Romantic Comedies: When Stalking Has a Happy Ending (from The Atlantic)
Some people confuse what this article from The Atlantic terms “persistent pursuing” with courtship. That is, men do it all the time, and some women, due to Hollywood Rom Coms, have been conditioned to view this as normal, romantic behavior.
May I add another related issue: men who mistake platonic chit chat with flirting?
That drives me up the wall. It’s one reason I am usually loathe to enter into pleasantries with men I don’t know when I’m in stores or sitting around in waiting rooms, because many men mistake idle, polite banter for,
- “Oooh, this lady is into me, she is warm for my form, she wants to marry me and make babies with me, I am one sexy beast, grrrrr.”
So these men ask for your phone number or they get all flirty back. And you, the woman, are like, “I did NOT send this dude any sexy signals, where is this coming from?”
No, dude, my romantic interest is only in your imagination. (Duran Duran (Link): sang of this very concept.)
Me saying stuff like, “Wow, some crazy weather we’ve been having lately, huh?” as we’re sitting in Wal-Mart’s auto care center waiting for our tires to be rotated is not me hitting on you.
Me hitting on you, men of the world, consists of me putting one hand behind my head, one hand on a jutted out hip, head tilted back, eyes narrowly parted, and me saying something (in a seductive sounding, cat like purr), like, “Hey there big boy, you come here all alone? Mama likes what she sees! May I have your phone number? Are you free for a date this Saturday?”
Think (Link): this.
Yes, (Link): this is what a woman who is flirting with you looks like, the facial expression and mannerisms.
About men who refuse to take “no” for an answer from a woman they are interested in, who confuse pursuing with stalking: other than entitlement, I wonder if what drives some of these men is a sense that they HATE to be alone and MUST have a romantic partner to “complete them.”
I know this sort of thinking is very common among a lot of women. I think secular society (and Christian culture) does try to convince people there is no way they can be whole and happy single. There is a lot of pressure on people to pair up and date or marry.
Culture (especially through movies and TV shows) and churches need to stop sending this bogus message that there is something wrong, flawed, or second class about being single as an adult.
There is no disgrace in being single. I understand if you are single and lonely and pine for a significant other how hard it can be at times, but you are okay on your own.
You are not some loser or in-complete if you don’t have a mate, contrary to the messages Christians and Hollywood like to send us all.
(Link): Romantic Comedies: When Stalking Has a Happy Ending by Julie Beck
Overly persistent pursuit is a staple of movie love stories, but a new study shows that it could normalize some troubling behaviors.
…Reasonable people know that rom-coms aren’t what love is really like, just as reasonable people know that porn is not what sex is really like. But these movies still create an image of romance that leaks into the atmosphere and may subtly shape people’s perceptions and expectations of love.
One troubling way they may do that is by making stalking behaviors seem like a normal part of romance, according to (Link): a new study by Julia Lippman, a postdoctoral fellow in the department of communication studies at the University of Michigan.
…[Lipman says] “Indeed, they may be seen as reflecting one of the great cultural myths of romantic love: that no matter how big the obstacle, love will conquer all.”
The website TV Tropes, which tracks, wiki-style, frequently-used narrative devices—not just on TV, but in all kinds of fiction—has a page for this. It’s aptly titled (Link): “Stalking Is Love.”Lippman files stalking under the broader umbrella of “persistent pursuit,” which can also encompass “more benign and even positively regarded behaviors such as some types of romantic courtship,” she writes.
According to the National Institute of Justice, “stalking is conservatively defined as ‘a course of conduct directed at a specific person that involves repeated (two or more occasions) visual or physical proximity, nonconsensual communication, or verbal, written, or implied threats, or a combination thereof, that would cause a reasonable person fear.’”
In rom-coms, and also potentially in life, the continuum of behavior from stalking to unwanted attention to assertive courtship can be hard to read. In one study, people (especially men) who had pursued an unrequited love “tended to overreport receiving signals that their love interest was reciprocating, and to underreport receiving rejections.”
…The narrative of slowly wearing someone down over time, be it through stalking or just being friendly and always around, is one that is also inexplicably held up as romantic sometimes.
“The whole ‘nice guy’ trope is a similar thing [to stalking],” Lippman says. “It’s like, ‘Oh, if you put in the time, you’re entitled to her.’ What she might want in the situation is really beside the point. Because really she does want you, she just hasn’t realized it yet.”
…. In another study Lippman did, both men and women who endorsed stalking myths were more likely to report that they’d been the perpetrators of an “unwanted pursuit.”
Women—but not men—who endorsed those myths were also more likely to report being the target of such a pursuit.
Generally, women are far more likely than men to be stalked (one in six women and one in 19 men experience stalking that makes them “very fearful” at some point in their lives, (Link): according to the National Center for Victims of Crime), and men are more likely than women to be stalkers (according to a (Link): national survey in 1998, 87 percent of stalkers were male).
In spite of this, movies are more likely to portray men’s stalking as charming and women’s as crazy. “There is an unfortunate (Link): Double Standard common in the depiction of this trope,” as TV Tropes puts it. “Stalker-type behavior in a man can make him a romantic hero but the same behavior will almost always make a woman dangerous or pathetic.” (Another page on TV Tropes is titled (Link): “No Guy Wants to Be Chased.”)
“When men pursue women, the way they’re acting is consistent with dominant gender roles,” Lippman says. “When women pursue men, they’re acting in violation of those roles.”