I don't get it

2018/01/17 writing

I don't find the argument that there's a budding "witch hunt" building around the #metoo movement convincing at all. The most egregious "victims" of it, such as Weinstein or Lauer, aren't even on trial. Why is the associated discourse all about the perils of kangaroo courts?

Reactionaries claim to be exhausted with how far the movement has gone, and I in turn find this reaction exhausting. Reactionaries will express that they find the initiative behind affirmative consent bureaucratic and onerous ("You want to sign up a contract in bed? Way to kill romance! Read a gaze, steal a kiss!"), but they will then turn around and question whether Louis CK can really be said to wield power over smaller-known comedians, or whether Aziz Ansari really did pressure his date merely by abusing the situation he put her into. My good friend DB spoke well about the tension inherent in opposing affirmative-consent initiatives and the notion of non-verbal coercion both:

I mean in the first case they're placing the implicit as paramount and the second, the explicit. You can't have people can exercise their ability to consent to sex without stating it while not having that people can assert their power without stating it.

More dangerous and egregious, however, is the slandering of proponents of feminist initiatives and accusers, turning them into a deranged opposing extremist faction who will see no nuance or reason.

This latest scandal involving Aziz Ansari is a good illustration. A girl under the pseudonym "Grace" wrote about a harrowing date with a celebrity who presented himself as aware and in solidarity, but turns out to be a pushy creeper who made her feel like shit. Many older established commentators replied by telling her she was abusing and ruining the movement, and it seemed a bit like an old-vs-young thing. Uninteresting "they don't see eye-to-eye stuff".

Then one younger one stepped up to frame it better as a girl-to-girl.

My issue with this last @riptiff essay is that she says true and correct things like:

Framing this as an Aziz Ansari problem instead of a culture problem gives men the opportunity to distance themselves from it instead of reflecting upon their own attitudes and beliefs.
It’s easy to talk about these things like they are black and white, but some of the most productive discussion comes from acknowledging the gray area.

but, in doing so, she implies that the person she's responding to, Grace, was saying the opposite. Here are Grace's own words from the original.

“I said I don’t want to feel forced because then I’ll hate you, and I’d rather not hate you,”
“This was not what I expected. I’d seen some of his shows and read excerpts from his book and I was not expecting a bad night at all, much less a violating night and a painful one.”

Grace is clearly aware it's a systemic issue (implied by how she's looking for different kind of guy who gets it). She also texts her friend afterwards ("I hate men") expressing just how not distinctive this one guy was. As for the second charge,

“I was debating if this was an awkward sexual experience or sexual assault. And that’s why I confronted so many of my friends and listened to what they had to say, because I wanted validation that it was actually bad.”

She's clearly aware of severity involved in calling something "assault" (as she agonizes over whether it's an appropriate term).

Grace becomes a caricature. She's a placeholder for who Tiffany wishes she was arguing against. Her as encounter victim and her actual opinions about it are ignored in favor of manufacturing evidence for the weak and unsupported thesis that extremism is getting out of hand, that people agitating for change aren't nuanced or analytical, and don't know what they want.

To what end?

See also: