Lucy’s written a post about responsibility in writing, and it’s got me thinking.
Which is scary, I don’t like it.
It’s the first half of her post which intrigues me, the part about rape rather than the part about ‘Wolf Creek’ which I haven’t seen, and the heated slanging match in the comments section. A few years back I read a book called ‘The Gift of Fear’ by Gavin de Becker which, amongst other things, talks about stalkers and rapists.
Gavin’s argument (as far as I can remember from reading the book once about five years ago) is rape, and stalking in particular, are instituionalised in our culture because no never means no.
For example, you may have this conversation with someone in a pub:
“Do you want a drink?”
“Are you sure?”
“Oh go on then.”
Which instantly sets a precedent: no doesn’t mean no, it means persuade me.
Similarly, a lot of rom-coms work on the same premise: one party (normally the man) is in love with the second party (normally the woman). He declares his love for her, but she isn’t interested. He then pursues her until she realises the mistake she made and loves him back.
Which certainly sounds like stalking to me, and again illustrates: no doesn’t mean no.
The basic premise of having to win someone’s heart, having to prove yourself worthy by persistence, is a dubious one at best. With so many tales of love, both in print and in moving image, repeating this message, is it any wonder people go off the rails and become stalkers?
A couple of days ago, a producer asked me to come up with some short films ideas for a friend of his. I thought about this premise and suggested a short film where the first five minutes is a standard rom-com from the guy’s perspective where he pursues the object of his affection. The second half is from her perspective where we see the fear she lives in as this weirdo stalks her.
I think it’s a great idea, unfortunately the person concerned once suffered from a stalker and is unlikely to want to relive the experience for a film. It’s one to keep on the back burner though.
Unless someone nicks it from here and makes it first. Perhaps, in retrospect, I shouldn’t post my half formed concepts on the Internet? Oh well, chances are someone else has already made it anyway. Not that that’s a problem: you don’t have to do something first, you just have to do it better.
Back to the subject of responsibility: I’ve tried my hardest to stay away from this ‘Do you?’ ‘No.’ ‘Go on.’ ‘Okay.’ formula in films. It’s difficult, mainly because it’s such an institutionalised formula and most people don’t see anything wrong with it until you point it out; but I feel it’s my responsibility not to propogate it any further.
I was at a friend’s house recently and she offered me a posh chocolate, which I accepted – something which put her and her boyfriend out.
“You’re supposed to decline once and wait for to be offered again.”
Eh? It turns out, they didn’t really want me to have a chocolate – they wanted them all for themselves. They offered out of politeness, and (apparently) etiqutte demands you say no. If they offer again, then it’s a genuine offer and you can happily take one. They had no intention of offering a second time.
My first thought here was “Fuck off and get a life” but I’m a genial soul and didn’t say it. My second thought was “If you don’t want me to have it, why offer?” but I didn’t want to get into a debate about etiquette, politeness and being honest with your friends.
Instead, I opted for explaining the concept of ‘no means no’ and accusing them of being rapists.
Which, I feel, was the responsible course of action.