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Aggressive behavior

Study finds that romantic comedies normalize stalking

By WITW Staff on February 4, 2016

Have you ever noticed how certain behavior that is portrayed as acceptable or even romantic in a light Hollywood comedy — think of Ben Stiller hiring a detective to track down his high school crush in There’s Something About Mary — would actually be wildly inappropriate in real life? Researcher Julia R. Lippman at the University of Michigan wanted to see whether romantic comedies with positive portrayals of this kind of stalking behavior actually made women more likely to accept this kind of aggressive behavior from potential romantic partners. Lippman surveyed women about their attitudes towards aggressive romantic behavior after watching six films with different themes: a positive portrayal of romantic pursuits (There’s Something About Mary and Engagement), a negative portrayal of stalking (Sleeping With The Enemy and Enough) or a pair of neutral nature documentaries. She found that the women who watched the rom-coms which glorified the persistent romantic pursuit more readily accepted stalker-like behavior from men, while the opposite happened for women who watched movies depicting stalking in a negative light. “[Such movies] can encourage women to discount their instinct,” Lippman told Canada’s Global News. “This is a problem because research shows that instincts can serve as powerful cues to help keep us safe,” adding “At their core, all these films are trading in the ‘love conquers all’ myth. Even though, of course, it doesn’t. Love is great, but so is respect for other people.”

Read the full story at The Guardian.