This article quotes a graphic description of allegedly coerced sexual activities.
Aziz Ansari is the latest “woke dude” to get caught up in the #MeToo moment. A woman (who was allowed to stay anonymous, while Ansari was named and shamed) detailed her unpleasant date with the actor to babe.
She describes their night as a series of missteps, starting with the fact that Ansari ordered white wine without checking her preference. I wish I were kidding.
Despite the wine mix-up, the two went back to his apartment and stripped naked, at which point the woman became uncomfortable with how fast the encounter was moving. She made a couple half-hearted attempts to slow things down, which Ansari always respected, but these breaks were followed by more attempts at sexual activity, which the woman acquiesced to.
Here’s a portion of her account in babe.
He asked her if she was okay. ‘I said I don’t want to feel forced because then I’ll hate you, and I’d rather not hate you,’ she said.
She told babe that at first, she was happy with how he reacted. ‘He said, ‘Oh, of course, it’s only fun if we’re both having fun.’ The response was technically very sweet and acknowledging the fact that I was very uncomfortable. Verbally, in that moment, he acknowledged that I needed to take it slow. Then he said, ‘Let’s just chill over here on the couch.’
This moment is particularly significant for Grace, because she thought that would be the end of the sexual encounter — her remark about not wanting to feel ‘forced’ had added a verbal component to the cues she was trying to give him about her discomfort. When she sat down on the floor next to Ansari, who sat on the couch, she thought he might rub her back, or play with her hair — something to calm her down.
Ansari instructed her to turn around. ‘He sat back and pointed to his penis and motioned for me to go down on him. And I did.’
I can only imagine how it feels to be a man and receive a text message the next morning accusing you of sexual assault after this kind of evening, which the actor clearly thought was consensual. Ansari’s initial response makes it clear that it hit him completely out of left field: “I’m so sad to hear this… Clearly, I misread things in the moment and I’m truly sorry.”
While there is no doubt Ansari’s insistence was ungentlemanly, feminists have been telling men for years that they don’t want gentlemen. The new standard for sexual assault seems to be failure to read subtle and non-verbal social cues. From its start condemning the clearly disgusting behavior of men in power like Harvey Weinstein, #MeToo has descended into a crusade to criminalize awkwardness and failure to read women’s minds.
Feminists insist that a man’s single guide in sexual matters should be consent, and that men should hold out for “yes means yes,” asking “Mother may I” for every new step. There is even a new app for sexual consent, where potential partners can legally cross their t’s. Not only is this hopelessly unsexy, it just pushes back the consent question to another level. Did she truly consent with her whole heart when she clicked the green button? Or did she feel pressured to do so?
“Consent” can vacillate, be coerced or manipulated, and be impossible to divine from the outside. Furthermore, the reality is that women frequently feign reluctance as part of the natural dance between aggressor and pursued, a push-pull dynamic that many women actually enjoy as key to seduction. Men like Ansari are aggressive because confidence and assuming attraction on the part of women frequently “works.”
Of course, while the dance between push and reluctance is natural, it’s only fun when control to stop it cold rests with the physically weaker sex. And women in other eras used to be strong enough to say no when they were uncomfortable, because they had the whole of society on their side. They didn’t have to explain that they weren’t uncool prudes, while the rejection wasn’t assumed to be unique to the man, and therefore personally insulting. Rejection outside of long-term relationships and even marriage was the default, and so required no extraordinary explanation. You might call it no means no.
Some feminists, such as French film star Catharine Deneuve, recognize that the new puritanism rising through #MeToo will intrude on sexual liberation. “Instead of helping women in this frenzy to send these (male chauvinist) ‘pigs’ to the abattoir [slaughterhouse], it actually helps the enemies of sexual liberty — religious extremists and the worst sort of reactionaries,” she wrote in an open letter.
But in their defense of seduction, the signatories to the letter gloss over the fact that many women do not enjoy this new dating game that treats sex as valuably as used tissue paper, and hands “victory” to whichever partner can care the least. Consent alone cannot stretch to describe the “bad sex” that leaves women feeling used, violated, and crying in the Uber home. Their regret is not an indication of lack of consent, but instead a natural consequence of a “dating” scene where zipping off to a guy’s place and getting naked after a first date (if there even is a first date) is de rigueur.
Consent is not a strong or clear enough concept to be the single lodestar of sexual ethics. To distinguish good sex from bad, wonderful from violative, is a task consent was never meant to perform. In the attempt to wield it as sole arbiter, feminists have created a tyrannical and terrifying minefield for men, where they must dread the post-hookup text message, should they fail to read women’s subtle body language cues.
If Aziz Ansari’s behavior in the babe story is sexual assault, a large percentage of people on the modern dating scene have been both victim and perpetrator. Since 1968, the free love left has insisted that the only ethical boundaries around sex should be pleasure and consent. But sexual liberation didn’t deliver the promised ecstasy. Instead, its result has been ungentlemanly and confused men, and women crying on the ride home, grasping at an unworkably broad concept of “consent” to explain their despair.