Friday, February 2, 2018

Stay clean, stay lit

Unless you've been living under a rock you've heard the slew of sexual harassment/assault allegations that are going around. It's wild. The #Metoo and #Timesup movements are in full swing. Fascinating the way society woke up one day and decided to finally hear out the vicitims of sexual assault. Or did it?
Hollywood is the birthplace of the movement and I can't think of any group of people less qualified to have started the movement. At it's heart Hollywood is filled with people who have kept secrets in exchange for fame, turned a blind eye, and victim shamed when sexual allegations weren't taken seriously. However now that the pendulum has swung, celebrities are taking to social media to cast stones at the monsters they enabled. Oprah has been particularly outspoken about the movement, and I can't help but shake my head. Having spent years as Harvey Weinstein's close friend it's hard for me to imagine she never heard rumors surrounding his behavior.
Hypocrisy aside some victims have found the courage they were lacking to face their predators and seek justice. The hundreds of girls Larry Nassar stole innocence from have returned as women to speak out against him and rightfully cry for his incarceration. The world collectively rallied around these girls and applauded them for their bravery at standing up to the coward who haunted their nightmares and stop him from damaging more lives. If nothing else the #Metoo movement can be counted as a win because of this case alone.

Some of the cases that are hitting the rumor mill aren't as black or white as Larry Nassar. Some are filled with gray areas that tend to end up with a "he said she said" spat on social media. They are so polarizing it's hard to find someone who feels "meh" about them.

The Aziz Ansari scandal has been weighing on my mind for a while and after thinking it through I decided to write about it, because nobody asked for my opinion, yet I long to give it.  The encounter took place back in October of 2017. The anonymous victim in our story attended the Golden Globes with a date. While she was there she caught the eye of Aziz Ansari and gave him her number. A few weeks went by and he asked her out on a date. The date started off well enough, expensive seafood and good conversations. He later invited her up to his apartment where they shared wine. Here is where the whole thing starts falling apart. He poured her a glass of wine, inwardly she noted that she had no choice in her decision of wine and was upset at receiving white wine rather then red. The rest of the story is, in my opinion transcribed revenge porn meant to humiliate Aziz . Detailing the cringy details of their sexual acts that start in the kitchen, move to the bedroom and eventually end up on the couch. They stopped a few times at her request and he went as far as saying "it's only fun if we're both having fun!". When she finally said she was uncomfortable and wanted to leave he said he was sorry that it had been so unenjoyable and paid for an Uber to drive her home. My thoughts and opinions, for the most part on this encounter can be summed up in this video...

Ashleigh Banfield deserves a standing ovation for sticking her neck out like this. She later said she feared losing her job over this video (freedom of speech only applies if you're speaking what's hip); however, she felt that someone had to say these words and indeed they needed to be said. Bravo for going against what is "popular". (PS the writer of the Aziz expose (a self proclaimed feminist) wrote a hateful email to Ashleigh afterwards; you can watch Ashleigh read it outloud here )

At the heart of it what bothered me most about the whole affair was "Grace's" attitudes and actions, or lack thereof! She was acted upon until she finally said she was uncomfortable and left. In this encounter it seems as though women are infantilized to the point that they don't know how to say "no" to sexual acts or even choose their own wine. In a text message exchange the next day she said "You missed my clear non-verbal cues" he apologized and said he clearly misread the situation. So he's not a mind reader, not a rapist. Women have voiced their support for her but many are shaking their heads asking themselves why she did not just voice her uneasiness. Once she said a clear "no" they stopped and he called her a cab home. Yet women all over social media are calling him a monster. Had she said no and he kept going, we would be having a very different conversation, about date rape.
Possibly what happened is she felt gross about the whole thing and viewed herself as a victim, rather than taking ownership over her poor decisions and lack of communication. What a step back from the empowerment women have had over the past few years.  You can't demand to be heard and respected then retract back to "women can't say no to men".

Women, what is happening to us? In a day of  an all female ghost busters cast how is it that we are unable to take ownership over our sex lives? New wave feminism argues women should be able to dress however they want, place themselves in dangerous situations and drink to the point of disorientation all without consequence. Empowerment requires maturity and mature women know that going up to a mans' apartment by themselves without clearly stating their boundaries is not a good idea. We should be teaching each other how to stay safe rather then pushing our limits.

Step back a few generations and women were encouraged only to be mothers and wives. Higher education was not an option. Yet, in some ways they were so much stronger than we are now. They would never allow themselves to be in a situation where "gray areas" could occur, going as far as slapping a man who was trying to get "fresh" with them. They fiercely defended their virtue. Feminists used to fight for their right to vote, to educate themselves and to pursue their dreams. Now it's reduced to crying assault over an awkward sexual encounter and posting it all over the internet.

As I was thinking about this it occurred to me that it is very likely that "Grace" (now identified as Abby Nierman, come on girl it's not fair for you to be anonymous) didn't know how to say no when her boundaries were crossed because she herself didn't know where those boundaries started.

Casual sex is dangerous. Those that engage in casual sex are not having sex for the right reasons. It's not an expression of love as much as a means to self gratification. Both parties are seeking something in the other, it's selfish. It leads to blurred lines and scary situations. The Aziz/Abby scandal is just another reason why sex outside of marriage isn't a good idea.

Men and women should be avoiding compromising situations. What is Aziz thinking inviting a stranger up to his apartment and sleeping with her? The world is focusing on the "well was there consent or wasn't there?" question rather than the behavior of getting naked with a stranger!

Men, don't be gross. Be a gentleman, while he didn't pin her down and use force on her he didn't treat her like a gentleman. The things he said to her and the way he acted is gross. Can't sex wait until at least you've taken her out a few times? Or here's an idea, date to marry. Don't date to get laid. Men also have a lot of explaining to do to their forefathers. Gone are the days that men would look to marry. Now that casual sex is a thing, many would rather never settle down. Aziz is what? 34? Be an adult, make adult decisions and adult decisions don't include taking a twenty two year old to your apartment for a one night stand.

Two peoples lives have been damaged because of casual sex. Aziz's career will likely never be the same. Abby will live her life in paranoia wondering if her friends or family know about her cringy sexual encounter. Run from compromising situations. Run.

Run because what seems like a controlled situation can spiral into a scary encounter. Run because this is the day of guilty until proven innocent. Run because nothing good will come of casual sex. Save sex for someone who truly deserves it, for someone who will treat that part of your soul with reverence. Save it for your spouse.

So my friends I'm signing off, finally.

Stay clean, stay lit


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