Aziz Ansari has been called out in an article by babe for his sexual misconduct. The unsettling account depicts an Aziz that many women have encountered in different men and is all too familiar to their own sexual assault/rape/uncomfortable sexual experience. But the piece, though brave and relatable, left me wanting a more specific answer to the question: yes, and what can we learn from this? With some feminist analysis, readers, who perhaps don't find it immediately clear, can discover how this story becomes so relatable to women and why.
Amy Schumer once made the joke that all women have kind of been raped. What she means is that many women have at least one experience, if not a rape or sexual assault, in which, upon reflection, they realize that they didn't really want what happened. But they didn't know how to stop an exchange that they somehow felt they owed to the other person. Maybe they did manage to convey that they were uncomfortable. Maybe the other person realized that their behavior was unwanted and back off. Or maybe that woman experienced something similar to the night with Aziz. If you didn't understand what all these women have been me too-ing about, that's a little hint.
And this is what we call rape culture. The culture built over history that has encouraged men, especially powerful men like Aziz, to believe that sex is something that can be taken or eventually, if you play hard and sly enough, won. The culture built over history that encourages women to feel that they should be the object of sexual desire even if this goes against their instinct.
So we're dealing with men/boys that don't see that the behavior of forcing or even coercing women/girls into sexual experiences is inappropriate and usually makes them uncomfortable. We're also dealing with women who perhaps feel unable to express their discomfort because of their exposure to conflicting messages on the expected role of the willing female in sexual experiences and her own feelings about that particular moment or person. Jessica Valenti put it really well...
The fact that men can see "an everyday reasonable sexual interaction" and women can see every horrible sexual experience from their past - where they too cried all the way home - should be telling enough that there is an inherent disconnect. And, as Valenti asserts, it will be hard to demonstrate the need for change while also understanding that our rape culture has created this normalized sexual script that we're all taught to follow.
So the babe article should not just be a session on how disappointing and shameful 'woke bae' Aziz Ansari is - super disappointing and shameful by the way - but on how normal this situation is. Perhaps so normal that you don't even see the problem in it. And if that's the case, if you aren't beginning to understand the scale of our rape culture, keep listening. Because stories like Aziz's will continue to be told until this "normal sexual script" isn't normal.
Never forget: it's a culture, people! And cultures only change when we make them.