Creepy Guys Prank Women by Kissing Them on the Mouth. Women Giggle. Everyone Loses.

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
Sept. 11 2013 8:05 AM

Creepy Guys Prank Women by Kissing Them on the Mouth. Women Giggle. Everyone Loses.

Aisha Harris Aisha Harris

Aisha Harris is a Slate staff writer.

Monday, a couple of Internet pranksters released a couple of videos showing how clever they are. In one, aptly named “Sweeping Girls Off Their Feet,” the guys known as LAHWF (Andrew Hales) and Stuart Edge, do exactly that: They scan the halls of Utah Valley University, approach unsuspecting young women from behind, and whisk them awkwardly into their arms. The women’s reactions range from flattered (“I love this! Can you just take me around classes and stuff?”) to speechless to ultimately self-deprecating (“I think I’ll break your back”).

Then there’s the even sillier “Greeting People With a Kiss,” in which—you guessed it—Hales and Edge walk up to strangers and attempt to kiss them. Pretty much every response features their victims, mostly young women, laughing nervously as they try to avoid a meeting of the lips. It’s awkward, not funny. As a prank, it’s pretty lame. But as an example of male creepiness and some women’s inability to respond forcefully to such invasions of personal space, it succeeds on nearly every level.


A few unsuspecting men found themselves on the end of the guys’ pranks, and there was a noticeable difference in how those guys responded. In “Sweeping Girls Off Their Feet,” for instance, the one guy approached doesn’t comply at all—without missing a beat, he gives Hales a pat on the back and keeps walking, and Hales doesn’t attempt any further sweeping. (While many of the women aren’t so easily swept away either, most of them eventually comply, thanks in no small part to the guys’ persistence.) The men targeted in “Greeting People With a Kiss” react more or less nonchalantly, but they are also considerably bigger than Edge and Hales—they likely felt no threat from them at all.

Gawker has dubbed the pair of videos “rapey” and points to their divided YouTube comments section, where some are arguing over whether they promote sexual assault. Hales, who posted “Sweeping Girls Off Their Feet” on his YouTube channel, seems aware of the inherent ick-factor, calling the video “one of those campus-only ideas that border along assault,” but insists that everyone “responded positively.”

Maybe it’s true that no one lashed out at them or refused to comply with their antics. (Though if someone did, there’s no reason to think Hales and Edge would have included that in the video. Girls standing up for themselves isn’t funny!) Still, nervous laughter in the face of “ideas that border along assault” does not necessarily a positive reaction make—it’s often a sign of discomfort or a response to a loss of control. As one of my colleagues puts it, “the joke only works because women are super well-trained to try to placate creepy dudes while making their escape.”

I wonder, however, if these pranks would have turned out differently had the setting (and demographics) been different. What if the guys had targeted older women? What if they tried to do this at night, or on a less populated street?

My dad insisted that my younger sister and I learn self-defense when we were kids, and with that training came my habit of responding swiftly when I’ve been caught off guard in certain situations. A couple of years ago, while walking alone around midnight down a relatively well-lit but empty avenue in Manhattan, a group of guys passed me on the sidewalk, and one of them grabbed my wrist. Out of instinct I tore it away, and glared at him as I picked up my pace. I put up a brave front because I knew I didn’t want him touching me, but I also resisted cursing at him, because that could have placed me in serious danger. Luckily, nothing worse happened other than them shouting a few expletives at me as they kept walking in the opposite direction.

Had my 18-year-old self been approached by Hales and Edge on UVU’s campus, I hope I wouldn’t have giggled nervously. I know I would have been annoyed. But I also bet I would have felt embarrassed and helpless, and so might have just let them sweep me off my feet. And then ended up on some idiot's YouTube channel, going viral. How sad.



Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

The Congressional Republican Digging Through Scientists’ Grant Proposals

The 2014 Kansas City Royals Show the Value of Building a Mediocre Baseball Team

The GOP Won’t Win Any Black Votes With Its New “Willie Horton” Ad

Whole Foods Is Desperate for Customers to Feel Warm and Fuzzy Again

The XX Factor

I’m 25. I Have $250.03.

My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.

The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I’m 25. I Have $250.03. My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.

Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

I Am 25. I Don’t Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 21 2014 11:40 AM The U.S. Has Spent $7 Billion Fighting the War on Drugs in Afghanistan. It Hasn’t Worked. 
Oct. 21 2014 1:12 PM The Global Millionaires Club Is Booming and Losing Its Exclusivity
The Vault
Oct. 21 2014 2:23 PM A Data-Packed Map of American Immigration in 1903
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 1:12 PM George Tiller’s Murderer Threatens Another Abortion Provider, Claims Right of Free Speech
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 21 2014 1:02 PM Where Are Slate Plus Members From? This Weird Cartogram Explains. A weird-looking cartogram of Slate Plus memberships by state.
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 1:47 PM The Best Way to Fry an Egg
Oct. 21 2014 10:43 AM Social Networking Didn’t Start at Harvard It really began at a girls’ reform school.
  Health & Science
Climate Desk
Oct. 21 2014 11:53 AM Taking Research for Granted Texas Republican Lamar Smith continues his crusade against independence in science.
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.