Shithouse rat

I'm a bipolar writer in the Naked City. I'm not playing with a full deck. I don't have all my dots on the dice. My cheese is sliding off my cracker. I don't have both oars in the water. I'm a bubble off plum. In other words, I'm crazier than a shithouse rat. These are my stories. Comments--short or long, nasty or nice--always welcome!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Pscyho killers and stalker sluts

Originally uploaded by heimwege.
Recently, I wrote a post featuring a whiny complaint about blogpals I hadn't seen around in awhile. Somehow, I tied this in to the subject of stalking and the film Fatal Attraction. In this movie, as everyone undoubtedly knows, Dan (Michael Douglas), a happily married family man, has a weekend affair with Alex (Glenn Close). Dan thinks of it as a quick, meaningless fling, but he's got another think coming. Alex wants more--much more--and will kill innocent bunny rabbits to get it. Although, as per the standard morally correct Hollywood formula, he pays for his sin--through anguish, guilt, possible loss of his marriage, recriminations, and the machinations of a psycho woman who just won't go away--in the end, he lives, and Alex dies.

Ice wrote the following comment in response:

'Back to Fatal Attraction for a moment, I do remember feeling that I had a lot in common with Alex. I would totally understand why she did things. Should I be concerned about this?'

This started me thinking about stalkers, and how it relates to some of the feelings I had when watching this movie.

First off, stalking is a serious problem in this country, with celeb-stalking in a horrific league all its own. But perhaps no miscreant is considered more reprehensible and downright terrifying than the female stalker. Thus, seeing Alex in any sort of sympathetic light or identifying with her in any way is just not deemed acceptable.

Women, after all, are just not supposed to chase men. If they do, it is at their own peril--especially if they are looking for a long-term relationship. It's still considered cheap, slutty, and gauche in many circles--and I, for one, would prefer not to engage in it. However, it is perfectly acceptable for a woman to be a passive mental stalker, viz:

Obsessing over a guy. Waiting by the phone for his calls. Taking all sorts of ridiculous crap from him and making oneself too readily available to his whims instead of having a life. Endlessly deconstructing every move "Mr. Right" makes so you and your girlfriends can analyze his demeanor and motives to determine if he does/doesn't care about you. In other words, all the usual women's nonsense. Browse through the pages of Cosmo sometime--or better yet, go to their message boards--and you'll see what I'm talking about.

Prematurely pushing for an exclusive relationship is often a deal-breaker. But in any case, no matter how smitten a woman may be, it's considered particularly bad form to have a quickie one-nighter and then demand a "commitment" the next morning. Not cool. No clinging, no whining, no blackmailing, no wrist-slashing, no bunny-boiling.

But let's face it: statistically speaking, most dangerous stalkers are overwhelmingly male. How many real-life female psycho-stalkers--meaning those with the potential for real violence-- have you heard of or encountered?

I suppose there are women out there who might resort to more passive agressive schemes, such as calling a lover's wife, or even trying to blackmail someone to get their way. Although these are creepy--even seriously sick and damaging--behaviors, they usually do not result in bodily harm or death.

In his excellent bestselling book, The Gift of Fear, the renowned Gavin de Becker, who works with media figures, corporations, law enforcement agencies, regular citizens, and prosecutors on predicting and preventing violence, notes how a certain measure of stalking behavior is considered acceptable, even admirable, in our culture--as long as it is the man doing the pursuing, that is. He writes:

"Men pursuing unlikely or inappropriate relationships with women and getting them is a common theme promoted in our culture. Just recall Flashdance, Tootsie, The Heartbreak Kid, 10, Blame it on Rio, Honeymoon in Vegas, Indecent Proposal.

"This Hollywood formula could be called Boy Wants Girl, Girl Doesn't Want Boy, Boy Harasses Girl, Boy Gets Girl. Many movies teach that if you just stay with it, even if you offend her, even if she says she wants nothing to do with you, even if you've treated her like trash (and sometimes because you've treated her like trash), you'll get the girl.

"...If a man in the movies wants a sexual encounter or applies persistence, he's a regular, everyday guy, but if a woman does the same thing, she's a maniac or a killer. Just recall Fatal Attraction, the King of Comedy, Single White Female, Play Misty for Me, The Hand that Rocks the Cradle, and Basic Instinct. When the men pursue, they usually get the girl. When the women pursue, they usually get killed."

The context of this cultural observation is the focus of de Becker's book--namely the ubiquitousness of dangerous, often violent MALE stalkers--as well as abusive spouses and boyfriends---in our midst, and how women can protect themselves from unwanted male attention and harassment, including injury or even death.

He writes further:
"Giving talks around the country, I sometimes ask the audience, 'How many of the men here ever found out where a girl lived or worked by means other than asking her? How many have driven by a girl's house to see what cars were there, or called just to see who answered the phone and then hung up?'

"By the overwhelming show of hands, I've learned that the acceptability of these behaviors is a matter of degree."

Let me just say for the record: To me, stalking--by men or women--isn't cool.

But back to Ice's original question: Can I relate at all to this diabolical Alex character?

Alex is obviously a lonely and disturbed woman. The implication is that this is far from the only man she's pursued. Although she insists that she's not a slut, she mentions that she's recently had an abortion. Meanwhile, she's just met this guy, but is eager to have a child with him. Moreover, she lives alone in a scary, creepy loft, where every square inch and piece of furniture is white, like a padded cell in a mental hospital.

But one scene in particular touched me in an uncomfortably familiar way.

There is a sequence which cuts rapidly back and forth. First, a vignette from Dan's get together with his close friends at home. They laugh, they joke over dinner, they have tons of warm-hearted fun. Dan has apparently just made partner in his law firm, if I remember correctly, and he, his lovely wife, and adorable daughter are about to move out of the city and to a new country home. Life is good, and Dan figures he can forget all about the troubled woman he schtupped and left behind with her wrists bandaged--not to mention the fact that he betrayed his wife.

Cut to Alex--sitting in the dark, the strains of Madame Butterfly soaring in the background, compulsively switching her lamp on and off, rocking back and forth. Totally alone, unbearably lonely.

Anyone who's had a mental illness--and many who have not--may be able to identify with this scenario. If you've ever been in a crowded bar alone, in the midst of strangers who are all in couples and groups having a merry old time, you may have felt something like this too--a feeling of being cut off from what our culture tells us we are entitled to--a close knit circle of friends, and ideally a long term partner, home, and family.

When I was in a deep, near catatonic depression, it was quite obvious to me and everyone else that I was not capable of interacting normally--and I was in essence completely cut off from my fellow human beings. Conversely, the first few times I became hypomanic, I could be inappropriately forward, belligerent, accusatory--a tad like Alex in her vengeful state.

But in answer to your original question, Ice, I don't think Alex is the kind of character one would want to emulate.

Nevertheless, if there be any amongst you who have not been infatuated and even obsessed over another, let s/he cast the first stone. And if you have ever been on the giving or receiving end of unwanted advances, I'd love to hear about that too.


At 11:55 AM, Blogger elvira black said...

To Walker, BLLB, et al:

Yes, I know you've already relayed some tales about the stalker-bitches in your past. But you can never have too many psycho-stalker tales to share. Am I right or am I right?

At 10:06 PM, Blogger NYCbeauty said...

Ahhhh, chronic depressive sometimes slightly manic woman here! Thanks for commenting on my blog and letting that asshole woman have it!!! Discourse is good but not when people disagree with ME ha ah. As for Alex; no, I don't think she's to be emulated. But I can relate to having fantasies about wanting all sorts of things to happen to people/lovers who have wronged me. Recently someone lied to me and didn't tell me he was married. I fantasized about calling his wife...but not boiling any bunnies or stalking with knives. Nice to meetcha

At 2:05 AM, Blogger Walker said...

I have been stalked in the past and hounded on many occations by even women I have never met.
I had one walk out to a patio and sit with my friends and tell them that she was waiting for her boy frined. Whne I walked in she said look there he is and ran up and kissed me.
She then left to go to the washroom.
I sat with my friends and they were wondering when I got the new chick.
So was I.
Wel I had my hands full that night and finally got rid of her and then had her barred from the pub.
Another one used to park outside my house all night and wait fo a glimpse of me.
Thats fucken freaky.
One walked up to my new GF and asked her if she could sleep with me on wednsdays.
I have had wives wamting to leave husbands and heeps of nakid pictures some that would make you faint just looking at them.
I had one threaten to jump off of her balcony If I didn't take her for keeps. She had a BF, he was the one who called me.
Shit people are nuts
And guess what.
Some are still chasing after 20 years and 2 husbands later.

At 7:12 AM, Blogger elvira black said...

NYC Beauty:

Thanks for stopping by--it's good to hear from a "neighbor" in NYC! I am normally not so cantankerous in my comments, but the woman in question--who said something to the effect that those poor people in New Orleans chose to stay when they could have left--and then somehow brought God into it--just infuriated me. Then I felt bad when I checked out her blog and found out she was a sweet old grandmother.

It does seem funny though that the blogs I've seen that echo this sentiment seem to be from religiously oriented Christians. Hmmm.....

As far as your revenge fantasy--I think a lot of women can relate to that. In fact, if all the scorned and wronged women were to make good on their vengeful thoughts, there would be many a man out there in deep, deep shit.

Fortunately for them, I think women tend to just talk amongst themselves about these things. Topics might include why a guy they were seeing suddenly stopped all communication, leaving them with no closure or clue as to what they did wrong (it's always the woman's fault, of course). Or those who schtup the hell out of them but don't want their friends to know about it. And so on and so on....

On the other hand, I think men don't normally discuss these sort of emotional agonies with their pals. It would make them look weak and vulnerable. Thus, they get no feedback or outlet for their frustrations--and no one to suggest that stalking might not be the best idea.

I know I'm stereotyping here, but hey--sometimes stereotypes are eerily accurate in a large percentage of cases.

At 7:18 AM, Blogger elvira black said...


I'm sure there are guys out there who would say:
By you this is a problem?

But seriously, you are obviously what they call in the trade a serious chick/psycho magnet. I don't know what you look like under that Darth Vader mask, but I'm guessing you're pretty easy on the eyes.

Aside from that, judging from your blog, you seem to be the kind of guy who attracts a lot of friends, male and female alike--and for good reason.

But as for those women who want to leave their hubbies for you--I'm guessing that you probably also possess certain--ahem--skills that, when done right (and I do mean right) do have the power to make women lose their minds and misplace their husbands.

I suppose such a gift can be a blessing and a curse...

At 3:41 AM, Blogger JC said...

Ok, I have to admit that I have also been on the giving and the receiving end in this situation. I obsessed with a man for a period of time, I drove past his house, I knew where he worked, I tried to show up where he would be. Looking back, I can say that it was a time when I had such a grim horrible life and he gave me something fun and exciting to think about. I needed something else to focus on-if I thought about my own life at the time I would have been digging in the medicine chest.
The man who was obsessed with me was sweet and kind. He sent lovely gifts, wrote me poems that were published, flowers, candy, etc. The only problem is that if I was ever in his presence the hair on my arms would stand on end. Very uncomfortable. I was scared of him in some way that I couldn't explain. He scared me then and he still would now.
As far as the whole thing about feeling alone when one has mental illness. I can totally relate to that. I have never quite "fit" in any group, but can be bubbly and fun if hypomanic. Only problem is that bipolar folk spend three quarters of their time depressed. Starting a new medication at this point and feeling really steady, so it is all good right now. I am hoping that it works and continues to work for a long time. I am not totally sure though that I am not just a tad hypomanic as I just keep writing, have been obsessed with things I just NEED to write lately, but that may just be dealing with my emotions about the Katrina thing.

At 5:03 AM, Blogger elvira black said...


Thanks so much for being so open about that--I was hoping someone would, but I didn't know if anyone would actually have the balls to do so.

I can understand where you're coming from. The other thing is that when you're manic/hypomanic, one of the symptoms is often hypersexuality. I've come very very close to making a total ass of myself when on a hypomanic horny high. It can be so intense that it's actually kind of scary.

I don't remember if you said you were now on Lamictal. If so, I just wanted to say that it seems to have worked wonders for me. Not only did it help eradicate a psychotic depression (knock wood), but it also made my hypomanic episodes a lot more manageable--more of the pluses, less of the minuses. If it's not too intense, I think hypomania can be a bloggers/writer's dream come true.

The stalker dude you mentioned does sound creepy. There's a fine line between being a doting, considerate gentleman or an obsessive nutcase.

At 9:01 AM, Blogger !ce said...

Being one who has been labeled negatively, I am not comfortable with the idea that one can be thought of as unbalanced simply by being a little overly aggressive in their niceness or openness. Besides, it makes for good gossip, and causes others who have no experience or idea what is going on to prematurely look at them in a similar light.

I would like to say that men suck, and they should all die. Anyone else with me here?

At 10:34 AM, Blogger elvira black said...


As always, an interesting viewpoint.

Although you are "not comfortable with the idea that one can be thought of as unbalanced simply by being a little overly aggressive in their niceness or openness," the truth of the matter is that no one can completely regulate the thoughts of others.

I wish you would reveal a bit more about what makes Ice tick. From your blog, I gather that you have indeed been overly agressive in your overtures to others. I also get the distinct impression that the results have not been pretty.

You have put it all out there very frankly by posting very negative message board comments written about you. I would love to find out more about your inner feelings and motivations.

As far as hating all men and wishing they would die, I can't say I agree. For one thing, I'd lose my boyfriend. Also, technically speaking, you would have to give up the ghost also. Plus, then there would really be no one to kvetch about, and what fun would that be?

Do I sense that a newfound friend has disappointed you in some way? If so, do tell! You are still quite an enigma to me.

At 3:20 PM, Blogger artdetective said...

I think men call women "clingy" or "needy" (even, unfairly, "stalker like") when they're being commitment-phobic, unclear and uncommunicative, or "just not that into you" -- whatever it is that takes over men in the dating world...

Stalking itself is a different matter: I have a female friend who has had two life-and-death experiences with male stalkers. My uncle's ex-wife, after twenty years of divorce, is physically violent and obsessive with his second wife. Even my boyfriend has a stalker, a casual fling from many years ago, who has pried into my life and punched me in the arm.

There are lots of lonely people out there, we all have malicious fantasies, but those who act them out (I think) need real help.

At 4:03 PM, Blogger !ce said...

You need to be more specific. My world is filled with negativity, and it is hard to reference one particular point. I will say this, though. I have a new favorite word: "emancipation."

At 1:11 AM, Blogger elvira black said...


Right you are! That is such a great insight.

Those stalking incidents you mention--OMG. Very scary.

From what I've read, sometimes even an order of protection may do more harm than good. The stalker may become even more enraged and vengeful, and I'm guessing it's tough to enforce them too.

However, I thought I'd heard something recently about establishing and/or toughening up anti- stalking laws. Or was this just something I imagined?

At 1:14 AM, Blogger elvira black said...


There you go again..getting all elusive and mysterious on my ass!

Emancipation: please to explain. From what? From who? Why? Where? When?

Like that.

At 4:27 PM, Blogger !ce said...

For me, the word "emancipation" represents the idea of philosophical positivity. If you friends ditch you, you could say you've been dumped, or you could say you've been "emancipated." If you are working on something, and it doesn't work out, you could say you've had a personal failure, or you could say you've been "emancipated." If you lose your job, you could say you were fired, or you could say you were "emancipated." The details of any given situation are not important, it is simply a matter of trying to be positive and live in the moment. I also have another word for negativity: "bleak." If someone doesn't take you seriously or they are being difficult, you might tell them that they're "being very bleak." If there is a negative chapter in your life, you might refer to it as "a very bleak period."


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