29 Men Share How They Realized It Was Actually Them Who Were Acting ‘Creepy’ Towards Women
People change. However, before someone can alter their behavior for good, they need to want to do it. It sounds simple, but think about it for a second. It's basically admitting to yourself that your worldview is flawed. That you are flawed. Which takes guts.
Recently, Reddit user rocketbot99 made a post on r/AskReddit, saying "For men who used to be 'creepy' towards women and have since stopped, what was it that made you realize you were creepy that prompted you to change?" And their call was answered: as of this article, the thread has over 8,000 comments, many of which are insightful, honest replies to rocketbot99's question.
Of course, these comments don't mean that society is cured of sexism We still have a long way to go in regards to respecting women. But these are steps in the right direction and we should celebrate them.
It took me recognizing that I was addicted to alcohol, tobacco, and sex. I had been aggressive toward women and objectifying them since I was a child. I think this happened because I was exposed to sex at such a young age. I thought all relationships were supposed to be how the movies and shows were, so I just emulated what I saw.
Once I got sober, I realized how much of a monster I was and took the necessary steps to really implement change in my life. Lots of therapy. Lots of crying. Self-reflection as to why I was emulating that specific behavior, and quitting my addictions. It’s been a journey, but I’m happy to say that I’ve been in a loving, committed relationship with proper boundaries for a year now.
Turns out, being sexist also sucks for men themselves. That was the conclusion of a meta-analysis published in the Journal of Counseling Psychology that aggregated the results of nearly 80 separate studies on masculine norms and mental health over 11 years.
After looking into almost 20,000 men in total, the paper titled Meta-Analyses of the Relationship Between Conformity to Masculine Norms and Mental Health-Related Outcomes found that men who adhered to such norms not only harmed the women around them but they also exhibited significantly worse social functioning and psychological health.
I wasn't being actively creepy, but:
I used to think cat-calling was just flirtatious compliments, and who doesn't like those, right? >.> I never cat-called anybody, largely because that's not my personality type.
But now I live by the motto: "Never say something to a stranger that you wouldn't want a big guy saying to you in prison."
"Sexism isn't just a social injustice," Y. Joel Wong, a psychologist at Indiana University Bloomington and the study’s lead author, said. "It may even be potentially problematic for [men's] mental health."
The term "masculine norms" can refer to a whole range of characteristics but the researchers focused on 11 separate aspects of American masculinity in particular. They found that three specific traits associated with toxic masculinity were particularly harmful to men’s psyches: being self-reliant, being dominant over women, and being a "playboy." Interestingly, some norms, such as putting work and career first, did not seem to have any negative mental health effects.
One of the most eye-opening adages that helped me immensely was, 'Men are afraid women will reject them; women are afraid men will kill them.' That helped me to change my interactions in a way that was less likely to set off alarm bells in a woman’s mind.
Jared Yates Sexton, the author of The Man They Wanted Me to Be, told Bored Panda there's a whole array of reasons why toxic masculinity is so deeply rooted in our everyday life. "The problematic elements of masculinity are intertwined with the economic, political, and personal elements of society," Sexton said. "It's passed down from one generation to another in socialization, or physical, mental, emotional abuse and intentional and unintentional feedback."
"It's as simple as telling a young boy he can't be emotional and as complicated as the signals and messages from culture, popular culture, and how products are marketed to men and women. It's knotted into society, unfortunately, and so it makes it incredibly hard to root out."
Hearing women complain about something and thinking, Oh s**t, I've done that. It seriously has helped me improve on a lot of things.
In The Man They Wanted Me To Be, Sexton describes it as a chronic condition. "A lot of people ask 'how did you get out?' but there's no getting out, really. If you've been raised in this, if you've experienced the socialization, abuse, etc, it's something you have to keep an eye on."
According to him, men, even men who understand the pitfalls of masculinity, who study it, write about it, work against its problematic aspects, can still fall into its traps when things get hard or if they're not paying attention. "It's a daily struggle, honestly," Sexton said.
I realized they weren't laughing because I was funny, they were laughing because they were scared
However, Jared thinks there's hope to be had in that we're talking about gender as a construct and the surrounding issues. "That's different, even as people try and weaponize it for political and economic purposes. I'm seeing so much advancement in culture, with this generation and the next, that I'm hopeful, but the work is far from over."
When you think about it, the root of this problem probably developed thousands of years ago, when early homo sapiens used strength to exert dominance or take charge. And it wasn't even a problem then. But contemporary society has led to such a shift in attitude toward these male behaviors, a "real man" today is something we must define ourselves. The good thing is more and more of us are trying to.
When I broke up with my first serious girlfriend, I was totally heartbroken. I called her all the time and cried on the phone. I even threatened to kill myself and told her so. This went on for some time. Eventually I threatened again to kill myself and went to bed drunk. I woke up to a voicemail from her, crying her eyes out and begging me not to do it.
I was so ashamed about my behavior. I realized in that message what I had become. It was absolutely her right, as it was mine, to end a relationship at any time for any reason, without being hounded and traumatized by the ex. I was evil and toxic
I had to explain to my 50 year old husband that young women do NOT find his interest a compliment
I was 18 working at Six Flags. We got a new coworker at the ride I was mainly at and I took a liking to her instantly. I tried talking with her constantly and "cutely" blocked her path multiple times. This was all on her first day. The next she didn't show back up.
Thats when I realized I had harassed her, all she wanted to do is just work and get some extra cash and I added stupid stress to that.
I don't interact with coworkers like that anymore. Even if I think I could have a chance, I leave them alone on that level.
My brother used to catcall women ALL THE TIME until once when I was with him. He was driving, I was the passenger, and he yelled out to a woman in another car about how hot she looked. I turned to him and said very casually yet matter-of-factly, “You know, women hate it when men talk to us like that. It’s not flattering, it’s objectifying and disrespectful.” He got quiet, his eyes glazed over, and I saw him taking in what I’d just said. It had simply never occurred to him that what he was doing could be seen as anything other than flattering. He never, ever did it again, and I saw him grow into an extremely respectful person over the next couple of years.
Sometimes all it takes is someone to make them aware. This is why women call on men to call out their guy friends for this type of behavior. Some men look at women as objects, and they don’t take us seriously. But, the same thing coming from your sister or one of their guy friends? Completely different reaction.
I realized that I wasn't a knight in shining armor, and they weren't princesses to be adored and saved. Instead of trying to ingratiate myself with them, I stopped giving a f**k and just started casual conversations. If they gave curt responses and standoffish body language, I politely exited the conversation and moved on.
I used to do that smirk thing when talking to women. I thought it projected confidence, but then someone I worked with told me I should watch the creeper vibe, so I had to take a hard look at my mannerisms. Man, that must have been scary and off-putting. I’m sorry I did that, everyone
Saw this answer some time ago It was this dude that tried to confess to the girl he liked by going to her apartment and make her dinner with candles,flowers and all that s**t But then the girl came home and the first thing she said was " are you going to kill me"
Learning that pickup artistry is a massive grift meant to gamify social interactions with women for men who are socially isolated. Every pickup-artist tactic is just weird, toxic emotional abuse. Not only does it not work, but if it DID work, it would be morally abhorrent to do it
I went out drinking with a bunch of my fellow Marines. We were all in our early to mid twenties and some of us were Very good looking (not me). At the end of the night only one of us had gotten any numbers and that one guy had gotten several. He was like 5'6" (167cm) and more or less looked like a 12 year old. Took me a while to figure out why this was the case.
When I realized that he was the only one of us that didn't look dangerous A Lot of things started making sense.
I figured out that my being gay doesn’t change things. I never made a point to be careful about not making women uncomfortable because I always knew that I had no sexual intentions toward them and that they didn’t need to worry about any advances or anything.
Of course, that didn’t mean they knew that; or if they did, it didn’t change the fact that I’m a man and there are appropriate ways to behave around people.
I'm not the creeper. My friend was. We were out at a bar and he walked up to a girl and brushed her hair with his hand. How he explains it, he started to say, 'You have beautiful hair,' then got punched in the face by the girl and kicked out of the bar.
We met him at the car after about 10 minutes of realizing he was gone — blood all over his face and just ashamed. I was with my wife and we were both confused as to why he would touch a stranger. He is now married and not a creeper. That was the night that opened his eyes to realizing that women are equals and not toys
Reading many posts about how pervasive a problem it is for women to have men leer or subject them to microaggressions. Hearing it all named, and hearing how unsettling it is for people, made me reexamine some of my behavior toward women. Please do keep taking about it — it works!
I had what I can only call a grand moment of realization. There was a girl who I was acquainted with, and she was obviously, obsessively, and weirdly into me. Being at the state of peak neckbeard that I was, I was desperate for a girlfriend. But for whatever reason I was not into the idea. I knew her too well, and although she was interested in me, I was NOT interested in her.
I spent a long time thinking about wether I should start seeing this girl I wasn’t attracted to... then it clicked for me: Sometimes people just aren’t into you. That’s okay, and it’s actually a good thing not to have to say yes to a relationship just because someone thinks they’re qualified to date you.
That moment back in 2009 changed my perspective so much, and I was able to realize that other people have and deserve their own autonomy.
A girl told me she wasn’t interested because I did something creepy and she felt uncomfortable about it. I had no idea it was a creep move at the time. I’d never had that feedback, and I’m very happy she provided it, when she could have just ghosted and moved on. For those wondering, it was Facebook stalking. My young, ignorant self thought it would be cool to surprise her with my knowledge, because that showed I cared enough to learn about her. The real boundary crossing was me asking about other guys she’s friends with who made flirty comments on her pics
I used to have this older man always flirt & be unprofessional towards me at work when I first started, I was around 24 years old. After i had enough of his weird comments & flirting, I told him that he has a daughter the same age as me (which was true because he'd talk about his family at times) and that how would he like it if some older man was talking to his daughter like that and making sexual comments to her. He became less weird and flirtatious and more "regular" holding normal conversations. He moved shifts so I don't even see him anymore
Being called out. Directly and specifically.
I had absolutely no idea that there was anything off about my behavior. I thought nobody was picking up on how horny I was. I thought nobody knew. I thought I was smooth AF.
But some specific things I did were called out (touches on the arm, inappropriate topics of conversation, things like that) and I realized holy [cow], I have been a total disrespectful creep.
And everyone knows it.
I don't miss my teen years. Don't miss 'em at all.
On the plus side, it encouraged me to strive for a life where I'm 100% genuine and don't want anything from anyone.
I have five sisters, and hearing them talk about something creepy a guy did really made me check my own actions.
Also, I think a lot of us were just hormonal teenagers with a typical, insane libido. Getting called out normally works
This sounds weird to me now, but I actually grew up in a household that valued back, neck, and shoulder rubs. I did this for a long, long time to people I was friends with (men and women). In my head, it was just a way of saying I cared. In retrospect, it undoubtedly gave off a super-creepy vibe.
Talking to women, becoming friends with women, changing my circle of friends, growing up, learning empathy, and the final nail in the coffin was sobriety
I had ruined 2 friendships in a week cause I was getting blackout drunk and trying to sleep with them. That’s also what made me realize alcohol is terrible.
Growing self-awareness that I wasn't the center of the goddamn universe. I went through a chasing-potential-girlfriends-too-hard phase in my young adult years — including mistaking simple offers of friendship and work colleague status for actual interest.
It wasn't 'stalking' level and it never reached the point of discipline (or even commenting), but it was probably to the point of being a little unprofessional and uncomfortable for the girl involved.
Looking back I was like most other males born in the 70’s and did not know better. I then became friends with women and learn what women want in a person. The coup de grace was when I was hanging out with some gay men who flipped the creepy vibe on me. The result was a bumble date voted me the most charming man she dated.
In middle school, I was a mid-puberty, horniness-stricken little perv. I didn’t do a good job concealing it, either. I would always get really close to my one friend because I liked her at the time, and looking back, it was so wrong to do
My creepiness came from not knowing how to talk to girls, not anything predatory. I think a lot of guys are like that. I wasn’t particularly creepy but I look back on some stuff I did or said that I thought was smooth or flirty but looking back at it now I’m like wow I was actually being creepy lmao.