According to Anna North, “A woman’s account of her date with the actor reveals our broken attitudes toward sex.” According to Caitlin Flanagan, “her story . . . was 3,000 words of revenge porn.” And according to poor Bari Weiss, trying desperately to thread the needle and not outrage her readership, “Aziz Ansari Is Guilty. Of Not Being a Mind Reader.”
But the most revealing commentary, albeit not in the way she intended, is provided through the back door. First, the writer of the original Babe post, Katie Way, viciously attacks Ashleigh Banfield for her age, her lipstick color and her hair. And then Lindy West explains how years and years of effort by the lunatic fringe went into this moment of affirmative nonsense.
The notion of affirmative consent did not fall from space in October 2017 to confound well-meaning but bumbling men; it was built, loudly and painstakingly and in public, at great personal cost to its proponents, over decades. If you’re fretting about the perceived overreach of #MeToo, maybe start by examining the ways you’ve upheld the stigmatization of feminism. Nuanced conversations about consent and gendered socialization have been happening every single day that Aziz Ansari has spent as a living, sentient human on this earth. The reason they feel foreign to so many men is that so many men never felt like they needed to listen. Rape is a women’s issue, right? Men don’t major in women’s studies.
Watching poor Bari Weiss on the television after she wrote her op-ed was a painful experience. She expressed her fear of speaking her mind, knowing that she would be attacked for violating the code of feelz by her tepid effort to infuse reason into the discussion. But the shredding of Aziz Ansari seems to have pushed the envelope a step too far. Even the comments at the New York Times started calling bullshit on the complaint that Ansari failed to heed the nonverbal cues of a woman he didn’t know.
For years, it’s been obvious to anyone unwilling to buy into the narrative that the secret hurts that exist, or develop whenever it’s convenient, in the minds of the oppressed and subjugated, serve as the bar for whether men are evil rapists or just rapists. It was assumed that wearing a man bun or professing one’s adherence to feminism would provide some measure of immunity to attack, but Ansari proved that false. He was an avowed feminist, woker than woke, and still he was burned.
Short of living out one’s life neutered and serving the whims of women, there was no safe place.
The problem has been obvious from the outset, but denied when buried beneath an avalanche of empty rhetoric such as West provides. Many years ago, it was the social norm that women would play hard to get, say no when they meant yes, and test a man’s fortitude to end the night in bed. And some women played this game, while others did not. For the ones who did not, the game wasn’t working.
And so came “no means no.” It’s virtue was clarity. It’s flaw was that it required a woman to take responsibility for herself, and to act upon it even if it made her feel uncomfortable. And so affirmative consent came into being as an alternative, as it shifted the responsibility for a woman’s behavior off the female and onto the male, leaving the woman absolved of any responsibility whatsoever for her conduct.
This placed the male in a position of perpetual jeopardy, since even yes didn’t actually mean yes given that women came up with a narrative where they could say “yes” but mean “no.” And then there was the whole intoxicated excuse, where a molecule of alcohol touched on female lips gave rise to the inability to consent excuse. Women can’t hold their liquor, obviously.
The scenario is replete with excuses, rationalizations and shifting burdens, particularly when it comes to men reading female minds. It was doomed to fail from the outset. It was never a viable way to conduct sexual relations, although it was great for women who could pick and choose, before, during or after, whether the sex was good with them.
Rape is a real thing, turned into a morass of nonsense by unduly passionate. The new rules were never workable, but women like Lindy West never cared, and the passive bun-wearing boys who were too intellectually challenged to grasp why society couldn’t survive this huge, amorphous gap of reasoning, adored it and attacked anyone who would challenge it.
Ansari’s date night would have gotten him expelled from pretty much every college in America. Because he failed to read her mind. This doesn’t work. It can’t work. It will never work. It’s time to take a deep breath and realize that “no means no” was the only rule that served to both protect women from sexual assault and rape, while providing notice to the man that a line was drawn.
Sorry that it places a burden on women to do something. But if supporters are not as weak as they appear, or are as strong as they pretend, then you’ll get over it. Real feminists believe that women can take responsibility for themselves. If you don’t want to have sex, say no.