The Aziz Ansari exposé this week described what’s perhaps the lowest-stakes encounter we’ve seen mainstreamed as part of the #MeToo movement, and as such has launched the most interesting and impactful discussions on sex, consent, and male aggression I’ve seen in a while. The exposé has this ability to make people excruciatingly uncomfortable because it’s about regular people having regular experiences. It’s easy to hate a Weinstein. It’s less easy to hate someone who looks and sounds like you or your friends. As evidence, see…. well, nearly every response piece on the subject. Taking the temperature of the response pieces is something of an exercise in “If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry.” Whether articles come out for or against the OP, the consistent premise is that all women have been Grace. No one seems to be denying the universality of the woman’s experience exactly as described. The only disagreement among authors seems to be whether or not to care. I blink in disbelief. In the same breath, antifeminists admit awareness of our society’s pervasive disregard for women’s comfort and autonomy while using this very example as a way to deny it and declare women O.K.
We might be O.K., but we’d like to be good, great, fantastic! That’s what equality is all about. An anonymous comment on the Lindy West NYT piece sums up my reactions, so instead of reinventing the wheel I’ll simply leave this here:
Clearly Aziz Ansari was trying to rush things on a first date in a way that rushes to the male’s endgame rather than something mutually pleasurable and collaboratively reached between lovers. Some women are fine with the former, but most want (and all deserve) the latter, and for a man to expect the former is extremely presumptuous, disrespectful, and makes a woman feel terrible rather than pleasured. It is not rape, but it’s emotionally hurtful. Aziz treated her like a piece of meat as she moved away and even explicitly told him she didn’t want to feel forced. This ruins sex for women, and all people deserve to enjoy sex. Women have had enough of having female sexuality and pleasure ignored.
And then, there’s my lady Samantha Bee, who has the unique gift of being able to sharply and hilariously describe the precise feelings I’m unable to verbalize:
Part of enjoying [this modern world] is setting a higher standard for sex than just not rape, and women get to talk about it if men don’t live up to those standards, especially if that man wrote a book about how to sex good. [….] But listen, if you don’t want to tune into your partner’s feelings throughout sex, maybe you shouldn’t be fucking a person at all. May I suggest a coin-purse or a ziploc bag full of grape jelly. Men, if you say you’re a feminist, then fuck like a feminist. – Samantha Bee