Azz vs. Aziz
When the Aziz Ansari story broke, I, like many others, flipped. First of all-- the website was really called babe.net?? Bruh. And then the mention of white w(h)ine vs red wine? Dude. The whole story read like high school gossip, and I was pissed about it.
But I knew I couldn't just say that.
So I opened up a Facebook discussion with my feminist friends. I knew that no matter how strongly I felt, that I had a major blindspot by virtue of being a man addressing an issue that mostly affects women. I asked questions first. And in the asking, I learned a shitload-- not only about the issue, but about the role of asking questions in the midst of disagreement. So at the end of the discussion, I posted what I'd learned from the 200+ comments on the Facebook thread. For your reading pleasure, I'm sharing them here. If you have any thoughts or wanna chime in, hit us up and we'll feature it here in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, keep asking questions and be ready to listen to the answers.
"So this post has been tremendously successful, for me, because I legit learned new things.
1. Sex thrives in a loving, committed relationship. Anything besides that needs to be treated sensitively, and we have not been doing that, and this is the result.
2. Yes, this young woman should have been clear about her communication and removed herself from a situation that made her uncomfortable. But her fear of speaking up was caused by a fear of going against a potentially bruised male ego, and bruised male ego, historically, is the most destructive force to women in our world, from war to sexual assault. Men, this is our shit to solve, not theirs. We need to stop wrapping up so much of our personal power in getting a woman to say "yes" that we remove her personal power to say "no."
3. Sadly, Aziz, technically, didn't break the "rules" of hookup culture. I doubt that this was his first encounter like this, and I doubt that his advances ended negatively every time. But it is 100% insane that this is where the culture has gotten. A mixed up mess of misaligned expectations, poor communication (speaking and listening), and dehumanization in this intimate and very human act, and ultimately sexual violence. That culture is sick, and needs healing, from all of us. But it starts with men.
4. I've been looking for a clear answer on how to approach the consent question, and I'm not gonna get it, because women aren't static one-approach-meets-all. Because they're humans (gag and duh.). Each person is different, and people are still figuring out what it looks like, while acknowledging what it does NOT look like. And that's why these discussions are good.
5. Men aren't talking to each other enough about hook ups gone wrong. As a result, we're all flying under the assumption everyone else is getting laid quickly and easily, and have been shamed (by older men, media, our peers) out of talking about the failures in navigating what is a spectrum of preference and expectation among women. And when women tell us that hookup culture is fucked up, in an effort to mask our own shame about the bad experiences ("Your game is tight bro, she was just a prude"), we fight back and belittle women's very real and personal experience. AKA we don't believe them. And then use our misconception about everyone else's dating success as justification that all women are equal players in the hookup game. But it ain't equal. And there are a lot of hidden bad stories. A LOT. Majority of women have at least one, if I'm not mistaken.
6. With this particular story, men (and women) are defending Aziz because they want this young woman to be held accountable for her role in participating in a situation she is now claiming victim to. And women (and some men) are defending the woman because men are missing the point that its craaaaazy that, in an act as intimate as sex, one of the participants would be completely uninterested in how the other person was enjoying it, how comfortable they are, etc. This is non-negotiable, and crazy that we've gotten this far. And I'm sure has produced some really awful sex.
7. I got more to learn."
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Warning: we toss all hatred and ignorance.