Aziz Ansari, the Aftermath and Reframing Your Own Story
The following post has sexual content in it by its very subject matter. Reader beware. If you are my mum or other family or family friends, you don’t have to read this post.
So I shared a post on Facebook about the shenanigans of Aziz Ansari on Tuesday and it totally blew up. So I thought I would write a blog post about it.
I’m not going to go into all the details and semantics about it but you can read the whole post here. Basically this girl, we know as “Grace”, meets Aziz at the Emmy’s after-party in September and at first, he brushes her off and then they end up exchanging numbers.
She then has high expectations and they go on a date, first meeting up at his apartment for a glass of wine and then off to a restaurant on a boat (pretty damn stylish if you ask me). After what seems to her as a rushed dinner experience, they go back to his place and he starts to get handsy and kisses her in a grotesque manner. She pulls away. He pushes for sex. She want’s to go slow. He goes down on her. She goes down on him. She feels pressured. He pulls back before trying again.
(Side note: I once got kicked out of someone’s place for hesitating before going down on them)
Anyway, the blow-by-blow details are written in the original post and suffice to say it is understandable to see why she was/is upset.
Now, this happened all in September. The reason why the general public knows about it is that she saw Aziz on TV at the Golden Globes wearing a #TimesUp pin. She felt the need to point out that he was a hypocrite or a wolf in sheep’s clothing by going to the media with her story.
Naturally, the story spread like wildfire. First, with females from around the world relating to that experience and then with older women (and a lot of men) expressing their disapproval of the author and it’s subject. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also chimed in stating that we shouldn’t “turn women into snowflakes. Let’s not infantilise women.”
So on Tuesday as I was on my way to work I posted this article criticising the article with my caption, “I didn’t know Aziz is now in the firing line… Who’s next???” and before I knew it I had my own personal social-media-storm-in-a-teacup. You can check out the post here. By the time I got home, there were paragraphs upon paragraphs criticising me for my choice of title, for posting the article “considering my views about equality, self-improvement, enlightenment, etc.” and I had at least one Facebook friend delete me without saying anything.
So without further ado here is my official, on-the-record opinion which may change because I am human and can consider other peoples opinions.
I think the original article is a bit of a hit job towards Aziz. Considering, the climate that Hollywood and the western world is in right now it would be fair to say that an article such as this one may be devastating towards his career. All you have to do is look at what the repercussions towards the people that have been outed are to see what potential for professional ruin it has and I don’t think that his misdemeanour (if you can call it that) is of the same level as the others that have been implicated. To publically name him is a disservice and the writer could have easily gotten the same message across if it was a “famous Hollywood comedian”.
Which brings me to my next point, the #metoo movement is being conflated or overshadowed by stories such as these. As the Washington Post stated,
The irony of all this is that, while Ansari’s story went viral, another, more important one got lost in the news cycle. Actress Eliza Dushku, writing on her Facebook page, accused a then-36-year-old stunt coordinator of molesting her at the age of 12.
Now, that is criminal behaviour and that certainly needs to stop. Unfortunately, though it has been lost in all the outrage. It essentially is derailing the #metoo movement. Getting people like me, who are all for it, to second guess. CNN anchor Ashleigh Banfield articulates this best in the video down below. Well worth watching!
Women have agency. Unfortunately, in this post, it seems as if they don’t. We should be encouraging our women and girls to take charge of their lives and when the shit hits the fan, she’ll know what to do. Some may say that outing Aziz months after the fact is encouraging, I think, as well as many others, that it could have been better handled.
To the people who say that I am part of the problem, that I don’t understand because I’m a cisgendered male (I literally had someone say this to me a couple of weeks ago) and to all the people that discouraged me to write this post, I say: how am I part of the problem, do you really think I don’t understand or can’t empathise and why the hell not?
Firstly, why can’t I write this post considering I feel quite strongly on the issue? Perhaps, it is because it isn’t what a good majority of girls in my age group think? That’s okay. I am willing to learn. Teach me the right way you want me to behave towards you. If we don’t have conversations like this, I and other guys will never know, how you want to be treated, considering all the mixed messages that I and other men have to decipher.
Mixed Message Number 1
When I was in Korea the first four months I wasn’t intimate with a girl (despite what you may think about subservient Asian girls, Koreans are certainly not the stereotype). I didn’t know what I was doing wrong. Every time I approached a girl, they would blow me off. So I just let them be. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. I changed my clothes. I got a haircut. I shaved. It wouldn’t matter, I wasn’t getting a girlfriend nor was I having “fun” nights out.
One night, at the club, I decided to observe how the Koreans were, for lack of better words, picking up girls. They would try, get rejected, then try again. They’d repeat this 4 times or so before they ended up dancing and subsequently kissing the girl. So I thought, I’d try and below and behold, it worked! I was amazed!
YES! I REALISE! It’s hella rapey, but that’s only in the mainstream Melbournian context in which I grew up. In Korea, it’s different. It’s considered diligent and persistent (in a good way. The he-must-really-like-me kind of way).
Mixed Message Number 2
Yes, I realise that the Melbournian culture is a lot more similar to the New Yorker culture than the Korean’s from Seoul culture. In my experience, the New Yorker culture is a lot more liberal than the Melbournian culture.
But that’s beside the point. Just last week I had a fellow Melbournian ask me what I’d do to them if I took them home. To which, I replied that I would serve them tea and scones, lest I not say anything too controversial. The question, sounds a lot like Aziz’s “where do you want me to fuck you?” They wanted me to say that I’d have a gay old time with them, just not in those words. But how do I know? How do I know specifically?
Is this what we want to teach to our younger generations? Is this the society we want to live in? Is romance dead? Is that push and pull, which builds the sexual tension, reduced to “Do you wanna fuck?” Are we stuck in transactional relationships, helped along by smartphone apps such as Tinder and Grindr?
I hardly think so. And you can’t blame me and other guys for not getting it.
Secondly, why can’t I write about this topic? My friends, both guys and girls have said that I shouldn’t write about it and should just leave it. But why not! If we don’t have a discussion about this then guys like me are just going to disengage and your message will have been lost. Perhaps it’s because I may lose a lot of facebook friends who disagree with me and to them, I say please don’t unfriend me. Please engage. Tell me your frustrations. I do listen and so do others. I can understand. I can empathise.
Which brings me to my next point and the point which I don’t want my mother to read (but knowing my mum she would have already read up till now so… Hi mum!), who says I can’t empathise just because I am a straight male. To illustrate this point, I’m going to tell you a story about how I was in a foreign country in a situation very similar to the one in the article which started this whole blog post. Here goes…
While I was studying in Malaysia I went down to Singapore for the weekend. I was 21 and I was having a good time. I met a woman, about 33 or 34, one night and we hit it off. The next morning we went window shopping at Orchard road (we didn’t buy anything). Later that evening I hopped back on the bus and came back to Kuala Lumpur.
As my time in Malaysia was coming to a close I cheekily invited the woman to my going-away drinks in Kuala Lumpur, “only a five-hour drive!”
She replied, “Why don’t you come to Singapore?”
“I’m leaving the next day.”
“Why don’t you extend your flight?”
“Even if I did, I would have no money to survive.”
“Don’t worry about it.”
“Are you sure?” I repeated the question almost ten times.
“Yes, now bloody get over here.”
(Okay so she didn’t say “bloody” because she’s Singaporean. She would have said something like, “You coming or not, lah?”)
So off I went and I stayed in her unit, right next to Clark Quay, for two weeks. Upon arrival, she told me to open up the closet. There in front of me were two jackets from River Island I had pointed out when we went window shopping together. I was delighted and so I had sex with her. The next night I also had sex with her, but by the third night, I felt like a prostitute. Here was this woman who was letting me stay at her place, giving me pocket money (paying me) but I didn’t really know her and I felt like I was obligated to have sex with her (I also remember her treating me like a pet but I’m not sure if that was the whole time or just at the beginning).
So, I started packing my suitcase, “I can’t do this! I feel like a fucking prostitute. I feel like I have to have sex with you every night!” Tears start streaming down my face.
“I’ve never done this before either. You don’t have to have sex with me, it’s okay!”
“No, I’ve got to go.”
After about 30 minutes or an hour (I can’t remember) and a lot of tears, I calmed down. I stayed at her place and I didn’t feel at all obligated to sleep with her.
After a few days, she started buying me clothes, video games (Batman and Final Fantasy), food etc. and I wanted to bang her crazy. I had a great time! But by the end of it, I convinced her to quit her stressful job, there were tears at the airport and she deleted me off facebook months later.
For a long time, I couldn’t tell this story to many people because I really was ashamed of it. I felt like a whore. Then after a year or two, I realised that people do this ALL THE TIME and it’s quite normal. I am talking about the traditional; man buys woman lots of gifts, woman gets charmed/falls in love by said gifts (and man), they have a very passionate relationship. The only difference in my case was that I was the woman of the relationship.
From this different perspective, I have been able to tell this story as a funny anecdote instead of being eternally ashamed. I am not affected anymore by this story in my past and I have moved on.
To those who say I can’t empathise because I’ve never been in a situation like this before and therefore my opinion doesn’t count, here’s the proof. I was younger, there was more at stake, and I was ready to leave with not much money or any idea where to go and I did this without having to take someone down in my path. So yes, I can empathise, but I still don’t sympathise. Which brings me to my final point.
Sometimes it’s best to reframe your point of view so that you don’t hang on to all the anger and pain in your heart. It happened, I’m sorry it sucked, it was a bad date, get over it and for God’s sake, don’t post it on a popular blog so that you can relive the pain all over again.
Thanks for reading this really long post. I hope you liked it. If you did let me know in the comments, on Facebook or Instagram. If you didn’t please don’t delete me on facebook, write your response. I read every one and I am open to changing my opinion. I hope I didn’t belittle anybody and if all goes well, we can have a meaningful conversation. I spent the whole day writing and researching this so it’d mean a lot if you can write a response and share this post!