielding has carte blanche with the entire world -- it's that he's observant and responsive to social cues, and doesn't try it on people who wouldn't appreciate it. You don't see people ducking away all the time because he's got a knack for correctly assessing who wants him to keep his distance. The part where he sits there for while and chews on his fingernails while watching is apparently invisible to the creepy fuckers. (Probably because, says my cynical side, pretty as Fielding is, he's also on the thin side and has a most unimpressive rack.)

The more you demonstrate the ability to keep your hands off people who don't want to be touched, and to respect boundaries with people who give consent, the more likely you are to get permission from people who are ambivalent about the matter, or who are just fussier about who gets to cuddle up to them. Unfortunately, "don't touch girls who don't want you touching them" is a pretty hard sell for people who have entitlement complexes, especially if they're already at the point where no girl wants to get near them.


  1. It sounds like Fielding is good at observation, and also at treating the people around him as individual people. I don't usually consider myself a huggy person, or someone that it is easy to get that close to. However, someone who treats me as an individual person and is interested in me and what makes me comfortable is going to get permission to get MUCH closer to me, than someone who thinks of me as some girl with tits, an ass, and long hair....
    The people who complain about being shut down by girls are probably NOT observant, and not interested in the girl as an individual person. They are usually rather focused on what they want to touch, as an object. For me, arms length away is too damn close to me when it is someone who sees only my parts.

    1. I think he's pretty sharp about people. Oddly enough, I don't know if he does -- a lot of time people who can read the atmosphere well are more ambivalent about the skill than people who are oblivious to everything, because they can see when people give off conflicting cues. Especially aggravating when the people in conflict aren't aware of being conflicted, or won't admit to it, which puts you in the uncomfortable position of following either what they say or what they do, but not both.

      It also clouds things that comedy is apparently a fairly high-stakes situation for him. He's a skosh neurotic about going on stage -- not about BEING on stage, just about the moment before he gets feedback. I'm not actually magic and can't tell you exactly why he chews his nails all the time, just that he does, and under what circumstances. He also apparently has a pretty hard upper limit on stress, good or bad. I don't think most people can tell the difference between that and just random nerves? But I've seen both Julian Barratt and Phil Jupitus intervene and steal the camera to give him a break.


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