Women and femmes learn how to please others, and cisgender men learn to be pleased or to discard us until they are.
A Babe dot net article (a site I’d never heard of until a few days ago) broke a story about Aziz Ansari allegedly assaulting a young woman named Grace* and a media frenzy followed.
One of my favorite articles about this incident was one by James Hamblin at The Atlantic titled “This Is Not a Sex Panic,” and one of my least favorite was an abhorrent opinion piece by Lucia Brawley on CNN which basically claimed that if you don't physically fight, you cannot claim to be a victim of coercion. Because, y’know, real victims (of assault/rape) fight — or as she put it, are “stubborn.” Brawley goes on to applaud “actual victims,” writes briefly about how she and her husband put their daughters in karate or whatever and teach them to “fight back,” while completely glossing over the fact that even they have to learn how to fight back because we live in a sexist society where women like their mother invalidate or dismiss women like Grace who are taught, like most women, to protest men indirectly, gently.
And consider this lovely excerpt: “Ansari is not Harvey Weinstein. He's not even on the same planet. We have to differentiate between the two if our #MeToo movement is to succeed. If we don't, no one will take our valid claims seriously and things will get worse for women.” Juxtaposing the nice guys who “just made a mistake” and “actual rapists” promotes the distancing of regular, “normal” men from the lurking-in-the-dark insidious predators and subtly shifts the blame over to women while making us constantly question the validity of our experience — the burden of proof is always on the victim in these “grey area” cases.
The Brawley article has white faux feminism dripping all over it — note that Brawley briefly mentions privilege but neglects to probe deeper. A whole conversation could be had about who had the privilege in the Ansari encounter: the pristine, victimized, presumed white woman Grace, or the famous, powerful “nice guy” of color. Brawley does mention Ansari being a man of color but then compares that to Grace’s “sexual power,” a throwback to the idea that our power as cis women lies in our pussies, our “sex.” This is a patriarchal fallacy. She also emphasizes how much he has uplifted women in the industry — something that many people do to invalidate claims of assault, racism, or sexism by an oppressed party.
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