Babe.net’s Aziz Ansari Story, and Our Negligence of Rape Culture

Aziz Ansari — Credit: Derrick Salters/WENN.com

On January 14, 2018, Babe.net produced an article, presenting the story of a young woman “Grace”, who had gone out on a date with Aziz Ansari, which turned out horrible for the young woman. Some of the reactions to the article were to direct all anger towards Ansari. Some anger was pointed towards the site, because of how the story was presented overall, and the site’s actions afterwards. On a larger scale, the story has sparked larger [nonsensical] debates, such as whether the #MeToo movement was now turning into a “witch hunt”, or if Ansari should be given a pass, since he certainly isn’t as bad as Kevin Spacey or Harvey Weinstein. What’s lost in the public prosecution of Ansari, is a larger conversation about sex, rape culture, and consent.

The recollections of the date night between “Grace” and Ansari aren’t mine to question. In fact, I fully believe Grace’s interpretation of the night. On the other hand, when Ansari texts Grace “It would never be my intention to make you or anyone feel the way you described”, I fully believe such a statement to be true. I believe the events of the night between Ansari and Grace are interactions which occur more often than we care to discuss. We’ve learned to dismiss these events, simply as normal “bad date nights”. We as men [I can’t speak for women, and their normalization as a whole] have normalized these “bad nights” as nothing more than bad interpretations with the partners we encounter, thinking little to nothing about the perspective of those partners. We have been socialized in allowing ourselves to sometimes interact with our partners in unacceptable ways, accepting our actions as normal. Let me be clear in this, this statement doesn’t justify Ansari’s actions by any means, it certainly isn’t a statement to pacify or normalize coercion, and I certainly don’t believe it is Grace’s fault for “not speaking up sooner”. What I do believe is, the conversation around Grace and Ansari’s night is one of two people socialized in a society which has failed to have real dialogue around the topics of sex, and more importantly, consent in its most basic form.

We are a society which turns away from real conversations about sex, among our families, among our friends, religious communities, and even with our partners. People are usually shamed in their questioning, confusion, and flat-out ignorance. With this, we have also neglected the important conversation about consent, for all participants. Instead, we’ve allowed fairy tales, music, movies, ads, and porn to deceive us into thinking the abnormalities of dating and sex, are normal. Again, do not misinterpret these statements as excuses, but as explanations of how the Ansari situation is a more common of an occurrence than most recognize.

Ansari is not a rapist, and definitely shouldn’t be treated as such. Ansari also shouldn’t be seen as the victim in the reactions to this story. What Ansari is, is a product and participant of a culture, that has a complexity that is continually dismissed. Ansari is the man most people come across in “everyday” interaction. Ansari is every guy [on a larger scale, general partner] in America who at some point in their life, is unaware of their respective participation in rape culture. We as men are as oblivious of our participation in patriarchy, as white people are with racism. To be true allies, it will require us to understand we are not the protagonists, when it comes to the topic of oppression. This is true for all partners, no matter straight, gay, or transgender. It will take tough, uncomfortable conversations, such as those incited by the Ansari situation, which will force us to look at our respective past, and present actions, recognizing the part we have played in perpetuating rape culture. In this recognition, we should take the opportunities to correct our actions from being continual. If as a people we fail to do so, we will continue to dismiss the reality women face every day. We will continue to dismiss our part in oppression. There is no bliss in that chosen ignorance. As women continue to rightfully be heard and believed, the choice of ignorance, rightfully will not be accepted.

Sources: Babe.net, Hollywood Life, Jezebel, The Atlantic

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New York to California. I used to work in television. I write about sports, politics, and culture.