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What we know for certain is that if Ansari weren’t famous, if hadn’t gone after Grace’s story, and if we weren’t living through the public reckoning that is the #Me Too movement, this simply would have been another bad date in the litany of bad dates women have endured for years, with Grace’s pleasure disregarded and consent assumed due to the fact that she agreed to the date and let him pay.“Apparently there is a whole country full of young women who don’t know how to call a cab,” wrote Caitlin Flanagan for , whose “hot take” — though it’s one I fundamentally disagree with — illustrates an opinion shared by many, which is that #Me Too has now crossed the threshold into hysteria, with women equating Ansari’s aggressive sexual overtures with the repeated, systemic, and career-destroying sexual assaults perpetrated by people like Harvey Weinstein.The argument was a red herring that pulled many into a semantic argument.The #Me Too movement was founded by Tarana Burke to empower and give voice to the survivors of sexual crimes.Thankfully, and unsurprisingly, it has incited a broader cultural conversation.“Even if you have physical evidence and the victim is the ‘perfect’ victim and the offender is the ‘perfect’ offender, these cases rarely result in a conviction.”What the pundits and critics who rail against the excesses of the #Me Too movement don’t seem to realize is that when it comes to issues of sexual consent, any conversation is good conversation.BARCC has reported a 34% increase in hotline volume, an indication that more individuals are comfortable coming forward.People with the condition tend to start sex at a younger age, have more partners, and have unprotected sex more often. Pay attention to body language and tone of voice, too.
“It’s a false narrative, this idea that if it was ‘real’ rape, serious and forcible, then it will be punished,” says Scaramella.
As Samantha Bee put it: “We know the difference between a rapist, a workplace harasser and an Aziz Ansari, but that doesn’t mean we have to be happy about any of them.”So the conversation following Babe.net’s story, which could have centered on the nuances of consent, became a debate about what does and doesn’t constitute a sexual crime.
But there are other parts of this worth digging into, like the intricacies of gender power dynamics, the unbalanced ways we teach and talk about pleasure and consent, the experiences — from confusing to dehumanizing to traumatizing — we’ve tucked away as a result of our sexually illiterate culture, and our collective language that defines “bad sex” for men as “sex in which my orgasm did not arrive at the proper time or with the most pleasing velocity.” “Bad sex” for women, meanwhile, is defined as sex that ranges from an indifferent partner to one who systematically hacks away at their defenses until they’re too exhausted to do anything but submit.
Our need to create some sort of “continuum of trauma” is understandable — giving a thing a name is one of the ways we try to understand our world — but our fumbling attempts to “grade” sexual assault could actually be contributing to the problem.“I think it is incredibly important to keep the idea of what we’re talking about broad,” says Gina Scaramella, executive director of the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC).
“Calling [Ansari’s reported behavior] a ‘gray area’ minimizes it, rather than calling it what it is: manipulative, coercive and aggressive.”Our tendency to play down sexually coercive behavior contributes to a culture in which survivors end up shouldering the blame.