Before We Burn Aziz Ansari, Perhaps Some Self-Reflection Is in Order

Comments

2
Interesting that the internet seems to be drawing the line with the #meetoo movement at Aziz Ansari.
3
@1, oh come on...this shit is going to get really fun to watch!

I'm hoping to start to hear about the coming suicides of those simply accused of wrong doing only to later have the accusers recant their claims. LET'S GET THE POPCORN!!!!
4
THANK YOU!!!
I've been told I was sent "non-verbal" cues and ignored them, and I found myself feeling like shit for doing something that made a person uncomfortable while simultaneously frustrated that I was expected to be a mind reader. And that has always been a nagging issue in the back of my mind when discussing rape is that the "bad sex" is treated as something that doesn't exists, that sex is either 100% mutually enthusiastic or it is rape. Granted, people should try to avoid obtaining sex that will be bad for their partner, but if we don't acknowledge its existence then there is the worry that bad sex will be rounded up to rape or sexual assault.
Side note: Despite the push for Affirmative Consent and only "Yes means Yes" there is still a bias against direct and unambiguous ask. In today's SLOG the author's presumption is that adopting affirmative consent is almost entirely the responsibility of men, that problems with it have a selfish / toxic masculinity undertone, and that women can't help but respond positively. I'd like to offer my experience of asking a date "do you want to have sex?" where her response was "well that killed the mood." We still had sex, but just as men need to tell men to ask directly, women need to tell women to expect or even demand men ask unambiguously.
5
"Grace actually didn’t tell him to stop."

Except she did tell him to stop. Several times. And each time he resumed again.

Verbally asking consent before resuming *after your partner has specifically said that she feels forced* is not really a high bar.
6
I like this article. It isn't in bad faith, it reads like an honest account of a human condition. Too much of our discourse - and ESPECIALLY the discourse about gender relationships (sexual and otherwise) - rely too much on 21st Century update on the Madonna/White complex (I'd call it the Letcher/Ally complex), whereby the primary distinction between right and wrong is to decide who's more fit for human existence
7
I appreciate the tone of this article. Thank you for writing this.
8
I missed the part where Aziz barred the door from her leaving. Or her saying, "You make me uncomfortable; I'm leaving."
9
lots of Aziz apologists in here. lmao
10
Thanks for writing this Katie. Grace's experience is common for gay men too. And I'd imagine it's common for straight men as well. These things make me sooooo fucking glad to be gay, and not have to pass my shit through 10,000 years of patriarchy.

The pettiness and lasciviousness of Way's article was disgusting. I'm super glad someone else found that part about wine as ridiculous as I did.

I think an important point to make is that Way's article doesn't have to be a sign of the #MeToo movement "going to far." That's not fair because Way's article wasn't a movement project. If Way had involved older women, women with movement experience, women with skin in the game, into the process they could have corrected her errors. Her work was a product or representative of #MeToo. It was just a piece of crap, and piece of crap articles get written all the time. There's no need to take it and draw conclusions about a movement from it.
11
I'd like us to have a chance to read about Katie's teeth and bones being broken, because apparently it will be really funny.
12
Excellent take. Thank you, Katie.
13
I'm an old guy now and all my rutting years are in the past. But I have to concede that it is possible that a new etiquette of affirmative consent could develop. Hard to accept that a real step forward in humans behaving decently towards each other could arise without first being pioneered by baby boomers. Perhaps millennials do have some positive contribution to make to this tired old world. Your music still sucks though.
14
I'm gay and have never been in a romantic/ sexual situation with a woman*, but let me explain something: MEN ARE BONEHEADS.

Not that we're not intelligent or anything, but we rely on words and actions to understand what other people mean. We're not good at interpreting the quality of a silence or the tilt of a jaw, especially in someone we don't know well. It makes it easier for us if you can say what you want in plain, un-romantic, obvious, clunky WORDS.

I read the whole embarrassing article and thought basically yeah, Ansari comes off looking like kind of a bonehead; but I noticed that he responded appropriately whenever "Alias Grace" used her words. Could he have been more sensitive? Absolutely. Did he make her do anything she didn't want to do? No. Did she go ahead and do some things she didn't really want to do but didn't refuse? Yes. Whose fault is it that that happened?

I'm sorry she left his place feeling so upset, but for his sake I wish she had been able to express herself in words so that he could have understood how she was feeling. ---And for her sake, too, so that she wouldn't have had to put herself through so much unpleasantness.

*(but I've had my share of conversations with women where I come away from it wondering "wtf was that about?" and replay the whole thing in my mind looking for things I might have said, or failed to say, or said wrong, and caused offense.)
15
It really just goes to show that to the observer, the seriousness of the accusations will be tied to how much the observer "likes" the accused. For example, young people who don't care about Bill Cosby all just assume he is a rapist, whereas older people who grew up looking up to him tend to support him.

Asari is a non-white comedian who supports liberal causes, and so now observers like Herzog are attempting to prove that his improprieties are not a big deal, and we should all just focus on more politically conservative abusers.

But we all know that if the same accusations were leveled against a conservative white guy, this article would not exist, and observers like Herzog would be calling him an unabashed rapist and demanding his arrest.
16
Imagine you went to a friend's house & they had baked you a cake. You took a couple of bites and you didn't like the cake. You don't want to hurt your friend's feeling so you just slide the dish away a little.
Your friend pushes it back towards you. "Eat the cake! I made it for you!" Maybe you take another bite. Then push it away again. They push it towards you. They urge you again. You get up and walk away. They follow you, cake in hand, and keep urging cake. You keep walking away.
Finally you say, No, I don't want the cake! They say, cool, let's just chill out. So you sit on the couch...and they try to get you to eat the cake.
My point is, only around sex do we pretend that obvious signals are mysterious and undecipherable. (And there's nothing mysterious about "No, I'm not ready for this," which is what Grace said. Ansari did behave the way many people do, about sex, so in that sense he is no worse than what could be considered the norm. But the norm? Is fucked up.
17
@15 Theodore Gorath: I have no stake in Aziz Ansari, and if he did something wrong, then I am all for putting the same pressure on him as Louis C.K. or the others. However while most stories are clear-cut, where if the victim is no out-and-out lying, there is no other perspective that would justify the narrative, in this story one could easily see it as the same story with two completely different perspectives. Aziz awkwardly missing "non-verbal" cues, and Grace expecting things to go the way she is wanting and failing to verbalize it. And honestly, if you are talking about a supposed sexual assault that you felt is violating, pointing out that you weren't even offered your preferred wine is a bit indicative.

I was not there and cannot say if what happened was a sexual assault or not, if he pushed after she was clearly not wanting to continue, and if she felt like it was a terrible experience and she feels violated, it is not my place to say how she should feel. But if ever there were a point to say there may be two sides to this story, and we shouldn't immediately jump on one side of it, itxs this one.
18
I think both parties acted out of ignorance rather than malice. Perhaps we could use this as a teachable moment rather than taking sides and blaming and shaming someone.
19
Wait...huh? I’ve been a huge fan of Aziz since Parks and Rec, and it’s really hard for me to read any defense of his behavior if it’s as Grace described it. She said no plenty of times. He was very aggressive.

I’m a moderately liberal white hetero cis-male who hates neologisms like “cis-male” and “whitesplaining.” I often take issue with what I see as progressive liberal SJW excess, such as often appears in The Stranger. So it’s bizarre that I’m finding myself to the left of a lesbian feminist contributer here.
20
@16 -- That's not a great analogy though, since there is only one way of eating cake and several ways of having sex. He could have easily thought she was turning down penetrative sex while still being open to oral sex, which she engaged in, seemingly consensually, three times throughout the course of he encounter.
21
If your date starts sticking their fingers down your throat, I'm going to suggest wrapping up your oyster dinner in a foil swan and getting the hell off that historic schooner. Ya missed the hard sign girl, it wasn't the white wine, it goes with a lot of things deliciously, just not misogynist fingers.
22
@16. But they are not friends. They are basically strangers. If I go to a stranger’s house and he keeps trying to get me to eat is cake. I might decide that this stranger is never going to be a friend.

I think an additional issue here is "how precious is sex to each person?" Guys, for the most part are not that attached to it. We think it is like pizza "even it's not very good, it's still pretty good." is an old saying. But, if sex, to you, is so precious that you only ever want the best pizza from the best artisanal wood fired oven with organic tomato sauce. Then it is up to you to hold out for that.
23
I still affirm that all men should just stay entirely away from all women at all costs. You could end up serving time for white whine!
24
@22 - I get part of your comment, I guess, but she said, "No, I'm not ready for that." How is that not doing exactly what you say she should be doing?
25
@20, okay, we can change the analogy. Someone you respect keeps offering you a job. You change the subject, walk away, tell them you don't want to feel forced into the job, tell them you aren't ready for that job...and they still don't get that you don't want the job. That would be weird, right?
Only when the context is sexual does it seem normal to us, for someone to completely ignore what would be obvious cues in some other context. I'm just saying, maybe it's time to re-think why that is, and if that should be our normal.
26
The thing that strikes me is he doesn't know any better at his age. He acts like someone who is less experienced and much younger. Perhaps his stature and his cultural upbringing did retard his ability to hook up with women in his twenties.

It would also explain that long dragged out relationship at the end of season two of Master of None with the Italian girl. I learned in high school a relationship like that wasn't going anywhere and you were trapped in the friend zone. A more experienced person would just walk away from that as soon as possible.
27
@16) But at what point does your friend shove the cake up your ass? That would be assault.
28
Dear GOD this fucking paper is a piece of shit now.
29
@25 -- What if you told the person offering you the job that you'd consider accepting it "next time" you saw them? Or what if you agreed to take on certain aspects of the job but not others?
30
Thank you, Katie Herzog. You are a voice of reason amidst shrill shrews.
31
This article is such crap, and (as I mentioned above) I'm only a moderate liberal (and a straight white dude.) In any other situation if someone is bullied and mistreated, we level our attacks at the bully, not the victim. Here, people like KH are telling the victim to just "deal with it." How is that fair???
32
Interesting that Nathalie Graham posted in Slog on Tuesday "Counterpoint: Why Your Defense of Aziz Ansari Makes You a Tone-Deaf Asshole
by Nathalie Graham • Jan 16, 2018 at 2:15 pm" but the post has been removed? It was a good counter post to Katie, though calling her a "Tone Deaf Asshole" was pretty heavy handed.
34
This is what you are saying: since some people have endured actual physical violence; since this story is such a common one; since you’ve experienced worse; and since some women do “this” too, Grace’s story is not worth mention.

Set aside for a moment that you chalk up coercive, insistent, disrespectful sex as merely “bad sex.”

Given your analysis, no one has the right to complain unless bones were broken, and unless their story is uncommon. Maybe no one has the right to complain unless they suffered as much as you have in your life.

Forget Grace and Aziz – do you really think there’s nothing important to examine when it is culturally acceptable for men (by and large) to feel entitled to lie, coerce, manipulate, and force women to have sex?

Apparently.
35
Almost every opinion I have heard on this from either side has left me inclined to sympathize more in the opposite direction of the opiner. It's like "The Portrait of Mr W.H." come to life.