And droidism. And racism. And homophobia.
In my piece on how not to be a creeper, I made a point that today I’d like to expand on just a little; I’ll explain why in a bit. Here’s the point:
2. Acknowledge that you don’t get to define other people’s comfort level with you. Which is to say that you may be trying your hardest to be interesting and engaging and fun to be around — and still come off as a creeper to someone else. Yes, that sucks for you. But you know what? It sucks for them even harder, because you’re creeping them out and making them profoundly unhappy and uncomfortable. It may not seem fair that “creep” is their assessment of you, but: Surprise! It doesn’t matter, and if you try to argue with them (or anyone else) that you’re in fact not being a creep and the problem is with them not you, then you go from “creep” to “complete assbag.” Sometimes people aren’t going to like you or want to be near you. It’s just the way it is.
This apparently has struck some to be dreadfully unfair, with the implication being that other people responding to folks (usually men) as creepers when in fact they’re trying to make an effort to be charming and witty and fun (or whatever) is some sort of special case in the interaction of human beings, and that such mismatches between intent and reception hardly ever happen in other situations.
To which my response is: you have got to be kidding me. Outside of the realm of possible potential creepiness, you don’t get to choose how other people respond to you, either. In any context. Indeed, regardless of your efforts to present yourself in a certain way, it is almost certain you will come across to some other people as not that way at all, and possibly the opposite of that way entirely.
On the one hand, Scalzi is absolutely right. We don’t get to choose how others feel about us or respond to us. John, for example, responds poorly to both this blog and its readers, referring to them collectively as “a feculent miasma of male self-regard”. That’s absolutely fine, it is simply his opinion, just as the idea that a woman who teaches Lesbianism in Hindu Film is convincing evidence that women are every bit as interested in the hard sciences as men is also his opinion.
You may understand if I tend to consider his opinion to be less than entirely dispositive.
So why am I objecting to what Scalzi is saying if I agree with it? Because he doesn’t actually mean it. Not only that, he doesn’t even realize that he doesn’t mean it. He is dimly aware that something is wrong, which is why he is attempting to “expand a little” on his previous point, but he still doesn’t grasp what it is. He’s appealing to a right in which he does not actually believe.
What Scalzi inadvertently did in his point two was to defend the right of free association. Which would be fine, only we know from Scalzi’s smug soft leftism that he supports absolutely nothing of the sort. Whereas he is absolutely fine with telling those condemned as “creeps” that they simply have to live with their rejection by others, I strongly suspect he is absolutely opposed to telling those condemned as “sluts” or “faggots” or “towelheads” or other behavior-based labels to do the same, much less those whose labels are purely identity-based.
And this is the point that he has resolutely evaded with his irrelevant forays into “false equivalence” and “unfairness”, even though his mention of droids indicates that he must have at least a vague idea of what he has done. Despite the fact that he has presented an argument that justifies all sorts of sexism, racism, and droidism, I don’t believe John Scalzi is actually sexist, racist, or anti-droid, he is merely a glib and inconsistent hypocrite who is willing to use an argument when it happens to suit him, then abandon it when it doesn’t. Now, I readily admit that it is possible I am wrong and Scalzi does support the right of those made uncomfortable by the presence of blacks, women, gays, or anyone else to expect those who make them uncomfortable to go away and leave them in peace, in which case I will of course retract the accusation of hypocrisy and inconsistency. I invite Mr. Scalzi to clarify his actual position on the subject.
As for the actual subject of “creepiness”, the problem is that as a gamma male, Scalzi simply doesn’t understand women or the socio-sexual hierarchy well enough to even understand what it is. As this aspect of the discussion is predominantly Game-related, I address it on Alpha Game.