With allegations against Aziz Ansari creating controversy online, there are those who feel strongly that the #MeToo movement has gone off the rails, envisioning this dystopia of enraged women and nonbinary people burning down the world using dry shampoo for makeshift flamethrowers.
It seems as though a lot of men (and Caitlin Flanagan and Margaret Atwood *rage sigh*) have come together to imagine the worst. There seems to be this universal belief that A) we do not know the difference between hugs, bad sex, and rape; B) we want to destroy you all. And I swear to you, from the bottom of my heart-space, that “A” is simply not true.
Allow me to dispel some of the more common myths.
1. Yes, we know not all “misconduct” is created equally.
When the Shitty Men in Media list became public knowledge, the focus was immediately on the varying degrees of “shitty” within the list, particularly things like “weird ‘lunch dates’” and the simple shorthand of “creepy in DMs.” First of all, frankly those are shorthands most of us are very familiar with and know exactly what they mean. It does not mean fun flirting or a hug here and there. It means a man taking you somewhere under the auspices of a professional encounter and then proceeding to make it weird and sexual. It means someone essentially attempting to party like it’s literally 1999 and strike up cybersex with colleagues in their direct messages. Whatever it is, it makes us uncomfortable and we know the difference between well-meaning but awkward, and uncomfortable. And of course none of these things are equivalent to rape and assault—which it should be noted accounts for almost half the list—but it’s a “shitty” men list, not a “literal violent rapists only” list.
2. No, we don’t want every single shitbird of a man to have his life destroyed.
I can’t speak for all women and nonbinary people, as we are not a collective hivemind of misandry and witchcraft (**SECRET SUBLIMINAL MESSAGE TO THE COVEN: SHHHH KEEP QUIET FOR NOW, WE STRIKE AT DAWN**) but I’m not asking for Ansari to face criminal charges or even to lose his show. What I am asking for, what I know most of us are asking for, is to be heard. To not be dismissed and talked over and attacked for attempting to start a dialogue about the nature of consent.
Also, they’re going to be fine. Aziz Ansari will be fine, James Franco will be fine, T.J. Miller will probably be fine. Quite honestly Harvey Weinstein is the only one who might actually be done, and I had to add in the “might” because frankly who even knows.
3. Yes, there are grayer areas. No that is not the point.
We grew up watching the same movies and TV shows as you did, men. We saw the same messages of “women never say what they mean” and “women are delicate prudes who don’t like sex so you have to convince them.” You were socialized to believe all of this and to coerce someone into a sexual encounter seems normal because for so many people it is normal. But please do not sit here and look for all the ways that it’s actually OK and people are making a big deal out of nothing. Stop, think, and consider for a second that maybe you’ve fucked up in the past. Maybe you never realized that while you’d never think to rape someone, just maybe you’ve participated in rape culture. Maybe you’ve made someone uncomfortable, maybe you’ve pushed too far. And I get it—it’s hard to reckon with your own behavior, especially when you’re so certain that you’re a good person.
Though I can promise you this: if you fall into this next category, you are absolutely not a good person.
4. YES, WE KNOW, NOT ALL MEN, WE FUCKING GET IT, JESUS CHRIST ON A FUCKBUTTON.
I swear to god, bro, if you “not all men” me in the comments, I will reach through this computer and yank your fucking pubes out through your nose. Never NEVER whine about being generalized as “all men” or “all white people.” Because guess what? You’re fucking FINE. You will always be FINE. What we are asking you to do is to fucking LISTEN. Just LISTEN. Listen and think for one goddamn second; and believe me, if you are leaping to your own defense, you are doing neither of those things.
When you play devil’s advocate, when you insist you’re “just asking you to consider another perspective”—the kind of perspective that refocuses blame as far away from you as possible—all this does is convince us that yes, indeed, all men are like this. If you really want to protect and preserve white cisgender men (for no one in history has suffered quite as much) a good start would be to just shut the fuck up.
Anyway, hope this clears some stuff up. I’m sure the comments section will be super chill.