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Stage five clingers

By Imaani Cain
On February 25, 2014

The term "stage five clinger" was popularized in the movie "Wedding Crashers," wherein Vince Vaughn exasperatedly refers to Isla Fisher's character, who is determinedly pining after him. Although the movie came out in 2005, the phrase has survived the test of time, and is still used in popular conversation. There, it's meant to describe women who hadn't had their sexual debut, typically referred to as "virgins," although this implies a heteronormative and dated view to sex that's incredibly exasperating. These so called "clingers" who then become star-struck by their sexual partner and either want to date or get married afterwards. This alludes back to the idea of women forming heavy emotional attachments to their male counterparts who, of course, have no feelings at all.
It's peculiar that a "clinger" is usually applied to women. However, considering the world we live in, perhaps it isn't at all. Women are usually not taken seriously because they are deemed to be "too emotional" and therefore incapable of making rational decisions. This is coupled with the concepts of sex that women are frequently taught when they're younger-primarily that sex should only be had or is infinitely better with someone who loves you, and that women can't have "too much" sex for fear of being seen as unmarriageable. Men, who are encouraged to have as much sex as possible with varying numbers of women, don't have this problem at all. They never seem to be in danger of "catching feelings," as though men are some super evolved life-form akin to Mr. Spock.
On the other hand, women who aren't "clingers" or the type to "catch feelings," are seen as being cold or unfeeling. Since women are so commonly viewed as emotional creatures, a woman who carries out her sexual dalliances the way men do (or at least, are heavily described as doing so) is a someone who has low self-esteem, is acting "like a dude" or a "thot" (for those who don't know, this would be someone who's a woman of a more lascivious nature). There's no real way for women to win here. Either side brings a negative perspective on a girl's character.
Of course, you aren't obligated to be nice to someone who makes you uncomfortable. You don't owe anybody who makes you feel uneasy. It's usually women who are encouraged to have a sweeter disposition towards male clingers and are chastised if they show any sort of rudeness or impatience with the person. Men, however, particularly straight men, are usually free to be as rude as they want given their status in a male-dominated society. It's all good and well to assume that you'd be nice to someone who's badgering you, but the truth is that when push comes to shove, you might be a bit sharper than you would have intended.
My advice for getting rid of stage five clingers is to drop them immediately. Don't worry so much about coming off as kind as being direct. There's no point in wasting your time with someone whose company you don't enjoy-you'll just come to resent them more.
 


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