thank you, J.J.
Last night, a Twitter friend shared this Jezebel article about a friend of hers. In the article, a California woman details how she’s been struggling to deal with a mentally unstable stalker, and how ineffective law enforcement and even our supposedly progressive state laws are when it comes to dealing with being stalked. I shared the shit out of it and followed it up with a brief highlights reel of my personal experiences being stalked. If you’d like a refresher course on just how awful men can be to women under the guise of love, go here. It brought up a lot of the old frustrations and garbage, especially because two men from those stories independently decided to barge back into my life – via this website, hah – last year and I had to privately lose my shit and debate whether or not to shut down my personal site (yet again) and lock down all social media and public profiles (yet again) to protect myself and my sanity from these fucking people who are narcissistic enough to believe that “no” is for other people. And if I’d said anything here, while they were still actively emailing, tweeting, and otherwise invading my life, begging for attention, then they would have blown up at me, penned angry, long letters about how cruel I am for calling them stalkers and being afraid of them, and how I’m the bitch and they’re the nice ones. And honestly, even though it’s been over 10 years, I still do not have the reserve energy to go through all that bullshit again. That article on narcissism came on my Facebook feed this morning, and it all came together: stalkers are narcissists. The people they harass, stalk, and obsess over have said no and flee their presence, but to a narcissist, it is incomprehensible that anyone wouldn’t love them and want them around. Which brings me to the next article, also found this morning: 5 Reasons ‘Jessica Jones’ Perfectly Portrays Being Stalked.
It was made pretty clear that I am in love with the Jessica Jones Netflix series, and I knew there was more to it than just the fact that we’re both foul-mouthed, asocial queens, especially because I’ve basically quit drinking, so I can’t relate to the whiskey IV anymore. It also made me very uncomfortable at times, and as much as I love the series, I haven’t started my second viewing yet because I need some time away from it before going back. With Daredevil, I was back-to-back-to-back watching, but even with as dark as DD got at times, it’s still a walk in the park on a perfect day compared to how hard JJ is at times. When you’ve lived it, when you’re still struggling with the aftermath…For story #8 in the #YesAllWomen post I linked to above, I have fucking PTSD because of that man’s voice. The night I was moving into my next home after living next door to him, the street drunk wheeled a cooler full of beer to my new neighbor’s house. He had nearly the exact same voice as the abusive ex-neighbor, and I broke out in a cold sweat and my gut clenched as soon as I heard the new town drunk start yelling (since that’s just how he talks – don’t be chronic alcoholics, kids). The new guy never harassed or abused me, but even now, whenever I hear a man’s voice that sounds like that, my entire body goes into a panic. And that’s what Jessica goes through with Kilgrave, times ten. Look, I’m a tenth Doctor fan all the way, he will always be my favorite Doctor, but I believe Tennant took on Kilgrave at least in part to undo the aw shucks charm he’d built up because of Ten. (For the most part – at the end of Ten’s time he got very emo, peaking in the glass case of emotion meme.) While watching Jessica Jones, of course I was creeped out by Kilgrave because I’ve been on the receiving end of those games more than once, but there’s still that “but.” Like, “but he is attractive and can be very charming, and he believes very strongly in his feelings for her.” That’s what lets so many get away with abuse, and enables them to be serial abusers. It’s why my Voldemort, number 10 in the women post, still makes too much money and travels the world and works with artists I like, and is still viewed by many with respect. Shit, number 9 in that post was my personal Kilgrave, and my mum still refuses to believe what happened, and wishes I’d married him. Even then, when Kilgrave *SPOILER* forced Jessica to move in with him, and she browbeat him into doing something good, I hoped he would decide to use his powers for good and would change. *END SPOILER*
And that’s the thing: our society trains us to always give abusers, especially white male abusers, the benefit of the doubt. It’s why rape victims are always torn apart and questioned, not believed, while the attackers themselves get this special social court of “innocent until I see it happen on tape, and even then she was probably asking for it.” The same extends to men stalking women. Look at a good portion of romantic comedies, and see how many of those hapless, hopeless, yet for some bizarre reason, likable, men come off as they stalk and harass women into loving them, and we root for them. I’ve been harassed by men like that, who insist “if you just give me a chance!” As if they were entitled to, say, 5 dates to try and prove to me that they’re perfect and wonderful and stunning, despite my total lack of interest. But you know what? You’re not entitled to anything from me. I used to be very polite and wouldn’t ignore or shun anyone who approached me because I was raised with manners, but then I started to get stalkers who accused me of flirting with them and leading them on. Because I answered their questions, or smiled politely, or didn’t tell them to fuck off into the sun and die. So I don’t do that anymore. I don’t have to respond to every rando that decides they need to get in my face, but the other side of that coin is that women who don’t tiptoe around unstable men expecting conversation, a phone number, a date, sex, whatever, can then be the victim of a violent crime because the man trying to force one of those things out of her is so entitled, he flies into a rage and viciously attacks her for not doing what he wants. It would be easy to laugh it off as a man-baby throwing a temper tantrum if it wasn’t deadly.
So that’s why JJ is sometimes so hard to watch, but ultimately so watchable. It delves bit by bit into the lasting damage stalking and harassment hidden under the flimsy shroud of “love” does to the one getting the abuse, and how the abuser does not change. Ever. If you have watched Jessica Jones and think “Yeah, right, in reality he would have given up by now,” kindly scroll back up to the first fucking paragraph in this post. Over ten years and they came back. Over a decade. That’s a good portion of someone’s entire life right there. But thanks to a perfect storm of western culture romanticizing stalking and obsession, coupled with women being undermined with the societal view that we’re crazy and unreliable, mixed with a healthy dose of archaic and totally useless stalking laws, we have no real discourse. I was told that after I moved away from the abusive neighbor that constantly violated his restraining order and gave me PTSD as a parting gift, he got the shit beat out of him for what he did, but I can’t verify that. I can only hope that was the case, though I know that if it is true, it’s cold comfort because it will only shore up his persecution complex and narcissism, which is what led him to threaten to rape and kill me in the first place. All I can do to protect myself from further harassment in life is try to remove myself from every instance that would put me in danger, and to always be on guard. So if I listened to the cops, I would delete all online presence, move someplace with no neighbors, have a great security system that would magically have an armed response appear before anyone actually made it to my door, and also not work or drive anywhere, because men also try to force me off the road to do horrible things. (That happened one morning on the way to work recently, and the CHP could not have been less helpful if they’d just picked up the receiver when I called 911 and immediately hung up again.) But I want to live my life and experience what the world has to offer, so I’m “asking for it.” Cool. So fellas, the next time you want to complain about how prickly and brittle women are to you, in all your wide-eyed innocence, think of this and remember how common it really is. Remember that you and others like you break women without thinking, and then have the nerve to complain when we tie the shards back together and move forward as best we can, leaving sharp ends protruding.
P.S. On a related note, I adopted a 7 year old tabby girl cat from a shelter as an early Christmas present to myself. She’s kind of an asshole – our first night, she woke me up at 2:15 am when she somehow managed to pull clothes off their hangers that were hanging 6′ high, so I named her Jonesy, after Jessica Jones. We mostly get along now, but she’s still an asshole. We’re cool.