Blurred Lines: Addressing Aziz & Ideas About Assault
by shannon jay
So, I don’t want to beat a dead horse here -- This post is only late (2 weeks is an eternity online) on reluctance to do such. However, i feel like it’s impossible not to address the scandal surround Aziz Ansari recently. If you've been vacationing under a rock over the past few weeks, I'm jealous, and also here is the Babe article in question.
This is a unique situation -- not only is Ansari one of the only men of color and "woke bae" that’s been called out; the incident occurred not at work or on the street, but after a date at his apartment. The so-called feminist’s pressuring despite obvious verbal cues and body language really deters from what he’s all about; especially since he directly addressed the celebrity sexual assault shitstorm on his show, "Master of None."
So let's look at all the criticisms "Grace" (and several other assault accusers) received online via both prestigious op-eds and less erudite social media commentary:
She should have said no - She did, like, a bunch. Don't really get why people are arguing this point... but they should probably know -- even if it's a "Whoa, let’s relax for a sec, let’s chill" or "I just want to be friends," that shouldn't be taken as a challenge, and is very far from a yes.
Caitlin Flanagan's shakey op-ed on the "humiliation" of Ansari touches on mansplained magazine guides blaming females if anything bad happens to them on a date. She mentions the ways second-wave feminist "were strong in a way that so many modern girls are weak" in terms of consent. They "got away from" men making unwanted sexual advances, but Grace didn't leave because she wanted "affection." Such patronizing language shouldn't describe Grace, who wasn't expecting a boyfriend -- maybe just bottom-line respect of boundaries. Any blame and accountability, however, should lie on Ansari, a grown ass man who should know and do better.
Besides, challenging traditional social constructs and making the world a more comfortable place for women is kind of the point of feminism. As Amber Rose said, "I can be butt naked laying next to a man, and still say no."
It was just a bad date, not assault - This is the hardest one to argue for or against. Flanagan points out what Grace may have wanted was more than the hit-it-and-quit-it situation Ansari assumed from her assertiveness, situations that saturate any 20-something's dating histories. It wasn't a completely unwarranted sexual advance, just a yielded one. However, what started as misread signals spiraled to not quite assault, but building pressure and blatant disrespect nonetheless. Samanta Bee addressed the #MeToo movement as not only vengeance for assault survivors, but a need for "higher standards for sex than just not rape."
While Grace's encounter didn't hinder her job or become as potentially scarring as other degrees of sexual misconduct, trauma isn't a competition. However, with troubling opinions from respected newswomen such as Ashleigh Banfield, it seems like a lot of second wave feminist are pulling out their "sensitive millennial snowflakes" cards, and determining how other women should act and feel. "Many fail to understand," Samantha Bee said, "that it doesn't have to be rape to ruin your life, and it doesn't have to ruin your life to be worth speaking out about."
She shouldn’t have given him head - Even without these clear verbal queues, the pressure Grace was put under to give Ansari head isn’t exactly her fault, either. As Australian writer Clementine Ford said in her Twitter thread about Louis CK, women have been systematically made to be sympathetic towards embarrassing men sexually. "In all that self doubt lies the preservation of men's feelings," she said, "We might be overreacting so don't make him feel bad. We might be misinterpreting so don't accuse him. He might not mean harm, so don't make things awkward."
Systematic sexual socialization is a two-way street, also, and Ansari's actions could be attributed to "normal" aspects of rape culture, disguised as "the chase" during dating. "We don't see it as harmful because we've naturalized it," Meghan Murphy of Feminist Current said in her Twitter thread directed toward the Aziz allegations. "The goal is to 'get' sex regardless of what she wants. Men have learned this is an acceptable way to relate to women," she said, "What is behind rape culture is male entitlement, the view that women are objects/things that exist for male pleasure, and the idea that male pleasure is more important than female comfort (or pleasure)."
She should have just left, or not gone to his apartment in the first place - I’ve been in men’s apartments, late at night after a date, dizzy on drinks, romping around with little clothes on. Hands may have slipped under some clothes or something else may have even slipped in mouths (sorry, mom). Weather it was me or him, when either said any combination of the words “no” and “sex,” penetration was not pursued.
Most of the times, this was to hold out and cherish mysticism in a modern dating world where it’s lacking. Considering Aziz wrote a whole book about the trials and tribulations of modern relationships, you think he might appreciate a gal trying to slow down the usual swiftness after swiping. God forbid she might want to take things slow and actually Netflix and chill. I really don't find it naive to wanna hang out in someone's apartment on your terms. Instead, I think its naive for a dude to assume just because a girl is in his place and they've even hit some bases, intercourse must follow -- that’s the toxic part.
Call out culture is ruining men's careers - Flanagan's op ed points out how pivotal Ansari was to Indian and Muslim American's visibility on television, and she is 100% correct. His position in popular culture is more crucial than the plethora of white men whose careers have plummeted for more unwarranted and inappropriate sexual advances. His representation for people of color is important, and this reason (along with the mild degree of his allegations) is why he won't be "assassinated," as Flanagan hyperbolized.
As Murphy mentioned, "I have no interest in Ansari being fired, in preventing him from working, in painting him as a criminal. At ALL. What I WANT is for men to stop this behavior, to understand it is not an ok way to treat women, and to understand how it feels to be on the other end of that."
As a woman, I accept his apology and understand how blurry those lines can be, but addressing the lines & holding people accountable is the first step toward progress. If Aziz wants to be a good feminist, he’ll take this lesson, learn from his mistakes, and recognize boundaries he never meant to cross. It’s about examining your mistake, learning what’s right and wrong, and becoming a better, more considerate person with improved values. None of us are ever too old, too rich, too famous, or too much of a "woke bae" to grow.