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Lessons from Pepe Le Pew

Updated: Nov 10, 2020


As a kid growing up in the 70s, I was exposed to many of the popular cartoons of the decade. Who can forget Bugs Bunny, the Road Runner and Tom and Jerry? But, because my strict father always discouraged me from watching them he thought cartoons were useless and non educational I convinced myself that I also didn't like cartoons.

There was an exception to wanting to please my father, though. There was one particular cartoon that, whenever it played on my TV set, always mesmerized me and stopped me in my tracks in order to watch it. I'm talking about Pepe Le Pew, the stinky skunk who confused Penelope, a cat with a white stripe of paint, for a fellow skunk and pursued her to no end, regardless of Penelope's many attempts to rebuke him and run away from him in disgust. If you had asked me at the time, I probably wouldn't have been able to put into words what I liked about Pepe Le Pew. But today, as an adult, I can.

Lately I've been asking God to show me why my relationship with men is so unhealthy. So, recently I woke up in the middle of the night and out of the blue a voice told me to google "Pepe Le Pew." And this is what stood out the most:

Pepe describes Penelope as lucky to be the object of his affections and uses a romantic paradigm to explain his failures to seduce her. For example, he describes a hammer blow to his head as a form of flirtation rather than rejection. Accordingly, he shows no signs of narcissistic injury or loss of confidence, no matter how many times he is rebuffed.

God had given me my answer.


Then I watched a clip of the show (here's the link, if you'd like to watch it:

When it was over, I sat speechless, because I had realized that

I AM PENELOPE! Being deprived of love from my father as a child, I searched high and low for that fatherly love I lacked, for instructions on how to get healthy love. So I longed for a Pepe le Pew in my life. I was inadvertently conditioned at a very early age that this was what I needed, someone to pursue me no matter what, so I tried to find love represented in that unhealthy way of pursuit.

As I watched the cartoon, this is what I now see: 1.  Pepe Le Pew has no boundaries. He does not take "no" for an answer. 2.  Penelope is terrified of Pepe.  She's shaking and panting from running away from him. 3.  Every time Pepe "catches her," she does not welcome his hugs (unhealthy touch). 4.  Penelope never speaks in any of the cartoons. She has no voice. She occasionally whimpers or faintly meows out of fear. 5.   Even Wikipedia refers to Pepe as a narcissist.

6. Pepe never asks Penelope what she wants. He is only interested in what he wants. 7.  Penelope is scared of him and is often found running away and trying to hide from him. 8.  The more Penelope rejects Pepe, the more he pursues her. 9. Penelope never pretended to be a skunk. The unawareness of her accidental appearance as one gave the wrong signal to Pepe that she was trying to lure him to her. And the initial attention that Pepe's pursue has on Penelope makes her pause for consideration, as you can see in the cartoons. But once she realizes the stench of his true self he's a skunk, (or, he is a narcissist), Penelope wants to run away.

This is what I've always perceived as normal behavior, how a man is supposed to romance a woman.  This is what I had witnessed at home, and on television, too.  Today, thanks to Hope4Life, I know that this dysfunctional courting behavior is unacceptable. I also learned why I initially engaged in my relationships with dysfunctional men and allowed toxic behaviors in my life. In reality, they were nothing more that forceful impositions disguised as love.

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