Has anyone else been following the Aziz Ansari story? I haven’t watched his show (though lots of friends recommend it), and so I have no knowledge of his work. We’re in the #MeToo era, so I wasn’t surprised that he got “exposed.” What I did find surprising is what he got “exposed” for doing…or allegedly doing. You can read the original source here. I tend to agree more with this opinion piece in the New York Times.
I read through both articles twice. If it’s true that Aziz Ansari claims that he’s a feminist, then maybe he should have done the feminist thing by letting his date initiate everything, arrange everything, pay for everything, ask permission for everything, etc. But outside of failing to live up to his feminist ideals, I can’t see why he’s such a bad person. He never physically restrained her. She’s not professionally involved with him, so he has no power over her career. She could have left at any time, which she eventually did. There was no coercion or foul play. No laws were broken. Other than perhaps the fact that she was star-struck and that he’s much older than she is–which both people knew well before their date–there were no power imbalances here.
I think Sartre wrote something about this, but when a man asks out a woman, both parties know–or should know–what the man’s intentions are. When a man asks out a woman, his end goal isn’t to find a good drinking buddy or to chill out with her brother. The end goal for the man always involves some form of sex. For experienced people, there is always a question over whether the sex is temporary or permanent. Men and women (rightfully, in my opinion) see some dating partners as marriage material, while others they see as just temporary flings. I’m not trying to lecture people on common sense here, but if you’re a young woman who is asked out by an older, famous, so-far-more-accomplished man, it usually skews towards the latter. But there should be never be a question over whether the end goal involves some form of sex. It does. Always.
Now I don’t know if there has been some sort of cultural change where men have to ask permission for everything they do. I know some colleges require this as part of their dating guidelines, but I wonder if people really follow that. On a purely practical level, I don’t see how it’s feasible to have such strict rules in place. I think people need to step back and think about the world they really want.