VPAS brings forward dialogue about romanticized stalking
Essence Boyd—Copy Editor
Stranger Things. Pretty in Pink. The Notebook. What do all these classics have in common? They all portray stalking as a harmless and intense expression of love. According to Violence Prevention Victim Advocacy and Support, it is anything but.
On March 27, VPAS hosted a screening of “Stalking in Love,” which was followed by a round table discussion. Students were given the opportunity to ask any questions or concerns they had regarding the topic.
According to the SCSU student handbook, stalking is defined as repeatedly contacting another person when the contacting person knows or should know that the contact is unwanted by the other person.
Sexual Assault and Violence Prevention Specialist Melissa Kissi lead the discussion with hopes of making students more confident in identifying signs of stalking.
“We hope that students walk away with an ability to recognize signs of stalking and to be able to identify it in movies or TV shows and other pop culture. Aside from identifying, also learning how to speak up against it, as well as the resources available to them,” said Kissi.
In attendance was sophomore physiology major and stalking survivor Julian Serrano, who said being aware of what stalking looks like is the first step to changing the way it is portrayed today.
“Stalking is used as a weapon.” he said. “When you use stalking to figure out what the admirer likes, use it against them to make them like you in a manipulative way, or even to ask them out for commitment and force it upon them,” said Serrano.
In the entertainment industry, stalking is portrayed as a lot of things it is not. “Stalking in Love” opened the discussion at the event for the double standards in people’s beliefs about stalking.
“When it does come to women, stalking is portrayed as the women is crazy or she needs help. But when it comes to men, it is look at as, “Oh he’s so sweet, he’s just being romantic,’ and that it’s okay,” said freshman and VPAS member Taipha Antoine.
The media has contributed to desensitizing the public to stalking, but has it also changed the way people envision relationships.
“People miss the point sometimes, when it comes to media, of what is really important in terms of stalking behaviors and romantic relationships and what is the real problem versus reality” said senior and film, television, and video production major Damaris Garcia.
“Watching romanticized media depictions of stalking leads women and men to more likely believe stalking myths, like the person is just playing hard to get. This shows that media is powerful and depicting stalking behaviors as normal or romantic can be dangerous,” said Kissi.
According to Antoine, the rapid progression of technology makes it easier for people to carry on with stalker-like behavior.
“The type of stalking that people think nowadays is taking pictures of people and videos of them without their consent or following them without letting them know you’re there and popping up wherever they go,” said Antoine. “But it is also liking all of someone’s pictures on social media or being one of the first people to constantly view someone’s stories.”
Among other services, VPAS also provides support and counseling services to those who may have been affected by stalking.
“It is important for students to know that stalking is not okay,” said Kissi. “Feeling afraid or uncomfortable because someone keeps contacting when that contact is not wanted should not be happening, and that they are not alone and VPAS is here to help, and that you can make a difference by speaking out against toxic representations of relationships that normalize stalking behaviors.”
Photo Credit: Essence Boyd