Hugh Jackman is representative of the way male celebrities are treated by the media when they’re stalked.
Did you know that there are websites that teach you how to stalk people? I didn’t until today, when news of the attack on Hugh Jackman by Kathleen Thurston caught my attention. The woman stalked Jackman to his gym, reached into her pants, and hurled an electric razor filled with hair at him. She had also been stalking him at his house and was seen outside his daughter’s school.
Clay Aiken, less than a week ago, was dealing with a similar situation. His stalker threw a phone over his fence, and made it to Aiken’s front door before being apprehended for trespassing and misdemeanor stalking. Alec Baldwin was a victim of stalking this month as well.
Male celebrities who have been stalked are increasingly featured in the news. Bringing attention to these high-profile, male victims doesn’t seem entirely fair, though. Part of it is because putting the spotlight on stalking victims of any gender seems counter-intuitive to protecting their privacy, but another part is how men are portrayed in these cases, both as the attacker and the victim.
I want to compare the case of Kathleen Thurston to that of Jack Jordan, who was charged and jailed for stalking Uma Thurman in 2008, and again in 2010 after violating his probation. Thurston has been described in several news sources as sobbing and being easily removed from the premises, despite her vicious attack with a razor. Jackman, in a display of compassion, was even reported to feeling sorry for her,
Jordan’s actions were less physically violent—they involved lurking around Thurman’s house and sending disturbing emails and letters, but the reaction to them was far more severe.
His mother even talked to the New York Times to defend her son as an upstanding young man who fell to mental illness. As president of his high school senior class and captain of his swim team, he was the alpha male and therefore a threat.
News of Thurston’s attack on Jackman is almost a novelty news item in comparison to the attention that Jordan attracted.
Whether the victim or the violator, men are portrayed as the strong ones—they cause fear or are portrayed as unshakable. There is an implication that men are always in control. But a victim is a victim.
It seems unfair that men are burdened with this expectation when attacked, the expectation to “take it like a man,” to be the pillar of strength. It is often this expectation that makes men less likely to report crimes. Even if news coverage creates the illusion of unflappable men, consider this: Jackman, Aiken, Baldwin—these male role models—did call the police. They did acknowledge the threat. They did seek help. Whatever the portrayal of the male victim in these celebrity instances, one of the most important things to learn from them is that men can get help too.
The National Center for Victims of Crime is an invaluable resource for anyone who thinks they are being stalked. It talks about different laws and definitions and includes information on how victims can get help. Locally, every state has many resources for victims, and though many seem designed specifically for women, most, like the Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services (CONNSACS) which I have worked with in the past, provide their services to all genders and sexual orientations.
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