A few days ago, I watched Scott Pilgrim vs. The World with a close friend. He'd seen it before, and he knew that it was on my list of movies that I wanted to see but hadn't got around to seeing yet. Because he knows my sense of humour very well (not least because his own sense of humour is every bit as warped as mine), he thought that the movie would probably amuse me. He was right. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would happily see it again someday.
But there was something that really, really bugged me about it. Knives Chau, who is Scott's girlfriend at the beginning of the movie, at one point physically attacks Ramona, Scott's new love interest (admittedly, with whom he cheated on Knives before he broke up with her), and shouts that Ramona "stole him with [her] advanced American slut technology!"
There is just so much wrong with that statement.
Perhaps Knives can be forgiven for that particular outburst, and for accusing Ramona of stealing Scott again a few minutes later; she's seventeen years old, after all, and I don't know about you, but when I was seventeen years old, my level of emotional maturity wasn't, er, quite what it is now. And there's quite a powerful stereotype out there which paints boys and men as all but helpless in the face of exceptional feminine beauty. It's the same mentality that accuses victims of rape of secretly wanting it or asking for it because they were drunk/scantily dressed/walking alone/previously sexually active. According to this pattern of thought, guys are helpless in the face of their own desires, and those desires can be easily swayed by unscrupulous females who use their bodies to get their attention. I'm not sure that I ever really believed the whole story, but, though the fact embarrasses me now, I must admit that in my teens I did at one time believe that it was possible for some exceptionally pretty girls to "steal" other girls' boyfriends.
But you know what? As I indignantly remarked (to my friend's slight amusement) at this point, "You can't steal a person!" And you can't. You really can't. They make the decision themselves. Hormones may deliver a good part of the inspiration for that decision, but the fact remains that they decide that they will cheat on, or even abandon, the partner they already have for somebody else. And they make the decision quite willingly. There's no theft involved.
To say that one person "steals" another implies that the person whose partner they "stole" actually owned their partner at some point. But we don't own other people. When we do, that's called slavery. And I don't think I have to tell you what an evil thing that is.
I'm just glad that in the same scene, Scott rebuts that accusation with the simple fact that he cheated on her with Ramona, who had no idea that Scott wasn't single when they first met. But the idea of one person stealing another person's partner is so absolutely ridiculous that it's past time for us to abandon it.