Yesterday I talked about how Stockholm Syndrome has been elevated by Western Society to a desired romantic state, today, I want to talk about stalking.
Raise your hands if you've ever been stalked. I have. It was terrible. It was a friend of my flat mate and he would show up unannounced day and night. Even at parties or when we went out. He followed me all around, declaring his infatuation with me one day and the next acting as if I was 'teasing' him. I could not walk a step or I would see him in my shade. It was annoying, frustrating, making me unable to breath or think or do without being on guard. Luckily that person failed Uni that year and went home, so it only lasted a couple of months, if you don't count the phone calls that followed in the months when he was gone. For the record, I never was involved with this person, I actually hardly knew him. My flat mate had brought him home one day and he must have seen that as an invite to follow me around like a stray dog. I also had a boyfriend once who would do similar things, call me all the time, see what I'm doing, where I am, who I'm with. Arrive at my doorstep unannounced, at night (after only a week). That didn't last long. It felt as if I was being suffocated. And stalking happens to a lot of women, so much that even Destiny's Child made a song about it, but they adorably called the stalker a 'bug-a-boo'... Being someone's obsession is not much fun. And that is an understatement. Yet Western popular culture would like us to believe differently. In fact, if you believe some of the series for teens, you'd think that stalking is the summit of affection. And this is not a new phenomenon.
And stalking happens to a lot of women, so much that even Destiny's Child made a song about it, but they adorably called the stalker a 'bug-a-boo'...
Being someone's obsession is not much fun. And that is an understatement.
Yet Western popular culture would like us to believe differently. In fact, if you believe some of the series for teens, you'd think that stalking is the summit of affection. And this is not a new phenomenon.
|Twilight cartoon on TVtropes|
It didn't stop with Buffy, because apparently, the teen adoration of stalking continues with Twilight, which is another Vampire show for a teenage audience. Although the stalking and the reactions to it are somewhat different from the storyline in Buffy, stalking must still be really attractive, because here too, Bella and the vampire eventually end up together.
Now, vampires - as they are fictional characters - have always been used as a cultural expression to scan the dark side of human sexuality, they were initially a way of dealing with homophobia and gay inclinations. (I even wrote a paper about that at university), and art does serve as an exploration, an expression of human desires and the deeper shades of our consciousness. But a painting has a completely different impact then a teen TV show. On the one hand, shouldn't we be more careful about what we're portraying towards young people, on the other hand, cultural expressions can only be a projection of the values of the surrounding culture... that's even more disturbing, really.
Men must really think that stalking isn't that bad. Here's another little anecdote I'd like to share. I had a conversation with a guy who is still my friend and was very briefly a 'thing'. This conversation happened many years after we met, as we were talking about how we all met and first impressions etc. Here's what he told me:
"I used to take the train to get to Uni and there was always this one girl on the train. She was very interesting, wearing nice clothes. Really hot. I'd scan the wagons to sit somewhere close to her." (Note, this guy was a real womanizer at that time)
He also talked about when he first saw me at Uni. I was vice president of a student's union (I guess you can compare it to a fraternity or sorority, except that we're mixed), so I had a toga and was very recognizable. He said he thought I was cute and kept an eye out to see if I was around when he went out.
One day, he was on the train with the hot girl again and he followed her to the subway. He followed her all the way to her stop (which happened to be his stop too) and walked behind her, only to find out that she went to the same university he was at. Eventually he followed her long enough to find out that that girl was the same girl from the Student’s Union. The one with the toga. Me.
That really crept me out, ad after all these years, I remember him telling me all of this like it was yesterday. I never noticed him on the train. I never noticed being followed.
Why on earth would it seem a reasonable idea to do such a thing?
We have raised a generation to believe that this is the right way to go, and with today's technology, stalking and spying on people has never been so easy.
PS I've already shared three anecdotes, but then I'm still leaving out the two times strangers from the street followed me till my doorstep. That I was happy and lucky finding my key quickly and that I was overjoyed I lived in shared buildings and that someone else's light was on.