January 16, 2018 by Julia
I read both the original Babe article, and Caitlin Flanagan’s response against it, and found it all very thought-provoking. My (possibly NSFW) take:
1. “Grace” (the fake name of the woman accusing Ansari of sexual misconduct) describes a situation in which a man seems to be deliberately ignoring sexual resistance and verbal complaints. We know Ansari has insight into human nature, based on his creative work. Is it really possible he had no insight into his date’s behavior?
2. Yes, she could have gotten up and left. But our culture makes that kind of rejection of men VERY difficult for women. Already, everyone feels for him, in his vulnerability. As do I. Which is part of the problem here – she didn’t want to embarrass him. She kept trying to give him “outs,” in which they could both retain a little dignity, and he kept agreeing…before removing his pants again, or pulling her hand into sexual activity AGAIN. (Side note: we can control our own hands, and heads. “Gently” directing them towards what you want is not cool.) It makes you wonder where he was coming from: Total blindness, or total disregard of “Grace’s” humanity and desires?
3. Why did she have to publicly humiliate a celebrity for something that doesn’t really qualify (in my book, and probably many others’) as assault? Because otherwise, no one would have read the story, and we wouldn’t be having these conversations. I feel bad in some ways for Ansari, for his celebrity being used here, but I understand why it was done.
4. It’s possible that Ansari honestly had no idea that his advances were unwanted, or that “Grace” truly gave no clear indication that they were unwanted. But, either way, situations such as the one described all contribute to a culture that keeps the patriarchy and objectification of women grinding along.
5. Men, how can you do better? Pay better attention to social and sexual cues, or women will be forced to humiliate you with a harsh rejection, (or worse – public outrage, or the law, or self-defense). Remember, most women don’t actually want to embarrass you. We’ve been trying not to forever, at our own expense.
6. Women, how can we do better? Ugh. Aren’t we sick of this question? We ask it of ourselves every single day. (She says, bitterly.) I guess…we just have to be un-apologetically ourselves. Now, I’m not generally a loud person, and I worry a lot about hurting the feelings of others. And that is okay; that is who I am. I shouldn’t have to be a yeller in order to be respected as a woman. I’m obviously not in the dating scene anymore, but if I were, I would hope that a simple, quiet “let’s wait on that…maybe?” would be enough to stop a date in his tracks. I certainly hope that’s all my quiet, thoughtful daughter will have to say when she enters the dating scene. We shouldn’t have to change our stripes in order to be heard.
7. Aziz Ansari may not be bad guy; he, in fact, seems like a pretty good guy. Which is why this one story I think has struck me harder than the other recent celebrity accusations. I think it’s why “Grace” took her experience so hard, too. I don’t feel the same way now about Ansari as I do about, say, Woody Allen or Harvey Weinstein – there are many overt differences between the situations. We are all smart enough to see the nuances. We don’t have to group all these accused men into the same boat for the sake of neatness, or to make a point. I think Ansari was wrong in this situation, but I am willing to see what he does in the future, and I hope he is the kind of person to make the best of this mortifying experience – by learning, and doing better next time.