There is a BBC drama called ‘The Fall’, starring Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan. I hadn’t watched either the first or second series at all yet, and after an interview Dornan gave recently to the LA Times, I very much doubt I ever will now.
‘This is a really bad reveal‘, he says, as though he were disclosing that he once owned a pair of paisley print trousers, and not telling the world that he once stalked a woman to ‘get in to the role’ of a serial killer. Specifically that he ‘followed a woman off a train, and lurked behind behind her’ for a distance. You know, just to see how it feels.
(Which was ‘exciting, in a dirty kind of way’, just in case you aren’t sure just how extremely creepy this whole interview became).
I wonder if Mr Dornan has given any thought at all to the woman he so casually and thoughtlessly exposed to his stalking? I wonder if it has even occurred to him that the woman he followed and ‘lurked’ behind for what must have been several minutes or more, might have noticed – and how stomach churningly, heart-stoppingly, marrow-to-jelly terrifying it would have been for her if she had?
“I’m sort of not proud of myself. But I do honestly think I learned something from it, because I’ve obviously never done any of that. It was intriguing and interesting to enter that process of ‘what are you following her for?’ and ‘what are you trying to find out?” ~ Jamie Dornan
But never mind the potential fear of the woman who was the target of this little ‘method acting’ experiment, because the man ‘learned’ something (although what he learned, and what value that had, is clearly doubtful).
I doubt that Dornan would have been so flippant, or so prepared to reveal what he did to the woman he stalked, if we did not live in a society so ready to excuse such behaviour, or so eager to make entertainment of the daily violence and harassment that all women have to deal with on a daily basis – whether that be cat calls or verbal abuse, or the kind of violence that puts a woman in jail if she tries to defend herself from it.
If we lived in a world where such behaviour was understood for what it is – the abuse of gender power and privilege for personal gratification – he would never have engaged in that behaviour, far less admitted to it.
But we don’t: and because we don’t Jamie Dornan can stalk a woman and get away with it.
This is rape culture. This is not okay.