Monday, January 15, 2018

not that bad

Yesterday I read a piece in Babe. You know the one.



The piece by Katie Way tells the story of a young woman whom we know as Grace who met Aziz Ansari, went on a date with him, and then engaged in sexual contact with him that was deeply uncomfortable and upsetting.

The allegations against Ansari open up the next, harder, messier chapter in the #metoo movement, one in which the vast majority of us are no longer able to simply say, "If you're not with us, you're against us."

The line in the sand is hard to see here. This is the one that is forcing me into a place where I'd rather not go. This is scary to write and publish.

So far I as I can tell, these are the teams.

In Grace's corner: 
This was a sexual assault. 

Twitter is hopping with women coming forward with their own hookup stories that run the range from mildly icky to flat-out horrifying.

In Ansari's corner: 
This was really bad sex. 

People are starting to roll their eyes at what passes for sexual assault these days.

And The Atlantic published a piece called "The Humiliation of Aziz Ansari," subtitled, "Allegations against the comedian are proof that women are angry, temporarily powerful-- and very, very dangerous."

(In unrelated news, hi The Atlantic. If you want to find out how dangerous angry women are for being called temporarily powerful and also for having their anger once again weaponized against them in an attempt to shut them up, then give me a call.)
(In other unrelated news, if The Atlantic burns down today I'm going to need an alibi.)

In the "I'm freaking out" corner: 
(silence)
(texts a friend: 
Did you see this Ansari thing? Hmm.)

I wouldn't presume to speak about why any other women are struggling to stand with Grace on this one, so I'm just going to tell you why it's hard for me.

Yes, this one is hard for me. Please keep reading.



Edited to add: 
Mouthy/Messy/Mandatory's podcast episode: "Good Guys, Bad Guys, and Aziz Ansari."






I read Grace's story with amusement, embarrassment, and creeping unease.

I was not outraged. Well, I am outraged at The Atlantic, Liam Neeson, and Twitter. But I was not outraged at Ansari. I felt uncomfortable.

Grace's story is so familiar that I laugh at it without smiling. It's the story of so much bad sex.

I have had my fair share of what I'd call "crappy dates." And what I call crappy dates looks an awful lot like what Grace calls sexual assault. It's like we went on the same dates, wrote down the same details, and told two very different stories.

Here's mine:



And be honest. 

If you got to choose a narrative for your life, which cut would you pick? The one where Clarice descends into cannibalistic hell and fights for her life? Or the one where she's caught in a jaunty love triangle with a couple of quirky gents?

And that's the thing: we do get to pick how to decide to tell our stories, at least to ourselves. I've dated a few Dr. Lecters, and like Clarice Starling I escaped with a few tears, a few shivers of disgust, and a few stories that I rarely tell. I decided not to call those encounters assault. I decided to make those nights the bad-date montage in act one of the story of my happy life.

That's how I moved forward.

Grace's story is common. It's so common that I don't have to imagine it because I remember it. I laugh about it without smiling. It's the story of so much bad sex. And when I hear that bad sex described as a sexual assault, it forces me to reexamine my own history. And see, I just started feeling strong again. 

I believe her; I don't agree with her. 
I'm telling you this not because I think she is wrong, 
but because I think I am. 

You have to understand that many women approach humiliating and uncomfortable sex from a place of "it's not that bad."

Part of "not that bad" is a preemptive minimization of our experiences. You know, the way Fat Amy calls herself Fat Amy in Pitch Perfect so that the other girls can't do it first? It's our armor.

I know what people will say when I tell them that I had a professor who put his arm around me (I was 19) and asked why we weren't dating, while his hand stroked the bare skin of my shoulder (it was spring.)

I am waiting for people to say, "So he just... put his arm around you?" I am waiting for them to ask for a gasp-worthy punchline: actually I was 12, or a tit grab, a ten-pound helmet into his lap, an offer to exchange nude selfies for a better grade. They're already imagining there is more to the story. There really isn't.

I don't want to have to up the ante, tell another worse story to prove that I had the right to be uncomfortable when my professor stroked my bare shoulder in a dark theater. I don't want to have to buy my friends' support with maximum humiliation.

I have no interest in turning my sexual history into social currency; exchange rates are so unpredictable.

So I hurry up to add, "It wasn't that bad." That way, the people I'm telling have to convince me, "No, that really wasn't cool." If you push, people push back, that's just human nature. If you pull away, they come to your side and find you. They can't resist.

So I say, "It's not that bad," and I hope they'll come over to my side, and find me.

Does that make sense? This is complicated.

Ansari's behavior, as it is described in the article, is fucking awful and ordinary. So many men learn how to perform sex by watching porn, itself a performance of sex that for the most part treats women like props.

Women have had so much bad sex that our scale for sex has been skewed so it shows every shitty sex encounter as 10 pounds less shitty than it was.


Jabby and fumbling and pushy and transactional? He convinced you to say yes even though you said no a bunch of times? OK, but did he leave bruises? No? Did he leave the condom on the whole time? You think so?

Then we're going to call that one, "meh" and lock it up in the "Not that bad" vault. You don't want to make a big deal out of this - people will ask why you didn't just leave





But Grace's story re-zeroes that scale, and suddenly everything in my past that's already beyond fixing is +10 worse.



Jabby and fumbling and pushy and transactional? He convinced you to say yes even though you said no a bunch of times? 

That's coercive, nonconsensual sex. You have a right to feel violated. 




No! It was meh! We already decided, no take-backsies!

I'm a kid in a corner kicking the wall with my fingers in my ears.

No, no, no! I don't wanna! I'm rom com Clarice! I'M ROM COM CLARICE!

this isn't creepy
it's fine
this isn't scary
it's nice

see?
he just said hi
with nice eyes
and she was like
oh you

see?
it's fine
i'm fine
everything's fine

Women have already taken enough of a painful personal inventory to be able to say #metoo; I am not eager to go back over what I've come to comfortably accept as "crappy hookups," or "shitty sex," and come to realize that yes, that was sexual assault too. 

If we begin to call all sexual assault what it is, we will have to voluntarily admit more pain into our lives, pain that we have up to this point refused to let in the door. If we call this kind of sexual encounter an assault, then women who have been weathering what they call bad sex will suddenly have justification for the icky feelings and shame that follows them home in the cab. And yet, we'd really rather just hit the showers.

I've taken that cab, crying. And I've taken that shower. And I would never have told the story, because I would have been afraid of someone thinking, "That's not that bad," the way I just fucking did. I don't have to imagine what happened to Grace because I remember it.

This is complicated.

And yes, guys, what Grace described is totally normal for a woman. This is a normal sex encounter. The women that you're seeing scoff at her? They aren't scoffing because they think a guy would never do that. They're scoffing because they believe every single word she said. They don't have to imagine it either.

This is a common, normal hookup. A shitty, painful hookup where Grace's comfort and pleasure were like #7 on the priority list. Mean, punishing sex is normal. And awful. Our normal is awful.

People are quick to label sex crimes as deviant or aberrant, but the truth is that sexual violence is socialized into us. Men are socialized to fuck hard and often, and women are socialized to get fucked, look happy, and keep quiet about it. 

Aziz Ansari has been socialized.
And if we don't like the way socialized men do sex, then we need to take a hard look at our society, friend.

Now, I want to be clear. Ansari is 100% responsible for what he did. He behaved like a sexual bully who hurt and humiliated a woman while he acted out a fantasy that was his and his alone. He treated her like a prop. And if you don't understand why that's shitty, ask yourself how much your hand enjoys jerking you off. Ansari is responsible for knowing better, and caring about whether his sexual partners are comfortable, safe, and enjoying themselves. Even though nobody ever taught him that's a "normal" way to do sex. It's his job to help change the normal.

As a woman, I am supposed to take what's given to me, to shrink my pain, ignore my bad feelings about what just happened, and generally be FINE WITH EVERYTHING! Also I have to have a good banana bread recipe.

so like that
except instead of being in a room on fire
you're in an apartment and someone is sticking his fingers in your mouth
over and over again

What I'm realizing now, after reading Grace's story and the responses to it, is that when I shrink my own pain, I also shrink my empathy for women who feel the same pain and feel it full-size. I resent Grace for talking about her hookup as if it's an assault. I'm mad at her for talking about it at all.

But that's not because she was wrong to talk about it. And it's for sure not because she was wrong to go on a date, drink wine, or try to have a pleasurable sexual encounter. She wasn't. She wasn't wrong.

It's because if what happened to her is a violation, then we are all violated. And everyone is a violator. And that's a scary fucking world to live in. I don't want that to be the world I live in.

Can it be that we are so okay with being hurt as women 
that we are skeptical of the idea
that sex shouldn't be humiliating or scary?



FUCK 

I THOUGHT THIS WAS A ROM COM.



If you shared my hesitation to stand up with Grace on this one, I'm just asking you to hang out and ask yourself why. You don't have to come up with answers. It's enough to notice and wonder.

These uncomfortable conversations are part of #metoo, as much as the truth telling and hearing. The only easy day was yesterday, when we found ourselves mostly in agreement that Weinstein is a slimy bag of dicks, and Spacey is a scummy, flesh-eating bacteria.

This was never going to be easy or smooth. It's absurd to think that we'd be able to push through what Frances McDormand called a tectonic shift without revealing fault lines we didn't know were there. We're going to find ourselves on opposite sides of things. We're going to disagree. And we're going to get uncomfortable. Remember that you, too, are socialized. Even though you've been hurt, you are also trained to hurt others. I am; I do. I'm trying to do better.

My 5-year-old Chicken told me the other day, 
"I think the opposite of brave isn't scared.
The opposite of brave is quiet."

Remember, we don't fail when we disagree. We fail when we go quiet and walk away. Stick around. Be honest. Don't be scared. Or be scared, but don't be quiet.

And if you need a break, you can always just pop in a rom com.


wait



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202 comments:

  1. Very insightful. Thank you for sharing!

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  2. Yes, sexual violence is normal(ized). While I do agree that that's a scary thought, I see no way of fixing the problem if we don't recognize that we DO live in a scary world where violence is sexy. Honestly, I don't even know why we're talking about this like it's new. Andrea Dworkin and Catharine McKinnon said it years ago: sex for mean means violence; for men, sex is an act of hatred towards women. Yes, it is scary but it is also the truth. And we can't fix this problem if we actively choose not to see the truth.

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    1. I thought this was a fantastic piece that captures the nuance that seems to get lost between the all-in #MeToo supporters and those with reservations. It's also scary because I can remember times where I've been that man, deviously maneuvering for sex without really understanding WHY, and leaving with my own feelings of shame and ickiness, like why did either of us just do that? Still, I can't believe that "for men, sex is an act of hatred towards women." Do you really believe this? This whole Aziz Ansari thing started a discussion about bad sex, but that doesn't mean there isn't ever good sex. Usually it's with people you love and trust, but you can even have good sex with strangers. What would be the point of all of this discussion if it was all bad anyway?

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    2. ""for men, sex is an act of hatred towards women." Do you really believe this?"

      No.

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    3. Here's some context for Andrea Dworkin. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2005/apr/12/gender.highereducation

      If people haven't read her I highly recommend starting with her book "Intercourse." It's not that there can never be good sex -- it's highlighting that the default, even if this isn't intention or conscious in people's minds, is that sex needs to come by force, and that truly consensual sex needs us to completely change the way we see consent and sexual mores.

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    4. MY COMMENT:

      I cannot handle Dworkin's brand of feminism. It is OK for women to enjoy kinky, CONSENTUAL sex. Not every man is a predator leering in the bushes to rape you out of some power play. I have men in my life I love and respect, and because I choose to believe in the good in all, I believe that not all of them are out to screw me just because they are angry with their mothers.

      Good lord. I am as progressive as they come but Dworkin completely alienates me.

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    5. For lots of men, domination of women is what turns them on. And actually it tuns on a lot of women too. But it weirds me out. I never understood it. I think there are still plenty of guys like me. So i wouldn't say that sex for men is about force or meanness. But it is for a lot of them.

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    6. Eric, been diving VERY DEEPLY into this dynamic for the past few months. I am as hard core feminist as they come. But I know what turns me on in bed. After grappling hard with this I've come to the conclusion that AGENCY is what matters. Not how I exercise that agency with my lover.

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    7. Delighted to see Dworkin brought up. She's incredibly relevant these days. She succinctly explains things and contextualizes them so well, and it's unfortunate that her work is still so relevant. But of course she's still brushed off because it's too uncomfortable a reality to face.

      And I know Thelma won't see this but it's not progressive to be pro-kink.

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    8. I would agree with eric. The point of the topic is not all men but enough men view sex as a conquering and that to please a woman you have to take charge and "tear it up". Largely the porn influence imo. I have to agree with TH as well and imo anyone familiar with proper power play in the kink community knows that the person that is usually actually in control in a good relationship like this is the submissive whether they be male or female. I've never gotten a lot of the denigration play stuff but it is what some people want and if that's what they want there's nothing wrong with that. As TH mentioned it's about the consent in my book. Definitely a lot to consider here. I also like to draw a distinction between continued habitual behavior and past behavior that these people have learned from and changed their lives due to. It doesn't forgive what was done but I think sometimes we forget that to create change in those that need to change you get more change with positive reinforcement of improved behavior than continued negative reinforcement of he past acts. If someone shows a concerted effort to improve the way they interact with perspective partners (male or female) we should support that. Unfortunately it feels like a lot of the accused are not doing so. I'm not sure how we get from A to B. Good piece.

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    9. @Monia Hanna - LOL - ok, that is ridiculous. If my "progressiveness" depends on if I like to do it in any position other than missionary with the lights off, then I guess you can revoke my card.

      What a silly thing to say. Progressive is such a nasty word. It is OK to have fun having sex without making it sick and dirty like some Pentecostal preacher.

      My goodness....

      xo, Thelma

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    10. no I don’t believe that all sex is violence...woman take controll of your life...how we ever procreate or have fun if we homogenize sex....repel flirting and some sort of social sexual interaction....Yes men you can whistle at me...I won’t be upset...I might just whistle back...thats sexual freedom

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    11. The whole Dworkinesque sex-is-violence thing aside (I've read Dworkin, and I'm sad that she was so deeply damaged), "it's not progressive to be pro-kink" may be the most ridiculous thing I've read about sex in weeks.

      Having safe, sane and consensual sex isn't progressive? Clearly communicating expectations between partners before a scene isn't progressive? Providing thoughtful aftercare and discussing how the encounter worked for all parties isn't progressive?

      Guess I need to go turn in my left-wing credentials, and start voting for "only in the dark with the lights out, as shamefully as possible" politicians!

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    12. This is a really fascinating phenomenon. In her book The Beauty Myth, which came out way back in 1990, Naomi Wolf talked about how violent sexualized images of men dominating women became popular in advertising and the mainstream media (not to mention porn) in the 1970s and 80s as a backlash to the second wave of the women's rights movement in the 60s. One of the effects all of those images had on culture was we, both women and men, began to eroticize sexual violence against women and male domination in the bedroom. So while it's true that any adults can and should have as much consensual kinky sex as they want, one of the reasons we want it is because we've been told to want it by advertisements and porn. And that's a form of intentional social control.

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    13. So what if I’m the masochist and she’s the sadist? It’s only an act of violence if you make it, there’s a difference between rough fucking and making love, and it’s called making love for a reason

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    14. haha oh LORD @ "it's not progressive to be kinky" ...idono, i know plenty conservatives who are overly concerned with what two consenting adults are doing in the bedroom.

      "It’s only an act of violence if you make it" right! or to put it in another perspective, what if she were the Dom and he were the sub? Isn't that a shining example of feminism?

      To quote a comedian who i totally can't remember right now, "What do you mean porn is degrading to women?? She's the one holding the whip!"

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    15. Not even Dworkin claimed that heterosexual sex is violence. She's been grossly misinterpreted. In her own words:

      "No, I wasn't saying that [all heterosexual sex is rape] and I didn't say that, then or ever. ... The whole issue of intercourse as this culture's penultimate expression of male dominance became more and more interesting to me. In Intercourse I decided to approach the subject as a social practice, material reality. This may be my history, but I think the social explanation of the all sex is rape slander is different and probably simple. Most men and a good number of women experience sexual pleasure in inequality. Since the paradigm for sex has been one of conquest, possession, and violation, I think many men believe they need an unfair advantage, which at its extreme would be called rape. I don't think they need it. I think both intercourse and sexual pleasure can and will survive equality. It's important to say, too, that the pornographers, especially Playboy, have published the "all sex is rape" slander repeatedly over the years, and it's been taken up by others like Time who, when challenged, cannot cite a source in my work."

      The way people have discussed her work does her a complete injustice and paints her as wildly irrational.

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    16. The problem I have with the whole "heterosexual sex is violence" schtick is it's deeply invisibilizing to those of us in the queer community who've been assaulted by other queers.

      I'll take "toxic masculinity causes the erosion of sexual boundaries and encourages a sex-as-conquest mentality" but to say that all men victimize all women and leave it at that is just wrong and problematic and invisibilizing to men who've been victims of assault and those who've been victimized by women.

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    17. Well, I have logical issue with generalisations quite often & more complex ideas being reduced click bait style & taken out of context. A lot of where I've had difficulty with people in these interactions relates to them trying to dominate me in one way or another, to perhaps feel like they're getting some power from putting me down & so on. It's a huge turn off. One aspect I see influencing this, is competitive conditioning, hierarchical style - there's a lot of that. Another can be also a bit of an expression showing what's been done to them in one way or another. I find it very difficult to meet anyone that comes close to matching me headwise & though I can understand a lot now - I don't see the same consideration coming from so many towards me, too often. (Also, there can be another layer of organised set ups, with a mind to abuse, malign or try to force a person into all sorts of awful stuff etc... this really is a difficult area & can go on without people realising for a while - resulting in all sorts of efforts to try & hide the facts when it becomes too obvious...) There's a lot of complexity to what really is consent, it can be politically challenging as examining this in depth can really tear apart a lot of establishment myths, if folk aren't aware of them being so. Revealing some core unpleasantries of a lot of peoples learned behaviour & dare I type it - brainwashing. I get that some like to reframe things, but I don't find lying about all the varied, complicated, (including of course)negative factors in human interaction, to be constructive or true. It's not always easy though to articulate all that one is conscious of & some people don't want to hear something that's different, unfamiliar or challenging to their beliefs at the time. Getting older can in some cases also make really clear how little in youth a person might really be aware of, from examining the self. But some people as they age don't seem to change so much in thought, so that's quite a subjective experience manner...

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    18. I don't think that violence/kink/BDSM is the issue here or why or how men and women engage in it. I think the issue is largely one of respect for your partner. You can engage in these behaviors, it is by no means wrong, and many people do get turned on by BDSM, but respect the other person to ask before doing something, listening, understanding signals and seeking clarity if you think something is off. We are so unaligned with our own intuition when it comes to other people, I think it would be good to develop that, both for men (who often are ignorant of clues, or anything that doesn't serve their ego, and women (who are socialized to please). Be aware of yourself! Then be aware of others. I have had my "not too bad" experiences, but I also have ha beautiful sexual experiences and the top defining characteristic was respect.

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  3. Thank you. If I weren't at work, I'd be crying.

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    1. I came home and had a good cry. This hit me so hard.

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    2. I came home and had a good cry. This hit me so hard.

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  4. Granted I'm old, but why are so many women engaging in so much humiliating sex? It doesn't sound empowering, or even the slightest bit pleasurable. Why is this so common?

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    1. Have you ever done any of the following: a) told someone you loved the gift they got you, even though it was terrible and showed no knowledge of who you are? b) politely disengaged from a crazy shouting person in a public place because you were scared of them? c) forced yourself to listen politely to a person you're dating as they tell you an incredibly boring story? d) had sex with someone you were in a relationship with, on a night you didn't really want to do it, because it seemed like they wanted to and you didn't have a good reason to say no and you didn't want to have a fight? Well... it's somewhere in the center of the Venn diagram of those 4 things. I don't think anyone thinks that it's empowering or fun. It sneaks up on you and nothing has prepared you with the tools to get out of it.

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    2. It sounds like awful, porny, sort of humiliating sex is ALL that young men are bringing to the table right now? I don't know... I guess everyone is learning how from the internet now and nobody is telling the dudes that their super visual porn moves aren't actually designed to bring women pleasure. Oh yeah, and that if it's done right you should both be having a good time?

      Honestly I couldn't be happier about not being a young woman right now.

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    3. Also because our society has upped it game when it comes to lowering people's self esteem. Lot of people out there looking for anything that will make them feel a little better about themselves. Thinking that someone finds you attractive goes a long way toward that and people are willing to have sex if that will give them the feeling they are OK and normal.

      Content people don't buy stuff. So we breed discontent and it has a lot of side effects.

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    4. There are men out there who are great in bed, who are attractive and kind and talented and charismatic and compelling, and we want to spend time with them and want them...

      ...and it's pretty much a coin toss. Heads, you go to bed with them and have a great time. Tails, they're terrible.

      Sometimes you're lucky and you're at the kissing stage and realize it's going to be bad, and get out of there- maybe he takes it like a gentleman, maybe he calls you a couple of names, either way.

      Sometimes you start up and it turns bad slowly- there's a species of creep who'll wait until you're naked in bed together before 'spicing it up,' trying out something degrading. 'Surprise' anal, or slipping the condom off, or whatever. Then you're already being penetrated and you're in total shock, and you come up to the sudden realization that you can't trust the person you're with. So you can't necessarily trust that he will stop if you say 'no.' And if you do say it, and he doesn't, then you've been unambiguously raped, and he might get violent, and you might have to deal with knowing someone has raped you- which is a lot more painful than just lying back and thinking of England for four percussive minutes.

      As the previous commenter said, sometimes it's a boyfriend. When I was young I had an boyfriend who convinced me that make-up sex meant lying there as he did what he wanted. Whenever it was finished the fight was always over, and it was such a relief to put his temper and passive aggression behind us that the bruises were worth it to get through the fight. I was just inexperienced enough to believe him when he said it was normal.

      Most women grow out of it- get through situations like these, learn from them, and move on. The problem is, though, that every woman that gets past it there's always another young girl coming up behind her- some other nineteen year old with her own self-esteem issues and her own naive understanding of what's romantic and passionate.

      That's why any intervention that focuses on telling women how to protect themselves doesn't ever stop the problem. Someone is always going to be vulnerable, as long as we keep teaching our men and boys that this is how masculinity is done.

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    5. Steph, you nailed it. Again, too close to home. Exactly that. All of that.

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    6. Thanks for all those replies. I sense a real generation gap in these discussions, and especially in the comments in Bari Weiss' NYT opinion piece. Seems older feminists feel as though putting the responsibility on men to read our nonverbal cues infantilizes women and takes away our agency. I still have to ask though - don't the horrible experiences Steph describe make women a bit more picky about whom they have sex with? I absolutely agree that men must be taught about consent and should be careful about a woman's pleasure, but it is pretty clear that women must still articulate and advocate for ourselves. I would love to know what women who live in the age of the hookup will teach their daughters about sex.

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    7. I once had sex with a guy who, in the middle of it, bit down on my nipple. HARD. I yelled out and was in shock. It became obvious to me that this was a guy who'd been with a different girl who liked this, and he assumed every woman did. I'm sure a lot of guys have had some rough behavior with their dicks. The difference is, as soon as he did this, I flashed on the fact that he could kill me. Right then. I got out of the situation as soon as possible and got out. The roughness wasn't just awkward roughness, it was the hint that this could suddenly turn deadly. I don't think guys have that.

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    8. For me, it was because when I was a (fat, shy, Star Trek book-reading, nervous) teenager, with bad skin and a flat chest who never wore make-up, NO ONE at my school wanted to date me. One of my male friends ditched me (we'd been really good friends since we were 13 or so) because he just kept being so embarrassed by people linking our names together (years later, he apologised for that and other things, and he's a great guy now, and he was pretty good then, but... no one wanted their name linked with mine). I asked out more than one guy, never got asked out myself, and until my senior year of high school, never got a yes.

      When someone finally noticed me, I was so pathetically grateful that I didn't even care whether I was in the mood or not. I had genuinely expected to die a virgin, untouched and unloved and unwanted, for about 5 years by this point... Obviously, I then married the first guy who had sex with me (and moved 4,000 miles away from home, age 19) and the first year of my first marriage, I actually wound up cheating on my husband with a guy I didn't even like in that way (who left bruises on me and told me I liked it, and I just let him) because he was the only one who would talk to me every day, and who seemed to want to have sex with me.

      I did not like him sticking 4 fingers in my rectum and telling me that he could just tell that I was the kind of girl who was up for that. I did not like him jerking off on me and telling me I was a dirty little whore. I did not like him giving me a backrub for 10 minutes and then demanding a blow job because "fair is fair". I didn't like him not taking no for an answer multiple times a week, and coercing me into blowjobs, because "well why did you come over then/I gave you a lift to work/I bought your dinner didn't I" etc.

      However, I was still overweight, still had acne, my husband had all but stopped having sex with me 6 months into our relationship and the thing I had KNOWN would happen had (the idea that any man would want me had been proved to be a mirage, no one would ever really love me and want me) so I'd take what I could get. Even if that was continual humiliation while being told I liked it (that's the bit that really gets me--it's less what he did, it's the fact that he kept insisting that I'd done it all before, was "that kind of girl" and knew the score, when actually, I'd been raised in Bible Belt USA, had suffered the loneliest of adolescences, and had married my first sexual partner).

      I'm 34 now. The last time I let someone do things to me because I didn't say no was last year: my stepdad had died the month before, we were friends of friends at a wedding, I was hanging around after everyone else had gone to bed because I was trying to get alone with another guy, and when guy-I-wanted-to-talk-to went to the bathroom AFTER walking me up to my room (because I'd lain down drunk in the middle of the floor downstairs--it took both guys to get me up said stairs and to my door) friend-of-friends helped me back downstairs and we had sex.

      At one point I had my eyes closed and was counting to ten because he was hurting me, and he didn't think to stop... still not rape. I was falling down drunk, but he was pretty drunk as well. I'm more upset that he won't add me as a friend on Facebook, so I can talk to him about what went wrong, and ask him whether he *really* couldn't tell that I was trying to hang out with the other guy. As to why all that happened... he and I were both former fat kids, drunk at a wedding (and in my case, I'd just had a relationship come apart at the seams, like, literally the week after my stepdad's death) and we just wanted to feel like someone liked us. It was the first time I'd done that in about 5-6 years, in my own defence, but... the ability to feel so shitty about yourself that you'll do anything to alleviate it is still obviously a part of me.

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    9. Since I've unburdened my entire soul here, I have to end on the happy note; that guy I was actually trying to get close to, I sent him a message after he walked in on me and other guy, and asked him to come to my room. I told him what happened, and he got it, that it wasn't a thing I'd wanted, but rather, a thing I didn't know how to avoid--he slept (fully clothed) in my bed that night, we became proper friends after that weekend (having known each other 2.5 years, but superficially) and I kid you not, we got married 7 months later after a whirlwind courtship.

      A couple of nights ago, we were doing some kinky stuff and afterwards it occurred to me--I hadn't even bothered to shave my legs or armpits, or put on mascara, before doing all manner of things to him (handcuffs and insertables were in play). I felt sexy, I felt powerful, he felt desired, he felt loved, we both had a crackin' time, and I'd not even bothered to "prep" for sex. The next day, we were talking about it, and it occurred to me that he's maybe the first person I've ever had sex with, just because I wanted to, and AS MYSELF, not some version of me that I'm desperately hoping will be sexy and intriguing and skilful enough to hold a man's attention.

      And THAT is why we have sex that's humiliating and painful and all manner of shameful--because deep down, we believe that we're supposed to, and if we don't do it like this, maybe no one will ever want us again. Loneliness. Fear. Wanting to look like a party girl. Insecurities about how we look/feel. Being so shy that we regularly get too drunk at parties, and forget how to say no. Realising we have actually become "that girl" in our circle of friends, and (this is so fucked-up) wanting to live up to our wild reputation.

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    10. Step, you have described this perfectly. Thank you.

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    11. Kim Everhart, I'm 42 years old. I would never think that letting a guy stick his fingers down my throat was "something a 20ish girl would do - not necessarily enjoy". I think this is a cop out by "older" women.

      I think it's downright shameful that you are comparing your experiences and since your experience was "worse" it was therefore more actual.

      Grace never said she was raped. She said she was assaulted. I've never been raped but I've been assaulted, by the same guy twice, in junior high, with our friends standing around us and teachers within reach. Thank God it wasn't rape but it was still assault.

      Common ground is that people who are going to do it need to be clued into each other a little more. If one person is so wrapped up in their own experience they will definitely miss cues - verbal or non-verbal - and the act is all about them getting off. If Aziz had been more into the two of them having a consensual sexual act he would have been paying more attention to her. It's that simple.

      He wasn't into it for her. This was all about him and getting his jollies off without a care to how she was feeling. Kind of like the guy who raped you. He didn't give two flying figs about how you were feeling. It was all about him.

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    12. Stumbled upon this article after reading a bunch of the Aziz stuff on FB.

      As a Tango instructor I help the leaders (mostly men) to learn to give clear intent so that the followers (mostly women) can respond to that intent (clearly), so the leaders can continue the conversation based on the response. And thus the cycle of communication continues between the partnership.

      I say in my classes that Leading isn't the same thing as dominance, and following isn't the same thing as being subservient (something that people seem to associate with each other in the U.S.), and neither is about yourself, but instead about the other person in front of you.

      From my experience both teaching and watching the men dance socially, I can say that most men don't dance with their partner so much as dance at their partner (even if they have good technique and wide range of vocabulary). While I agree that men SHOULD be more attentive, listen to their partners, and give a clear lead (intent), I will also say that women tend to overestimate where the men start from, and underestimate how hard it is to change and develop those senses.

      On the flip side of the coin, I also find that women, as verbal as they may be at times, actually don't know how to express themselves openly, honestly, and freely. They often think "Embellishments" (Tango term for moves that aren't led) are the only way they can speak (since they're not the ones leading), however this is false. They miss or are very often scared of the fact that it is not "what" you do, but "how" you do it that gives them both power and voice in the partnership.

      Anyway, my long winded point is that the best dances I've had were with women who were completely open and honest in their embrace and movements, who communicated their own desires and intent clearly, where "How" she moved was the inspiration for the next move. So translating this in to something more relevant to this article, I do believe women should be a part of the conversation of the partnership (instead of dancing / acting passively), and as such do have a responsibility to both be attentive, and vocal. The men definitely need to learn, but I don't think punishment alone is the answer. Education of what TO do is just as important as what not to do.

      Finally, these perspectives both on the post as well as comments I've read are both interesting and enlightening. However, I will say as a guy, we don't get these stories, perspectives, and ideas. Just like in Tango, some of the most influential things that I've learned about becoming a better leader were because of private and reviling conversations I've had with followers, I think the same is true for these conversations.

      Anyway, thank you for your stories and perspective.

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    13. Thank you for your words. And as a woman who grew up with a very sexually liberated mother, and who has dated men off an on for 4 decades, men from different cultures within the U.S. and without - I would like to share my perspective. I have seen this coming for a while. Sexual liberation was meant to be something where both men and women enjoyed sex equally - and both men and women were empowered sexually. What it has morphed into is a feminist's worst nightmare where women allow themselves to be commodified by apps in a hook-up culture. I refuse to play that game. I refuse to get on an app where a man chooses me by my physical appearance alone. I look at my early dating history, and EVERY guy I had sex with and cared for turned into a monogamous relationship. Some lasted a few months, but most lasted a year or more. And if it was broken off, it was because I made that decision. I suppose those were the good old days, where you could have sex openly but it wasn't cheapened to the degree that it lost its specialness. In my experience bad sex has only happened a few times in my life. Mainly because first-time sex is more often than not clumsy or awkward. We are silly, insecure, humans after all. And one-night stand sex, is typically awful - because if it was really good for both parties, you can be damn sure there will be second helpings to follow. People - men are not the enemy. What is the enemy is this commodification of sexuality. The apps and online dating sites are happier the MORE you circulate sexually rather than the less you sexually circulate. If all of you decided to just date friends or people you met in real life, these sites would come crashing down, but honestly if you all just thought about it for a moment .... wouldn't you rather have sex with someone that actually CARED about you? That isn't going to happen on the first date or even the next ... it takes a while to TRULY care about a person ... and to really test that it is best for you just to know each other as humans without the premise of "dating" creating this illusion of romance and all the fairytale trappings.

      You can be mad at Ansari for being a pig, and you can be mad at "Grace" for being this hapless object. But what you really should be mad at is the hookup culture that has created these caricatures that we all so easily assume. Maybe instead of demonising men or women, we start challenging the hook-up culture created by companies that only profit from making as many miserable sexual interactions as possible, possible.

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    14. Thank you for your words. And as a woman who grew up with a very sexually liberated mother, and who has dated men off an on for 4 decades, men from different cultures within the U.S. and without - I would like to share my perspective. I have seen this coming for a while. Sexual liberation was meant to be something where both men and women enjoyed sex equally - and both men and women were empowered sexually. What it has morphed into is a feminist's worst nightmare where women allow themselves to be commodified by apps in a hook-up culture. I refuse to play that game. I refuse to get on an app where a man chooses me by my physical appearance alone. I look at my early dating history, and EVERY guy I had sex with and cared for turned into a monogamous relationship. Some lasted a few months, but most lasted a year or more. And if it was broken off, it was because I made that decision. I suppose those were the good old days, where you could have sex openly but it wasn't cheapened to the degree that it lost its specialness. In my experience bad sex has only happened a few times in my life. Mainly because first-time sex is more often than not clumsy or awkward. We are silly, insecure, humans after all. And one-night stand sex, is typically awful - because if it was really good for both parties, you can be damn sure there will be second helpings to follow. People - men are not the enemy. What is the enemy is this commodification of sexuality. The apps and online dating sites are happier the MORE you circulate sexually rather than the less you sexually circulate. If all of you decided to just date friends or people you met in real life, these sites would come crashing down, but honestly if you all just thought about it for a moment .... wouldn't you rather have sex with someone that actually CARED about you? That isn't going to happen on the first date or even the next ... it takes a while to TRULY care about a person ... and to really test that it is best for you just to know each other as humans without the premise of "dating" creating this illusion of romance and all the fairytale trappings.

      You can be mad at Ansari for being a pig, and you can be mad at "Grace" for being this hapless object. But what you really should be mad at is the hookup culture that has created these caricatures that we all so easily assume. Maybe instead of demonising men or women, we start challenging the hook-up culture created by companies that only profit from making as many miserable sexual interactions as possible, possible.

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  5. Seeing a lot of people make similar points, that this behavior shouldn't be normal and we need to have a talk about aggressive sex that treats women like objects, and I don't disagree with any of that, but it also seems to miss the point. Aziz was wrong, but not criminal and not predatory, and Grace had no right to out him the way she did.
    I would compare it to finding out a man has cheated on his wife or girlfriend. The vast majority of people, men and women, don't think cheating is acceptable behavior. They wouldn't brush it off as "meh" or "no big deal." His partner deserves to feel furious, and the guy deserves to face consequences. But if she responded by posting a public editorial that this man is a cheater, and a monster, and should lose his job, it would clearly be over the line. That's a private matter, not a public concern.
    If Grace has published her piece but kept Aziz anonymous, said only that he was a "well known comedian," great, that facilitates a conversation, I'd be on her side. But there's no reason to publicly tear him down like this, going into such personal detail. TBH it makes him more of a victim than she was.

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    1. Yet it happened. And he behaved like a sexist creep which runs counter to his public image. I was a bit shocked she called him out so publicly and named names but I find it hard to have much sympathy for him. Maybe if women start actually being honest about men's behaviour in private then maybe, just maybe, they'll clean up their act. It's called repercussions and it's past time they started facing them.

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    2. We can't make excuses for him because we want to like him and his work. I have been fighting myself over who I would sympathize with...shockingly for me, since I have been a victim of multiple sexual assaults and go through a shit-ton of therapy to ease my PTSD and try to live a normal life with my husband and children. I don't understand how his fingers get into her mouth...I have been in this very position, and have succumbed to the pressure before...but randomly jamming fingers in my mouth seems like a thing I'd jerk away from and try to laugh off uncomfortably. I understand we all respond differently to this kind of situation, and we tend to just smile and try to keep ourselves calm until we can find an exit, but based on the story there was no clear refusal to participate. Not trying to make excuses, but not every person (man OR woman) is expert at picking up body cues. If she was allowing him to do everything and remaining cordial though tense, only saying "let's take it slow," that is not a clear NO. It is definitely not an enthusiastic YES, but it is a non-enthusiastic one from my perspective. It was NOT clear consent. That is where he should have stopped. He took advantage of that. He did not get enthusiastic yes, and I don't know that he cared. So that is where he went wrong. And this is where most guys go wrong. It is hard to read the cues, and it is hard to ask for clear consent. It is hard to even recognize that you might not have clear consent. We tend to wait for a clear NO instead of a clear YES, right? We assume the close, as they say in sales. The acquisition. Yes, he should be called out on it. You know why? Because men won't take these stories to heart and examine their own behavior until we make them identify with someone they like. It is easy for a guy to say "I'm not a sexual predator because I am not Spacey or Weinstein." But compare a guy to Aziz? Oh yeah, that hits home. Unraveling all that men have normalized and socialized for so long is exhausting, for women to call out and educate, and for men to also internalize and change. I feel ya. Change is not easy. It is hard to see people we like get called out for something that doesn't seem "so bad." But it is so bad. Clearly, Aziz has a toxic view of women and sex, and he needs to be corrected. Do I feel like he was criminally assaulting this woman? Nope. Did it feel like criminal assault to her? Probably. And that is all that really matters. Because we get to go on with our lives. She will forever be remembering how violated she felt, and how everyone tore her words and experience apart. How everyone assumed they knew anything about her situation, or her as a person. She has to deal with that forever. Aziz will suffer some humiliation. Maybe lose a bit of money and some work. But no one is going to remember this later. He will still be rich and famous. And he might actually work at trying to better himself. Or he won't and he will get what he deserves. Who knows. I do know from experience that her pain and her labor far exceeds what his will be, and as the one sitting in the victim's chair, that is pretty unfair. He is no victim here, he is getting a consequence. We don't call the kid who gets grounded for breaking a window a victim, just like we don't call criminals in jail victims for making bad choices and ending up in corrections facilities. Aziz made some really bad choices that resulted in effecting a woman's life. She talked about it. It is a consequence of his actions. And if he doesn't like or want that kind of consequence, well, I guess he should think harder about making sure his dates are on the same page as he is. And seriously, he needs to quit the finger thing. That is just gross and unsanitary. Not remotely sexy. Yuck.

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    3. Not criminal...I suppose so, but I'm not qualified to judge that. Predatory is an interesting question though, because my assumption would be that that wasn't the first time Aziz has had that kind of sexual encounter. You say you'd be on Grace's side if Aziz was kept anonymous, but if his behavior was actually problematic, and you seem to think that it was, it seems more socially responsible to make it public. Of course there's also the fact that what happened is Grace's story as well and she absolutely has the right to tell it.

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    4. I absolutely agree that she should have said "well known comedian." Outing Aziz was outrageous and wrong.

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    5. "But if she responded by posting a public editorial that this man is a [cheater], and a monster, and should lose his job, it would clearly be over the line."

      But... all the other problems with your comment aside... Grace didn't even say any of that stuff. Did we read the same article? There were no big pronouncements. She just spells out the specific details of what happened that night. She didn't call him a monster. She didn't call for him to lose his job. She didn't even say the phrase "he assaulted me".

      And yet, reading the same Babe article as the rest of us, you somehow convinced yourself that she did. You fabricated these details into existence and now you're waving them around like you don't even remember they're fake.

      Seems like whenever a woman talks about HER OWN EXPERIENCES it causes people to hallucinate some vengeful harpy bent on throwing all men into the flaming pit of K'hallor. Maybe we should think about why that is.

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    7. She said what happened. If that is embarrassing him to him he should have behaved differently. She only "outed" him if he did something that he wouldn't want other people to know about, in which case he shouldn't have done it. If I described my first date with my husband in the kind of intimate detail that she did, people would say, "wow! what a great guy! A gentleman!" (and we did wind up in bed together, I'm not talking about some chaste kiss on the cheek). Maybe guys should just aim for that reaction instead of "what a jerk!" and this wouldn't be such a problem. I've had dates (and one longer relationship) more along the lines of Grace's experience too. I think this is a difficult conversation that could get us closer to being better humans if we are willing to all be vulnerable and engage with it.

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    9. But you know... it helps. I have a friend I've known for years, very much for the #metoo movement and everything... but while his behavior is definitely not quite the same level, there have been multiple instances with me where I'm confused and just can't reconcile who I know he is in general with the specific way he treats me. "Grace" speaking up about Aziz specifically, who I know (in a not actually knowing sense) to also care about all these things, helps me to understand that I'm not... I mean, there's just no way to misread some things, but... Well, it's not my fault. It's not like I'm somehow responsible for the "good guys" to behave that way toward just me (and I understand now it's probably not just me). And I'm not crazy for feeling put off by this behavior which is the exact thing they claim to be against. I don't understand, even after this, how they can reconcile that behavior, but I do have a better understanding now than I have for the many years I've put up with it. It's like I can finally relax; no part of their problem is me. Idk, maybe it's hard to understand unless you've been in that kind of dynamic with "that guy"..?

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    10. She actually did say it was sexual assault. Go back and re-read the article. She said that after thinking about it and telling all her friends, she realized she was a victim of sexual assault. So does that change your opinion?

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    11. 8e here. Yes, I did use ctrl+F before writing my comment. She says "It took a really long time for me to validate this as sexual assault". As though it's this agent-less event that just happened to her. But it's not attached to him as an entity. She never says "Aziz Ansari sexually assaulted me" or "Aziz Ansari committed sexual assault". There's a big difference. I understand why others might disagree, but I think the psychological and social difference there is very significant.

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    12. Stop defending either. She clearly said it was sexual assault and it's clearly linked to him, so stop playing dumb.

      If you want women to be treated as strong then it's important for them to stand up for themselves. You can't consensually engage in sexual activities and then 'decide' it's sexual assault after. At the time, if you know you don't want it, say it. It's because she was feeling ambivalent. She was after a man for his power and status, yet she couldn't decide whether it was worth giving up sex for. Lets just call it what it is.

      He isn't right in the situation either but he's doing what men everywhere do. He tried getting laid. It's important for the species and we have a biological drive to do so. He broke no rules and while it wasn't the classiest thing to do, so fucking what. He's allowed to try to get a girl to have sex with him.

      This is why people are against feminism. It is a disguise for the less attractive people to tell attractive people what they can and cannot do. It's all about power and everybody knows it, they're just too scared to say it.

      For the real sexual assault victims, I feel for you. That kind of thing shouldn't happen to anybody. I've seen it, and it's terrible. This 'Grace' character just minimizes those cases.

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    13. Whenever people make these kinds of arguments, I just remember this quote by Anne Lamott:

      “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”

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    14. Okay, me again, let's get one thing straight: Aziz Ansari DID commit sexual assault. It is straight-up outrageous that you are defending his actions OR criticizing Grace for talking about what he did.

      I still claim that the interview she gave was restrained and mild. But whether you agree on that or not, she had NO obligation to hold back, and neither does anyone else when talking about this assault.

      I'm closing this tab and walking away now because I'm tired of grown-ass adults playing dumb and pretending that "It's not rape if you only say no 4 times" or whatever, but also because I have faith that you will soon realize how ridiculous you sound without my help.

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    15. Say no 4 times? That's ridiculous. As soon as she said no he got her a ride home. By her own admission she spent hours naked in his apartment, gave him two blow jobs, receivd oral sex herself, and as soon as she definitively said no he arranged a ride for her. In what universe did he commit sexual assault? He wanted sex so he pushed for it, that's what people do when they want things, that's the way humans act. She says things like let's slow down a little, that's not a no, that's saying it's going to happen but with more foreplay. It sounds like you've had bad experiences that are coloring your view and hampering your ability to process this objectively.

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    16. At the time, if you know you don't want it, say it.

      ^ How about if you're uncertain if your partner wants it, don't do it? Why would you risk putting yourself in that situation.. unless you know that a) they'll give into your pressure and you get to get off or b) they finally get the strength to overcome the awkwardness of you pushing your goods on them and give a clear verbal no, and you're like oh shit sorry I totally didn't know? Or maybe it'll be clearer to state it this way: if you don't think your partner is 100% enthusiastic about having sex with you, then why would you continue? The only reason I can think of is that you care more about yourself than them, but I'm open to other interpretations. This goes for either gender, and applies to many non-sexual situations as well.

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    17. He wanted sex so he pushed for it, that's what people do when they want things, that's the way humans act.

      Okay, that's a fact. But doesn't that kinda make that person a jerk, and isn't it the point to advocate for people NOT to be jerks?

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  6. And one more note...it is really troublesome that you feel like he is more of a victim than she is. That really says something about how much you value her experience. It is ok for her live with her bad experience and the backlash of talking about it (which is what women are constantly told we should have done after we wait to call out our aggressors, BTW), but a celebrity gets a social slap on the wrist with a bit of humiliation and perhaps loss of a little money because of actions he CHOSE to make? If a person came up and grabbed your genitals and shoved their hand in your mouth, you'd likely feel violated and shocked, right? So if you tell someone about it and they tell you that you are wrong for outing this person because they might lose their job, would you care about their job? Would you stay quiet? Would staying quiet serve anyone, or enable further behavior and increase the likelihood of more victims just like you? Would that response make you feel like you were being dismissed? Do you think you would have a right to name the person who touched you when and where you didn't want to be touched? Do you think the person who violated you would actually face any consequence for the actions against you if the person was not publicly named? Just think about it. Please re-evaluate how you hear these stories of women and our experiences with men, because you are going to hear a lot of them. LOTS.

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  7. There are times when I am grateful to be in a long-term relationship (in spite of the problems that arise) and not dating. I lived in Los Angeles for years, and seldom had a positive or enjoyable date. I'm an actress, so many of my dates were actors or men in the Business. Good-looking guys, mostly, but often incredibly shallow and self-centered. I always wondered if my negative experiences were because they were actors, or because most guys weren't interested in commitment, or part of living in LA was Sex First, Get To Know Ya Later.
    I was never assaulted, physically or sexually. My dates were much like this woman's. Dealing with pushy men who couldn't or wouldn't recognise the verbal and physical cues I gave. I think most women do this. Instead of a firm NO, we say "I'm not ready to go that far", or indicate we're not comfortable with how physical the guy gets. They would usually back off initially, then start again minutes later. It isn't RAPE. It's Sex By Coercion. Sex by wearing us down, by ignoring the signs that We Don't Want To, that if they persist, we won't resist. It is Sex From the Movies. If Gable or Errol Flynn (of your favourite sexy male star) can persuade the heroine to give in by forcibly kissing her until she gives in, it should work with them, right? How many times have we seen this scene in films? The hero grabs the heroine and starts kissing her aggressively; she fights him off at first, sometimes hitting him and struggling....until she suddenly goes limp and starts kissing him back. I think many men grew up seeing those films, and think that's how a man should behave. It isn't Rape when the woman gives in. Grace's mistake was not being forceful from the beginning and saying "NO. I don't want to do that. NO, I'm not interested. NO." Moving away, hoping Aziz will pick up her subtle hints didn't work. Women have to stop being so nice and compliant when a man tries to push us into something we don't want to do. Saying NO loudly and clearly is a start. If NO doesn't work, walk away. Leave. Tell him why you're leaving. Insist that he respect your boundaries. It isn't romantic to constantly fight off a man who has suddenly morphed into an octopus. And MEN need to recognise those signals, that if a woman isn't enthusiastically saying YES, she isn't playing Hard To Get. She just Doesn't Want To.

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  8. Why didn't you mention (or name) the writer of the Atlantic article and source of the subtitle (it being drawn from the piece) Caitlin Flanagan? You make it seem as though this is another instance of men keeping you down, but she's a woman.

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    1. "You make it seem as though this is another instance of men keeping you down"

      No. This is an article about rape culture. Emphasis on culture. Rape culture is society-sized. It's not an individual, or a group of individuals, or even an entire gender.

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    2. And the article details at length how woman keep each other down, by saying 'its not that bad' etc by excusing assault as just bad sex etc.

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  9. If this were to be written up as a comedy it would work. The manic look in the guy's eyes, the fact that she took photos of the food they ate, the fact that she didn't just leave sooner, the fact that he's a well-known (though I'd never heard of him) comedian who supports women's rights... etc. She is to be applauded for documenting all this. One conclusion could be that she is a naïve snowflake, another that he is an arsehole, the way she gets every detail in, almost forensically, including her own emotions blow-by-blow, is great. I wonder if any drug besides alcohol was involved? Coke? As a writer one sometimes lets a situation get out of hand in order to make it a dramatic story later. They could both have been doing this. Who are our 'higher selves' who let things happen in order to be able to do this, or to let another person in the scenario do this? One thing I know, these Higher Selves would be boring to live in all the time. Life is conflict. No one died here. So move on, make art, laugh. There were faults on both sides. Yes, life is nasty. Apologise to your children if you have any, for inviting them here. But they have been set forth alive to do the best they can. We think we want peace, but in fact we seek the exquisite sensation of being alive that transcends happiness, as Arnold Bennett wrote a hundred years ago.

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  10. To be perfectly honest. Women have the power when it comes to sex. The MINUTE you are not comfortable in a sexual situation you can say NO. So really it's Graces fault for letting it go as far as she did. All she could have said was she was not comfortable with what he was doing and they could have switched it up. SHE TOOK THE TIME TO UNDRESS HERSELF. obviously she was expecting something, but because she didn't get what she wanted, she's crying assault. If you read the MINUTE she said no to him, he STOPPED. So really it's her fault to have kept going.

    ALL women have the power. There are many nights where my husband wants to have sex and if I don't want to i say not tonight and he respects that. He wouldn't of gotten to be my husband if he didn't respect me.

    Women forget their power of sexual control. If you don't like something then remove yourself from the situation immediately. If that person doesn't respect you enough to see that then they don't deserve to be in your life.

    Stop playing the victim and this stupid culture of being helpless has GOT TO STOP.

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    1. I agree. This is not about sexual assault or harassment. We're going to destroy the #metoo movement if we include bad dates or dates who suck at sex. If we continue to behave like fragile flowers, we will never be treated as equals in the workplace or in the home. Sexual assault IS A NIGHTMARE! This is a BAD DATE with an immature jerk.

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    2. Except she *did* say no. Several times.

      When you say no, it's done. Doesn't matter if you're in the middle of a thrust.

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    3. Yikes. She literally said stop and moved away from him multiple times. And way to over look the power dynamic, emerging photographer and decorated A list celebrity? I'm guessing you did not read the whole article if this is your take away

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  11. I am going to state right upfront that I am a man and I hope for conversation with limited gender bashing as a response.

    This is where things get so uncomfortable without structure. We have all had bad sex, icky feelings, man and woman. And there has been a lot of Monday-morning quarterbacking on all sides. And seriously, this is in NO WAY excusing or defending the situation here at all.

    But encounters get messy and re-interpreted. An example I have is a recent relationship I was in. It was highly consensual, communicative, open, vulnerable. It was not a one-night stand but a 12-month relationship. And kink was involved. She even had a profile on a fetish website created before we met and still up where she states one of her sexual interests is 'being treated like a mindless f***doll'

    We did not go to that level as that isn't who I am. But there were things unacceptable in a consensual relationship that was discussed and incorporated in our relationship.

    We broke up for reasons other than sex - it was a lost job and some money troubles. The sex was great until the end. Our last time together was nothing but loving but it was a sad and difficult break up. For weeks after she would text me that she 'missed me' 'missed everything' and loves me.

    Yet three weeks later she started dating someone else and reached out to me. She reframed our entire relationship. Over several weeks she went from loving and consensual to stating that I was 'aggressive' and 'a snake hiding amongst the humans' and twisted virtually every situation we had together.

    Even though I had every email, text message, voice message ever exchanged between us and would refer to them when she retold a story, I was and am powerless to defend myself. She now counts me in her 'metoo' moment and this is shocking and upsetting to me.

    Consent and communication are everything to me. Through our entire relationship we were proud that we were both in a relationship with open communication, never judging either of us and had the standard protocol of safe words, always followed.

    I feel she just had a hard time with our break up and emotionally couldn't move on without making me the 'bad guy.' She couldn't have a lingering emotional connection with me and move on. Just before our break up she confessed to me she thought I was 'the one.' A month later I was being label an aggressor.

    And so while I strongly feel as I have always been an ally to woman and feminist causes, I can't find any ground whatsoever. I am a mature adult seasoned in communication and in no way an alpha or entitled man. I am not saying that cultural aspects are not engrained in me, I am saying I am not an immature lug. But I was young and unseasoned. I made some horrible mistakes. I learned from me, my partners learned from them. I am friends with virtually everyone I have dated and we roll eyes and laugh at how young and inexperienced we both were. But it is unjust and incorrect to say that every relationship I had in the past can be reframed not because actual harm was done but because it is convenient, and reframed only in one direction (ie, the man is at fault without question).

    Maybe in my situation she thought she was someone she was not. She presented herself a certain way and I accepted that presentation. I acted based on that presentation. Is it my responsibility or hers to communicate who she is in a relationship, and is it my fault if I act on a projection of herself that she later regrets?

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    1. oh an important typo and I can't edit my post:

      "We did not go to that level as that isn't who I am. But there were things unacceptable in a NON-consensual relationship that was discussed and incorporated in our relationship.

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    2. You aren’t a feminist. You are simply a beta male looking for an alternate way to entice women. Evolutionary Biologists have name for it - its called sneaky fucker syndrome. While all the other males are preoccuppied fighting with feminists (or in other cases off to war) you are the dude who wears his virtue signals like camo to get close to these women (as women who aren’t feminists would not be interested in you) in hopes of getting laid. The Male feminist is a myth. Stop lying to yourself. Own your masculinity and be a good person but do not pretend to be a feminist.

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    3. Oh look! Just what this discussion needed -- someone who throws around MRA terms like "beta male" and sneers at men for identifying as feminist.

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    4. @Mason: Woah. Rather than just calling me names, why not explain your perspective. I disagree with you completely.

      I have never had a one night stand. I have only entered relationships with women I have been friends with first and/or have gotten to know socially. I have always had open conversations about consent. I have never had an intimate situation where kink was involved without safewords or actions, in most cases these were set by her, based on her comfort level, and in ways she preferred to be communicated with. All of which was discussed before any physical contact and in relaxed social conversations. Often over drinks days or weeks before any intimate actions occurred and with more talking and planning than almost any other type of intimacy. How is that me being some sort of predator?

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    5. WTF @Mason, that was totally out of line. Do you just make up terms to degrade people so you can chime in? I don't even think "feminist" was mentioned in that whole thing. Go educate yourself, and contribute substance.

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    6. @Ellen, thank you. I had to google what MRA meant. I didn't realize that comment was a troll...

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    7. i had a similar situation with a guy i dated.

      I was deeply in love with him at the time, but when i took a step back and analyzed our relationship (which i was only able to do after it was over) i realized i felt humiliated and degraded the entire time. Most of it was because while I am open to having fun, I considered it a serious relationship while he considered it a game. He thought i was crazier and more experimental than i really am. He also lashed out and said something along the lines of "I should have _____ you" and didnt continue the sentence - but I'm pretty sure he said "i should have raped you"in anger because i had spent a few months with a low sex drive. Before our break up he held me down repeatedly after i told him that i was too tired to have sex and I found myself physically struggling against him. I found out AFTER THE ENTIRE RELATIONSHIP WAS OVER that I was severely anemic at the time and that he could not have possibly understood and that's why i was physically unable and too tired to fend off his advances. My red blood cell level was at 6.5 which i was hospitalized for about 6 months after the relationship was over. I am 100% ensure that to this day he is positive that he is a nice guy. He did do some nice things during the relationship but unfortunately, the worst events have a tendency to stand out in your head. I would never consider what he did rape and would not pursue legal action against him, but he will in my mind always be the guy that that told me he should have raped me and held me down when i was too sick to fight. The good things he did (occasionally buying me dinner, hugging me during movies) are unfortunately eclipsed by the assholicness of his behavior during the final times i had with him. Stories have different sides - its just the nature of things.

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    8. The situation you describe, though, is totally unrelated to this particular situation. Ansari and this woman were total strangers, this was their first date. No discussion of kink happened beforehand (that we know of, and from his response it seems pretty clear that's an accurate telling of the story.)

      I could see where Ansari could legitimately frame her following him to his apartment as consent, since his intentions were very clear even from a third-person perspective - but the minute she said "Whoa," he should have backed off. Period.

      From that point, it's pretty clear to me that if anything sexual was going to happen, Ansari should have *explicitly asked* because it is clear from the "slow down" comment (which she admits may not have been what she said, but if not then the "next time" comment was clear enough that Ansari understood it.

      The situation you're describing is nothing like this - you are describing kink that you were led to believe was consensual. Somehow it wasn't. You have clear evidence (at least, from the story you've posted) that it was requested by your partner.

      I'm sorry, but yes - the #metoo movement includes men playing "Baby It's Cold Outside" with women in order to get them to concede to having sex.

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    9. @Michele Hays - Yes it is a different situation but I brought it up because I would see myself in the same 'camp' of Aziz - that is, a man who generally considers himself an ally to woman causes. Who had a bad experience and that experience is being framed in a way that is antithetical to how he/I have operated or intended.

      BUT you are absolutely correct that there seems to be several obvious points made where he should have understood her by the way the situation is described. And while she didn't feel empowered at that moment, I think it was brave for her to confront him about his behavior. He apparently replied that he was sincerely sorry. It sounds like he learned something of that situation. Why did it need to go further?

      Hopefully her actions caused him to rethink how he deals with future dates. But was this predatory? Is he a nefarious snake hiding amongst the humans? Or is he an immature geek/narcissist who was just outed for being a shitty dater?
      For being disconnected from the people around him? Or reads the signals of a 23 year old as if she was 34 like himself and he got it so terribly wrong it is sad?

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  13. I just watched "The Family Stone" over the holidays, and was made uncomfortable by how Luke Wilson's character kept invading SJP's boundaries, until of course, she ends up with him. Rom-coms are basically manuals for stalkers.

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  14. This. So much this.

    I can’t help but thing of the song “Playing Nancy” from the Groundhog Day musical

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Z-ly8Xv4_kE

    “I don’t really remember/ I guess I chose to be here./ I wasn’t quite aware that/ I was put here to be stared at.”

    That lyric in particular stands out.

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  16. Powerful. Thanks for writing this.—Richard Thomas

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  17. this a fucking great piece of writing that grapples with the subject matter in such a delicate, strong, and discerning way. THANK YOU

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  18. What a great post, articulating something important

    We've all had this encounter, many of us more than once, and like you say, most of the time we don't think of it as 'miscounduct' in our personal narratives.

    Occasionally in these situations something triggers our flight/fright/freeze response in their behaviour and it's impossible to ignore the rush of chemical dismay and disgust we feel for being in the situation. Most of the time we don't get to that point because we are carefully working to subdue it in advance. Cat Person articulates very well the self-talk involved; finding some way to convince ourselves not to be turned off by the guy we're with, in the same way you have to self-talk yourself to walk into the dentist's office for an extraction.

    I had a one-night stand with a guy a couple of months ago. He was terrible in bed in that way handsome guys often are. It wouldn't have dreamt of stopping him

    Like, he'd come all the way to South London to my flat. We'd been texting. I'd definitely wanted to sleep with him, and though an evening's hanging out had proved he was self-involved and humourless it didn't occur to me to 'renege' on the implict deal that this was a hookup. It didn't even occur to me to wonder if I still wanted it.

    Afterwards as we cuddled while falling asleep, I tried very hard not to move in case he took it as a sign I was ready to go again. In the morning I had sex with him again and sent him off back to North London, relieved I'd got away with the 'bare minimum' of boring, sore sex.

    I wasn't scared of this guy, at least not consciously, at least not physically. I was scared of him being upset with me maybe. I didn't feel abused. I had wanted theoretically to sleep with him and I had, hurray.

    But I have thought about it a lot, especilly what with MeToo.

    I didn't consider this a particular swful encounter because my own sexual wants are so far from central to my prioritis. I have had good sex but I put up with bad sex readily. I question my own body before asking another to suit it. I'm weird, too tight, too slow to cum. I know logically not to think like that, but in fact the only lesson I can say I actually learned from this one-night stand was really 'I'm past one-night stands, I need a boyfriend'.

    Maybe that's not a bad lesson to learn on a personal level. But at the heart of it is the assumption is that I can only expect a man who is truly fond of me to pay attention to my pleasure or even my enthusiastic consent.

    Anyway, it's a long personal anecdote to say I think you are contributing to a conversation that badly needs to happen and I think is gradually emerging more.

    The people on Twitter crying that this encounter does not constitute abuse are missing the point: cases of rape and abuse are extreme iterations of a problem that more commonly manifests as this kind of thing. Bad sex that women feel super weird about. We should be OK with this because it;s not as bad as it could be.

    And I can understand the emotional backlash from men about this, because women saying 'yeah this is a thing, happens all the time' impicitly means that they - the good guys - are doing this to us. They are putting us through pain, fear, discomfort, and making sex an unpleasant minefield not through intent but complacency.

    That's rape culture and toxic masculinity. You don't have to be a 'bad guy' to be a Cat Person. You can be as sweet, clever, and funny as Aziz Ansari and still be an asshole because you never bothered to pay attention to what women in general, or you sexual partner in particular, were telling you about sex.

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  19. As a man who has engaged in forceful behavior, I am grateful for all of the commentary being forwarded now, but especially for pieces, such as yours, that are thoughtful enough to challenge me without deriding me. Also, thank you for writing a piece that calls your own beliefs/behaviors/opinions/modes of thought into question. One of the many complicated consequences of metoo & timesup is the necessity to examine ourselves in light of the entrenched norms that are rightly being dragged out into the light of social awareness, and your courageous self-appraisal allows me (so often, because of my gender, viewed through not-necessarily-inaccurate-nor-invalid inimical lenses) to feel that I’m being met halfway in this labyrinthine journey I need to be taking.

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  20. Wow, that was really insightful, elegantly said, reflective, and is having the important impact of making me examine how I interact with women. Thank you so much for posting this and educating us (even though it's not your job to do so).

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  21. Katie men are simple animals with plain and obvious needs and motivations.

    We defend Ansari because we are guilty.

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  22. Amazingly spot on, thank you for writing this !

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  23. Nope, sorry, you worked yourself from a more reasonable view to a less reasonable one. You don't get to use sexual assault, with the legal, professional and social consequences that brings, as a framework to address the challenge of communicating clearly with a would-be sex partner. Grace could have left at any point in the encounter and chose not to because she was conflicted. Ansari might have been more sensitive and careful about responding to her mixed signals, but in no sane world does this qualify as sexual assault. Treating it as such is not only grossly unfair to him, but mimizes the suffering of women who really have been assaulted.

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  24. nice, nuanced, complex - it is complicated. Thank you.

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  25. Of course we believe Grace. But at what point do we continue the narrative that all women are delicate flowers incapable of agency and control and all men exist to sexually violate women? Isn’t that the goal of religious fundamentalists regimes? I for one do not like the solution being Handmaid’s Tale, where sexual intercourse is policed, supervised, and controlled. This article doesn’t give any solutions - the key to all human interaction is open communication. Aziz clearly communicated his intentions, gross as they may be. Grace gave lots of mixed signals and didn’t openly communicate what she wanted. The result? One person got hurt. Every women who relates to a bad sex situation did not communicate to her partner what she wanted. I have gotten naked with partners and clearly stated, “no sex okay?” and was fine. Why is that so hard to do with a guy who is horny, but has no desire to do anything that his partner is uncomfortable with?

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    1. There were no "mixed signals" she communicated clearly, a number of times, that she wasn't interested. A woman shouldn't have to run screaming from a man for him to accept "no" or "I'm not interested" or "not right now" or "maybe on our second date" or WHATEVER as a clear message to stop. Never once did she say anything that would indicate she wanted sex. Sitting on someone's couch is not an invitation to sex.

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  26. I continue to fall more and more in love with this blog. I ADORE that you are so damn candid and allow yourself to think out loud, to feel complicated, contradictory feelings and thoughts, to be human and leave room for more questions. thank you for this piece in particular. it nailed me.

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  27. I just want to point out that you are all fucking idiots who think men are smart enough to understand non-verbal cues. The whole victimhood thing will not benefit anyone but yourselves. You all hold back the metoo movement so much and are turning it into a joke. This is an insult to actual victims. If you don't want to sleep with a man, you be assertive and say "NO!". I try to teach my daughters and sisters not to go to a man's house on a first date, he won't respect you and think you are easy. Stop being victims and have some logic!

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    1. Men know. "Drawing on the conversation analytic literature, and on our own data, we claim that both men and women have a sophisticated ability to convey and to comprehend refusals, including refusals which do not include the word ‘no’, and we suggest that male claims not to have ‘understood’ refusals which conform to culturally normative patterns can only be heard as self-interested justifications for coercive behaviour." https://yesmeansyesblog.wordpress.com/.../mythcommunicat.../

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    2. Yes, go ahead and mansplain it to us. Tell us how it is our fault. Tell us that going to a man’s house is equivalent to agreeing to sex. Tell us that having sex equates to being easy and not deserving of respect. What do these things say about the men? What do these attitudes say about you? I’m in my 60’s and these are the same attitudes that I’ve seen(and experienced) that have plagued women as long as I can remember. You, and your kind, are the problem. You are condescending and dismissive. You think you are smarter and have the understanding, or worst, right to TELL us how it is. Conversation is uncomfortable, but necessary. The issue is more complicated than how you see it. I can only imagine being a woman in your circle. You are exactly the guy all these women are talking about. Thick and entitled.

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  28. I just wanted to address that both Aziz and "Grace" stated that sex did not occur, although sexual activities did. While I'm not taking issue with what your views or your writing, it seems unfair to use a term that would be inaccurate in regards to the situation that "Grace" went through. For the sake of journalistic integrity and someone's reputation, if you're going to revisit the events of that night to use as the basis for your arguments, I feel accuracy is rather relevant. #justsaying

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Some or many people in the US use a limited meaning, restricting "sex" to PIV. Elsewhere, all activity involving at least one party's genitals is sex.

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    1. Hi Avec! I use the word sex to describe sexual activity - using "sex" to mean only "p in v" penetration has come to be seen, rightfully, as heteronormative and also just, like, not accurate. Digital and oral stimulation all fall under the umbrella of "sex" in its contemporary usage.

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  31. Thank you for your article. When I reread the Babe article my first thought was it sounds like Grace expected a fun celebrity hook up, and was disappointed by the wine and the terrible finger in the mouth situation. I agree, AA was probably taught by a porno. How do men learn how to have sex? Do guys sit around and chat about it? Best techniques to create pleasure for both partners? Or do they quietly watch the most taboo thing they can find and feel unhappy when a unpaid woman won't fulfill their fantasy?

    I don't think AA should have his career dragged over the coals. Maybe because he was in the middle of sexual situation and doing (albeit, terrible ones) sexual things. I wish more women had the courage to speak up during sex. I gave my current husband directions during an early intimate moment and while he first said, "Don't coach me" my reaction was "F you, I will coach you because I know what feels good to MY body and you don't know me that well." He apologized later realizing I was completely correct :)

    Grace probably did feel pressure because she wanted him to like her. She wanted a celebrity to like her and she felt that if she didn't give him a BJ he wouldn't. And that's where the shitty feeling part comes in. You want to like a person badly but he's nothing like you imagined. How do we let women know they can spend time on themselves that doesn't involve preparing them for a partner? Again, thanks for your article!

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  32. Really great article that attempts to unravel the complicated reactions we are all having to this account. It does a lot to validate and guide the conflicted responses to this cultural moment. Before you burn it down, here is another article by The Atlantic that attempts something similarly complex:

    https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2018/01/aziz-ansari-and-the-paradox-of-no/550556/

    I think they are just presenting multiple takes in an attempt at nuance

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  33. “angry, temporarily powerful-- and very, very dangerous”
    I want this to be my superhero tag line

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  34. I like the end of this article but I feel like you are incorrect in thinking that what Aziz and so many other guys do by pushing their way until women give in is considered "bad sex" by a lot of women. As the saying goes, bad sex is like bad pizza - it's still kinda good. Yeah it's disappointing but one has ever cried after bad sex. Or bad pizza. This was not like bad pizza.

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  35. By her own account, he gave her several verbal and nonverbal cues that he wanted to have sex with her. If she didn't want to have sex, she should have said so and gone home. Not suck his dick then make herself out to be some kind of victim.

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    1. She did say so. Multiple times. Maybe read the article.

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  36. I still cannot understand why she didn't just leave. She was not in fear for her life or of being physically injured, or for her career or reputation. I read the link you provided for "why didn't she just leave" but it linked to an article about Louis CK, who took advantage of women who were worried that his stature in the entertainment industry would harm their careers if they refused him or angered him. That is not the case here. I can see no reason to stay at Ansari's apartment. I am a 50+ year old woman. I certainly would not have stayed, not now and not when I was younger.

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    1. WE ALL ASK - why didnt she jsut leave.
      And the "she's young" is a bullshit answer.
      (No internet? No access to loveline or savage love?)

      Why didnt she leave?
      My guess .... she had a romanatic fantasy in her head ... way beyond rom com.
      OMG!!! AZIZ is talking to me.
      OMG!!! He has my number. SWOONNNNNN
      OMG!!! He is flirting with me. Oooo maybe a date. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE
      (Side note ... she publish the FULL TEXT of their flirting. Right?? RIGHT??? Why not?? As a prosecutor, I would demand that evidence. Did he talk about sticking is fingers in her mouth? Did she talk rocking his world? I really am bad at this flirting thing.)

      OMG!!!! DINNER
      OMG!!! He is rich and famous and I am at his house.
      (Really, you get drunk at someone's house on a first date????)
      OMG!!! WINE (I want red wine, but I can not use my words. I will complain about it later.)
      OMG!!! Romantic dinner on a boat on the rive. He MIGHT BE THE ONE. I AM SO GOING TO FUCK HIS BRAINS OUT WHEN WE LEAVE
      Wait what!!! Now he wants to leave before I finish my wine again??
      OMG!!! This is so hawt. Back at his house. Kissing.....
      OMG!!! (Moaning) I love what he is doing to my breasts. This is so hawt.

      And then the wheels fall off the bus.
      In her version of the story. Before the assault.
      She never said ANYTHING.
      She never said No, let's go for a walk.
      She was totally OK with everything, until she wasnt. (COMPLETELY legit. Her right)
      But when the wheels fell off the bus. She never said anything,
      She let him eat her out, and then blew him.

      She didn't JUST LEAVE ... because she HAD A DREAM.
      Shudder

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  37. When do we as women take somebody responsibility in how our date goes? I truly believe that if "Grace" said not from the start things would not have gone as far as they did. We cannot expect a person to read our minds to know that something is not wanted if it is not made known. I am a woman and I have been in this situation and gave a strong no. My no was respected. But she didn't say no. She kissed him. They performed oral sex on each other. She sat with him and went to multiple rooms with him naked. But when he finally tried to have sex in the mirror she said no. He stopped advised that they put their clothes in chill. He then offered to get her car home.

    The problem in this instance isn't a sexual bulky but instead a weak woman. To many women are playing the victim when they had full control of their situation but instead didn't. And then want to cry assault. This was not assault sorry.

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    1. We are all taught from a young age that refusals don't have to include the word no. Aziz has no excuse. We have to stop pretending men are stupid or babies that are incapable of everyday communication. Enough is enough. "Drawing on the conversation analytic literature, and on our own data, we claim that both men and women have a sophisticated ability to convey and to comprehend refusals, including refusals which do not include the word ‘no’, and we suggest that male claims not to have ‘understood’ refusals which conform to culturally normative patterns can only be heard as self-interested justifications for coercive behaviour." https://yesmeansyesblog.wordpress.com/.../mythcommunicat.../

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  38. I don't for a minute excuse Ansari's behavior. It is clear to me and, I think should have been clear to him, that no means no. As soon as someone says stop or pushes you away you stop and you don't restart unless they say they want to. Part of the problem though, is this society's prudish attitude toward sex, which means that there is no place for young men and women to learn how to behavior in a positive, pro-sex way. As a result young men and women are getting their sex education from porn and, in some cases, violent porn. We need to teach young people how to engage in a relationship, how to talk about sex, how to have sex together instead of trying to impress each other and read each other's mind. It would be very sad if the outcome of the "Me Too" movement is that men and women become more afraid of each other and more sexually repressed. The outcome should be better relationships and better sex.

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    1. Yes, I struggle with this too. He just feels awkward and tone deaf and really horny - hoping she would change her mind. She gave some mixed signals with the whole allowing for oral sex and reciprocating - even for a moment or two. Her account tilts toward exploit IMHO - I just wanted her to leave sooner. One point that I haven't seen is around how casual sexual encounters have become. The mere expectation that a hookup is inevitable on a first date where the two people barely know each other is problematic for the nuanced intricacies of consent - it takes a while for intimate couples to learn each others boundaries. When these sexual encounters are so frequent and casual and rushed the participants start cutting corners and skipping steps - including clear communication. There will be a reckoning around how we teach each other to set and respect clean boundaries for these casual sexual encounters.

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  39. I don't for a minute excuse Ansari's behavior. It is clear to me and, I think should have been clear to him, that no means no. As soon as someone says stop or pushes you away you stop and you don't restart unless they say they want to. Part of the problem though, is this society's prudish attitude toward sex, which means that there is no place for young men and women to learn how to behavior in a positive, pro-sex way. As a result young men and women are getting their sex education from porn and, in some cases, violent porn. We need to teach young people how to engage in a relationship, how to talk about sex, how to have sex together instead of trying to impress each other and read each other's mind. It would be very sad if the outcome of the "Me Too" movement is that men and women become more afraid of each other and more sexually repressed. The outcome should be better relationships and better sex.

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  40. Thank you for writing this. I am positive you've articulated what so many of us are thinking/feeling. Thank you for doing this difficult work. Even posting it to Facebook is scary.

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  41. This was such a great piece. You captured many of the emotions I've been feeling over this. One thing that did bother me though is when you said "the opposite of bravery isn't being scared; it's being quiet." The opposite of bravery is cowardice, and I don't think choosing to be quiet about one's own #MeToo experiences is cowardly at all. I don't think you intended to synonymize the two, but that was the feeling I was left with after reading it.

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  42. Yes, this is a wonderful piece of writing. I am so mixed up about how I feel after reading all this! Someone posted as Old Guy, I guess I am Old Woman I did not deal with this in my twenties. One time after I had been dating a guy for awhile, he pushed my head into his lap and tried to hold it there, I bit his leg so hard I drew blood! LOL He called me a rabid dog. I was quite proud of myself. I didn't date a lot of men. I settled down very young, and it was long term. When it was over, I dated a little, and I never would have thought about going to a man's place on the first date. I am a different generation. This is hard for me. YES, I think the man was wrong in all way's. I don't think it was wrong for her to " out", him. Especially when he is supposed to be such a feminist. If he truly believes he did nothing wrong, then why would he care that she made this public? I also think that women have to shout more. Make it clear. There are two sides in this encounter, and it does raise a lot of questions. I really can't say clearly what I feel about all this. So many women reporting abuse after so many years. Why? Why has it taken so very long for so very many to tell these happenings? I'm sorry, I am feeling my age. Nothing excuses a man for forcing a woman. NOTHING! I grew up with seven big brothers and six big sisters. My brothers did not act like this. My sisters would not have put up with this. When I write those thoughts, many are going to say I am judging. I really am not , I feel the pain of this young woman, yet I still do not understand the why of it. Sorry.

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  43. Thank you so much for this piece, you’re an angel. Writing and posting this was a really good deed.

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  45. I too like this. But the conclusion is not so black and white.
    I do not see this situation as sex violence. Yes we have all experienced a night, or more, like this. Sometimes we speak up and excuse ourselves and sometimes we go with it, get it over with, and chalk it up to a crappy night, "Well, that was crap. Won't do that again." Those particular nights that we probably have only told our closest friends over a lot of wine.

    Also, sometimes we don't want to leave the situation, but we also don't want to have sex. But, we also dont want to ruin the moment because we are enjoying it.
    So what do we do, we act confusing. We act one way and hint at another, so we can keep the moment going, we play coy and we flirt but we dont want to escalate sex, while at the same time trying to make the moments last, but guess what happens: our partner does want sex, and our hints are lost in the flury of sexual activity. We are acting like we are into it so.... MIXED, confusing signals get sent, but are interpreted as "her behaviour implies yes."
    It's like offering someone a piece of cake. They say, no thank you, i dont want cake, but then they pick up the plate and start eating the cake... well i guess he wanted cake after all...

    It is in trying to not offend, in trying to make a moment last, to stay on the fence, that seems to be the space in which so many bad decisions occur. The "go with it then regret." The "he didnt take my hints." I said no, but i also pulled him closer kissed and undressed. This is the kind of bad decision making skills where so many women feel that they werent heard.

    I think that this space is dangerously naive, misleading, and manipulative. And it is not rape.
    Memorize this people: "I'm not into this. I'm going to call it a night. Goodbye."

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  46. "It's because if what happened to her is a violation, then we are all violated. And everyone is a violator. And that's a scary fucking world to live in. I don't want that to be the world I live in."

    I think this eloquently sums up the opposition to Grace's story.

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    1. It definitely gets complicated. With some exceptions, the women coming forward are not trying to seek vengeance. They are seeking equality, and they want to live in a world where they can feel the same safety that men typically feel out in the world.

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  47. I married and divorced young, so I was very naive when it came to dating. But I had high hopes for romance and a marriage of substance. I had my eye on this great-looking attorney. It was a year before he asked me out to an exclusive executive athletic club where his firm provided memberships. The club was hosting a party where they were airing a major boxing match. I arrived first, waited 15 minutes and then phoned to see if I had misunderstood where we were supposed to have met. He was still at home ... a 15-minute walk from the club. He asked,"How's the crowd"? "Was the event worth the walk over"? Ok. My hackles go up.

    I insisted that I was looking forward to having fun at the party ... so he arrives at the club; it's 2:30p ... we go on to have a great time -- lots of food, wait people and an open bar. We eventually end up shooting a couple of games of pool after the fight. We get professional massages and hang out in the sauna. We end the evening with some small plates, smoking cigars, and drinking cognac while listening to music in the bar.

    Despite my earlier misgivings, I agreed to walk back to his place where he was going to get his car and drive me home. It's about 10p. Great address, loft-like apartment with floor to ceiling windows, all ultra high-end and massive ... desk, an office chair, shelving, piles of law books on the floor, computer, television, an amazing rug on the wood floors and a bed ... nothing else. So now I'm definitely uncomfortable. He begs my pardon as he needs the restroom, and suggests that I take a seat on the bed. He disappears into the bathroom, and I feel awkward just standing there, so I take a seat on the bed with the intention of thanking him and asking him to call me a cab.

    Well, he comes out of the bathroom stark naked, sits next to me and kisses me while pulling me down on the bed. I ask him for a nightcap ... champagne, maybe? He heads towards the kitchen, and I immediately pick up my purse and leave, quietly shutting the door behind me.

    So, here's why I didn't fail myself. My husband raped me once while we were separated under the same roof. I got pregnant. He begged me to have an abortion, and I did. It was 1977, and we didn't call those kinds of encounters rape, back then. Ten weeks to the day after my abortion, my husband attempted to rape me again. I fought this time. I was 6 feet tall, 150 lbs ... I'd grown up fighting in a tough neighborhood. It became clear that he was either going to have to stop or really hurt me ... he chose a verbal threat, instead. Either I stopped fighting or he would bring our 3 year-old son into the room to watch. I ceased fighting. He raped me. I found an apartment for my son and I and moved that week.

    The incident above with the attorney happened 2 years after I had been on my own. I dated, liberally, and had been shocked by what was expected and considered "sexy." I found a lot of it comical. On our second date, a college dean and professor exposed himself in the car while he was driving and started rubbing himself and talking dirty in hushed tones. He reached out to guide my hand. I moved my hand out of reach. He asked me didn’t I want to make him explode in my mouth? And I said, “No.”

    It's obvious now, that my insistence on just saying "No." is a psychological tell that equates to me not screaming "No." while being raped. Kinda pitiful, but I don’t really care. It works.

    I inadvertently discovered my spine … I make absolutely no effort to understand or successfully play sexual politics … I don’t care. I want you to be you … exactly as you are. If I like it, I will say so, and if I don’t, I say “No.”

    I have had fantastic relationships since, sometimes ... and have said "No." maybe a thousand times. Did I not give so-and-so a proper chance? Maybe not, but I don’t care. He knows exactly what I’m reacting to and decided that was more important to him than my admiration. I can live happily ever after with that knowledge and so can he.

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  48. Could it be that men and women have different sexual appetites, and neither sex understands the other's particularly well? As a homosexual man, the description of the date with Ansari sounds utterly unremarkable. I mean that literally: not even worth remarking over to a friend.

    If a homo finds himself with a pushy guy he's not into, in general, he will either go along with it to be polite and get it over and done with, or he will abort the encounter as soon as possible; also out of politeness. Being men, we understand how frustrating it is for the testosterone addled libido to be strung along, and we act accordingly.

    Such encounters aren't particularly common given how openly men communicate our intentions with each other; explicitly listing favoured sexual positions before hooking up or just grabbing the part we're interested in while passing a potential suitor after dark on the heath, who will then either reciprocate or walk away.

    -

    There's a phrase that's been in the gay dating lexicon since ads were written in biro and posted with stamps instead of apps: "No timewasters". We actually feel rude if we don't put out. But at least on the occasion that we leave our date dick-in-hand we know that cock is cheap and another can be along to fill his void before we've even reached the bus stop.

    I don't know a thing about lesbian dating, but I imagine it’s similar: when men date other men, empathy flows in both directions and as a result, these kind of misunderstandings are rare. So rare that, despite having been on tons of dates much "worse" than Grace's, I've never felt myself to have been violated or assaulted.

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    If I'm right and men and women have quite different sexual appetites, it seems we are faced with two possible explanations, and just as few solutions:

    Possibility #1:

    Men are like that because they have been socialised to be, and it has nothing to do with testosterone or other facets of sexual dimorphism: men and women's sexualities are fundamentally identical. If so, then men can be socialised to be the same as women, and this seems to be the dream of this and other feminist fora.

    The corollary to this of course, is that women could also be socialised to be the same as men. Given how trivial an issue "bad sex" is to gay men (in which wasting someone's time is considered a bigger sin than lechery), it would be remiss to declare that the masculine approach to dating is "bad" and that the feminine is "good". If men can be socialised to not be traumatised by "bad sex", then so can women.

    Whether we as a society decide to mass re-engineer men's sexualities or women's, the net result is the same: reduced trauma for women and reduced frustration for men. So we may as well toss a coin to decide which half of the species to send off to the gulag for reprogramming.

    Possibility #2:

    Men are (with some exceptions) like that innately, and women are also (with some exceptions) that way innately and there will always be failures of empathy where the bloke assumes the woman is as horny as he is, or that she can be warmed up with a little titillation; or when the woman assumes the guy is as frigid as she is or that he can be cooled off with a bit of chilling on the couch.

    -

    My gut instinct tells me we're living in world #2 and if women are now insisting that a misalignment of libidos and the resulting bad sex counts as sexual assault, then we've little hope than to return to a Victorian model of morality and press for a society that keeps brutish men away from delicate women and allows intercourse to be performed only after years of carefully choreographed courtship and a religious ceremony.

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    1. Too many gay men who would not in fact describe this as okay and cavalierly. In fact they do discuss being violated. Too many of my friends were so disgusted with men and the gay dating scene that they gave up. When we were young, they felt hunted. Then they went one of a few different ways. For the most part gave up and stayed out of the scene. For the most part gave in, and did the scene because that was how to be apart of the community. Or tread very carefully and found guys that weren't doing this bs.

      By my estimation, its not #2. Its that you're socialized. And you're so invested in not seeing it that you wrote the above completely and utterly seriously, justifying a culture of sexual assault and then wrapping it up in the pride flag. Don't insult my community to justify predation with the old tired, 'testosterone turns our pretty little heads so others owe us sex.'

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    2. Queer woman here... women like sex as much as if not more than men (we can have multiple orgasms in a single encounter, after all). This nonsense about testosterone somehow stopping men from being able to avoid sexual assault... is nonsense.

      There is nothing innate about being a sexual predator. Conflating socialized behavior to biological destiny - is nonsense. Plenty of gay men have no interest in bad sex... and no one wants to be sexually assaulted, gay or otherwise.

      You also are completely ignoring how male violence against women changes the equation. Where you might feel comfortable walking out on a bad sexual encounter - a woman is more likely to be afraid for her safety in the same situation.

      Enough is enough. It's time to demand better behavior from men. The end. No more pretending men don't understand consent or that they miraculously can no longer read non-verbal cues during sexual encounters.

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  49. Postscript:

    Whether #1 or #2, please, for the love of Iolaus keep your social engineering out of gay sex. You've already ruined gay porn in the UK: I now have to use an offshore VPN to access the good stuff after feminists got choke porn etc. banned. We men-who-love-men like masculinity exactly as it is.

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    Fun fact: In Neo-Victorian England in the year 2069, 90% of the pornography consumed by women is the gay porn in which men are still permitted to be brutes.

    The same statistic applies to straight men, because even for a heterosexual man seeing two dudes going at it unabated with testosterone oozing out of every pore is preferable to watching two lesbians touch each other on the arm and give each other compliments, which given the mores of the time is the only thing on offer.

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  50. Am I the only woman in the room who has ZERO problems while living in the first world, understanding how google works, 911 operates, that if and when I am EVER in a situation where I don't want to be.. I LEAVE?! Like literally what you call "normal" regretful sex.. NEVER has been the situation for me and here is why. I do not go home or take home people who I only had dinner with once.. (neither men nor women), I don't engage in physical intimacy with ANYONE until I've known them for at least 3 months (no I'm not religious, it's just something I viewed as "smart" when I wanted to be a secret agent). I'm in Hollywood, I'm an actress (I have met some of the very people named as sexually abusive and yet, because I refuse to go to ANYONE'S house, or invite them to mine, if I don't know them), I have never found myself naked with someone's penis that I don't want to be with. I VERBALIZE my preferences to anyone who asks me about "dating" or makes verbal "moves" on me to let them know that "I don't do one night stands".. and I would argue that in 2018, ALL of us could take a step back and reconsider how we conduct our "courtship" as a species could use a little bit of refinement. Because for BOTH men and women, how can you expect PERFECT and UNDISTORTED communication about sex with each other's bodies when you have only known someone for 6 hours and know virtually nothing about their MIND or their HISTORY??? Maybe one of the things that are endemic to these "bad dating situations" for BOTH sexes (but female ones are obviously more common) is NOT taking charge of how they play out because we accept and go along with the "first night F*&uing" expectation that has become the norm. This is a very animal way to interpret each other, like yes once upon a time (at least when I was very little) there was the concept of "waiting till marriage" to have sex... and of course that was all kinds of flawed too.. But I would suggest that the TOTAL OPPOSITE (fuck at random and early on in a relationship) might also be inherently destined to fail... because it is a very reductive thing to get physical with someone's body before you have a cohesive and unforced sense of the mind behind that body. My two cents... I am saddened when I hear ME,TOO and I am upset that this Anziz story conflates the actual rapes with the "bad dates".. that's a dangerous and careless evaluation.

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  51. "It's because if what happened to her is a violation, then we are all violated. And everyone is a violator." I don't understand what you mean by this? I'm not a violator. Not all men are as inept as the Aziz Ansari in Grace's story.

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  52. Maybe I shouldn't be saying this. Although I've never physically done anything like that in person, I had an alternate identy on a semi-game social website. My alternate identity did a few things like that. There was no physical violation, and they could easily leave with the click of a button (there were some other women who did), but they may have still felt too scared or confused to leave, and they might have been hurt emotionally. I've said many times that I've wished I could find all the women I've hurt and apologize.

    A good friend of mine, who messaged this article to me, and who I'll be discussing the issue of sexual misconduct with tomorrow night, has said "when you know better, do better." She's commented that I now know better and am striving to do better. In many ways, I think she's right, and yes, society teaches this behavior. I'm grateful that there are women who trust me more than I trust myself. However, it also is upsetting to think about how much some of these women might be hurting, and I've contributed to part of it.

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    1. Thank you for saying this. It is important that we all admit our part in rape culture and sexual violence/coercion. I'm glad to hear you feel remorse for your actions and that you actively strive to do better now. You are not the only one - male or female - who has acted poorly in the past. Part of moving this conversation forward is admitting your mistakes and making a commitment to change.

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    2. Toolegittokit, thank you so much! That comment really means a lot to me.

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  54. To be sure I think sex with people you don't know very well is a bad idea and doing "check-ins" with your partner to verify they are enjoying sex and want to continue having sex is a good idea, but that said, it would be instructive to read Aziz's side of this with the same detail (I'm sure for legal reasons we never will). I suspect he is not the hormone-addled Neanderthal sex monster that many here are making him out to be.

    Is it possible that all the times that she withdrew from him, but did not withdraw completely i.e. said "hey let's slow down", but did not put her clothes back on or say in plain language she wanted the encounter to end, or simply left his apartment lead him to think that she wanted him to change what they were doing, but that ultimately, she still wanted to have a sexual encounter?

    This is not to dismiss him. A grown man should be more sensitive and thoughtful than what is describe in the Babe article, but I think in these awkward situations with bad communication men will try something and then look for a reaction, but when they get no reaction good or bad they try something else and something else and something else waiting for a plain yes or no, but never getting it. While the woman is hurt and victimized the man is confused and distraught feeling like they have to figure out the right way to make this work because something in the back of your mind is telling you “if she wants me to stop she will say stop”.

    Was this woman assaulted, I guess so, I have no reason to believe otherwise, but I think the author is correct in pointing out how muddy these waters are. The ambiguity of this case has me rattled. Are men more responsible for consent than women? Are men more responsible for their partners enjoyment of sex than women? I think a clean yes or no answer to these questions is impossible and it’s a hard reality thinking that a woman would be too terrified to tell me to stop when I absolutely would.

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    1. "Drawing on the conversation analytic literature, and on our own data, we claim that both men and women have a sophisticated ability to convey and to comprehend refusals, including refusals which do not include the word ‘no’, and we suggest that male claims not to have ‘understood’ refusals which conform to culturally normative patterns can only be heard as self-interested justifications for coercive behaviour." https://yesmeansyesblog.wordpress.com/.../mythcommunicat.../

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  55. I've never been more bored reading anything, so didn't finish.

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  56. I've never been more bored reading anything, so didn't finish.

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  57. I have had dates where I let myself get talked into things I regret, but there is a big difference between that and a professor or a boss or a customer touching me, kissing me, talking about sex to me.

    If men need rules about how to act, sure, define how to behave on a date, but ideas can vary on that.

    However, I think we can safely say that AT WORK, men should not touch women unless they are shaking their hand, men should not show their penises, and should not suggest any activity they would not feel comfortable suggesting to their sisters or their mothers. (I am assuming normal, non-Oedipal, non-incestuous relationships here.)

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  58. While I am not proud to admit it, I'm also not ashamed to say I have been in Aziz's position several times throughout my life. Thats not to say that I like shoving my fingers down girls throats... but I have been in instances where I'm engaging in physical activity with a girl who has told me "we're not having sex tonight" or "lets take it slow" or the classic "I'm on my period"- but before the night was over we had sex (turns out she was not on her period).

    Now I know what youre thinking "Rapist! You just admitted to sexual assault! You coerced these women! Youre a pig!" But lets hold off on judgments just yet. I like to think I am a good guy, sensitive to others feelings, and only interested in engaging in sex if the other person gives clear consent. So when I hear "let's take it slow" I dial it back, and try to make her comfortable... but it does not mean "please stop touching me right now I want to leave!" Sometimes I guess the girl just wants to kiss and cuddle more before she warms up to the idea of having sex, or maybe its about power - letting me know she is in control of the interaction, or maybe its something theyve been instructed to say on a first date by friends or magazines. To be honest - I dont always know whats on a girls mind. Its not always easy reading non-verbal cues. And sometimes a "Lets take it slow" turns into "do you have a condom?" after some consensual foreplay. Sometimes the "You can come home, but im not fucking you tonight" turns into "choke me while you fuck me!" Yes, it is a weird and confusing world sometimes when it comes to sex. Everyone is different, and not everyone can be expected to read your mind or "non-verbal cues"

    But a clear "No" is as easy to read as it gets. Asking to leave or asking your partner to leave is what ought to be done if you feel like you are being forced into something that you truly dont want. When Grace talks about the non-verbal cues he didnt pick up on, she neglects to acknowledge the non-verbal cues she gave indicating she was interested in sex... She went back to his apartment, she got on top of his counter, engaged in oral sex, etc. etc. Did Aziz ignore some signs that she wasnt into having sex with him? Definitely. But he Also received signs that she did. Or at least in his mind im sure he thought she did. So hes caught in that place that I, as well as millions of other of men have found ourselves in.. "Does she actually not want to have sex, or is she just saying she doesnt want to have sex." And so you do stupid things like give them a back rub while watching seinfeld, you try to caress them to gage where theyre at... its awkward and weird and feels somewhat aggressive, but this is not sexual assault. This is miscommunication that stems from mixed emotions.

    This is a girl who was probably really excited to go out with Aziz, told all her friends, picked out outfits and considered the night a huge opportunity to begin a relationship with a famous celebrity. But for him, this was an opportunity to have sex with a fan. That is not a crime.

    I personally think it would be very educational to have the two sit down with a host like Ellen Degenerous and hash it out. But that would mean giving Aziz a forum for explaining himself, and that goes against everything the #metoo movement stands for. It is unfair to release these one sided stories, and then have an entire movement of people waiting in the wings to destroy your life the second you defend yourself

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    1. "Drawing on the conversation analytic literature, and on our own data, we claim that both men and women have a sophisticated ability to convey and to comprehend refusals, including refusals which do not include the word ‘no’, and we suggest that male claims not to have ‘understood’ refusals which conform to culturally normative patterns can only be heard as self-interested justifications for coercive behaviour." https://yesmeansyesblog.wordpress.com/2011/03/21/mythcommunication-its-not-that-they-dont-understand-they-just-dont-like-the-answer/

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    2. Suhmone. Yes. Said perfectly. Sex can be messy. Confusing. Etc and folks need to be clear. Not misleading.

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  59. A lot of my scary sexual encounter memories came back as I was reading and reminded me why I stay away from those men who I used to call friends. Thank you for writing this its much needed to hear.

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  60. I think people need to stop casually hooking up and get to know another person first. Obviously that's not going to resolve everything but you're creating trust and a relationship where the person actually means something to you. Yes I've experience these things but all the things in this article have been from the casual encounters where the other person didn't mean anything. I think that gives them a pass to dehumanize you. A Healthy sexual relationship where we have a line of communication is great because if they want to do something and experiment with something we talked about it first and then we do it.

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  61. Your article is thought provoking but I would still contend that what happened is not sexual assault. And certainly, legally there was no crime. Yes, I think the things that happen between men and women during sex needs to be discussed because obviously too many women are having bad sex and too many men are not seeing that they are bad at sex. But as a society we need to do better. We need to teach men to be more sensitive to women and not be so sexually aggressive. We need to teach women to speak up and not be afraid to be assertive in sexual situations. Because I think the responsibility lands on both sides. We can't as women, just blame everything on the man and say that we are "victims". We do bear some responsibility in these situations and I believe as a feminist, we should. This is not to "victim-blame" but to stand with girl power. As much as men need to learn, We need to learn to tell men when their behavior is unacceptable and unwelcome!

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    1. I agree. So tired of everyone blaming everyone else. If your not being abused or held down you can say" I dont like this ". "Stop". I have two sons and I dont want my boys charged with rape because a women couldnt speak up and say I dont like that.

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    2. I agree. So tired of everyone blaming everyone else. If your not being abused or held down you can say" I dont like this ". "Stop". I have two sons and I dont want my boys charged with rape because a women couldnt speak up and say I dont like that.

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  62. I've read quite a few pieces on Ansari, and this was the one that felt the most like you lifted the hood on my mind and pulled my thoughts out. I don't know what else to say except thank you. Really. You gave me a compass and I really needed one.

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  63. I’m appreciative of this post for its unfiltered honesty and its attempt to view multiple perspectives while being faithful to the author's experience. I found it refreshing after the parade of writers latching on to this story as a means of pushing whatever preconceived agenda they already advance. It inspires me share some experiences of coerced sex I've had - experiences I've told virtually no one until now.

    The first, when I was 8, was a therapist my mother sent me to after my parents divorce, who would continuously steer our discussion towards genitals. I would make drawings and other art projects as part of “therapy,” and everything I made, from this therapist's vantage point, apparently resembled penises or vaginas. It made me terribly uncomfortable and I would silently shift in my seat avoiding eye contact, then try to change to subject (unsuccessfully). I tried to stop going and even hid before appointments, but was too embarrassed to explain what was happening. At ten, I found the agency to stubbornly refuse to go until my mother gave up.

    The second was when I was 17, during my first semester of college. A friend's house had been slated for demolition and they had a sleepover party where everyone made art on the walls. We all were drinking and eventually I fell asleep in my sleeping bag, with four or five others in the room. I awoke sometime later to discover a friend was on top of me, kissing me. I was confused and went along for a minute, not knowing what to do. It was not a pleasant kiss and I actually started to dry heave. I said I thought I might throw up and that stopped it.

    The third, when I was 19, occurred when I was interning as a teachers aide at an elementary school in Berkeley. Part of the deal was room and board, and a single parent of one of the students (in their late thirties) volunteered to house me. A few weeks in, they came into my room, late at night, smelling of alcohol, saying they "wanted to cuddle", but it soon escalated. I was in a long-distance relationship at the time and did not want to cheat and said so. But I knew no one in town and was very reluctant to offend the person who was my only means of housing and food. After some very reluctant making-out punctuated by mild, stumbling objections on my part, they left me alone.

    I still do not view any of these events as rape or sexual assault although I understand others might. I never really feared for my safety, nor did I feel physically compelled. In all of these cases, when I finally found the agency to verbalize my discomfort forcefully, I was able to extricate myself from the situation. I moved on and never considered my self traumatized, but in retrospect, I was minimizing the impact to some degree, as evidenced by the fact that, decades later, I can still summon up the physical sensations of unease and discomfort I felt then.

    How does all of this inform my take on the Grace/Aziz story? That is more difficult. I believe this is an important discussion and I am happy it is taking place. But I cannot help feeling that both Grace and Aziz have been victimized here, in different ways. Grace did not deserve to be placed in a position where consent became conflated with begrudging capitulation to someone attempting to wear down her resistance. Yes, it would have been better if she could have found the agency to be unequivocal about her discomfort, but .to assume all of us have immediate access to that sort of agency is simplistic and fails to consider the many factors that can delay that response.

    At the same time, I do not believe Aziz deserves to become the poster-child for a problem that everyone seems to agree is societal. If this problem is so widespread as to be endemic to our culture (and I think it is) then we cannot crucify any single individual who exhibits it. I think we are better served, as a society, by condemning the behavior while maintaining compassion for them both. Thank you to the OP for sharing your story.

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  69. What happened is NOT her fault! Nobody should have to feel unsafe/uncomfortable, regardless of where they are. However, it's very thought-provoking that A's behavior is a reflection of how he (we collectively) "are socialized." If that's the case, I'm curious as to why, in a society that breeds this kind of behavior into it's social DNA, we are still so bad at avoiding potentially risky situations like entering a strangers apartment after drinks, at night, on the first date?

    All else equal, the woman says that A. ignored her nonverbal cues of disinterest, and pressed on. But given the context, she also gave a very strong nonverbal queue by entering his apartment. After all, it's probably common sense that he didn't want to just chat on the sofa. It would be disingenuous to think otherwise, especially if you subscribe to the view that men are socialized to be this way. I mean, would you pet the lion at the zoo?

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    1. And the way she describes it, she sought him out because he's a famous guy.

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  70. I am enlightened and disturbed at the same time and the one thing that comes into my mind is the consensual sex form detailing exactly how she wants it. The male ego is attached firmly to the sexual experience and if for one second , a man believed his sexual partner was not enjoying it, then you could kiss that relationship goodbye. No, stop, not there are not punchlines. They mean what they mean and to ignore them is assault. The disturbing part is when when no, stop, and not there are not used and subsequently come out later as a sexual assault allegation is real fucked up. This has the potentialbof muddying the water between assault and bad sex and if that happens it becomes and acting contest to see version gets the oscar. Its sad but the conversation is necessary. The last thing i would ever want to hear is some woman charging me with assault 5 years down the line for sex she didnt enjoy.

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  72. Bad date, awkward, selfish guy, woman who needs to stop going after celebrities and needs to learn to walk away. Both of them are at fault but this wasn't abuse. If we're going to now say every incident of bad sex is abuse, we're not going to get very far. I don't understand why Babe published this piece but hurting a guy's career for a date gone wrong is a bit much. This isn't a nice situation and he apologized to her--he's not Weinstein or Allen or Franco or one of the many others who really did assault women. If these kinds of stories keep coming out and we go after every guy without assigning some responsibility to the women, we're going to see a regression whereby real assaults are going to be considered "just another one of those stories" and victims will get pushed back even farther than they are now.

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    1. The thing that bothers me the most is that even though talking heads like Samantha Bee “say” they know the difference between a Harvey Weinstein and an Aziz Ansari they don’t acknowledge that the punishment for both is pretty much the same in the current climate.

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  73. I had the SAME thoughts going through my head as you and some of the same conversations. Sent almost verbatim that text to my best friend and talked about the babe story with my two roommates (one male, one female). This story ("fiction") was another thing that my best friend sent me when I first texted her: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/12/11/cat-person. Another piece of the puzzle. Thanks for writing. Differences on the spectrum from eyeroll-inducing pickup lines, to Grace/Margo like experiences to Weinsteins and further along are all representative of the same thing: a massive societal issue based on years of discrimination and bad education about consent and communication.

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  74. I've seen references to 'rape culture' a few times in this discussion. Can somebody fill me in on the body of evidence that's used to substantiate this idea? It seems a bit strong to me, considering that when we speak about a culture of something we're usually talking about something that has widespread support in a society. E.g. Canada can be said to have a hockey culture because lots of Canadians like hockey, people say positive things about it, and it's incentivised in various ways. I'm not sure rape is like that: I've personally never heard anyone say anything positive about it (even in all-male locker rooms) and it's subject to harsh penalties and to social ostracism. It may be true that many rapes aren't punished, but that may be partly a result of how hard it is to be sure that it has happened with only two people in a room. I've heard some people say that it's all a spectrum, and so come-ons and harassment are evidence for rape culture, as are depictions of forced sex in movies and on TV. If so, why isn't a friendly punch on the arm, or depictions of murder on TV, evidence that we have a murder culture? Of course, rape does happen and it should be punished severely; but I don't see any evidence that it's a culture. Though maybe people here can present me with some better evidence or arguments that I haven't encountered yet.

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  75. "I've dated a few Dr. Lecters". Ha. For sure you've dated cannibals :/

    I envy the kind of insulated privilege that allowed Grace to arrive at the age of 22 without ever contemplating that maybe celebrities are just normal people who are f**ked up like the rest of us. This is, as you say, "a normal sex encounter", enabled by the assumption that there exist these dreamy Prince Charmings who would never press their advantage.

    I do sympathize with how confused you say you feel. I think that goes for most normal people. Kudos, because most thinkpiecery on this comes from people who pretend they are in total clarity.

    However: chivalry is dead. Get over yourselves, stop fawning over celeb culture, stop feigning surprise, and call a cab.

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  76. How about this, to simplify everything: asking ourselves, in every choice. "What would love do?"

    I'm sure some of you think that would not cover it. (And for sure, when practiced by a spiritual newbie, it wouldn't.) But even if you're just starting to use that question... it still changes everything.

    I'm sure some of you think that's an old-fashioned idea. And yes, thousands of years old-fashioned. Like Jesus said something like all principles are based on love, and Buddha said something about love being one of the "four immeasurables".

    Of course, there's fine tuning. Wisdom and experience will teach you to *include yourself*, in who you love. And to include other impacted people, like include "his wife" / "her husband" in who you love, when asking what love would do? And if you want to take this to the point of *healing* yourself, you may even make it "What would be love for all beings, including myself?"

    Anyway, picture how these dynamics would go -- respect? kindness? listening? appreciation? -- if both people were asking what would love for all beings, including myself, do right now?

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  77. Perhaps, there is emotional suffering that society does not acknowledge outside of the constructs of the dynamic of the abuser and the abused, and that this lack of empathy for people in conflict in our community is the real problem. The author writes, "He convinced you to say yes even though you said no a bunch of times? That's coercive, nonconsensual sex. You have a right to feel violated.", but I strongly disagree. Is a 'yes' really invalid because it is the result of persuasion? Is a 'yes' invalid if it is preceeded by 'no's? The answer to this is definitely negative outside a realm where women are childish victims or victims-to-be that have limited agency and ability to assert themselves. To answer otherwise and to conflate persuasion with the precursor to a criminal offense, is to deny that people can change their mind. Sarah Schulman wrote this amazing book that I can't recommend enough for people reflecting on where sexual assualt begins and bad sex starts. It's called "Conflict is not Abuse" and I'd like to borrow her way with words: (page 49) "There is a range of persuasion narratives to the expericnce of "romance". Sometimes there is a seduction involved, which is a winning over. Sometimes there is a reassurance process. Sometimes a person starts out resistant but then opens up, or realizes that they are confusing their past with their present, or that they are simply afraid of change. Sometimes one party can see clearly into the future while the other's vision is obscured by unresolved and ancient experiences. Sometimes someone needs to be courted. Sometimes one party has the wrong impression of the other person, cannot see their gifts."

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  79. I freaking love this, and I wonder if guys read a version of this geared toward them if they would understand it. Like:

    "You have to understand that many men approach humiliating and uncomfortable sex from a place of "it's not that bad."

    Part of "not that bad" is a preemptive minimization of our partner’s experiences. You know, the way Fat Amy calls herself Fat Amy in Pitch Perfect so that the other girls can't do it first? It's their armor.

    I know what people will say when I tell them that I was a professor who put my arm around a student (she was 19) and asked why we weren't dating, while my hand stroked the bare skin of her shoulder (it was spring.)

    I am waiting for people to say, "So you just... put your arm around her?" I am waiting for them to ask for a gasp-worthy punchline: actually she was 12, or a tit grab, a ten-pound helmet into my lap, an offer to exchange nude selfies for a better grade. They're already imagining there is more to the story. There really isn't.

    I don't want to have to up the ante, tell another worse story to prove that she had the right to be uncomfortable when I stroked my student’s bare shoulder in a dark theater. I don't want to have to buy my friends' support with maximum humiliation.

    So I hurry up to add, "It wasn't that bad." That way, the people I'm telling would have to work to convince me, "No, that really wasn't cool."

    So I say, "It's not that bad," and I hope they'll stay on my side, and agree with me."

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  80. Why didn't she just leave right away? This isn't sexual abuse. This is some dumb girl saying yes-no-yes-no and some guy moving forward with his plans to get laid. She let him go down on her, for Christ's sake, but then complains that he's getting the wrong idea. I feel bad for the guy. Jesus.
    DONT GO INTO THE GUYS APARTMENT OR WHEN THINGS GET UNCOMFORTABLE LEAVE RIGHT AWAY BUT DON'T PLAY YES-NO-YES-NO AND THEN CALL IT SEXUAL ABUSE. JESUS!!!! THIS WAS SIMPLY A BAD DATE. SMARTEN UP GIRL!!!

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  81. Considering nuances of harm is important, and making hurtful sexual behavior binary doesn't help anyone and it certainly won't allow us to progress toward sexual health and respect. This is a good article that looks at some of that nuance. Here's something else to add to the discussion: http://www.dvinterventioneducation.com/2018/01/aziz-ansari-and-sexual-harms-beyond.html

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  82. I don't think the problem is people casually hooking up or sex on a first date. I think the problem is people not paying attention to other peoples' desires that are being expressed.

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  83. I'm not a young man (mid-50s) and I'm reasonably well-educated (a college professor in philosophy), but I must confess the more I read and think about this, the more confused I get. Some people seem to be saying that all heterosexual sex is socially-ingrained to be violence towards and domination of women. Some people seem to be saying all assault = rape. Some people seem to be saying that bad sex is assault. Some people seem to be saying that's just the way it is, so go with the flow. There's disagreement over whether consensual/consentual sex is acceptable to a progressive.

    It's seems to me that sex is a universe and all these threads have their own integrity, but none (including my own offering here) can capture the essence of what sexual interaction is all about, able to draw a clear line in the sand between "good" and "bad," avoid painting with broad brushstrokes, etc. All the stereotypes exist IRL, yet most of us are not stereotypes.

    I was married to a woman for over seven years in my younger days. I always made sure she orgasmed before I even began penetration, but as soon as I was inside of her, the pleasurable noises stopped and it was obvious enough that she was just consenting to sex because we were married. Even once we decided we wanted to have children together and she was routinely initiating sex, there was never any sense that she took any pleasure in the act other than to get a sperm donation.

    I found out when she left me for another man that she had, by her own admission, been lying to me about the nature of our relationship since day 1. She never loved me in any kind of romantic or sexual way. I found out, when she left her second husband another 7 years later, that she was a deeply closeted lesbian.

    So who was abusing whom? Were we both abusing each other? How should a man approach having sex with a woman who's verbally saying yes, but whose body language is saying no? How can we guard against being trapped into a no-win marriage (or even just a sexual episode) when one or both partners might have duplicitous motives?

    From what I can piece together from the Babe article, Ansari's motivation appears to be simply to get his rocks off--bad on him. Grace appears to have been something of a star-f*&ker--bad on her. There has already been a ton written from Grace's POV (and maybe her experience is nearly universal in having sex with a guy who's only invested in his own orgasm), but I'd really, really like to hear from Ansari himself and other, more thoughtful writers reflecting on what he has said, both good and bad. I realize this probably isn't going to happen.

    Was there bad sex? Clearly.
    Was there rape as we commonly understand it? No.
    Were there cringe-worthy aspects to the encounter? Definitely.
    When does bad sex cross the line into assault and did that happen there? Unclear.

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  84. Thank you so so much for this article -- from me, and from women with whom I've shared your article.

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  85. I want to thank you for sharing your thoughts. Your blog was one I really related to. In response to your blog, I have written my own blog post: http://besosb.blogspot.com/2018/01/honey-i-have-had-lot-of-bad-sex_18.html

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  86. "Ansari is responsible for knowing better, and caring about whether his sexual partners are comfortable, safe, and enjoying themselves. Even though nobody ever taught him that's a "normal" way to do sex. It's his job to help change the normal." <<<<< HOW would an adult man know to do this if WE as women have not literally taken control to change the standard form the time they were young?

    I'm not flipping my script in relationships unless I hear a consistent message, how could I expect that from all who are men as of today's date (and future men who are over 7)?

    What this discussion shows is we (women) clearly do NOT have a defined standard from which to lead.

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  87. Katykatikate; thank you for sharing this and I think you make a powerful and well articulated case for reexamining the nature of "bad sex."

    I'm drawn to your discussion of opening up old wounds and gaining back "ten pounds" of shittiness.

    As a man, this resonates, because while I have never coerced a woman into sex I have made my share of awkward passes and behaved rudely in a manner that made them uncomfortable. And after the fact I recognized that. But slightly-more-wiser me has always fought the urge to reach out to someone and apologize post-#metoo (beyond whatever apology I made or didn't make at the time) but did not because ultimately it seemed to likely it would be dredging up something rotten and both she and myself were better off having moved on. And I am wondering too, if many men like Ansari, who behaved boorishly but did not cross the line into illegal or unforgivable activity (normative) are, in retrospect, unhappy with themselves and how they treated someone, but literally DID NOT KNOW if an apology or attempts to make amends would do more harm than good. And that only becomes more true the more someone is separated from an event.


    I think I need to think about this more than I thought I did based on your piece, but ultimately I feel like 'you' are stronger for adopting a more forgiving or armored perspective. In these instances, comedy is tragedy plus time etc etc. Yes that sounds very self serving from a man's perspective but just as I think a man should be allowed to learn from his own bad behavior (without being punished beyond driving everyone away from himself) I am skeptical that stewing in righteous anger is somehow a healthier response to adopt.

    I am think to non-sexual experiences where I was mistreated, bullied, etc. Sometimes it was a misunderstanding, sometimes the person was just a total asshole. But rarely has there been a time when holding onto anger over a situation where someone took advantage of me has helped me learn from the experience or become a better person.

    I am also thinking this may ultimately be a false choice; "we" as a culture/society can work to avoid or eradicate "bad" or humiliating sexual experiences without wallowing in (ultimately self destructive) renewed feelings of shame and being aggrieved, etc.

    But all the same I'm interested in what other people have to say and I think you're essay was the first "pro grace" story I read which made me believe it's a worthy conversation to have.

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    1. It is commonly understood or known in psychology circles, self-help and other healing modalities - that the first step to healing a past hurt is feeling it. "Feeling is healing" is how the phrase goes. The author of this story indicated that she shoved down and minimized all these incidents in her life - as I have and many have. So now she is feeling it - bringing all those icky feelings - shame, anger, frustration, violation, disappointment, regret, sadness - all those are coming up now. So when you call it "wallowing in" or "stewing in righteous anger", I feel that you don't know enough about what you are talking about. Getting angry about the way things happened, as well as regret over our own habit of shoving it under the rug instead of realizing we should be angry - is the first healthy step to 2 things. First of all, its healthy to get the feelings out and secondly by recognizing that there are boundaries that we need to get better about protecting and this can lead to faster change. Anger is useful when it leads to recognizing our boundaries have been violated - so that we get better at noticing when a boundary is being violated IN THE MOMENT. Then healing starts to happen from the feeling of these emotions and we become more aware and empowered from the teaching of anger. We start to honor anger at that point - as something that should not be ignored. And...yes, forgiveness in time is a worthwhile pursuit...mostly forgiveness of ourselves that we allowed such violations to occur with the kindest of "no's" that fell on deaf ears. The shame that we put ourselves second. I don't think it's up to you to tell people to forgive or that they should not "wallow in it". If more women had "wallowed" in this earlier or honored their anger instead of stuffing it - then many generations of girls and women - would be much more adept at following their feelings instead of overriding those feelings with rationalizations that the man seemed really nice 2 minutes ago and everyone else thinks he's great. And if women were more adept at holding their boundaries, there would be a lot of men learning to be more aware as well. And this would lead to less tension between the sexes - and more communication and connection - and probably more bada boom ironically. Let me sum this up. Women have feelings and men do too - angry, negative, messy feelings. We need to stop ignoring those if we want to get to the forgiveness part.

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  88. It's weird to me how people are able to use "if you didn't want me to use your less-than-enthused body to get off, then you should've said so" as an argument. I'm paraphrasing of course. It usually comes much more embellished and well phrased, but that's the crux of their argument.

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  89. Well, men a socialized, that is right. By mothers, girlfriends, mostly. By porn too, to a smaller degree. Women need to learn to stand up for themselves, to say "no" without hurting. If a woman goes to a restaurant with a guy, comes up into his apartment afterword and then leaves without having sex, the guy is hurt, the same way a woman is hurt by bad sex. You want to date? got to take risks. And after all, Ansari acted his own fantasy because hi did not know what her fantasy was. I did not quite figure out what men need to do.

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  90. this whole "date" is sad. yes, it's horrible, yes, it wasn't right. and yes, she kept "hinting", but did at any point during any of this, did she outright say, "NO, I DO NOT WANT TO HAVE SEX WITH YOU."? you have to be clear, direct, and unwavering. while i don't fully agree this was sexual assault, there is something here. yes, she was telling him she wasn't comfortable, hinting physically and vocally she didn't want it, and i don't think that she should be ridiculed for not being more assertive, but maybe ansari was just that dense that he can't pick up on subtle hints, as seems very very obvious. you should never assume people will be able to notice what you're hinting at, even if it seems obvious to you. i don't blame her, and i stand with Grace that she was wronged, but, unless she outright said "no, stop, i don't want this", and STUCK to those guns, her slightly caving in likely made him think she was just playing shy or hard to get. ansari was very wrong, i'm not defending him in the slightest, he was acting like a pig, but obviously, picking up on hints is not a strong point of his.

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    1. "playing shy or hard to get"? Are you kidding me with this? Do girls/women still do this? That's a real stretch and it sounds like you are trying to come up with excuses as much as you go on about not defending him....you are exactly defending him. Secondly, Grace may have been open to having sex with him that night - she may not have made up her mind about it - wanted to see how it goes. It sounded to me like she wanted to slow it down, try to connect with him so she didn't feel like a blow up doll, feel respected and maybe, possibly have consensual sex or maybe just some heavy kissing or fooling around. Basically have some fun. Instead she felt violated over and over when he wouldn't listen or acknowledge her verbal wishes to slow it down and pay attention to how she is responding - which was unfavorably despite her initial excitement to be on a date with Ansari. So there was no big announcement that she didn't want to have sex until she finally realized he wasn't going to act as she wished he would - and so she left. If she knew from the beginning that she wasn't going to have any physical contact then she likely would have left earlier. The point is this is not the 1950's where we slap a man for kissing us on the first date. Sometimes we are interested too..but so many people are responding with - either make a big announcement and leave or stay and get fucked. You have to know in an instant which way you want to go or get told to shut up. I too also hesitate to call this sexual assault, but it a god-damn violation and part of the reason I just gave up on dating. This was normal and I just got sick of it. There were good men too - but so few that it didn't feel worth the trouble anymore.

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    2. I want to add that I think Grace was very clear in how she verbalized her distress to Ansari, but to your point and because I am no longer shoving down all those miserable experiences anymore - this story is finally bringing to light how clearly women - as much as they want love and connection and well...play and fun and sex too...we need training on how to break the deep spell that maybe half the population (?) of men seem to be under. We need to acknowledge that men can be educated, smart, act aware and kind, interested and sweet and then in an instant their behaviors can contradict all that. We need to learn how to check in with ourselves more often in these situations and ask ourselves how we feel in the moment. Do we feel uneasy, do we feel like we still see potential, but can't reconcile the fact that we feel uneasy? It's like our feelings are put second, ahead of all the beliefs we put first. I believe he is a good man, who cares, yet I can't reconcile that with the fact that I feel uncomfortable and distressed in these interactions. We as women need training on the words to use - words that are considered highly antagonistic and accusatory when said aloud - ie. I feel upset right now with the way this is going, I feel violated. I want to have fun with you and I still believe you are a good person, but you are not getting that I am distressed. Or maybe something as simple as - I feel like a blow up doll right now. I don't believe you mean for me to feel that way, but you are being pushy and aggressive and I'm not enjoying it. The truth is Grace said more than I ever had in those situations because I was so worried I would hurt the guys ego or I didn't want conflict or I could tell they would flash with anger and turn on me. Maybe we just get better and noticing what's going on and then politely, quickly, slip out the door. So I don't think Grace did anything wrong, but because this story is not uncommon in anyway, we as women need to train ourselves, un-socialize ourselves, and start recognizing crappy behavior faster. We need to plan ahead for this. Men will need to rehabilitate themselves as well - of course - that should be obvious at this point, which is why I didn't focus on it in my reply.

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  91. In the silence of the lambs sequel, Hannibal and Claire eloped.

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  92. Aziz absolutely sounds like a creep, but this is no Harvey Weinstein or even Louis ck. This was a shitty date and a hook up she later regretted. We've all had hook ups we've later regretted, men very much included.

    But you won't see many men calling out the women who turned out to be gross, creepy, and who caused them this kind of regret after a hook up. Especially not in a way that could ruin their professional lives. This is the kind of info that detracts from the seriousness of the whole #meetoo movement, which is a real shame

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  93. I agree wholeheartedly and was inspired to write my own story on this matter x - https://fluxedupchick.blogspot.com.es/2018/01/how-to-know-if-youve-been-violated.html

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  94. Thanks for writing more about why some find it challenging to look at the more unpleasant aspects of such & the complicated layers involved.

    This too is somewhat dangerous for me to type, but I will, for many reasons...
    This is what I can manage to write & it's by no means an exhaustive list.
    There is the issue of people not being honest about who they really are & you might not realise until it's too late. Then you also have the problem of them & others purposefully presenting matters falsely. With power dynamics & after much experience with abuse one can have all sorts of responses & techniques for keeping things cool as possible & getting out in one piece. In the case of orchestrated abuse, with many false stories & people involved it gets more complex. Asides from peoples average conditioning, beliefs & ideas being at play & played upon - more falsehoods can be added to amplify a wide range of behavoural abuse responses & tactics in verbal communication, body language & more... There can be a variety of destructive objectives: scapegoating, humiliation, domination, control over the target & so much more...

    I've never done any internet date sites or ever set up any kink or such profiles.

    I do have an idea of an egalitarian, loving, honest, sexual, communicative & such relationship, but no experience of it.

    I have been mistreated & been mislead or pressured in a variety of ways into some supposed imaginary version of consent. Also severely abused for saying no. Yes I've been in situations where that's been ignored too. By severely abused I mean the outcome of incredible physical damage. Psychological warfare. Personal belongings stolen & destroyed. Ability to work curtailed. Many different slander stories told to protect abusers, affecting potential personal, professional, friendships & family relationships. So much & many more complexities to it all over the years. (I've even had unwanted pregnancies by what seems some misguided idea of "keeping" me like I'm some kind of chattel.)
    Still many expressions of all this continue on...
    There can be many threads & layers to the weave of experience so hard to summarise.
    After so much I even found myself checking out situations to try & find out more about those possibly involved. Such situations can be tricky to get a decent picture of for someone in my position.
    Hopefully you get a better idea of matters from this.
    (Without even touching on my early life & circumstances...)

    It is sometimes incredibly sad that I don't see understanding & various forms of love win enough.

    I've never been married & have not had something like a personal relationship in a long time. I have some friends it would seem :-) ... It really can be awful & difficult to make a way out of bad situations, trying to avoid further abuse, lies & endless false representations of events & defamation attempts.

    There is no one to go to that I know of on all this & all the rest I cannot mention.

    Another point is there does not generally tend to be a reasonable grasp of the spectrum of abuse & all the forms such might take.

    I see many aspects of life, yet cannot & do not want to recount all the negative aspects over life in this area of sexuality & I know I'm not alone in this.

    People of all sorts can be conditioned to domineering, promoting self over another, malicious behaviour in interpretation or action.

    (In case anyone is confused as to my sexual orientation, it's bisexual with a preference to the opposite sex, not that it's any of your business.)

    "Victim blaming" bullshit is tiresome, decontextualising & horribly ignorant to complicated real life matters.

    There's so much more to all this. I hope what little I've mentioned is received in the constructive manner that it is truly meant.




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  95. I referenced this excellent article in my blog post, about women learning about their agency and finding their voice sexually, so they are able to stop allowing and doing things sexually that they're not actually OK with. https://kristenoguin.com/2018/01/22/lets-talk-empower-grace-part/

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  96. One of my issues with this talk of empowerment & agency & diatribe of women "allowing" situations, is that it does not take into account power dynamics, social structures & conditioning & also situations of deception, coercion & activity forced by threats. It smells a bit of victim blaming. It can get quite complex, with slander backlashes & purposefully orchestrated abuse by a network or several, over time. There is no consent or allowing in that scenario & no matter what the woman may do or be forced into, there are serious negative consequences. Also there's the issues of previous abuse experiences that have a real impact of responses for some kind ultimate safety (ie: not winding up beaten or dead). I know some people find their powerlessness at times, difficult to contend with, yet the scenario does need to be honestly appraised. Hey Kristen, the freezing response is not necessarily something taught, depending on what you're referring to - I recall a freeze on one occasion through being seriously terrified by enormous abuse, for amongst other matters, saying no to someone - it's a primal matter in that case, not something taught. Quite a full on experience & that's not the only time - yet that time was the longest, I was standing for hours...

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