April 1, 2011

Because Kissing a Fan Apparently Leaves You Susceptible to Stalkers…

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:25 pm by sacetalks

When I struggle with what to write for our weekly blog post, all I have to do is think back to what I watched on TV this week.  I will freely admit that I am a junk TV junkie: Gossip Girl, 90210, Sister Wives, TMZ… You name it, I’ll probably watch it.  What immediately struck me this week was what happened on America’s Next Top Model.

The women’s challenge this week was to handle meeting fans.  They were stationed outside, meeting people and signing autographs.  They were being tested on their professionalism, their friendliness and their ability to maintain idle chatter… But they were also apparently being judged on not going “too far.”

See, there was this one fan who offered Monique, one of the potential models, work on websites.  When she signed his picture, he stated that she could write that he’s a good kisser on that.  She laughed and said that Alexandria, another model, might be into that.  So, he went running to Alexandria and insisted, “Monique said you would kiss me.”    There’s a video of the entire sordid exchange.

Eventually, after Alexandria tries to make it clear (politely) that she’s not going to kiss him, the guy keeps persisting.  To get him off her back, she gives in and kisses him on his cheek.

Later on, when the women are being judged, Alexandria is told that she shouldn’t have kissed him because that leaves her susceptible to stalkers.  Yes, you read correctly: Monique wasn’t told that it’s not okay to pass off creepy people onto other women; she wasn’t told she’s sorry that happens or asked how she felt about it or given support on how to reject people without appearing rude (being rude probably meant losing the contest).  Nope, she was just told that she was now susceptible to being stalked.  Because stalkers select women who kiss them.  (For all you Canadians, we should also make it clear that what the man did is an example of coercion, under which one cannot give voluntary consent as it is defined by our Criminal Code.)

I guess there’s not much else we can expect from a rape culture like ours – it doesn’t matter what the offender does, it doesn’t matter what the people around you do – just be nice, but not too nice and set limits, but not too strongly.  It doesn’t seem like there was any way for her to come out of that situation a winner.

That said, at the Sexual Assault Centre, we know that criminal harassment doesn’t happen because of a woman kisses someone.  We know it happens because stalkers want to control the life of the person they’re victimizing.

-Pragya Sharma

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