Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Quote of the Day

People have asked me, “if you’re all about women’s agency, isn’t it enough that this woman felt assaulted [by Aziz Ansari]?” Unfortunately, no – not when it becomes a matter of public accusation. Assault is not a feeling. Discomfort is a feeling, embarrassment and hurt and anger are all feelings, but assault has to have an objective definition because of the legal and social ramifications that come with it. When we act as though disrespect, harassment, assault and rape are all different words for the same thing, the conversation starts to lose its legitimacy.

. . . Some of the most candid and insightful points I’ve seen about this story have come from women who have argued that, for a lot of men, sexual aggression is something that has been ingrained in them from a young age. They are socialized through the examples of other men, not just those around them but in TV, movies and music. Heterosexual sex has long been portrayed as a kind of cat-and-mouse game in which the woman is expected to play coy and the man is expected to wear her down until she gives in. This is an unhealthy and dangerous dynamic, and it needs to change – but if our main approach is assigning facile labels to individuals rather than frankly examining root causes, it never will.

Framing this as an Aziz Ansari problem instead of a culture problem gives men the opportunity to distance themselves from it instead of reflecting upon their own attitudes and beliefs.

Proper language and communication are critical not only in these discussions, but in the heat of the moment. While there are many clear-cut cases of men deliberately disregarding women’s boundaries, there are others where neither person clearly expresses what’s going on in their head, and both are left trying to fill in the blanks. It is not anti-feminist to recognize that sometimes, human relationships are messy, signals feel mixed, and misunderstandings occur. And it is not victim blaming to say that we need to work harder to empower women to firmly say “no” when men are acting entitled, as well as teaching those men to look for nonverbal cues and ask their partner explicitly how they’re feeling before proceeding.

– Tiffany Wright
Excerpted from "Assault Is Not a Feeling.
The Aziz Ansari Story Shows Why Language Matters
The Guardian
January 17, 2018

Related Off-site Links and Updates:
Aziz Ansari Accused of Sexual Misconduct – Emma Stefansky (Vox, January 14, 2018).
Whoopi Goldberg Scolds Aziz Ansari Accuser: ‘Non-Verbal Cues’ Are Not Enough – Matt Wilsten (The Daily Beast, January 16, 2018).
Blurred Lines: Aziz Ansari and the Line Between Jerk and Predator – Erin Gloria Ryan (The Daily Beast, January 16, 2018).
The Controversy Around’s Aziz Ansari Story, Explained – Caroline Framke (Vox, January 18, 2018).
Babe Turns a Movement Into a Racket – Caitlin Flanagan (The Atlantic, January 19, 2018).
We're Not Done Here – Laurie Penny (Longreads, January 2018).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Four Balanced Perspectives on the Wave of “Sexual Misconduct” Accusations Against Influential Men in the U.S.
What a Man! – Connor Beaton
Quote of the Day – November 17, 2017

From Wikipedia: In January 2018, a woman using the pseudonym "Grace" accused Aziz Ansari of sexual misconduct in an article on The article was met with a polarized and mixed response among commentators and the public with disagreement as to whether the incident described in the Babe article constitutes sexual misconduct. Ansari stated that the encounter "by all indications was completely consensual," but critics have stated that his actions were misogynist, lacked affirmative consent, and spoke to a larger culture of harmful male expectations. Others say that Ansari's actions did not constitute sexual misconduct and that his accuser's narrative trivializes the larger movement against forms of sexual abuse. In an article for The Atlantic, Caitlin Flanagan wrote that the narrative in Babe was revenge porn. HLN host Ashleigh Banfield criticized Ansari's accuser for what she described as "reckless" claims.

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