It’s Time To Stop Romanticizing Harassment on TV

Typical: He teases you because he likes you. Or at least that’s what most mothers, aunts and big sisters told us when we were little girls. The romanticization of harassment is not something new. There’s this shady rumor that says that women prefer “bad guys” — although I know no girl who purposely seeks a man that will denigrate and molest her. There are infinite love-hate romantic comedies where the popular guys harass the nerdy girl but then fall in love with her. I, myself, have watched many of them. And I think that as a woman who grew up in a pretty misogynistic society — I hope and expect that my little sister will have it better — I internalized the “let boys be boys” motif at some point.

One of the first animes that introduced me to this world was Hiro Fujiwara’s The Class President Is a Maid! (2010). What drew me to watch this anime was the protagonist, Misaki, a hardworking 16 years old. I loved this anime; it was funny and entertaining. Sadly, it has a huge problem that I didn’t notice — or didn’t care to notice back then. The male protagonist, Usui, is a harasser. He did things such as lifting up her skirt, kissing her without consent, and sitting down at her workplace for hours. Misaki didn’t like any of this; it troubled her. Usui didn’t care. He kept insisting and following her around even though she rejected his advances many times. For the pre-teenager me, and many others who watched this anime, his behavior was pretty romantic. It’s not. Nowadays, I remember this anime with nostalgia because I can’t deny that I loved it so much. But I don’t want my little sister to watch it. Nick Miller New Girl GIF Boundaries GIPHY / 20th Century Fox Television

This very same week I watched the first episode of an anime called It’s Disgusting to Call This Love by Hiro Fujiwara. It reminded me a lot of The Class President Is a Maid! The male protagonist is sardonic, stalkerish, and creepy. He's a working adult, and he falls in love with a high school student. He immediately starts following her around, researches all of her hobbies and likes — but not by talking to her — and puts her in awkward situations. Moreover, when she tells him that he’s being weird and a nuisance, he answers that he doesn’t care and that he’ll keep going. I’m glad that today I was able to recognize a toxic product and stopped watching just in time. However, it saddens me that this kind of media is still being produced.

It’s time to stop romanticizing harassment. It's not funny, not pretty and not romantic. We need to teach girls to be independent and set their limits. They’re not obligated to please every person who is romantically interested in them, and they should not tolerate any kind of harassment. These kinds of animes — and tv shows, movies and books — normalize the acceptance of invasion and suffocation.

It’s time to stop.

The future generation of women deserve to know that they’re in their right of rejecting others, and that unwelcome insistence is not romantic, it's a nuisance.

it's always sunny be gone vile man FXX / Giphy