faq: grace, aziz, and #metoo


It sounds like we have some questions about where we are in terms of Aziz Ansari behaving abominably, Grace's role in what happened, how this event relates to the broader #metoo movement.

is he nice?
or evil?
and who am i?
and what is earth?
and where are we?
and who's in charge?
and why isn't anything easy?
and where are the muffins?

Welcome to FAQ.

These are a few of the most common questions I've seen, collected from comments on Twitter, Facebook, my own blog, and other response pieces.

These answers are mostly sincere and just a little smartassed.


Why aren't you writing "Grace" in quotes?

Because this is my blog, not the Washington Post. And it's fucking annoying to add quotes around a name that I'm going to be writing a thousand times in this post.

You know who I'm talking about when I say Grace-no-quotes, right?

You're not at the end of the blog post like, woah, I thought you were talking about Princess Grace of Monaco, right?

huh
i had no idea
that she preferred red wine
with her lobster rolls

OK, so. Moving on.

Speaking of all that extra detail about how he ordered red wine even though she likes white, and leaving the table in a hurry... doesn't it seem like Grace was working really hard to make sure we all thought Ansari was a jerk?

You spotted that, too?

I'm going to ask you to draw a firm line between Grace the person and Grace's story in babe.net. It's easy for us to conflate the two, but it's really, really important that we not confuse the story with its telling.

Frankly, the reporting on babe.net was inexcusably sloppy. But don't take my word for it. Just ask Julianne Escobedo Shepherd at Jezebel, who identified the article as amateurish and botched in her piece, "Babe, What Are You Doing?"


...

from jezebel

This article is written very, very badly. And I'm not just talking about personal style. I'm talking about treatment of the subject matter as salacious gossip, while in the same breath identifying what happened as a serious crime. If you're writing an article about an assault, you don't include every breathless, humiliating detail.

This article has the sensational click-power of a sex tape, 
but is also asking us to take it seriously
as fact-based documentation
of sexual violence or misconduct. 

Of course we're having a hard time believing that it's reporting. It doesn't look like reporting. It looks like gossip.

Grace has every right to tell her story, and it's a goddamn shame that babe.net fucked her over so badly with this crappy article. I think that Babe.net sold Grace for clicks. It's also important to know that it's extremely unlikely that Grace had any input or oversight on the writing of this article. Her only chance to shape this narrative was likely in the way she told her story to the reporter who interviewed her, and when she's recounting a night that she describes as the worst of her life, it's not surprising that she might ramble or dwell on insignificant details (cough cough red or white).


Sure, he acted like a pig. But was it really ASSAULT?

So imagine you leave your garage door open, and you see your neighbor across the street. You wave, he comes over, you chat in your driveway for a minute.



You go back inside. Later, you come out to find your lawnmower is gone.



After you call around a little, you discover that your neighbor took your lawnmower out of your garage.

Now, you call this a theft. Hey, you took my mower.


bro
not cool


Your neighbor says, woah, nuh uh, I was just borrowing it. You invited me over. You left your garage door open. The mower was right there. We live across the street from each other. I assumed you wouldn't mind if I borrowed your mower.




Both you and your neighbor agree that he took the mower without asking. Both you and your neighbor probably agree that he should've asked. But at the time, he decided not to ask and just took what he wanted.

Is that a theft? Or is that just a shitty neighbor?

If everyone in the neighborhood was like, "Calm down, he didn't steal it. That's not a theft," would that change your feeling that he did steal it? It's your garage. It's your mower. You're the one who came out to find it missing, only to discover that someone you thought you could trust stole it.

When the facts aren't in question, 
the only thing left to divide people 
is how much they care 
about other people.
And that's a hard fight to win.

Now consider this. Which is the more effective conversation for the community to have:

a) Did he steal the mower or just borrow it?

b) What can we all do to make sure that people don't confuse open garage doors with free garage sales?

mic drop


Couldn't Grace have avoided this whole thing by not going to his apartment? Why do women do this to themselves? Good women keep their legs together or they get what they are asking for.*

Hi Doris! Thanks for chiming in.



Edited: I wrote this section to call out a specific kind of comment that was made by many women in their 60's, 70's, and 80's who called themselves feminists and then suggested that Grace, and often by extension all young women, are asking to be assaulted by engaging in sex with young men. It felt like an important element to include in the FAQ. However, a reader brought to my attention that some of the jokes I made in this section were just as mean-spirited and ageist as the original comments by these women (there was a whole thing with an avocado). 

I usually leave up content that I've learned is offensive, as a way to not be shady and hold myself accountable and also so people can learn from my mistakes. But this section was just mean joke after mean joke, and especially after reading Katie Way's email to Ashleigh Banfield, where Way (22 years old, as we learn in the email, and the writer of the original Babe.net piece) is so cruel, snide, and unprofessional to the older TV commentator, I was very uncomfortable with how similar her reprehensible message was to the "jokes" I cracked here. So I am removing the jokes but leaving the gif and the meat of the answer to the question.



And to answer your question, yes, she could have avoided this situation by not going to his apartment.

She could also avoid food poisoning if she never ate, but that's not how humans work. We have appetites: for food, for sex, for human connection.

Why is your solution that women should starve?


*This is a real quote, though names have been changed to protect the irritating.



Did Grace really say no though?

There are lots of places where I'll agree to disagree with you, but this isn't one of them.

She said no. Yes, she did.

And to me, the telling detail here is in the fact that he pulled her hand to his dick 5 to 7 times throughout the encounter.

Why would he have to pull her hand to his dick more than once, if she was into his dick?

Did he think she didn't know where his junk was located? Was he giving her a weiner tour? "And right here between my legs, you'll find MY BEST FAVORITE THING. Yep, right here. Nope, not on the counter, here between my legs. Nope, silly girl, not in your lap, right here."

Did he think she forgot about it? DID WE JUST CRACK GRACE'S SECRET IDENTITY???

huh
so
grace isn't white

Did he stop to consider the fact that she was removing her hand on purpose?

People know where junk is located. If you offer it, and they take it, that's an enthusiastic yes.

If you offer it, and they touch it for long enough to not piss you off and then find something else to do with that hand, that's a no.

"But she touched it!"
But did she keep touching it?
No.

Mumbling no is a no.

Pulling away is a no.

Saying "next time" is a no.

Literally anything less than "OMG YES!" is a no.

And if at any point in the hookup you notice that you're repeatedly pulling their limp or resistant hand to your junk, or they say "You guys are all the same," which has never not once not ever meant "You guys are all the same and you're a goddamn stallion," then you're hearing a no. That's allllll a no.

If you didn't know before, you know now. Do better.


But shouldn't she have just said a "NO" no? Like the way I would have said it if I'd been there?


Oh you mean like this?


nope
too small
OK, so maybe like this?


mmmmm
guys get boner face blindness
so they won't be able to see any of that really
do it better
Um ok... sooo.... 


yikes
calm down
that literally looks insane
that no is like
way too big
for one little hand in your mouth
eight to twelve times

I mean, I guess in a perfect world, Grace would have blown a whistle, popped a flare, and started screaming "STOPSTOPSTOPSTOPSTOP" the second that something happened that she didn't want.

But the world ain't perfect, people don't abandon a lifetime of habits, instincts, and conditioning to be pleasing as soon as you decide that it would please you if they could stop pleasing other people, and there are no magic words.

No matter what women do in compromising situations, there's always something more she should have done, says The Internet on The Day After.

If she'd said no six times and he'd persisted, you could ask why she didn't say no louder.

If she said no loudly and he kept going, you could ask why she didn't scream no and hit him.

If she screamed no and hit him and he held her down, you could ask why she didn't kick him in the balls and call 9-1-1.

If she kicked him in the balls and called 9-1-1 and he curled in a ball and cried, you could ask why  this damaged girl freaked out so hard. #girlsarecrazyiguess

She could have just said no.


Are guys actually capable of understanding nonverbal cues though?

Let's find out!

Guys, look at the girl in this gif and tell me what you see:



If you answered, "She wants it hot, wet, and in her mouth," then I can only assume you're referring to her coffee because unless you have a disability or difference that prevents you from reading social cues (and Ansari does not), YOU CAN CLEARLY SEE THAT THIS WOMAN IS UNCOMFORTABLE.

Follow-up question:

What if she were naked, with that same facial expression and body language? Would you be like BOI-YOI-YOI-YOING, this girl wants my dong! Hope not.

Follow-up question part 2:

What if she were in your apartment, removing your fingers from her mouth and saying "Slow down"?
Would you interpret that as, "Oh, okay, she wants to blow me now." Please say no.

Of course guys are capable of understanding when someone is uncomfortable.

OF COURSE YOU ARE. I refuse to accept that men are that stupid. I know too many good, smart guys to let the narrative become, "Once we reach a certain level of arousal all we can see is holes in your body."

I cannot even hear the argument of "But men are so dumb they just don't understand" anymore. It's insulting to men to assume they're incompetent, and it places sole responsibility for anything that happens on the other person in the room.

If you are reading this, you know what uncomfortable people look like. Don't fuck uncomfortable people. Don't pre-fuck uncomfortable people. Leave uncomfortable people alone.



Do you have a podcast episode about some of this?


Yes. It is insightful and funny and full of swears and a great story about Dave the Period Fairy.





So does she have any agency here? I thought women were powerful equals, but it seems like we're all agreeing that she was a poor helpless victim. So which is it?

So this question seems to boil down to confusion that women can feel empowered in one sphere, and vulnerable in another.

You're saying, women are so strong and smart and equal to men at work... but in sex women routinely go quiet while in a state of extreme fear or equivocation. What gives?

So real quick, just gonna outline why, for most of us, work is different from sex.

So for most of us, we're not naked at work. Ha ha ha, but seriously folks. Clothing does more than protect our skin from prickly shit; it protects our most vulnerable parts from harm. There is a reason that physicians and nurses aren't supposed to discuss medications or ask you questions about your medical history while you're undressed.

Also, for most of us, being penetrated (or the possibility of being penetrated) is not part of our work. Ha ha, I know, but seriously folks. If you've never taken one, you do not understand the unique vulnerability of literally allowing another person to enter your body.

Also, for most of us, if we embarrass or displease or shut down a coworker, he isn't in a state of arousal. On top of us. At work. HA. HA. I KNOW. BUT. SERIOUSLY. FOLKS.

Also, for most of us, we don't work in spheres where we understand that the danger of being hurt by your "work partner." If half of all murdered women died at the hands of a co-worker, I promise you Sheryl Sandberg's book would be called, "Be Nice and Live," not "Lean In."

*** Edited to add! I just thought of this! Women have professional role models! We see women excelling at work. We see professional women on TV and in the world. We're friends with them. We're related to them. We are them.

But when was the last time you saw a woman in a position of power in a sex act with a man? We don't see a lot of empowered lady sex role models. That does make it harder for us to imagine what strength in sex would look like, or that it is even possible for a woman to exercise agency in this sphere. If you don't agree with me, that's fine. I still like you. xoxo



Why didn't she just leave?

Sweet Baby Christ in Pampers, is GRACE STILL IN AZIZ ANSARI'S APARTMENT?!?!?!

I'm obviously being an assole, but I'm being an asshole to remind you that she did leave.

Thanks to the sloppy reporting at babe, we have no idea how long this encounter really lasted. But she did leave.

You're asking why didn't she leave earlier.

The answer is that she didn't go out on this date so that she could feel humiliated and find out that Ansari was a dick.

She went out on this date to have a good time. She wanted to connect with him. She wanted to enjoy herself.

And the first time you make out with someone, there are always little course corrections that have to happen, for both parties. So okay, he starts moving faster than she wants, and she says "Woah slow down," and then he doesn't really slow down. She starts to think, "Is this pace actually BAD or is it just different from what I'm used to? I'm not comfortable but maybe I could get comfortable. I already asked him to slow down. Maybe this is okay?"



A few minutes later: "Nope, don't like this. Don't like this at all." But now she's been there long enough that she feels like she might really owe it to both of them to give it another try.

And so on. And so on. She said "No," to him, and when he tried to bypass that no she said, "Maybe" to herself, until she couldn't say maybe anymore and then she left.

So okay, can we go bigger than this question, and call it what it is: "Why didn't she do what I did, or what I imagine I would do in the Die Hard version of my own life?"

I have a truth bomb for you.

You will never fully understand why other people do the things they do or when or how they do them. You aren't her. You weren't there. You will never, ever understand. Neither will I.

Somehow we have to find a way to believe they both Ansari and Grace are fully human, and therefore deserving of your empathy, and at the same time completely unknowable.


Why did she have to publicly call him out like this? God, it feels so humiliating and unnecessary.

I don't know.

Maybe she was furious to see him accepting a Golden Globe with a Time's Up pin.

Maybe she thought her story would spark an important conversation about consent and socialized sexual indifference to women's dignity.

I took a memoir workshop a couple of years ago and by far the hardest thing for the women writers to overcome was the sense that they didn't have the right to tell stories about things that had happened to them. The guys had no problem telling their stories. The women had to be told, explicitly, that their stories belong to them, and they get to tell them the way they want to.

So that's not how I would tell my story. But it's how Grace told her story, and that story belongs to her.

THAT BEING SAID. I doubt very much if Babe.net told Grace's story the way she wanted it told. This is pure conjecture. I have no evidence to support my opinion on this matter. I just know that if I'd had to read a million people making fun of me for wanting red wine with lobster, I'd be pretty pissed that the "journalist" who "interviewed" me didn't do a better job of telling my story without including insignificant details that arm skeptics who were never, ever going to believe me anyway.

Babe.net is on my shit list.



Why does she get to call him out and stay anonymous?

Because historically women who report acts of sexual assault (Shhhhh yes I know not everyone agrees that this was an assault, but Grace and Babe.net believe it was and therefore treated it as such) are given anonymity to keep them from being harassed. That's just how it works.

Are you worried it's fake because she didn't give her name to the public? I'm not sure where the complaint is on this one.

Are you feeling sorry for Ansari? Ha. Sorry Ansari. Haha. That rhymes. I'm punchy. It was a long day.

Okay. Have empathy for him. He's surely had an abominable few days.

But if you're going to have empathy for him, you have to have empathy for her, too. She had a shitty few days, too. Actually, she had way more shitty days than he did. It's not a competition, but if it were she would definitely be winning the "Who's Had More Shitty Days" competition, the prize for which is a drooling, poorly-written viral expose of your sex life! Wheeeee!



I am mad at Aziz Ansari for being a pushy sex partner. Am I  Islamophobic?





Stop reading The Craplantic.

That piece suggested that the allegations against Ansari are rooted in white liberal girls wanting to go after brown people. And while that may be true sometimes, that's not what we're talking about here. Ansari did something shitty and anger is a reasonable response.

Some examples of not reasonable responses include:

a) Slinging Islamophobic slurs at Ansari. (Don't ever do this.)

b) Assuming that a single person's actions on one night represent all Indian men or all Muslims. (That's bigoted)

c) Assuming that a single person represents all Indian men or Muslims, NOT WANTING to paint all Indian men or Muslims with the same brush, and therefore deciding to excuse otherwise inexcusable behavior that has nothing to do with his ethnicity or faith in order to prove that you're not Islamophobic. (That's annoying, tokenizing, counterproductive, actually just as bigoted as the second thing because you still think one person represents an entire population.)



Is #metoo hurt by accusations like these? IS #METOO OVER??? DID GRACE JUST KILL #METOO?!?!?!







ALRIGHT EVERYONE JUST CALM THE FUCK DOWN.

Pretend we're making brunch here, okay? We invited everyone from the neighborhood-- close friends, total strangers, everyone who wants to come is invited.

And what just happened is, someone brought a quiche that half the group thinks is undercooked, and the other half thinks is a perfectly fine texture for a quiche, except for a couple of people who think this is the BEST texture for a quiche.

ARE WE CANCELING BRUNCH AND BURNING DOWN THE BUILDING?

No. We're staying at brunch. It's BRUNCH TIME. It's actually a little PAST brunch time if you ask me, but what's done is done.

We're sticking around and we're talking about quiche.

We're learning about other people's quiche preferences and mores. We're listening to each other about quiche.

And if you don't want to eat it, don't. Scoop up the fucking fruit salad and get a slab of french toast casserole, OK? Jeez. There is SO MUCH FOOD TO EAT AT THIS BRUNCH, seriously. Have you ever been to a brunch where you wanted to eat everything? And have you ever been a part of a culture shift where you agreed with every single person who wanted on board?

What did you think was going to happen when women started telling the truth about all the parts of their lives that are unpleasant or humiliating, but not illegal? Did you think you were going to agree with everybody about what constitutes assault, or how best to win male allies? Did you think you were going to agree with me all the time? Of course not. Of course not.

Do you think that tomorrow Reese Witherspoon is going to call a press conference being like, "Time's Up's time... is up. It's over. Because of Grace."

The expectation that we have to conform to a single voice at all times or call ourselves a failure is stupid and insane. So our choice is "Never disagree" or "Quit trying?" False. Stupid insane choice? Rejected.

For fuck's sake, if you didn't hear me the first 8,000 times, THIS IS COMPLICATED. Stop making this an all-or-nothing affair, or canceling brunch because you disagree about the optimal texture of quiche.

Grow up. Calm down. Pay attention. Listen. Move forward.

#MeToo is not about placing additional restrictions on how and when women can talk about their lives. #MeToo is about giving women space and time to speak.

And it exists. It is greater than one person, one badly-executed article or one accusation that asks us to look closely at our social norms and discover that we disagree with a lot of people that we thought were #100 with us. That doesn't mean that person is your enemy now. It just means you know your friend better.

Would you stop hanging out with your friend if you found out he liked jiggly quiche? Please say no.



My best friend and I disagree on whether Grace is bad or Ansari is bad. Are we not friends anymore?

Well that depends.

Does someone always have to be bad, and do you always have to completely agree with your friends?

If so, then yeah, sounds like you are four years old and so is your best friend, and you both need some fishy crackers and a nap before you take another swing at life and/or make any long-term decisions about your friendship.



If I think that the article on Babe was poorly written, or Grace's account seems overblown, or her classification of the hookup as an assault really doesn't sit well with me, do I lose my feminist card?

NO.

There is no Feminist High Council that decides who is and isn't a feminist. This conversation isn't about proving you allegiance to Big Sister, and who you're willing to murder to prove it.

We aren't picking teams for dodgeball; it's not as simple as picking a color for your jersey.

Our disagreements and qualms are a chance for us to have a conversation, not just with other people but with ourselves. These divergences reveal ideas worth exploring.

The feminism I practice encourages people to ask questions of themselves and each other. We can't grow if we don't crack our seeds, right?



I still don't know how I feel about this. 




Are you a smug bitch*?

Hi Chad! Thanks for chiming in.

You're goddamn right I am.


*real DM, not by anyone named Chad.


I badly need to read something light, short, and funny that has nothing to do with Aziz Ansari or sexual assault.

Here you go!


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21 comments:

  1. "Why does she get to call him out and stay anonymous?"
    UGH. This. I've heard this one too many times, along with "she's a coward" or "he has the right to face his accuser", etc. But I just know, with the sick certainty that comes from having seen it play out before, that if she had come forward and identified herself, the response would've been something like "she's a golddigger" "she's only in it for the fame", etc. It's fucked.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. On top of this, I think the story is more powerful because Ansari was named. Hear me out on this.

      It's easy to frame a Harvey Weinstein-type story as it being about a bad person. That guy is a predator.

      If this were an anonymous story, with nothing more specific than "a famous comedian with a nice guy public image", that could be dismissed as yet another story of a hypocrite, who appears one way in public and another way in private.

      By naming Ansari, this makes the conversation very different, because he probably is a fundamentally decent person.

      That sends some people into denial mode, for sure, and to be fair, this is partly because a lot of the discussion is about actual predators, and harassment and assault in the context of a work environment. The conversation around Ansari is related, but different, and this level of nuance isn't everyone's strong point.

      For those who do get nuance, this raises some uncomfortable questions that need to be raised. Is it really possible for such a good person to have such bad behaviour socialised into them?

      This is only one aspect of the story, of course. But I just wanted to defend naming him. Ansari, to his credit, seems to have responded appropriately by expressing his own surprise and concern and seems to be reflecting.

      I mean this literally: It couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.

      Delete
  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  3. You fucking rock. By committing to your viewpoint and still being open to the possibility that it might change (or even that you might be wrong), you remind us all how important it is to acknowledge that sea change is full of waves & of single incidents to be assessed individually & of more waves & of uncertainty & of course corrections & of disagreements about quiche texture.

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  4. I love you. Thank you for this. Seriously. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Katie: Thank you. Again. I still don't know if I'm certain how to think about this one, but I'm glad to know I'm not the only one that finds this complicated. You continue to help me navigate, and I appreciate you.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Isn't is possibly ignoring the most likely path of ingress to attack masculinity norms when you assume that men can and do understand these or all forms of nonverbal communication? It also seems odd to imply all women are equally solid at expressing their feelings nonverbally, to the point they are always parsable to any not-very-stupid man.
    Assuming men aren't very stupid about this stuff when they don't grow up talking about it with anyone may be a mistake. That doesn't mean it isn't their responsibility to get educated.

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  7. Overall, a very enjoyable piece. I'm a bit confused on one point, and I hope you can clarify for me:

    You say that the article from Babe.net was terrible (multiple times). Later on, you wisely admonish us (regarding why she didn't leave earlier than she did) "You will never fully understand why other people do the things they do or when or how they do them. You aren't her. You weren't there. You will never, ever understand. Neither will I." You encourage us to have empathy later in the same section with, "Somehow we have to find a way to believe they both Ansari and Grace are fully human, and therefore deserving of your empathy, and at the same time completely unknowable." Yet you hang your hat on one sentence, even one "fact" (and I put that in quotes because, again, we weren't there) from the account to answer the question, "Did Grace Really Say No Though?":

    "She said no. Yes, she did.

    And to me, the telling detail here is in the fact that he pulled her hand to his dick 5 to 7 times throughout the encounter."

    We can imagine this happened any number of ways that might fit our personal narratives for the incident, but taken as a plain fact, it has very little meaning, and in my opinion, much less than you seem to ascribe. Why does this one questionable fact, from a poorly written article, about an incident we weren't present for, regarding two people for whom we should have empathy and understanding, have so much meaning and carry so much weight? Later in the piece, you say, "Thanks to the sloppy reporting at babe, we have no idea how long this encounter really lasted." Based on both the poor reporting, couldn't these 5-7 times have happened over the course of an undetermined amount of time in a natural way? Does this isolated fact deserve the larger context that she performed oral sex on him at least two times during this same encounter?

    I'm not sure these poorly reported facts give us the firm conclusion you make. Could you clarify?

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  8. The part I get stuck on is that she was naked, giving head. That is at least as powerful a message as mumbling. It was a crappy article as as a victim of sexual assault I really resented it, and her. I've read so many response pieces saying that due to societal conditioning she couldn't be expected to be responsible for herself but that doesn't make her failure Aziz's responsibility. Taking into account the obvious bias and salaciousness of the article makes me wonder about the veracity of many of the aspects of it.

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    Replies
    1. This; giving head and being naked, even juxtaposed against whatever she said verbally, is at best a totally confusing signal and at worst plays right into the conditioned belief (from men pov) that this is almost a 'challenge' to demonstrate just how hypersexed and decisive you are. It's true if he was a gentleman he would have acknowledged the confusion and taken it sloowwwwww (maybe wait on the sexy until date no. 2?3?4?)
      But I don't think we can infer from this account of this story whether Aziz is a douchebag or just a confused, sloppy partner in this instance.

      Delete
  9. I still can't get over the fact that people think she didn't say no. I'm working on it. But I'm nowhere over it. Thanks for a comforting read.

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  10. This male would like to thank you. There really are lots of us bros who are trying to be woke, and you're helping us immensely.

    That said, this Ansari thing makes me uncomfortable, and I'm not sure that your post represents what are the most frequently asked questions I've heard.

    #1: Are we now, as a society, OK with destroying a person on the sole basis of anonymous allegations? Where's the line on credibility and the rights of the accused?

    I cheered when the years of public accusations of rape finally caught up to Cosby. And I could obviously get behind the takedown of Weinstein, again based on mountains of public and anonymous accounts. I was just fine with CK losing his career -- and even found myself convincing my skeptical wife that what he did was assault.

    Where it gets dicey, though, is when we're now down to one anonymous accusation being enough to destroy a person's career. If those allegations were vetted by reputable journalists, I might be less skeptical. But "A Rape on Campus" wasn't so long ago, and we're still naively taking Grace's story as gospel.

    Now, I know that it's ridiculous to expect a victim of sexual assault to put herself into the public sphere just to get some measure of justice and share her story. That's not even remotely fair. But neither is tearing down a public figure on the basis of an anonymous allegation. Say what you want, but even if these accusations are false, the genie is out of the bottle. And no matter what actually happened, Ansari is now a sexual assailant in the public's mind. There's no repairing that level of reputational damage. Even murderers get their day in court.

    Surely there's some middle way. The credibility of the publication and accuser has to count for something. Are we really OK with the ramifications that this kind of McCarthyism entails?

    I assume Grace's story is substantively true, but I have no basis for making that assumption. And that scares me.

    #2: Where is the line between discomfort and assault?

    Let's pretend that every word of Grace's account is true. It still doesn't sound like sexual assault to me. It walks the line, yes. Ansari definitely comes across as a dick (who the fuck gets off with a girl who's not obviously, irrepressibly into it?!), but at no point does it cross the line into assault.

    Now, I know that there is no bright line. These things are always in flux, part of an evolving dialogue about gender and sex roles and personal preferences. Sex is messy, and when there are two or more people involved, consent isn't strictly binary. Sometimes your partner needs to be "warmed up". Male or female, it happens. People are rarely on the same wavelength, especially about sex. And this is fertile soil for miscommunication to take root.

    So I feel like, if Grace's story is a description of sexual assault, then we need to find a more powerful phrase to describe things like rape. Because -- as the sheer volume of discussion implies -- this account lies firmly in a gray zone. And rape is not gray. We shouldn't diminish the trauma of one by conflating it with the other.

    Strip Grace's story down to a sequence of events and all you're left with is an awkward sexual episode. My wife said, when she read the account, "Ridiculous. We have a right to be safe. We don't have a right to be comfortable." I'm not sure I disagree with her in this case.

    P.S. By not taking on these questions -- and choosing instead to focus on straw men -- I'm not sure you're doing the discourse any favors. By lumping valid questions in with the extremes, you're lumping wanna-be woke bros in with the trolls. Ignore the trolls. Ignore the cavemen, too. They're not going to be won over by a blog post. Please help us, the guys who want to understand.

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    1. is this really destroying his career, though? is society really considering him a sexual assailant? i'm not actually seeing anyone saying he deserves to lose everything he has (nor has he). what i'm seeing is disappointment, due to his feminist credentials. compared to those other cases you cited, it does look like an "honest mistake". we've forgotten what it looks like, with outrageous cases being dismissed as "mistakes" or blatantly denied.
      (for me his reaction is as bad as his assault was, if not worse - on the day after he behaved like nothing was wrong, when the story went public he was "surprised", showing he's not reflected on that message she sent him)

      as for discomfort vs assault, that's a false dichotomy. each has its own axis. you can obviously experience discomfort without assault, and you can experience assault without registering it as that. discomfort is subjective. assault is quite objective - it should (!) rely on whether consent was given, not whether things turned out fine and enjoyable in the end.

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  11. Today I saw an interview with a male comedian that said that Ansari generally behaves sociopathic and is only interested in people who have power. He basically said although he's met him a bunch of times, Ansari has just glared at him until this comedian was sat with Vince Vaughn. At this point Ansari faked friendliness because Vaughn was there. This comedian has described Ansari as a charlatan and a wolf in sheep's clothing.

    Also on another discussion site, one commentator stated that it is an open secret on the comedy circuit that Ansari is abusive and manipulative around women. She said he regularly invites women to parties at his place and they go there to find out that only they were invited.

    I guess only time will tell if these other accounts will see the light of day.
    I suspect they will..

    ReplyDelete
  12. Today I saw an interview with a male comedian that said that Ansari generally behaves sociopathic and is only interested in people who have power. He basically said although he's met him a bunch of times, Ansari has just glared at him until this comedian was sat with Vince Vaughn. At this point Ansari faked friendliness because Vaughn was there. This comedian has described Ansari as a charlatan and a wolf in sheep's clothing.

    Also on another discussion site, one commentator stated that it is an open secret on the comedy circuit that Ansari is abusive and manipulative around women. She said he regularly invites women to parties at his place and they go there to find out that only they were invited.

    I guess only time will tell if these other accounts will see the light of day.
    I suspect they will..

    ReplyDelete
  13. Today I saw an interview with a male comedian that said that Ansari generally behaves sociopathic and is only interested in people who have power. He basically said although he's met him a bunch of times, Ansari has just glared at him until this comedian was sat with Vince Vaughn. At this point Ansari faked friendliness because Vaughn was there. This comedian has described Ansari as a charlatan and a wolf in sheep's clothing.

    Also on another discussion site, one commentator stated that it is an open secret on the comedy circuit that Ansari is abusive and manipulative around women. She said he regularly invites women to parties at his place and they go there to find out that only they were invited.

    I guess only time will tell if these other accounts will see the light of day.
    I suspect they will..

    ReplyDelete
  14. Somehow in all the foofaraw about this, one thing nobody is saying is that HE could have stopped it at any point. All he had to do was quit pushing the boundaries she was trying to set. What's so hard about that?

    I have cats. Sometimes they act as if when I tell them no, that just means "wait a few minutes and try again". AZIZ IS NOT A CAT. Nor is he a toddler, as toddlers are often rather like cats. Why couldn't he behave like an adult?

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  15. "Speaking of all that extra detail about how he ordered red wine even though she likes white"
    um, no...he offered her white wine at his house before they went to the restaurant; she made a point about being miffed at not being given a choice. At his HOUSE! she ordered whatever she wanted with her lobster rolls, later. Just wanted to mention this....

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  16. About 100 grams per person is about right. If you're worried add another 100 grams to the pot. Don't forget to salt the water.

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  17. Okay, but what is uncomfortable lady gif from?

    ReplyDelete