step away from the boombox
Women are more accepting of aggressive male behavior when they watch romantic comedies, a University of Michigan study has found. In other words, watching films like Love Actually or There's Something About Mary, which show men engaging in stalker-like behavior, make women more tolerant of obsessiveness or aggression from their own partners, The Guardian reports.
“[Such movies] can encourage women to discount their instincts. This is a problem because research shows that instincts can serve as powerful cues to help keep us safe," the report's author, Julia R. Lippman, told Global News.
To get their findings, researchers asked women who watched films that showed "persistent romantic pursuit" (such as Management, High Fidelity, or even Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin) a series of questions about aggressive romantic behavior. The romantic comedy watchers were more likely to accept "stalking myths" than women who watched movies where male aggression was frightening (like Sleeping With the Enemy or Enough) or nature documentaries (March of the Penguins and Winged Migration).
"Stalking myths are false or exaggerated beliefs about stalking that minimize its seriousness, which means that someone who more strongly endorses these tends to take stalking less seriously," Lippman explained.
"At their core, all these films are trading in the 'love conquers all' myth," Lippman continued. "Even though, of course, it doesn't. Love is great, but so is respect for other people."