If only life was as simple as turning off a light when we’re not interested in romantic attention, and keeping it on when we are. Can’t really ask for a much clearer sign than that, can you?
Unfortunately, however, real life bears very little, if no resemblance at all, to the hit show Take Me Out, hosted by Paddy McGuinness, in which a panel of 30 girls simply (being the operative word) make their intentions to the featured male descending from a lift crystal clear through the touch of a button. If they’re interested, they keep their light on. And if they’re not, they don’t.
But good old reality dictates a rather stark difference. You see, increasing numbers of people are either failing to read the signs properly, or deliberately refusing to. We call these people stalkers.
News over the last few weeks has been particularly rife with stories of the like. Kylie Minogue calling police over Twitter stalker scare, to name but one example.
But whereas celebrities have battled with stalkers ever since the inception of fame, more and more of us ‘plebs’ are suffering similarly.
It was only last week that the voyeuristic practices of a certain stalker were revealed after a hidden camera in the changing room of a leisure centre was found. And this is not an isolated event.
“MP’s demand law against stalking”, we were told yesterday. Because it would seem that they have yet to come up with a definition of what stalking actually consists of, especially for us ‘plebs’. But is it any wonder?
You see, us ‘plebs’ are not making it very easy.
Take the aforementioned show, as an example. Forget the regular voyeurism which is involved, in that millions of us watch a bunch of scantily clad women downgrade themselves on national television to win a date with whoever ‘reveals themselves’, and whoever has ‘revealed themselves’ publicly rejecting whoever has offered themselves up on a plate. There’s a much more serious issue in that there seems to exist a term which I have coined, ‘inverted voyeurism’. It’s not so much that we are inappropriately watching others doing the aforementioned (although this is also a concern - when did we become this kind of society?), but that the ‘others’ in question are inappropriately thrusting themselves into view – on purpose. It’s as if they’re begging for the degradation, the shame, the rejection and the cheap sexual stereotype which they will inevitably become.
Why is the definition of stalking so confused? Because of these realities. We might not think of them as related, but they are.
Celebrities have always had the same quandary – they want to be famous, they want others to watch them, and they want to be wanted – until it takes a nasty turn. But now we ‘plebs’ are able and willing to be portrayed in the same light (and Take Me Out is by no means the only culprit – think even of our bandying about of terms such as ‘Facebook stalking’), a similar dilemma eludes when judging just how far one has to go for a line to be crossed.
If only we all had Paddy protection.