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Let's interrogate the politic of comparing Aziz Ansari to Emmett Till.

A storm of articles has appeared over the last 48 hours regarding the account published by Babe magazine on the disturbing encounter between Aziz Ansari and a young woman who, in the account, is simply called "Grace." A large majority of these articles, particularly the ones published in mainstream media outlets such as the New York Times and the Atlantic, have rushed to Ansari's defense, accusing "Grace" of enacting "revenge porn," and merely "exaggerating" an episode of "bad sex," which, they claim, she should have had the foresight and/or common sense to resist. Among the arguments put forth in defense of Ansari — surprisingly by many whites, perhaps in an eager bid to prove themselves NotRacist™ — is the one that claims Grace used her status as a white woman to damage and discredit the career of a man of color (Ansari is a Brown south Asian man). Although no reference to Grace's racial identity was given in the original account, many subsequent articles have assumed Grace to be white because of Ansari's history of dating mostly white women. Regardless, though no facts are known for sure about Grace's racial identity, this has been the narrative: a white woman played up her helplessness in order to disempower a man of color. So let's begin with the phrase "man of color." This encompasses a rather large and diverse category of people who, at least in the United States, have historically had quite distinct relationships to both masculinity and whiteness as such. It is true that there has been a long and painful history of white women wielding their whiteness in violent ways against Black men and boys specifically. Throughout the history of the American south, there were countless documented cases of white women fabricating or exaggerating stories about being assaulted or harassed by Black men or boys, which resulted in tragic and fatal consequences for the latter. The case of Emmett Till is perhaps the most well-known and egregious example of this phenomenon, in which a white woman lied about a 14-year old Black boy whistling at her in public. As a consequence, Till was murdered by two white men in the most brutal way imaginable. Because Blackness as such is hyper-masculinized within the U.S. racial order, Black boys and men have historically been portrayed by white people as dangerous, violent, or criminal, and white women have capitalized on this trope by exaggerating their own "innocence" and "helplessness" in order to skew the balance of power further in their favor. Meanwhile, Asian American men have had a different relationship to masculinity. If Black men have been hyper-masculinized in our culture, Asian American men have been hypo-masculinized—that is, feminized or seen as less masculine than the desirable (i.e. white) standard. Constructions of Black and Asian men's masculinity as either "too masculine" (i.e. dangerous/violent/criminal) or "not masculine enough" (i.e. unthreatening/weak/compliant) are both racist because they are framed only in reference to white masculinity as the middle standard. Not surprisingly, Asian American men's critiques of racism have often amounted to protesting the way in which they are constantly "emasculated" under white supremacy. The problem with this appeal is that it still frames white masculinity as the desirable standard into which they (Asian American men) should be rightfully included.
Related: WHAT AZIZ ANSARI DID WAS COERCION, NOT CONSENT

Coercion is not consent. It is sexual abuse. It is sexual assault. It is rape. And "no" is a complete motherfucking sentence.

[TW/CW: Descriptions of sexual assault, violence and rape culture.] With each 24-hour breaking news cycle I wait for the inevitable fall of another admired hero. I’ve almost gotten used to the gut-punch that comes with hearing about some new awful thing a beloved artist has done. And this weekend our feminist ally and Desi trailblazer of representation and inclusion, Aziz Ansari fell from that pedestal after a piece was published on Babe.net over the weekend. I’ve lauded Ansari’s work on "Master of None" to no end. I’ve seen his stand-up comedy live. I’ve been a huge supporter of his since he first appeared on "Parks and Recreation", bringing some much-needed South Asian representation to primetime television. The fact that he was an “out” feminist ally who openly spoke about his developing feminist consciousness, encouraging other cishet men to follow suit, only solidified his place as a Desi prince amongst Hollywood royals. So I’ll be honest: When the allegations about Ansari’s inappropriate sexual behavior while on a date broke, I didn’t want to believe them. As I read through the details of what happened, I found myself saying, “This isn’t sexual assault. This is several bad dates I have been on in the past. His behavior is totally normal. Why is she making such a big deal out of this?” And until that moment, I didn’t realize that a part of me is still conditioned to protect the patriarchy in which I was raised and which continues to rule the world, dictating that women and femmes' autonomy isn’t actually our right. It took a beat to realize that as much as I am aware of the cisgender men-behaving-badly excuse, without a hint of irony I was suddenly normalizing Ansari’s behavior as fitting that mold. Even worse, I was not seeing an issue with it because that is what men on dates do. It took longer for me to come to terms with why I was able to justify this situation in particular.
Related: STEALTHING NEGATES CONSENT AND IS RAPE

Rose McGowan seeks to bask in the glow of a compassion only reserved for white women whilst the footprints of her Doc Martens are pressed into our backs.

I employ what one could call a ‘survivor’s leniency’. As a complex PTSD sufferer because of multiple sexual assaults, and the recipient of intense therapeutic support which led me away from drug-induced psychosis and back, into a now thriving recovery, I know well the long-term impact of sexual violence on those of us who have been preyed upon by abusive people. Thus, I have not shouted my dislike from any rooftops what bugs me about Rose McGowan. It started when I heard her on Rupaul and Michelle Visage’s podcast “What’s the Tee?”. They’re consummate professionals who are professionally flattering, well-researched and usually deliver content seamlessly. Yet, they couldn’t hide how clunkily awkward it was when Rose McGowan was their guest. One of the lowest moments in this car crash of a podcast was her misguidedly using the terms trans women and drag queens interchangeably. Her statements about trans women and her racist, TERF and queerphobic ways aren't new, but the cherry on top was a ridiculous anecdote about their lack of interest in her menstrual cycle. “Don’t you think it’s funny that you guys never ask me about my period?” Maybe it’s too much to expect cisgender people to wonder how insidious gender dysphoria might be? That there may be trans girls who mentally spiral downwards in thoughts about not having wombs and not having children? That to this trans girl it would be really disrespectful and insensitive to brazenly ask for details of someone’s menstrual cycle out of the blue? That the idea of asking someone about their genitalia and how they work and how they feel about them is conversational territory that I am not entitled to? #mindblown
Related: ROSE MCGOWAN’S WHITE FEMINISM IS ROOTED IN A LONG HISTORY OF BECKERY

We must hold celebrity friends and colleagues of Misty Upham accountable for not speaking out; she is exactly who #TimesUp should be fighting for.

by Abaki Beck [TW/CW: Mentions of sexual violence and rape] This year’s Golden Globes were decidedly different than years past. Attendees wore black in solidarity with the #TimesUp campaign. Eight actresses brought activists combating sexual violence and gender inequity as their guests. The recent attention to the pervasiveness of sexual assault in Hollywood was not entirely swept under the red carpet. Yet perhaps unexpectedly, one individual was left completely unacknowledged: Misty Upham. Misty Upham was a rising Blackfeet actress who was featured in critically acclaimed films like “Django Unchained”, “Frozen River” and “August: Osage County”. She was also raped by a Weinstein Company executive at the 2013 Golden Globes and died under mysterious circumstances in 2014. In the era of #TimesUp and #MeToo, her story cannot be forgotten. In October 2014, Upham was found dead in a ravine on the Muckleshoot Reservation in Washington state after having been missing for 11 days. The exact details of Upham’s death are still unclear. Her family has maintained that she fell while fleeing from the police; Upham had been involuntarily admitted for psychiatric care by police on multiple occasions, including just weeks before her death. When Upham went missing, Native social media went ablaze: she was not just an actress in Hollywood, she was one of us. She reminded us of our cousins, our aunties, or ourselves. Upham was not just an individual disappearance or death; she was one of thousands of missing Indigenous women in the U.S. and Canada.
Related: WE’RE NOT SHOCKED THAT THE GOLDEN GLOBES LACKED IN REPRESENTATION

When I found myself as the victim within an abusive relationship, one that was marred by queerness, blackness, and a profoundly turbulent love resonating between the two of us, I was stunned into submission.

[TW/CW: descriptions of emotional abuse and physical violence.] Last month while sitting in a smoke lounge on the westside of Atlanta, a friend leaned over to speak directly into my left ear, trying to whisper under the music. “Speak in my other ear, I’m partially deaf in that ear,” I said, as I have to often. “Wait, really? I didn’t know that.” She responded. “Why are you deaf in that ear?” Such a simple question leads me to the painfully uncomfortable conversation, by which I spend several minutes thinking to myself how to tell her, or even if I should tell her, that I am deaf because I used to date a super villain. And he beat the shit out of me. The first time it happened, he left my right cheek with a red tint over brown skin; an awkward silence dwelt within our kitchen in that moment. He no longer looked quite like an honest man, especially the man I’d fallen in love with, rather he resembled one of the grotesque villains I’d watch my favorite cartoon characters fight when I was a child, The Joker maybe. “Why did you embarrass me in front of my friends?” he would say, then a push, one strong enough to knock me off my balance and onto my knees. “I didn’t mean to,” I’d reply, not even remembering what I did wrong in the first place. I would say whatever to make the moments when the super villain was in my kitchen stop, or at least slow down. I thought I was seeing past it, always telling myself it was my fault, blaming myself for the speed and the force with which I was hit. The thoughts that raced through my mind this time were fleeting embarrassments and angering confusions that left our kitchen in an awkward silence for a moment: this wasn’t normal, this doesn’t happen to our kind; these types of violences are surely rare for us, and I’m now feeling as if I am a part of an anomaly within a sea of already demonized love. Here I was months deep into a love which was once all power and puff, now saying and doing whatever I could to defuse a situation I thought I was to blame for. When I found myself as the victim within an abusive relationship, one that was marred by queerness, blackness, and a profoundly turbulent love resonating between the two of us, I was stunned into submission. The person whom I was giving so much to, and borrowing so much from, became the very person who made a mess of me; the one who swore he wanted to build a nest up high with me began clipping my wings.
Related: WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT ABUSE IN QUEER RELATIONSHIPS

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