I put a little sliver of my life on this blog, not my entire existence just fragments and pieces. Due to some of my increased exposure as of late, I have had to deal with a problem of a few male “fans” who have crossed boundaries on various social media outlets. What usually happens is they start commenting on everything I post, either on this blog or on Facebook. Their correspondence gets increasingly personal and disturbing until I finally block them from my profile. These men then respond with repeated vicious attacks using just about every means available to them. I have received harassment on this blog, in my regular email, on Facebook, twitter and even once on an online dating website. That particular man created not one, but two fake profiles with the sole purpose of harassing me. In most cases, I have never met these men outside of cyberspace, nor have I had any personal history with them.
Immediately after a particularly bad episode with one male, a few of my friends posted the following joke on their Facebook pages. I am not sure of the exact wording of the joke so I will paraphrase
“If a guy is unattractive he is a stalker, if he is good-looking then he is a secret admirer”
Women were gleefully posting comments as “so true” and the like.
I don’t know anyone who has had a “secret admirer” since grade school, maybe middle school. When an adult male desires a woman, he will usually let her know and in the most direct way possible. And in my 38 years on this planet I don’t know any woman who would find a stranger following them around in a car or hanging outside their apartment building or home, anything but a threat. Even if the man is devastatingly handsome if he is lurking about on your property…how would that not be creepy?
Real stalking is a huge problem and it has only gotten worse with our privacy free world of the internet. In most cases women are stalked by former boyfriends, or ex-husbands. So conceivably at one time these women found their stalkers quite attractive. Somehow the relationship went south and now the man is using stalking tactics to try to control, dominate and intimidate his former lover. I have known several women who have had to get restraining orders against men who refuse to leave them alone. And with background searches so easily and cheaply attainable any potential stalker can find out almost anything he wants about his would be prey. A stalker can find where a woman works, where she lives, her phone numbers, friends, hobbies, and even her exact location thanks to those insane “check in” computer apps.
I have had men send multiple angry emails, at first begging me to write them back, followed by angry vitriol filled diatribes, and finally I will rue the day I snubbed them. Why they feel the need to get so upset at someone they have no history with, and no shared experience is beyond me. I won’t get into many specifics because I worry that if any of the men who have sent me threats read this, I would only be adding fuel to the fire by reprinting in detail what they have sent me. But I have gotten the following two remarks included with sexually explicit degrading remarks.
“Maybe I will see you at a show sometime”
“You will really feel bad if I decide to show up at one of your comedy shows”
I have a calendar on my website, as I am trying to promote my performances and help out the producers who have hired me. I can’t really hide when I am going to appear onstage; and, producers are going to promote me anyway.
What a joke about stalking is really saying is that stalking isn’t a real problem. That somehow women wouldn’t mind angry crazed emails on their blog, in their inbox and even in their online dating profiles if the man making them was attractive. Getting nasty emails or letters filled with sexually threatening language isn’t exactly welcome from an older unattractive man, or a beautiful young man. The physical appearance of the man sending the intimidating material is irrelevant. A joke like this is yet another dismissive attack on women and the right for all women to lead independent lives.
According to the Stalking Resource Center – National Statistics for Crime
- 3.4 million people over the age of 18 are stalked each year in the United States.
- 3 in 4 stalking victims are stalked by someone they know.
- 30% of stalking victims are stalked by a current or former intimate partner.
- 10% of stalking victims are stalked by a stranger.
- Persons aged 18-24 years experience the highest rate of stalking.
- 11% of stalking victims have been stalked for 5 years or more.
- 46% of stalking victims experience at least one unwanted contact per week.
- 1 in 4 victims report being stalked through the use of some form of technology (such as e-mail or instant messaging).
- 10% of victims report being monitored with global positioning systems (GPS), and 8% report being monitored through video or digital cameras, or listening devices.
The stalker “joke” reminds me of another poorly aimed attempt at humor that I have heard one too many times.
“He is only a rapist if he is ugly”
Well again, can’t really agree with that joke or find it funny. After all Ted Bundy was an extremely attractive man, he was also one of the most prolific and brutal serial killers of our time. He would not only strangle women but have sex with their corpses days sometimes weeks after he had murdered them. His actions are not exactly funny or something to laugh about. His attractiveness made him a more effective killer since women were less likely to suspect him, but according to his few surviving victims his sexual relationships weren’t consensual. Bundy preferred to have sex with his victims after he killed them.
So call me politically correct, but I am going to disagree with anyone who thinks a “stalker” joke is funny or lighthearted. Any woman, or man for that matter, who has had to deal with a stalker situation would never find it humorous. My tactic for dealing with men who try to intimidate me on the internet is the following.
I stalk my stalkers. I have the full names, emails, phone numbers, places of work, home addresses, criminal histories and even family members of the various people over the years who have threatened me. If I have a flurry of activity from a stalker, I walk around with a hard copy of any threatening emails, and a background check of the person. That way if they show up at a performance and try to harm me I will have more proof for law enforcement that this person has done more than just show up to see some comedy. When I have stalker activity, I also don’t broadcast where I am going, or what show I might be attending on twitter, on facebook or in any other public forum.
I just want to live my life and this blog has improved mine immeasurably since I started it, so I am not about to shut it down. And as I always say if you are really so worked up, write your own blog and get off of mine! That is the more proactive approach now isn’t it.
And if you are experiencing a problem with someone who is stalking you. I found an excellent resource in the Stalking Resource Center