Twilight star Kristen Stewart has landed herself in a new stir of controversy. It’s no secret that the 20-year-old actress loathes media attention. Stewart has done nothing to hide that fact as she rose to fame over the last few years. Still, she continues to make movies and lead a lifestyle that makes her a phenomenon all over the world.
Discussing the intrusive loss of privacy that this celebrity life has given her, Kristen Stewart told British Elle Magazine, “It’s so… The photos are so… I feel like I’m looking at someone being raped. A lot of the time I can’t handle it. I never expected that this would be my life.”
Though Kristen’s frustration with invasive paparazzi and media hounds is understandable, advocates of rape victims have spoken up and pointed out that there is “a big difference between being hounded by the media and being raped.”
There definitely is a big difference. Rape victims do not choose to be raped. When you go into the film and television industry you are well aware that, should you happen to get what you’re pursuing and have some measure of success, the media may very well hound you and invade your privacy.
Margaret Lazarus, executive director of RapeIs.org explains, “Rape is a violation in which one has no choice. A star seeking publicity has choices. Although rape involves loss of privacy, loss of privacy does not constitute rape. Let’s use a little logical thinking here.”
Clearly the young star has no idea what it would be like to actually be raped. If she had, I doubt she would have used the same metaphor. How would those words sound to a true rape victim hearing her remark?
Executive Director of the Men Can Stop Rape group Neil Irwin says, “Stewart equating her experience of the paparazzi with rape is like comparing a needle to a knife. While there is a connection – both involve a loss of control – we know from hearing the stories of sexual assault survivors that the degree of hurt caused by rape is greater.” Irwin goes on to say that using a more suitable word like ‘violation’ would have been a lot more respectful to rape victims.
While some amount of privacy is expected to be sacrificed when you choose a job that ends up making you famous, I do believe that the 21st century paparazzi often goes far beyond what should ever be legal. Having said that, the fact is movie stars still have a choice. They could stop doing huge blockbuster movies, giving thousands of interviews, attending event after event, taking endorsement after endorsement and on and on. They could go do theater and cool independent films that get rave reviews without a lot of box office attention. But they don’t. They continue making the movies that pay them millions of dollars and create a media obsession. So are we supposed to feel bad for celebs that CHOSE this lifestyle?
Anyone, myself included, can slip and say something stupid that didn’t come across quite how we meant it, which is why I am all for giving someone the benefit of the doubt. But in the past, many celebrities have also taken responsibility for their words and attempted to make things right.
Many stars with a much lengthier career span have gone before Kristen Stewart and successfully handled the insanity of the media with great class. Some fans are sticking up for Stewart’s analogy while others are very disappointed in her poor choice of words. More than likely the term ‘rape’ was just used in a moment of thoughtlessness. But personally, I’m a bit tired of celebrities who knowingly enter this arena and enjoy all the perks and money attached to stardom but continue to complain about the price of fame.