A man's reputation might take more of a knock after he is labelled a creep than it would if he were called other derogatory names.
An argument on link sharing site Reddit.com had men up in arms against user Jessica Wakeman who had described a man she had just had a first date with as "creepy". To one user, this label is one that might do the kind of unfair damage to a man's reputation that being labeled a slut might do to a woman's.
In a piece published in 2010, Jeremy Paul Gordon noted that the word "creep" has fast become the most abhorrent casual insult a man might endure in today's society.
"Creepiness is inextricably linked to sexual intent, casting you in the same light as someone who refers to his list of hook-ups as his 'A-Team', or someone who flashes his dick on the subway," he writes, saying that the definition of creepy isn't so much as the result of one action, but a general vibe someone might give off.
Worse still is that it's a reputation that's difficult to shake. "After all, what are you supposed to say? 'I'm not creepy! I'm NORMAL! I say normal things and act like a human being!'"
While Gordon has a point, its meaning has some effectiveness in defining behaviour that is undoubtedly a problem in our society. Sadly, just as we use the word "slut" or "whore" too easily to define women we don't like, the label "creepy" is a way of demonizing those men we aren't that fond of - even if they don't fit into the creep category.
Insults like "asshole" or "pussy" might work to strip a man of his "malehood", effectively aiming to feminise him. Calling him creepy is a more profound judgment on his overall character and indicates how his behaviour makes women feel.
The word has those in the "men's rights" field up in arms. They feel that women should be less generous with meting out the word but as Wakeman points out in response to those who feel she has done unjust damage to a man's reputation based on a single encounter with him (a first date), "it's a really freaking dangerous idea to twist a woman's open, honest communication about her boundaries/expectations into ‘creep shaming' that victimizes men."
Jezebel.com writer Hugo Schwyzer explains that the word "creepy" serves a vital function in our society. "No other word is as effective as describing when a man has crossed a woman's boundary; no other word forces a man to reflect on how his behaviour makes other people feel." Which is exactly why it's a word that's here to stay.