On Coercison and Aziz Ansari

The truth is you probably know an Aziz Ansari.  You probably love one.  I do.  There aren’t definitive emotions to this because I’ve also been the victim of sexual violence multiple times.  I love these men while acknowledging that they’re so problematic.  I love them as the flawed people, and know that the same guys who have comforted me have probably Aziz-ed some other woman and are totally unaware.   There’s a gravel in that love, something pinching and uncomfortable that I can’t extract.  We exist in a complicated world without heroes or villains, but with vastness of complications that are difficult to untangle.  I wonder if we’re all loving somebody else’s oppressor.

My job as a woman and (to borrow Roxane Gay’s language) as a victim who survived is not to educate these men.  You’re grown.  You are accountable for your actions.  Look around you, and understand that even if you were unaware of the impact your behavior had, you know its gravity now.  Reporters, please STOP asking women to explain and apologize the men in their lives.   We are mothering abusers out of their responsibility to atone.  Yes, gentlemen, you have a responsibility to not just apologize but do better every day.  And before #notallmen comes out to scold me for holding all men accountable for a few sins, I have this to say:  Your maleness is a passport into spaces I cannot enter.  Advocate for us in those spaces.  Don’t go along to get along.  There is a body count to your silence. Your silence becomes the scars the women you love will hide from you.  I’m over the “good guys”, the “nice guys”—the men who turn invisible at the mention of our suffering. Do better.

My job as a woman is to stand with other victims.  A man I love probably hurt you.  I won’t apologize for him, as women have been apologizing for the behavior of men for far too long.  What I will do say that even if you know I care for him, even if you know I’m connected to him in some way, I value your survival.  I value your safety and your health.  More selfishly, I value it because I felt like I devalued mine in an attempt to deny my own experiences.   Were I to excuse another predator, I leave the gate open to negate everyone’s experiences.   There needs to be a precedent.  The precedent is that if someone comes forward with a story of assault, to meet it with questions is an act of violence.  The denial of another’s hurt only reinforces it.

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