Boys Will Be Aziz Ansari

Embroidery by Shannon Downey

I see a great many people in my social sphere sharing links and talking about the recent Babe article about a date with comedian Aziz Ansari. There have been some truly egregious, tone-deaf and worse-than-pointless opinion pieces in the media on this subject: I’m not going to link to them. Here are some good ones:

Aziz, We Tried to Warn You ~ by Lindy West

Not That Bad ~ by Katie Anthony

Speaking solely for myself? I am sometimes amused by the stories that are juxtaposed in a given news cycle. The two most talked-about pop culture events this week were Aziz Ansari and the Tide Pod Kids, and my summary of the two was this:

It is a thousand times smarter for a child to eat a plastic packet of laundry detergent than for an adult to defend bad consent practices.

So please, if you’re a friend of mine…spare me the rhetoric about “innocent mistakes” and “poor bumbling nerds” when it comes to Aziz Ansari. And many other men of his ilk.

Please, learn to understand and accept that the vast majority of men are not “innocent bumblers”. People say “He didn’t mean it” because that’s a standard script to cover and minimize abuse in this culture, and both predators and victims use it. Some men have learned to weaponize the common stereotypes about men, and now they use them as a duck blind for sexual assault and coercion.

It’s not bumbling. It’s gaslighting.

Aziz Ansari is 34 years old. He has claimed to be a feminist. He says that he “listens to women”. HE HAS WRITTEN A BOOK ABOUT DATING. And he was on a date with a girl significantly younger and less experienced, only 22 years old.

Exactly who was supposed to behave more like a compassionate, worldly adult in this scenario? The older man who trades on his image as a feminist ally? Or the dumb kid who went on a date with a celebrity because garsh, he’s famous and claims to respect women?

Frankly, I am very weary of the constant drumbeat of “Boys Will Be Boys” in this culture. When does it EVER end?

When a male is a toddler or a small child, he hits people and pushes them down. We smile and nod and say that it’s natural for boys to be more aggressive.

When he’s an older child, he teases and bullies other children. He expresses his budding interest in girls by hurting them emotionally and physically and touching them without permission. We tell the girls he’s attacked that he’s “paying attention” and that his assault “means he likes you”.

When he’s a teenager, he’s “awkward and fumbling” and his early dabbling in rape is written off as “growing pains”, “drunk teenage hi-jinx” or “adolescent lust”.

As a GROWN ASS MAN IN HIS 30’S he goes on a date with a 22-year-old and he’s “making innocent mistakes” and “doesn’t know any better”.

As a middle-aged man he’s “having a mid-life crisis”.

In his 60’s and 70’s he was “raised in a different time”.

There’s always an excuse, always a reason that everyone and everything but the man himself is to blame for his actions, and their consequences.

So please, tell me…at what age is a man EVER responsible for what he does?

How he treats women?

How he makes them feel?

When is a man supposed to know that sexual pleasure is a collaborative process, a thing that people build together–rather than something you take for yourself at someone else’s expense?

When is a man supposed to know that when your partner doesn’t say “Yes” enthusiastically, it means “No”?

When is a man who claims he listens to women going to actually DEMONSTRATE that he listens to women? At what age can we expect him to stop making “mistakes” that send young girls home in a cab crying and wanting to vomit?

Seriously. I’m dying to know when boys are supposed to become men.

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About Arinn

Author, Game Developer, Anthropologist, Feminist, reformed Supervillainess.
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