Updated: Jul 25
Last week's episode of Tyler Perry's "Sistas" struck a nerve. One of the leading characters, Fatima, is arrested for lashing out at a man whose unwanted advances she felt had gone too far. She vandalizes his car and apartment. What's her reasoning? She thinks that maybe by destroying his property he'll finally back off. In previous episodes, she'd asked him to leave her alone and even had friends beat him up so he'd keep his nose out of her current relationship. Fast forward to last night's episode, he still persists; now, he's hellbent on revenge.
Hollywood movies and romance fiction often celebrate unwanted male advances. Antics go beyond pulling pigtails on the playground. In real life, a lot of leading guys' actions would warrant a restraining order. Darius, the main character in the 1990s cult classic Love Jones recites a sexually explicit poem five minutes after meeting the leading lady, Nina. He also obtains her address from a check she gave to someone else. He then shows up uninvited at her apartment.
Somebody call 911!
Hollywood leading men often get a pass because they're attractive. Their persistence is supposed to be charming. When the roles are reversed, however, attractiveness doesn't matter. Females are portrayed as obsessive and dangerous. Check out Thin Line Between Love and Hate, starring Martin Lawrence and Lynn Whitefield. Recently, I reread a favorite Harlequin Desire novella. The sheik sexually assaults the female protagonist while she sleeps. I cringe even now, thinking about it. The days of "bodice-rippers" may not be so far behind us. Kim K., Pete Davidson, and Kanye West recently starred in their own not-so-romantic comedy. The back and forth jabs on social media may have been entertaining at first but then the whole thing started to feel a bit uncomfortable.
Trevor Noah summed up my feelings on May 15, 2022. "(...) two things can be true. Kim likes publicity. Kim is also being harassed. Those things can be happening at the same time. (...) one of the most powerful, richest women in the world can't stop getting her ex to stop texting, to stop harassing her. (...) If Kim Kardashian can't escape this then what chance do normal women have?"
Trevor speaks from the point of view of someone who grew up in a turbulent household where domestic violence was commonplace. In fact, his mother survived a gunshot wound to the head. Who was the assailant? Trevor's father, her husband.
Most people would agree unrequited love is no laughing matter. Yet, society is slow to change even in the wake of the #MeToo Global Movement. Victim blaming and dating double standards persist. In recent entertainment news, Lori Harvey's dating history was brought into question after her split from Creed star, Michael B. Jordan. What about Jordan's penchant for younger women? He was twenty-eight when he and Kendall Jenner were linked in 2015. The model was just nineteen-years-old. The year before, he was linked to Catherine Paiz, also nineteen-years-old. He is five years older than If Beale Street Could Talk actress, Kiki Layne, whom he was rumored to have spent time with back in 2019.
The only way to change things is to change them; to teach younger generations to do better and not to glorify high-handed behavior from either of the sexes. It will be interesting to see how Tyler Perry handles the love triangle between Fatima, her beau Zac, and her unwanted suitor-tormenter, Hayden. Perry is in a unique position. The show is watched by hundreds of thousands. I tune in each week for "Zatima" and can't wait to see how the storyline plays out.