“If what Aziz Ansari did was assault, then every woman I know has been assaulted.”
Now we’re getting it.
The #MeToo movement inspired an incredible amount of women to come forward with their stories of rape, assault, and harassment. Some of these attacks women spoke about were vicious and intentionally cruel. Others shared how men in positions of power took advantage of them. And others were a little fuzzy. They sounded a little too familiar to so many women and men, poking holes in what so many people believe to be consent.
Aziz Ansari is a perfect example.
I do not believe that Aziz Ansari set out to find a women to take advantage of. I do not believe that he used his celebrity to woo and persuade someone into doing something they weren’t comfortable with. I do not believe that Aziz is inherently a bad person. I actually believe quite the opposite. He’s done a lot of good in the name of feminism and equality, but that doesn’t mean that this is okay. I think it actually further proves the point that this is such an issue in our society, that even those who believe they are nothing but helpful, can still do harm. Slightly blinded by hormones, alcohol, or whatever else it may be, there are plenty of “good” guys who are making these mistakes that slowly chip away at the worth of a woman’s words.
When you’re partaking in a sexual encounter with a woman (or ANYONE, for that matter) and she expresses that she’s not totally comfortable or isn’t sure she wants to continue and you continue to push and persuade her, you are not listening to her. You are ignoring what she wants. Ignoring the fact that she is no longer consenting. And for a million different reasons*, she probably won’t stop you once you continue to push, because you most likely will continue to push. But, if she isn’t stopping you or saying no anymore, then she’s cool with it right?
Great question. Some women might be, and some women might not. The Aziz Ansari situation is helping break down what exactly consent is for each and every one of us. We don’t all have a powerful producer threatening our careers and dreams. We don’t all have a coach manipulating his position and taking advantage of us when we’re too young and scared to retaliate. But we do have successful dates. We do have moments where our expectations for the night are met, and we have moments where our expectations are blindsided by someone else’s. (I would like to note here, that consent isn’t only for dating couples. Assault and rape are absolutely possible within a marriage).
What is so hard for people to grasp is responsibility and an actual understanding of consent. It is your responsibility to make sure that whoever you are engaging with, is consenting to the situation. But what does that mean? How can you know that your partner is completely comfortable with what’s happening? You have to talk about it. It has to be clear. You have to ask. You have to ask more than once, and that’s just not sexy. That contradicts this confident sexy image we strive to meet in those moments of passion. I’ve had conversations that discuss body language and how to interpret that. I absolutely believe that the better you know someone, the more likely you are to pick up on those things. You may only have to discuss consent a few times or when you want to try something new. But body language is just not good enough. It is so easily misunderstood or misconstrued. Which is exactly why taking a second here or there to stop and say, “is this cool?” could save yourself and your partner a lot of hurt and confusion.
When it comes down to it, I think Aziz is a good guy who made a very common mistake. I don’t think he’s a bad guy and I don’t think he needs to be shunned from society or nailed to a cross. I think this is the moment where people don’t want to admit to themselves “Well, wait a second. I’ve been that person. I’ve kind of pushed someone into keep going. But they got back into and it seemed fine” because they think that’s going to make them some sort of monster and that is the opposite of what this is. This is new territory. This is a new conversation. We are making progress in empowering women and giving them the voice they need to stand up for themselves and others. This is a part of that. This is an important piece of that conversation we have to have. What is consent? I might not have a clear dictionary definition to give you, but I encourage you to ask yourself and your partner.
I would love to hear your thoughts.
I found this video to be helpful in quickly breaking down some of the same questions.
*If you’re interested in that list of million reasons, everyone has their own, fear being a common denominator. Ask a woman in your life what would stop them from continuing to deny a man’s physical advances. Start that conversation.