Aziz Ansari – My Thoughts

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The whole thing is pretty sad.

I loved Aziz Ansari’s show, and felt celebrity-fond of him (as much as you can feel anything about someone you’ve never met…).

He’s a casualty, yes. A participating casualty on the wrong side, the powerful male side. Even if he didn’t think of himself on that side – he was there.

So, the crime seems mostly of being stupid and insensitive with a women, like a lot of men who are not good with women until they get famous.

Perhaps he was cold-hearted and intentionally insensitive – or just totally clueless about himself. We’ll likely never know.

And, because with fame (and therefore emotional and psychological and fiscal power) comes public exposure – some men’s stupidity and insensitivity becomes finally, highly noticeable.

https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2018/01/the-humiliation-of-aziz-ansari/550541/

I suppose you can say the 60’s are gone, and it’s hard to say where this kind of constant exposure is going to go. Whether it will improve men or not. Whether it will open up communication and burn a new path for paying attention to each other as human beings or not.

It would seem to me that in this climate, it’s fair to slap any man we didn’t slap at the time…makes sense that the pendulum would swing too far before it lands someplace.

For me, asking women to simply learn to take good care of themselves is skirting the issue.

That reminds me of a huge part of my training as a rape crisis counselor, after my own survivor experience – where we confronted the wide concept that ‘women were asking for it” by dressing scantily, etc…

We said to our clients “You should be able to walk down the street in a bathing suit without worrying about being harassed.”

We said: “Someone else’s crossing the line to touch you, or any another human being, without permission is not in your ability to decide just by being there.

We said: “You are not a victim, you are a survivor.”

We said: “You have every right to feel angry.”

And we said, over and over and over again: “It’s not your fault.”

And here, we say: “If you want to hang around a man’s apartment and kiss him, and hold to the hope that there’s a relationship potential in the air – and yet not have sex with him – you should be able to do that, too, without worrying about being pushed.”

And yet, we know, in the real world, that depends on the honor of everyone involved.

We know that most people are honorable, though some people are not, and – even then – there’s a real grey, thin line between dishonorable and simply clueless.

There’s also a real grey, real thin line between telling your story as a cautionary tale of misreading a man’s intentions, and accusing a clueless man of dishonor.

It gets complicated. In the world of emotions, where people say one thing but mean another, where we feel fooled and foolish, where we had hopes for things that weren’t there at all, we usually want to blame something or someone – and usually end up blaming ourselves.

And we often end up blaming other things and people because we’ve already blamed and punished ourselves as much as we could bear.

Here, for me, the frustration of it all just reached the boiling point, and we’re slopping over the sides of the cauldron.

For some – sex is like eating a meal. They hardly equate asking for a meal with wielding power.

For some – sex equates with shame.

When we feel shame for being fooled, together with shame for sex with someone who baffled us or outright fooled us (even if they didn’t mean to) – it’s an overflowing cauldron of righteous, furious desire for change.

Stupidity of all kinds now has consequences.

Used to be you could get away with what you thought was simply “drunken stupidity.” Men considered it part of the growing up curve.

And, not all of us women are always “stable” and “self-protective,” as described in this article.

It’s really hard for a woman to know what to do in a situation like this. I’ve been there. I’m sure you have.

It doesn’t take a man having celebrity status to make us feel “less than.”  Telling women to know how to “slap” and “run” seems like a silly answer to the overflowing cauldron.

Teaching men to be smarter and more sensitive seems a better way to go.

I’m thinking of Kobe Bryant, who got away with it because he figured any woman who came into his room and smiled at him was up for whatever. It’s a thin line. “No” sometimes comes out garbled.

Especially in a world where we women have been so on-purpose never taught how to say “No.”

Some of us are not so great at the “No” thing. Sometimes it feels frightening, foreign and wrong to say “No.”

I’ve been here. I was on set, when the lead actor came into my trailer and said we would run lines, but asked me “have we ever made love?”

I was a true “naive” and thought I was in the process not of being “hit on” – but of being “courted.”

I thought he wanted to “date” me!

I was married at the time to my first husband, and somehow avoided being in his trailer late in the evening. (I watched one of the extras walk with him to his trailer in the dark, and felt jealous. I thought he liked her better.)

Now – yes, I was stupid. Not very sharp about “men.” And – do I get the blame for thinking “romance” when a man is thinking “quick sex”? “Fun?”

Do I have to learn to run, and slap, and be forceful, and leave in a cab or an uber?

Do I have to never go to a man’s apartment (I say yes, never do that, for many reasons) or anywhere? Is this “celebrity” fault?

Well, I DO have to learn to say “No.”

I have to learn to feel what I want, and be honest about that, even if I’m not too smart about it all.  Even if I’m reading him wrong and think he IS about romance.

And – if I make a mistake, and get confused, and feel afraid to say “no” – who gets “trashed” then?

Is it my fault I don’t know what I’m doing, and that wanting something is making me literally paralyzed?

What constitutes a “bad date?”

I know that we ALL have had these situations. And we don’t know how we got into them and got out of them. And we blame ourselves all the time – for what we wear, what we say, what we do.

I think all men are going to have to figure out now how to “be.” It’s going to be interesting.

I personally really get the joy of being able to tell my story of feeling fooled. I get wanting to talk about my “bad celebrity date.”

I also think it would be pretty brave, and helpful to other women, to be willing to share with the world how I didn’t “take care of myself.”

How I missed the signals, the words, the actions, and stayed in pursuit of my romantic hopes.

And, in the process of that, if a man has to pay the humiliating price of exposure, it’s sad, yet understandable.  Nothing is private any more.

Will that change how people act for the better? Or will it make everyone so careful, so afraid of any misstep, that we stop connecting altogether?

Will it take us back to a more old-fashioned procedural for dating? Something good for many, restricting for many?

There’s another, big part of this – and that’s “otherness.”

It’s been put out there that if Aziz Ansari were a handsome, blond, white, Christian man, he would not have been hit so hard by this woman.  That she didn’t really have any feelings for him or romantic hopes – that she was just after his fame. That, when he “did her wrong,” all she wanted to do was get back at him because he was vulnerable in his statistical details.

Ugly, yes. And I’ve chosen not to weigh in on this, because, correct or not, I understand all the other possible pieces of this that have to do with hopes, romance, fear, low self-regard, unpracticed resourcefulness, and determination to “see things through.”

How do you feel about all of this?

Love, Rori

 

 

 

 

 

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6 Comments

  1.  #1Indigo on March 2, 2018 at 7:44 am

    Rori,

    My honest hopes for all of this is that I would love to see women become more powerful. Not powerful in an aggressive, violent, or brash way, but powerful with their minds. Powerful with their intuition and emotions, which are the gifts we have in overflowing abundance – far more than most men. And I believe that is for a reason. We *do* have the power to suss out a dangerous situation, or at the very least prevent ourselves from getting into one. Wanting men to change and be more sensitive and smarter is all very well… and if they don’t? Where does that leave us? Should we always rely on the other person to “get it” in order for us to be safe?
    My answer is no. I live in a third world country where, quite frankly, you have no hope of the majority of men here suddenly evolving overnight to become feeling, sensitive, new age guys. Here, you HAVE to look after yourself, and we do. Yes, you should be able to walk down the street in a bathing suit and not be harassed, but that is not the world we live in. I am harassed on almost a daily basis just walking between the supermarket and my car. I have adapted, because it is no good trying to change the behaviour of the other guy. Not yet, anyway. This may sound sad, but I think women in first world countries can learn from this actually. You are powerful, you are much more powerful than you think.

    No, it is not your fault if a guy steps over the line. Far from it. But if a woman doesn’t want that kind of thing to happen to her, doesn’t it behoove her to change her own behaviour rather than waiting around for men to get it? I’d rather have the power firmly in my own hands than wait for society to change. I’d rather rely on my own values, intuition and decisions for what I want in life. I think it would be so much more empowering if we could teach women to pursue what is good for them in every situation and to build safety with a man first, before putting yourself in a vulnerable position, and let men learn that way. Guess what, guys? If you are going to overstep the line and behave stupidly, then you are not going to get to hang out with quality women. She’s going to go away. That will get the message home quicker than anything else. Demanding that men change will not, in my opinion. It will simply teach women that they do not have the strength that I know for a fact they do.

    That’s my opinion, Rori. A little different from yours. x



  2.  #2IamHis on March 6, 2018 at 7:48 am

    This makes me feel angry. When it happened to me, I felt guilty and powerless. To him, I’m sure it wasn’t a big deal (that is, until I reported him.) I thought I deserved it because my involuntary sexual response to him gave him “permission.” He never told me his intentions, never communicated honestly about it. He lied about doing it & refused to talk about it. Then, he used my pathetic infatuation with him as my motive for “getting back at him.” I didn’t love myself enough at the time to walk away for just my own protection. I only took real action out of concern for other women. I know it wasn’t a big deal to him, but it was such a huge deal to me. It was violating, humiliating, & infuriating. When you have real feelings for someone, it becomes crippling and confusing. Marriage is the only safe place for sexual activity. I will stand by this forever.



  3.  #3Helen Huntingdon on March 7, 2018 at 10:11 am

    Marriage isn’t safe either.

    The stories I hear from married women of marital rape and other forms of marital sexual violence and coercion are endless.



  4.  #4Rori Raye on March 7, 2018 at 6:26 pm

    Indigo and IamHis, thank you so much for your comments! IamHis, I’m right with you, I felt as silly, stupid and powerless as you describe (though I was much braver and more powerful and clever when I was actually attacked by a rapist in my own home). Makes sense, as you say! I was terrified of the rapist, I would have been responsive to a man I wanted to go out on a date with. I was clear on my intentions and abilities with the rapist, and completely unclear with every single man I met, kissed, had sex with.

    And Indigo – right with you there – my entire work, and yours, and that of every woman now, is to help ALL women feel empowered, able to say “no,” able to see and feel clearly what they want in every moment and every situation. This training is crucial, and I feel honored to be a part of it.

    And, at the same time, not all of us, in fact, most of us, are not always “in that zone.” Much of the time, as IamHis says, we feel confusion rather than clarity.

    I always believe in approaching everything from as many “angles as possible” – and in this case, while training women to feel more of themselves, the very act of publicly shaming a man seems quite in keeping with the other angle.

    In one way, we accomplish this change one woman speaking clearly to one man at a time, and also, in the way I describe, we love ourselves no matter WHAT, and award “bravery” to a woman who comes forward with both her lack of clarity and a man’s lack of sensitivity.

    Training for all.



  5.  #5Angela on March 9, 2018 at 11:42 pm

    I wrote a big comment then accidentally deleted it.
    To me, this is just a story of a misunderstanding and of different expectations.
    He wanted sex she wanted maybe a relationship.
    I feel a lot of her disappointment came from her inability to say goodbye , that’s enough, I’m out.
    As a grown woman you should be able to feel when something doesn’t sit right with you and be able to walk away.
    My first instinct is always to trust women who share their stories, but in this case it’s not a story about abuse in the way we have seen the latest Hollywood scandals, instead it’s a story meant to teach women how to use their voices when there’s a misunderstanding.
    I don’t even like his comedy, but to have your reputation tarnished this way is not fair.
    What if I went out on a date with a man, and the believed he was into me as I was into him, and proceeded to kiss him? Would that make me wrong?
    Would I then be labeled as abusive, and accused of sexual misconduct because it turned out he actually wasn’t into me but couldn’t walk away?
    I don’t think so.
    I guess this just teaches us men and women from now on to ask before we go in for a kiss, to ask before we do anything.
    Idk I feel a little bit mad.
    I understand the power dynamic between him and the woman he dated, but some people will always be more powerful or perceived to be more powerful in one way or another, it’s up to us to say enough I don’t like it and walk out.
    I am not victim shaming or saying her feelings are invalid but to even put this story in close proximity with the other stories of abouse is a bit ridiculous to me.



  6.  #6Indigo on March 13, 2018 at 2:27 am

    Angela,

    I feel exactly the same way as you. She was not abused; there was simply a mismatch of expectations and desires in this situation. This happens ALL THE TIME in real life, and, as adults, we need to learn to deal with it. It’s not right to feel vindicated in ruining someone else’s career or reputation because of our own inability to stand up for what is right for us. The perceived power dynamic is a factor, but it is not the whole story, in my opinion. Some of the work, some of the responsibility, has always got to lie with ourselves as women, as people. I am deeply disturbed and repelled by this idea that we can feel justified in lashing out at another person in a harmful way, and cause irreparable damage, because a situation did not go as we would have liked. If someone *actually* committed a crime, that is different.

    I too am somewhat afraid that stories like this are going to be placed alongside stories of actual rape and abuse and that women, and people in general, are not going to be able to tell the difference, when there is in fact a HUGE difference. I worry that women are giving their power away unnecessarily and that men are going to feel like they have to walk on eggshells around us.