Over the last few weeks there’s been a long discussion regarding a blog post detailing a sexual encounter between a woman named Grace and actor/comedian Aziz Ansari. Ansari’s actions, as described by the author, have prompted a lot of speculation where the line between sexual assault and just bad sex is, and I think that’s overall a healthy discussion to have. If I’ve learned one thing in bed over the years it’s that we are always better off communicating about sex rather than playing games.
But then the think pieces started, y’all…
Some were good. I’m a big fan of this one. Katherine Cross also did a heck of a job on the subject, and it was her well-sourced piece that got me off my ass to write this. In her article there are a seemingly endless parade of folks hand-wringing over the feminist witchhunt, worried that women accusing men of bad behavior sexually have gone “too far.” Caitlin Flanagan at The Atlantic – always my favorite highly-problematic publication – even called women like Grace “very, very dangerous.”
Here’s my question: how?
Seriously, exactly how has Ansari been affected by any of this in a concrete way? Did a roving pack of feminists show up at his door and drag him screaming through the streets? Did a judge sentence him to 30 years in a tampon factory? Did a cop even politely knock at his door and ask for a statement? I don’t think they did. I’m pretty sure it would have been on the news.
Anyone who has been in a long-term relationship knows this next bit. At some point, you royally fuck up. You forget to pay the electricity and wake up to no power, or you drink and drive and crash the car, or you cheat. Whatever. It doesn’t matter except that you sin hard, and the person who loves and trusts you the most knows it. Most people’s first instinct, though, is to balance the field. You find something the other person did to put you back on even ground, even if that thing is hilariously under-sized compared to what you did. “I may have spent the rent money on Faberge eggs, but you once were mean to my mom!” That sort of thing.
Extrapolate the Grace article to this on a societal scale. What is important to a lot of commenters is not examining how we screw up, but how we can retain the comfortable equilibrium of the current paradigm. The idea that feminism has gone “too far” is a recurring meme, and it only works if you can’t read graphs. Women control virtually nothing. Not even their own bodies, apparently. As I saw somewhere on Twitter, women use everything but “no” because everything past “no” is violence.
*The author pauses to rubs his temples*
In a world where literally no government or private power structure is female equal, let alone female dominated, it is impossible for feminism to have gone “too far.” That’s the unspoken truth of all the think pieces rushing to assure Ansari of due process. The spoken truth is THERE IS NO DUE PROCESS. Ansari isn’t going to suffer from this in any court.
Ansari is going to go on making TV shows, and this outrage probably hasn’t cost him anything. Harvey Weinstein’s role in the evolution of indie cinema is secure, and in a hundred years his sexual misdeeds will STILL be a footnote in textbooks. Bill Cosby has openly admitted to his crimes in court, and Fat Albert will be discussed in media history courses even if Cosby spends the last years of his long, wealthy life in prison. There’s going to be a Donald J. Trump Presidential Library no matter what happens. Y’all need to take a deep breath because it is going to sting.
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As a man, this is the thing that bothers me the most. On one hand, many women are rushing forward to erect walls and state ne c’est pas. They’re Colonel Travis, and Rassilon bless every one of them because the line they’re drawing in the sand is all about the one thing we are all born owning; ourselves. It’s not a call to anything but a consideration of self and what other people are entitled to regarding ourselves. The answer is: fucking nothing!
On the other is dudes momentarily feeling bad about things they did in a culture that taught us to do those things. No matter how you look at it, the Ansari article has resulted only in a few people thinking he’s a creep. I just can’t care about that anymore. I don’t have time for that anymore. Rape culture will not be dismantled by pausing to make sure Ansari isn’t sad.
Here endeth the lesson. No one has a right to not be thought of as a creep and an asshole. Not me, not Ansari, not Grace, not anyone. As I said, Ansari’s total consequences from this whole mess are that a few women in his future might think he’s probably a shitty lay. You can’t put that on one side and the whole of an unequal gendered power structure on the other and pretend it balanced out.
Men, we’re going to be sad. We did not build a perfect world. As soon as we just deal with that, the happier we’ll be.