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Friday(ish) roundup

Posted by Robin Abrahams  January 12, 2013 10:42 AM

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Sorry this is late! A few things that passed my plate this week:

A fairly standard NYT piece on the awkwardness of learning about parties you weren't invited to, et cetera, on Facebook. Do any of you have information-management issues around FB?

Also from the Times, a piece by a man who suffers from a skin disorder. It's a fascinating essay on the prejudice of lookism. He's often called a "creep," and writes

I don't mean to validate the creep label. It's a word meant to pigeonhole someone's existence. It is also a variation of the word freak in a world where the culture of other-ism that birthed that particular designation is no longer considered moral. While the word freak heaps sin on its user, the word creep has the advantage of allowing its wielder to blame the victim. A creep is a mugger, chat-room victimizer or necrophiliac in waiting. Evidence of such isn't necessary. The creep's nature can be discerned from his (it is an overwhelmingly masculine label) appearance and mannerisms. To do so isn't cruel or prejudiced: by labeling the creep a creep, you're victimizing the creep before the creep can victimize you.

The word "creep" has gotten somewhat politicized lately, with a lot of people noticing that 1) it's mostly men that get called "creepy," and 2) "creepy" is one of those words that everyone immediately understands, but no one can truly define (and that also becomes phonologically meaningless after the fourth repetition--creepycreepycreepycreep). Jill at Feministe writes about "How Not to be a Creep," noting that

A lot of dudes really flip out in response to the term "creep." It's so UNFAIR to call them creeps! The word "creep" is ableist because there are dudes on the autism spectrum who have difficulty socializing and reading social cues and they can't help being creepy! Etc etc. The take-away seems to be that women just need to tolerate creepy dudes because feeling like your personal safety is being consistently threatened (and running the risk of being told "Well why didn't you DO something about that creep sooner?" if your personal safety is actually violated) is a small price to pay in the service of not making one dude feel kinda sad.

Meanwhile, Cary Tennis at Salon advises an LW not to invite his creep cousin to his wedding. Good advice, but of course Mr. Tennis has to couch it in terms of what a glorious free spirit he is, not constrained by rules or manners:

I am not an expert on manners and social rules but I say just don't invite him ... But, not being any kind of etiquette guru but just a guy who's made his share of decisions based on principle, I think it's perfectly OK not to invite somebody to your wedding if he has recently threatened to beat you up.

Does he honestly think Judith Martin or Peggy Post or bloody well anyone would argue differently? What a stupid skewering of straw-manners. The other night I was watching an old "Twilight Zone" episode -- "Mr. Dingle the Strong" -- in which Rod Serling said of the main character that he had "one foot in his mouth, and the other in the Twilight Zone." That's Cary Tennis, all right. 

And finally, these amusingly accurate posters of this year's Oscars nominees:


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About Miss Conduct
Welcome to Miss Conduct’s blog, a place where the popular Boston Globe Magazine columnist Robin Abrahams and her readers share etiquette tips, unravel social conundrums, and gossip about social behavior in pop culture and the news. Have a question of your own? Ask Robin using this form or by emailing her at

Who is Miss Conduct?

Robin Abrahamswrites the weekly "Miss Conduct" column for The Boston Globe Magazine and is the author of Miss Conduct's Mind over Manners. Robin has a PhD in psychology from Boston University and also works as a research associate at Harvard Business School. Her column is informed by her experience as a theater publicist, organizational-change communications manager, editor, stand-up comedian, and professor of psychology and English. She lives in Cambridge with her husband Marc Abrahams, the founder of the Ig Nobel Prizes, and their socially challenged but charismatic dog, Milo.

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