Stalking is Not Romantic


The Spring Hill College Department of Public Safety (DPS) releases an annual security report documenting the amount of offenses its students commit. The report contains descriptions and laws of each offense by publishing the laws made by both the college and at the federal level. One of the report’s main focuses is on sexual assault. According to the Public Safety 2017 Annual Security Report, there were six sexual assaults on campus in 2017, two in 2016 and three in 2015.

According to the security report, both the SHC and federal description of sexual assault is “an offense that meets the definition of rape, fondling, incest or statutory rape.” While stalking is not included in the definition of sexual assault, it is possible that stalking can lead to a sexual assault.

According to the report, the federal definition of stalking is “engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for the person’s safety or the safety of others or suffer substantial emotional distress.”

The National Center for Victims of Crime (NCVC) states that “61 percent of female victims and 44 percent of male victims of stalking are stalked by a current or former intimate partner.”

Additionally, femicide, the killing of a woman or girl on the account of her gender, normally follows after a period of stalking and physical abuse. The NCVC states that “89 percent of femicide victims who had been physically assaulted had also been stalked in the 12 months before their murder.”

Pop culture depicts romance in various ways. The famous romantic comedy, or rom-com, usually has a plot where a character tries to go above and beyond to win their love interest over. However, the audience has become so desensitized to these movies and that they do not know what they are actually watching happen.  

Kat Brown’s Telegraph article, “Passion killer: Netflix's ‘You’ and the dangerous romanticization of stalking,” explains how movies even way before the days of Hulu and Netflix casually use stalking as a technique to make a person fall for another. Brown addresses one of the most famous rom-coms, Love, Actually, and its creepy stalker undertone played by Andrew Lincoln’s character.

Brown’s article title includes one of Netflix’s most recent releases, You. The Netflix original stars Penn Badgley who plays a charming, single bookstore manager that becomes infatuated with a woman who is shopping in the bookstore one day. He becomes so obsessed that he believes the only way she can be happy is if he is in her life, so he does everything in his power to make sure that nothing, or no one, can get in his way of being with her. He results to following her every move, stealing her cell phone, reading every texts she sends/receives and gaining access to her emails.

Brown argues that this show is in no way whatsoever romanticizing stalking, even though a lot of the show’s fans are on Badgley’s character’s side: “Being honest is how to earn a good relationship – not by pursuing the person you want to date,” said Brown. Viewers need to be aware that such behavior, no matter how attractive or charming the person is, is unacceptable and considered stalking.

Any Spring Hill student is encouraged to contact the Department of Public Safety if he/she feels like they or a friend are in danger. For emergencies, contact 251-380-4444 from a cell or off campus phone or 4444 from a campus phone to reach DPS. Contact 911 to reach Mobile Police or Fire Department in the case of emergency.

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