For those who do, and who are able to navigate its shoals and whirlpools without being humiliated and violated, I offer admiration tinged with puxzzlement. I feel very strongly that just trying to initiate sex outside the context of a committed relationship is incredibly risky. I feel like there's far too much of a chance of things going sideways.
I'm sure there's a protocol for no-strings-attached sex that somehow manages to avoid being objectifying, but I wouldn't pretend to even guess what it is, since for me, the whole idea of NSA sex is insanely objectifying. Sex without emotion just feels so empty to me. I've referred to it as a game of poles and holes, and without emotion to hold you to a person, that person becomes disposable. The thought that a person can be disposable disgusts me.
Enter Aziz Ansari, the latest "victim" of the #MeToo movement.
You're damn right "victim" is in quotes. Various columns have tried to paint Ansari as the victim in this sordid affair, when--to me at least--he behaved boorishly. Maybe what he did on his 'date' with 'Grace' wasn't a crime, exactly...but in the wake of all the other celebrities taken down by their own bad behaviour, you'd have to think Ansari must be one of the more ignorant specimens of man out there.
I'd expect the National Review to be all over this, blaming the real victim, and sure enough, they are; it surprised me and alarmed me to see the New York Times echoing.
Here's the story of their date. NSFW and you will cringe.
In point form:
- she shows up at his apartment and rather than ask what she'd like to drink (she prefers red wine), he simply gives her what he apparently thinks she should be drinking (white wine)
- they walk to an oyster bar, have dinner, and he's in a major hurry to leave, Wine is still in both her glass and in the bottle he ordered. No word on the state of what's between his legs at this point, but I can sure guess.
- Back to his apartment they go. She compliments his countertops. He invites her to have a seat on one; he kisses her, puts a hand on her breast, undresses first her and them himself.
- He tells her he's going to get a condom, whereupon she says "whoa, let's relax for a bit, let's chill".
- in response to this, he resumes kissing her, briefly performs oral sex on her, and jams his fingers down her throat to wet them so he can penetrate her digitally.
- He continues to move her hand towards his penis, "five to seven times", after she repeatedly moves it away. She pulls back, again repeatedly, and he repeatedly moves forward.
- He keeps asking her "where do you want me to fuck you?" She answers "next time" and he asks her "if I pour you another glass of wine now, would it count as our second date"?
- she refuses the wine, goes to the bathroom, splashes cold water on her face, emerges, and tells him how uncomfortable she is.
- He acknowledges, suggests they just "chill" on the couch. She agrees and sits next to him.
- He points to his penis and asks her to go down on him. Shocked, she does, briefly.
- He makes out with her, then tells her he has to show her something in another part of his apartment, brings her to a mirror, and again asks where she'd like him to fuck her, rubbing his penis against her butt cheeks.
- She clearly refuses his advances, he suggests they chill on the couch again, this time fully clothed, which they do, watching Seinfeld
- Once again Ansari sticks his fingers in her mouth and moves to undo her pants, she withdraws and arranges an exit.
Ansari does not deny any of the foregoing, but insists it was fully consensual. This is some strange new usage of the word "consensual" that I was not previously aware of. The Times proclaims him guilty..."of not being a mind reader".
BULLSHIT. FUCKING BULLSHIT.
Let me tell you how this date would have gone if Grace was dating Ken Breadner. To make this somewhat remotely plausible, we'll stipulate that this Ken Breadner has Aziz Ansari's body and his riches and fame ride shotgun.
First she shows up at my Manhattan digs. Being a rich and famous comedian, I have lots of different things she could drink, and rather than give her what I think she should be drinking, I tell her what I've got on hand. She likes red wine. Red wine it is.
We walk to the oyster bar -- well, Ken Breadner wouldn't take a first date or any date to an oyster bar, but there's no accounting for taste, so we'll go with this. We chat, just as they did, but Ken is in no hurry to leave and he waits for a signal from Grace that she is. If that signal is not forthcoming, say, fifteen or twenty minutes after all the food and drink has been consumed, I'll ask if Grace wants to go anywhere else. I might include, among other options, the choice of returning to my apartment, but I'd stress the choice is hers -- some, all, or none of the above.
If we do find ourselves back at my apartment, and she compliments my countertops, I will thank her for the compliment. I'll offer drinks, leaning toward non-alcoholic options because she's already had a few and drunkenness tends to blur coherence. If she insists on wine, she'll get it...but I won't. We'll watch Seinfeld or something we both choose (I'd choose anything but, sorry to Seinfeld fans, but I never could stand that show).
AT NO POINT WOULD CLOTHING COME OFF. Hers or mine. Not happening. MUCH less anything else he did, thinking it was "consensual" (Jesus jumped-up Christ.)
There might be a kiss -- at the end of the date, as she's leaving. If I've really hit it off with her (and more importantly, she with me), it might even be one of those "promissory" kisses that suggests more will be in store on subsequent dates ... leave her something to think about. But that would be the extent of the 'sexual' contact--and even that is by no means guaranteed.
Some of the media suggest that Grace should have extricated herself at several points, and certainly before she performed oral sex on him, however briefly. I get why she did it. He was pushing a narrative she was not at all comfortable with. She's at his apartment, there are (obviously) no witnesses, and there's no telling what he might do should she outright refuse him. So she halfheartedly goes along, all the while dropping hints that some people seem to think are subtle. They sure as hell aren't subtle to me. Not one little bit. But then -- my partners can affirm this -- at the slightest sign of something I interpret as a negative...I'm done. Instantly. If I'm wrong, it will take a hell of a lot of coaxing to resume activities, too.
Does this make me some kind of superman? NO! This makes me a man who is respectful of women. Which really ought to be the default state. No, check that, the only state. There are NUMEROUS places Ansari should have called a halt, and he didn't--the most he did was back up and try again from a different angle. Quite frankly, I find it surprising he didn't out-and-out rape her; surely that possibility was going through her mind as that night went on.
Is Grace "helpless" because she didn't withdraw? Maybe a little, but it has nothing to do with her being female and everything to do with the power dynamics of this encounter. Again, she's alone in his apartment. Some people are suggesting even that is something she should not have allowed to happen, because any self-respecting woman knows what men do to women who are alone in their apartme---
CUT THE BULLSHIT, okay? Ansari had recently won an Emmy while adorned with a #MeToo button -- he was supposedly one of the #NotAllMen, right? His reputation gave not the slightest hint he would try to violate a woman. Besides, this is victim-blaming of the purest form. The fault isn't his for assaulting her, for forcing kisses, for repeatedly trying to place her hand on his cock, for...every boorish move he made. No, the fault is HERS for going to his apartment. Riiiiigggghhhht.
I will never understand people who try to go for sex on the first date. Much less those who believe they are ENTITLED to it. And yes, whatever happens to Aziz Ansari professionally in the wake of this, it won't be enough.
Take down enough of these pigs and the rest of the men will -- I hope -- get the fucking message.