Those of us who experience the world as women and girls (inclusive of transgender, non-binary folks, etc) know all about predators, in fact it has been my observation that as we age we develop an acute sense for them, that feeling in your gut, that discomfort that’s difficult to express in words but which tells you to avoid being alone with that man, you can’t quite explain why but you have learned to trust your instincts. Though instincts are imperfect, we also hone our skills by talking with one another about our experiences, about what we have learnt and about how we have survived. Recently, I had a conversation with my housemate where we realised there was a type of predator that we hadn’t heard a lot of discussions about, which we had both fallen prey to in the past, we named this particular species of predator “the creeper”.
See, there are as many sorts of predators as there are colours in the rainbow! For example, there are the brutish predators, they who will use direct force and obvious violence to get what they want. There are the camouflaged predators, those who use strategies of mimicry to imitate safe people, teachers, priests, family members, those who you should be able to trust. And then there is the creeper, a predatory species who has a specific sort of strategy involving slow, strategic, sneaking subterfuge.
The creeper is that guy at the party who will never directly reveal that he is attracted to you, he will not flirt and he will not ask you on a date, there will be no sense of sexual energy. Instead, he seems to want friendship, appears genuinely interested in just knowing you as a person, taking real interest in what you have to say. He will add you on social media, you will spend time gravitating around the same people, at the same social occasions. The energy will remain free of flirting, he’ll hover on the periphery of your awareness, just a nice, harmless person in your social sphere. Sometimes maybe he will just like a little too many of your posts of Facebook, maybe he will compliment you just a little too much, but it will never seem as if he is actually taking an interest and so you will shrug it off. He’ll never ask you on a date but perhaps he will invite you along to something you have mutual friends at, in a manner that very much suggests it is not a date. You’ll vaguely wonder if it is, but there’s never been a strong indication of his interest so again, you shrug it off.
Yet some day, somehow, you’re sitting alone on a couch and his hand is on your thigh. His mouth is on yours. You’re not attracted to him and you don’t know quite how this has happened but maybe you’re young and uncomfortable asserting your boundaries, maybe because you’re female, our culture has taught you that you are responsible for the feelings of others and though you don’t want to be kissing this man, he is a friend and you don’t want to hurt his feelings. Maybe his hand moves up inside your skirt and though this feels wrong, maybe you feel it’s already too late to stop. Maybe after you’ve had sex with this guy, you feel uncomfortable, gross in ways you don’t quite understand. You start avoiding him at parties and you feel guilty about that. He seems like a nice guy but you really didn’t want to have sex with him. So why did you? How the hell did this happen?
Here is our theory; Maybe he’s a creeper. The creeper moves slowly. So slowly that his movements are almost imperceptible and his intentions are veiled, so slowly that his prey doesn’t get a chance to become startled and take flight. You know that friend you slept with when you were younger even though you didn’t like him? You know that man who took an interest in your art and then when you visited to see his studio, his hands were on you and you’re not sure when it happened? How did this happen? How did you find yourself engaging in sexual intimacy with someone you had no attraction to?
Well… perhaps they snuck up slowly, ever so slowly, so you never had a chance to say “yes” and you never had a chance to say “no”. Perhaps they are a creeper.