You've probably heard something about the Babe reported piece about Aziz Ansari. Or maybe you've read Caitlin Flanagan's response to it in The Atlantic. #girlcrew collective's Steffie has some serious issues with both, but mostly with the dismissive tone of the latter. Then, she read this insightful, nuanced piece by Jill Filipovic. Which she thinks is exactly what this conversation needs.
She's right, what is described in Babe was not sexual assault, but it definitely was an uncomfortable, dehumanizing and even coercive sexual encounter, and we should be able to talk about those. The publication just didn't frame it correctly, and wasn't as careful in telling this story as they should have. You might even argue that it should've never been published in the first place. But that doesn't mean we can't have this conversation, or that this girl's experience needs to be discredited, or worse, that she needs to be slut shamed & victim blamed for it.
Last night I talked to a friend about my own experiences, and how it seems that often men feel entitled to sex (cue excuses like 'but you came home with me' and 'but we've already had sex before' or 'but I took you out on a nice date'). I think this has a lot to do with how both girls and boys are raised, and what is culturally accepted to be normal. I think these norms need to be changed. Girls should not be told to just ignore certain things, or keep quiet, just as boys should not be told that it's OK to keep pushing, that 'no' doesn't really mean 'no.'
Ever since moving to New York I've had to deal with a lot of cat calling and street harassment. And every time this conversation comes up, it gets shut down by people telling me to 'just ignore it'. But why is it fair for me to need to ignore men that walk by too closely and whisper sexual explicit things? And why is it fair for me to need to ignore men that lick their lips when they look at me and feign sexual gestures? Why can't we just admit that all of that is wrong, and that no one should have to deal with it. By telling women to be quiet rather than telling men that they need to change their behavior, you create a culture that makes harassment prevalent.
Filipovic points to the much broader conversation that has been long overdue. Just because something isn't sexual harassment or assault, doesn't mean it can't be wrong. To quote her about what the Babe piece caused: "As a result, we’re arguing about whether Aziz Ansari is a sexual assailant, and missing the more relevant conversation about sex, male entitlement and misogyny in the bedroom." So let's have that conversation instead! I'm open to it, I hope you are too.