Every Breath You Take: Stalking Narratives and the Law
Every Breath You Take traces the evolution of notions of stalking and stalkers from ancient mythology through medieval folklore and nineteenth-century literature to contemporary film and social science. Critically analyzing stories of stalking within a wide range of historical and cultural discourses, the book suggests that such stories serve social functions, enforcing traditional gender roles within the patriarchal social order. It reveals how stories of stalking have facilitated moral panics that have fueled the persecution of "stalkers" as social deviants. It argues that a contemporary "stalking moral panic" led to America's anti-stalking laws, laws that actually address mythological images and stereotypes and are therefore inadequate in their treatment of the actual social phenomenon of stalking. It concludes by suggesting an alternative legal treatment of stalking, one that relies on an informed, critical reading of both moral panics and culture.
The study shows how Lilith--Jewish mythology's Queen of Demons--as Western culture's archetypal female stalker, eventually inspired the construction of the images of the medieval witch and nineteenth-century prostitute. Similarly, the vampire--our culture's archetypal male stalker--can be seen in Frankenstein's creature, in Mr. Hyde, and in Dracula, as well as in more contemporary images of male stalkers (such as Robert DeNiro's taxi driver and Halloween's Michael). Orit Kamir posits that in the twentieth century, film was the major force in developing images of male and female stalkers, leading to a moral panic that resulted in the 1980s anti-stalking laws. Careful reading of these laws reveals that they address cultural images of archetypal stalkers rather than the actual social phenomenon of stalking, which involves ordinary men and women, not mythological monsters.
The book is unusual in its combination of cultural studies with a sociological perspective and legal analysis. It argues that legal analysis can be greatly informed by close, critical textual reading of both relevant stories and social phenomena. It will be of keen interest to those in critical legal studies as well as scholars in film, literature, and folklore.
Orit Kamir is Professor of Law, Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
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Adam ancient antistalking laws antistalking legislation archetypal associated Bardo became behavior biblical castrated chapter character contemporary cultural dark death defined definition of stalking demon Devil Dracula Dumuzi emotional erotomania erotomanic serial killer evil eyes Fatal Attraction Faustian fear feel female stalking feminine fictional film's final girl Frankenstein gaze Gilgamesh Glenarvon Goddess Hebrew Hitchcock horror films human identified Inanna Jack the Ripper Jekyll and Hyde Jewish kill Lamashtu Lilit male stalker medieval mental Michael monster moral panic mother murder mythological narration night Norman Bates object obsessed overreaching patriarchal percent portrayed prostitute psychiatric reasonable person Rebecca Schaeffer relationship role Satan serial killer serial-killer sexual harassment shadow Shelley's social order Son of Sam stalker films stalking stories Stoker's Sumerian symbolic target Ted Bundy threat threatening tion Travis U.S. Department uncanny vampire vampiristic victims of stalking Victor viewer wife witch woman women young