Thursday, October 4, 2007

Some Call It Stalking, I Call It Love

Now being sold at Walmart. These shirts, marketed at teens and young adults, are clearly sending the message that stalking isn't dangerous, but is instead proof of love. But far from simply not wanting to be apart, stalking can be terrifying and haunting for its victims. A stalking victim quoted in the above article had this to say:

"People don't realize how serious stalking is," she said. "You
constantly live in fear, look over your shoulder and suffer from psychological
and physical symptoms due to the stress of the stalker."

She wondered aloud: What's next? "Some say it's rape, I call it hot sex"? Or: "Some call it domestic violence, I say I'm just teaching her a lesson"?
As of today, we have found no indication that Walmart has taken the shirts off the racks, even after numerous complaints have been filed. If you are as outraged as we are, feel free to give the Walmart Corporate Headquarters a call or an email to let them know what you think.


Kelly said...

I wrote a letter to Walmart about this shirt; and if I had any faith in Walmart I'd think that a real person might actually read it. Capitalizing off of "jokes" about stalking is ridiculous. Of course, Walmart is known for having the largest class action suit for gender discrimination so can we say that we are exactly surprised? Nonetheless, we are outraged.

Anonymous said...

Great post. Amazingly (or rather, not so amazingly) this shirt is being sold under countless designs by numerous nearly anonymous internet shirt dealers. An amazon seller, EShirt has it, as do plenty of cafepress and independent sellers.

nikkie said...

im so buying it.

Anonymous said...

love is good

Anonymous said...

First of all, it is a T-Shirt... Are you serious? Don't get me wrong, it is horrible for people to go through something like that. But come on, it was put on a shirt as a joke, get over it. I love that phrase. I happen to think it is quite funny. Granted, I haven't gone through a stiuation like that, but sometimes people have to learn to be a bit less touchy with things of this nature. I was wondering why I couldn't find this shirt for years. Because idiotic people who have nothing better to do but write letters to stores about T-Shirt have a $%^& fit. Thanks!

Amber said...

If you think this shirt is funny, you are part of the problem.

According to the national Stalking Resource Center, 1,006,970 women and 370,990 men are stalked annually in the U.S. 81% of women stalked by a current or former partner are also physically assaulted by that partner. 76% of intimate partner murder victims had been stalked by their intimate partner.

Stalking is a crime in all 50 states. It isn't about love, and it's not an expression of love, it is an expression of control, and it is dangerous. Just to reiterate, 3/4 of women murdered by intimate partners were being stalked by them.

You admit that you've never been stalked, and I'm guessing the manufacturers and sellers of this shirt haven't been either. You don't know what it is like so have someone of whom you are terribly afraid show up at your home or job, call you constantly, and make threats to your safety. If you woke up in the middle of the night to find your stalker in your home, you wouldn't think that was funny, and sure you wouldn't think it was love.

By minimizing the severity of stalking, we are teaching teens and young adults, to whom shirts like these are marketed, that harassment and control are ways of illustrating your love. I can’t think of many things better to do with my time than working to counteract that message.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry but seeing/wearing or having anything to do with a shirt that mentions "stalking" barely has an impact on the issue of stalking. Those individuals who do STALK others have issues that need to be dealt with and personal problems that probably haven't been addressed in their lives. A shirt that jokes about the act of stalking will likely have no impact on the increase or decrease of slightly imbalance people who end up stalking others. It's a personal addiction/problem.

Women's Resource Center said...

I think some of the commenters are missing the point. We’re not saying that wearing a shirt like this makes someone more likely to stalk. What we are saying is that jokes about stalking minimize its severity and the damage stalking does to stalking victims. If people laugh at stalking jokes, and think stalking is an acceptable form of showing affection, over time these behaviors and attitudes contribute to a culture that doesn’t take stalking and its damage to those being stalked seriously.

This one shirt is just one small part in that larger culture. Magazines promote GPS units or cell phone spoofing software so that one can spy on their partners to see if they are cheating. Bands like Death Cab for Cutie release songs like “I Will Posses Your Heart”, and sing about looking through the window of the house of a girl who has said flat out that she doesn’t want to be with him. But, he argues, she just needs to spend some time with him, whether she wants to or not. Young men in movies stand outside girls’ windows with mixed tapes to declare their love, and the girls suddenly realize that they were wrong all of those other times when they turned him down for a date.

We live in a culture where the media saturates us with messages that stalking is part of love, and that stalking can pay off in the long run. These romantic illusions are far from the true reality of stalking. But given this romanticized view of something that is, in fact, illegal, its not hard to understand why some people think that stalking behaviors are a way of showing your love.

As far as stalking being a personal problem, it is. And people who stalk need intervention and need to be held accountable for their actions. The trouble is, when we live in a society that doesn’t take stalking seriously, its doubtful that stalkers will ever feel the need to stop those behaviors. If police don’t take stalking seriously, and they tell victims to be flattered or just to stop answering their phone, the stalker is not being held accountable for committing a crime. When a stalker’s friend doesn’t speak up and tell him its wrong to show up at his ex-girlfriend’s job or mother’s house when she has clearly told him to stay away, he’s learning that his behavior is acceptable because no one is telling him otherwise. And, when he sees strangers wearing shirts like these, he may think, yeah, she calls it stalking, but no one else seems to thinks its that big of a deal. I’m just showing her how much I still love her. It isn’t about one message, but a barrage of different cultural messages – from media, from strangers, from friends and family, from law enforcement – that says stalking isn’t a big deal, it’s not dangerous, it’s flattering, and it’s perfectly acceptable.

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