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Stop romanticizing controlling behavior

Illustration: Madalyn Drewno – CU Sentry

WOMEN ARE NOT A PRIZE TO BE “WON”

Recently, a man in the UK attempted to win back his “true love” by sitting in a park and playing piano until she came back to him. Just to be clear: this man dated a woman for a brief four months. Similarly, women are told that grand gestures are romantic and should be appreciated, but it is important to understand that harassment is not romantic. Unwanted attention and gifts are just that: unwanted.

Rather than respecting her decision and acting like an adult, the man went out and actually bought a brand-new piano, set it up near her home, and played for three whole days before he realized how pathetic he was acting.

Following someone home, leaving unwanted gifts or messages, and especially not listening when someone says, “No,” are all behaviors that are romanticized in films and literature alike. Men are told that women who rebuff their advances are just playing “hard-to-get.” Even Shakespeare’s advice to young men suggested that they hang out in her backyard late at night and hope for the best. Men are instructed to be persistent, and women are told that this total disregard for basic respect is “romantic.”

Piano Guy cannot respect this woman’s decision to end their relationship and to give her some space. Instead of chugging down Jim Beam and crying his feelings into a microphone in his barren studio apartment like any other 20-something-year-old guy would do, this “gentleman” thought he’d do something special. Instead of reaching out and having a conversation, he decided he didn’t respect what she had to say.

According to The New Yorker, women between 15 and 44 are more likely to be injured or die from male violence than from traffic accidents, cancer, malaria and the effects of war combined. Let that sink in for a moment, and reflect on why sending an anonymous gift might make someone feel threatened rather than flattered.

Unfortunately, women live in a reality where an anonymous bouquet reads more like, “I know where you live,” rather than an act of kindness.

But the most offensive aspect of this man’s “romantic gesture” is his direct appeal to the media. That’s right; he begged the local news to cover his story in the hopes that the woman would hear about his aching heart. That’s assuming she can still hear after three days of his incessant piano-playing. He would rather publicly guilt and shame this woman into dating him than respect her as a human being with free will.

Men who have grown up on a steady diet of Spider-Man and Scott Pilgrim are told that by being a “nice guy” they will be rewarded with sex. Women are not prizes or games to be “won;” they are human beings with the autonomous choice to end a relationship and walk away unscathed.

Nearly half of female homicide victims are killed by an intimate partner, meaning there is a sick culture of not listening when women say “no.” Move on, Piano Guy, and all the guys who think stalking, threatening, or guilting someone will magically change their mind. Volunteer at a shelter, or take a roadtrip to the Grand Canyon; please, do anything else but stalk women.

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