Welcome to Genius Loci, your one-stop-shop for all things romance-related! Whether you’re looking for ideas on how to woo your sweetheart, suggestions on what gifts to buy your loved one, or just want to know what the latest news and trends are in the world of romantic comedy, you’re in the right place.
One of the biggest news stories of the year has to be the scandalous split of actor/singer/songwriter/producer/director/writer/Dj and bestselling author/record label head Robert Pattinson and his wife, Stella McCartney. Though they’ve been married since 2014 and share two children, the world learned of their pending separation in early January when McCartney filed for divorce. Now, nearly two months later, we’re still wondering when or whether the two will reconcile.
The 48-year-old actor has kept a very low profile since the split was publicly revealed. He hasn’t attended any award ceremonies or film premieres, and has largely remained hidden from the public eye.
But since the divorce filing, a number of celebrities and public figures have come forward and alleged that Pattinson is dating a series of women who all share a similar story. Most notably, Kristen Bell—daughter of singer/actor and original “Veronica Mars” actress Laura Bell— has alleged that the actor is carrying on an on-and-off-again romance with her; she has even opened up about their alleged engagement in an article for The Daily Beast. In response to the mounting media coverage, Pattinson has denied all of the allegations, going so far as to say that he is “absolutely not” seeing Bell. Although he didn’t comment on the specific details of the scandal, he does insist in interviews and texts that he is simply “friends with benefits” and “nothing more.”
While we wait to see if and when this scandal will settle down (it’s still very much in the headlines), it seems as if everyone from Bella to Bronte has gotten in on the act. In the months since the initial reports surfaced, a number of famous women have come forward and alleged that they, too, are romantically linked to the famous Hollywood bachelor. And so, in an apparent trend, it seems as if the more famous a woman is, the more she’s willing to bare about her personal life. (If you’ve been hiding under a rock, you might be wondering what all the fuss is about. Read on for more.)
The ‘Bachelor’ Effect’
In light of the mounting media coverage surrounding Pattinson, it’s important to take a look at why this story has resonated so deeply with the public. As a society, we’ve been conditioned to believe that a high-profile romance is a good thing and that it should be celebrated. But while it may be easy to fall into the trap of seeing this story and alleging that it’s a positive turn of events, that isn’t necessarily the case. After all, if a celebrity is what you want, then why not settle for just one? Why not let them take care of your every need? That’s essentially what society is telling this generation of women and why so many are believing that they, too, can and should have a “bachelor’s lifestyle.”
In today’s overly-sexualized world, it’s no wonder that so many are viewing this story through the prism of romance. But as someone who has been studying the effects of trauma and stress in children for the past 20 years, I have to ask: isn’t it harmful to expose your children to this level of scandal and negativity?
Consider what happened in the wake of the MeToo movement. In the month following the initial allegations of sexual misconduct against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, women and girls across the country came forward and shared similar stories of abuse and harassment. Though there were some differences in the types of offenses alleged (Weinstein habitually propositioned and manipulated young, aspiring actresses) and the ways in which the women and girls described the incidents (some were more graphic than others), the similarities were glaring. Many echoed the sentiment that “it feels safer to come forward than to stay silent,” and in the aftermath, we saw an increased number of women speaking out about their experiences. (Just this past week, we’ve seen yet another alleged victim come forward. Though the circumstances are different, it’s another example of the “bachelor’s effect” in action.)
Why Are Celebrities’ Alleged Affairs More Scandalous?
So why is it that the supposed affairs of famous people tend to be more scandalous? Perhaps it’s because the consequences are more dire. If these women and girls don’t get what they want from the men in their lives, then it may be disastrous for their self-image. Even if they escape scandal, it may still hurt their livelihoods. For some, it may even cause further harm to their health. All of this adds an additional layer of fear and coercion. If you want to keep someone from straying, then it might be best to just give them everything they want.
In the case of the aforementioned women and girls who claim that Pattinson is romantically linked to them, this could mean anything from gifts and money to fame and fortune. Though each woman and girl has a different story, they all claim that the star has given them lavish gifts and attention. (The only thing they might not want is his name. As of now, none of the alleged relationships have resulted in any formal romances or marriages.)
To be clear, I’m not saying that all celebrities’ alleged affairs are damaging to their public image. Far from it. Some of them, like the alleged relationship between Tom Hanks and his “Bachelor” collaborator Rebecca De Mornay, may in fact help their celebrity by making the public more aware of their work. As someone who has studied celebrity and how it is perceived by the public, I can say that while a lot of negative attention may befall a celebrity due to their alleged affair, sometimes that’s all they want. For some, it may even be an opportunity to gain more recognition than they’ve received in the past. Even more idealistic celebrities might see their supposed indiscretions as a measure of their freedom and a way to challenge societal norms. Whatever the case may be, it’s important to remember that it’s not always about us. We need to be aware of the effects that our own actions may have on others, even those we love.