The length of the “Real Story” of the Washington City Paper’s Sept. 10 edition was one page. In the City Paper’s Oct. 1 edition it was two pages. Then, for some reason, the Oct. 8 edition featured as its cover story “My So-Called Stalker,” in which a woman pseudonymously writing as “Theresa” carried on for 12 pages about the ravages, indignities, victimizations, traumas, and persecutions of being a victim of stalking. I don’t have any problem sympathizing with the irritations, aggravations, or what-have-you that certain weirdos cause women—but as Theresa’s story carried on and on, from year to year, detailing her own hyperbolic descriptions and behavior, I could only become less credulous and less sympathetic. In fact, of all the stories that I’ve read or heard about women being harassed by men, Theresa’s is the most contrived, contradictory one that I’ve ever encountered.
For starters, Theresa describes herself, at the age of 25, as a student of martial arts for 14 years, as well as a competitor in martial arts contests. Are we supposed to believe that such a woman is going to be be intimidated by the booze-sneaking, wimpy, mentally challenged “Ron” that she describes? After she goes on to describe how Ron’s harassment caused her years of strife, indecision, torment, and fear, mingled with flowery descriptions of the threats that she both received and imagined, she continues to carry on about how she wonders if she could have taken some effective step to nip all this in the bud. I simply don’t know what to believe from this writer at this point. Why wouldn’t a martial artist as highly trained as she describes herself simply deck him at the first opportunity? Instead, Theresa embarks on a mission to convince us both of how wronged and terrified her life became, while yet how valiant and extraordinary were her struggles to avenge her wrongs. I am certainly not convinced of both of these.
Throughout this story, Theresa’s character reveals itself as that of a woman with an imagination larger than her own life. She takes umbrage when addressed as “Ma’am” (“I was only 30, for godssake! I must look like shit….”). Over a period of some four years—and for all we are to know, even her entire life—she apparently has no romantic involvement. At the beginning of the story, she and her friends take a ghoulish delight in imagining what fiendish devices Ron might employ. The story includes allegations that the police are a noncooperative, incompetent, and ineffective deterrent against the threat of stalkers and that the use of restraining orders might cause even greater danger to “victims” like Theresa. Of this, I’m certainly not convinced. That Theresa’s character profile resembles that of a curiously insecure woman is even more evident from the fact that she chooses to remain anonymous.
If Theresa’s behavior, as described in “My So-Called Stalker,” made some kind of sense, instead of continually contradicting itself and taxing my ability to even find reason to believe it, this story might have represented responsible journalism. As it stands, this lengthy article reads like the very regrettable gossip of a nonassertive, misanthropic female with nothing much better to occupy her life than to perpetuate this kind of male-bashing. It is too bad that you hadn’t filled 12 pages of the City Paper with something more substantial.