It was girls’ movie night in the conservative Christian organization I was part of and we were watching Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Our movie choices were extremely limited because, of course, there couldn’t be any language or violence or anything remotely sexual beyond a chaste kiss and the blushing announcement that the main female character was pregnant. What wasn’t scrutinized however were the actual relationships in the movie. We watched as the girls in the movie were literally snatched from their homes and taken captive. And, oh hey! A couple of months later they all miraculously fall in love with the men who captured them and decide to get married.
Was this #relationshipgoals?? I wish that Seven Brides for Seven Brothers was the only reference I’d seen to “romance” like this. But it’s all over the old tv shows, movies and books that I consumed growing up. Girl demurely resists the advances of man. Man keeps pursuing relentlessly. Girl realizes she was ridiculously to not appreciate this man before and quickly falls hopelessly in love with man and they live happily ever after. (Whaaaaaaaat?!) As I raise a son and a daughter I’m thinking carefully about what media they’re exposed to. But unlike the conservative institutions of my past I’m not so concerned with swearing and sex. I’m looking at the relationships. Is my son learning that the person he’s attracted to will fall for him if he just keep pursing long enough? Is my daughter learning that stalking and pushing boundaries constitute love?
Last week yet another school shooter was revealed to have a history of violence against women. He was angry that a classmate didn’t appreciate his repeated advances. He shot and killed her and nine others.
If you believe the headlines you’ll think that behind every violent man is a woman who spurned his advances. As if the woman saying “yes” would have prevented any of this from happening.
Violence against women is serious and real and it comes it comes in many forms. And as we take action against it in real life we can also call out the fictionalized depictions of “romance” that set our children up for dangerous relationships.