I have some probably unpopular opinions about the Aziz Ansari misconduct story. And I’m calling it misconduct because – at least for me – what Aziz did doesn’t fall under the category of a sexual assault. Maybe I’m blinded by my love for Master of None, but I can’t put him in the same category as Harvey Weinstein or Larry Nassar. In particular, Nassar’s horrifying abuse of generations of Olympic athletes shows that even our country’s greatest champions couldn’t escape all of this; never mind, then, the countless working women whose faces will never grace CNN cameras, Time magazine covers, or red carpets.
I believe Grace. I believe her pain; and, I believe she was overwhelmed; and, I believe Aziz crossed a line. And, when I look at the story — which I think Babe.net handled irresponsibly — it seems like the whole encounter likely brought up prior trauma from Grace. So, she froze. This is really common and it is something we – all of us — have to consider when we’re in the bedroom. Aziz should have stopped. Even if the story is more complicated, I can’t with these editorials calling Grace a weak woman for not ‘resisting harder,’ especially when a lot of times ‘resisting harder’ escalates to full-on violence. Grace isn’t just a hapless victim or a snowflake, but Aziz doesn’t get off scot-free either.
I’ve been chewing onBabe’s Aziz Ansari story for the last couple of days. The story, detailing a 23-year-old photographer’s sexual encounter with the comedian, has caused a splinter in the #MeToo movement, which I expected. Ansari is generally regarded as a male ally to the feminist movement. So just as people came to the immediate defense of George Takei, I knew there would be an army of Aziz defenders. However, I didn’t realize female journalists would join in on the chorus of victim-shaming and, essentially, defend “Grace” and Ansari’s interaction as “normal.”
The interaction that took place between the two felt familiar: a sexual cat and mouse game between a horny male and his female date. The overly aggressive persistence of a guy trying to get laid, regardless of what his partner wants. Grace gave him non-verbal (and even verbal) cues that she didn’t want to fool around, but Ansari ignored them. Since none of us were in the room, we’ll never know if he noticed these cues and willfully ignored them, or if he felt like he was getting a green light to try and try again.
Much of the ensuing conversation around Babe’s article has been predictable. “Why didn’t she leave?” “Why would she perform oral sex if she didn’t want to?” “He’s not a mind-reader.” A lot of this Twitter commentary came from seemingly male-identifying people. Much to my surprise, there was a cacophony of self-proclaimed #MeToo supporters who echoed these sentiments.
In recent weeks, a cascade of sexual harassment accusations against powerful men has reached seemingly every corner of the public sphere. But this outpouring of stories about workplace sexual harassment isn’t new. In 2012, one workplace harassment case, brought forth by an Asian American woman working in venture capital, inspired scores of women to step forward with their own stories of sexual harassment in the workplace. Yet these stories, often told by other Asian American women, have not entered the national conversation about workplace sexual harassment with anything resembling the level of attention now being granted to the issue.
(Editor’s Note: Last week, survivors of sexual harassment and sexual assault took to social media to trend the #metoo hashtag with their stories. This is one of those stories.)
Is it fucked up that my #metoo story is also one of my earliest memories? In all, I can recall only about four memories from before I started kindergarten, most of them are relatively innocent.
In one memory, my father and I walk down the street of my childhood neighborhood. We were walking towards to the model homes. I was probably two years old.
In another, I run to the bathroom to grab my father some toilet paper. He had cut his finger making us food.
Then, there is the memory of me trying to drink water out of a chopstick. There is even a photo to substantiate my recollections of that moment. My babysitter, whom I love dearly, thinks it would be so funny if they switch out my straw for a chopstick. When I try to drink out of my straw-but-not-a-straw, nothing comes out. I start crying. I am maybe eight months old.
These are the innocent memories formed of a childhood that should have remained innocent.
But then, there is that last memory. It is night time. I don’t see any details of the faces of those crowded outside. I am locked in the cab of an old, beat-up, white pickup truck. Inside the truck, it is just me and my cousin, who is two months older than me.