I can’t not talk about Aziz Ansari

[CW: this post talks about rape with varying levels of detail and specificity. Most links have the potential to be very triggering as well.]

Of all the celebrity-predator revelations this year, this is the one that’s made me feel the need to write again. I have… So. Much. I want to say here, I’m afraid I’ll make a mess of it all, but here we go.

I know exactly what every moment of that date must have felt like, because I have been in that same position. More times than I can count.

It’s a complicated thing, being assaulted by someone you’re actually kind of into, someone you actually kind of want to get it on with. Because you don’t want them to stop wanting to get it on with you, you just want them to pay attention and slow down, and actually show some sign that they are interested in your enjoyment, and not just following a script for their own pleasure. You just want them to let you catch up.

It’s even more confusing when they keep telling you they care. When their words tell you the things you want and need to be true, when you trust, or at least trusted and want to keep trusting, that this person is good and does care, that they’ll realize how uncomfortable they’re making you and stop, that any moment now they’ll stop doing these weirdly awful, uncomfortable things and maybe you’ll actually be able to both get on the same page.

But their actions? Their actions are relentless. Their actions barely even pause while they promise to give you time to relax, while they promise that they care about your comfort and enjoyment.

It’s a merry-go-round of emotions, and it’s a hard one to get off of. Grace escaped before “”real”” “”sex”” happened, I guess? But if you somehow think that makes any of it any better, I don’t think your worldview is salvageable.

I could have written this story, with another man in Ansari’s place. Except, fuck, I believed my rapist *loved* me. He believed it, too.

I also could have written this story. If you don’t quite get what was wrong with what Ansari did, read this piece, too. It’s important.

Also, read the application of the tea and consent analogy to the story.

I could have written these stories.

And, a few years ago? Reading these stories would have shattered me into a thousand pieces. Left me dissociated for weeks, quietly rolling through or fending off flashbacks while maintaining a calm exterior. Going through the motions of my routines without actually being productive in any aspect of my life.

Reading about Ansari, Sunday morning? I was upset, I can tell you that. I was angry, but productively so.

I have found myself reminded of weirdly specific moments in my relationship with my rapist, but I haven’t been overwhelmed by them.

I also didn’t immediately use the word rape when I was talking about it.

It wasn’t until I was a half a dozen comments deep, correcting some dude who was talking about awkwardness and suggesting that Ansari had ‘gotten himself into’ an ‘awful situation’. It did seem like our differences were actually semantic, and he was quick to acknowledge that yes, Ansari had absolutely repeatedly assaulted this woman, and that yes, it was clear that the only thing he cared about was getting laid, that he didn’t care about this woman at all beyond that and did not care to see her as a fully realized person with her own thoughts and feelings.

He was still framing Ansari as the only relatable character in the story, practically erasing the woman as much Ansari had himself, and that rubbed me the wrong way. Eventually, I said:

you’re using a lot of words to say ‘he clearly prioritized getting his end in above all else and doesn’t care whether he rapes people to get it.’ That is literally description of a rapist. He is a rapist. You can just say that and be done with it and not worry so much about the awful situations rapists get themselves into (the poor misguided dears)

It wasn’t until that moment I’d felt ok using the word for this situation. And I know that there are people who still aren’t comfortable with it.

Why? Because his penis never made it into her vagina? Really? After his penis had been forced into her hands over and over again, after she’d put his penis in her mouth without wanting to, after his fingers were shoved down her throat again and again, that’s the thing that’s going to tip this experience over into something violent and traumatic?

Really?

It’s particularly telling to me that people who subsequently turned up in that thread to question my use of the word ‘rapist’ never objected to my repeated use of the word ‘assault’ to describe his actions. He assaulted her sexually, repeatedly and in various ways over the course of more than an hour, and yet somehow we all still hesitate to cry ‘rape’.

That’s the power of rape culture, right there. That is how we are silenced.

And I guess that’s why I needed to write about this.

I’ve been… pretty quiet about rape for quite some time. I haven’t written anything here about #metoo, or about the cascade of outed predators in Hollywood in the ensuing months. I also haven’t said much (or anything?) about it on my personal facebook page.

It’s not that I’ve been totally silent. I’ve participated in comment threads and conversations in other places. I just… I don’t even know. With #metoo, I was unreasonably flummoxed by specificity of it being about women, and though I know many non-binary people who rightfully found spaces for themselves there, I wasn’t comfortable with doing so for myself. I also just….

Look, I have done this. There are post on this blog that were incredibly painful for me to write. There are details and stories about my own experiences that I have shared even when doing so made me feel like I couldn’t breathe. When every word coming out of fingertips felt like it cost me dearly, but I knew that not getting them out would cost me more.

I’ve cut myself open and shown you all my insides. I guess I did so a few years too early? But I’ve also healed from it. Because of it. And I don’t want to keep reopening those wounds.

I don’t mean I want to forget or stop talking or caring about these things. I guess I don’t really know what I mean. I’ll keep writing about this stuff when I have the energy to, I guess. And I won’t sweat it when I don’t.

But if you come away from this post with anything, please let it be an understanding that this story about Aziz Ansari is the story of a rape. And that anyone who does those things is a rapist.

4 comments

  1. I didn’t hear about this beforehand, but I’m also not… super surprised. :\ I remember watching one of his older specials, maybe in like 2008 or 2009, and being really uncomfortable about a loooong child rape joke he told. Like, it was still framed as “rape is bad”, but rape shouldn’t be ANY part of ANY joke. Ughh.

  2. I also got into an argument about this story earlier, although my interlocutor was arguing that Grace should have rejected Aziz more forcefully. *groan*

    One interesting thing about Grace’s story is that at no point does she refer to it as rape, or even say the word “rape”. Instead she calls it sexual assault. But like, it’s pretty unambiguously rape in my eyes. Rape is just sexual assault that involves sex. And well there was oral sex and digital penetration, isn’t that enough? But I suppose that I too would have been hesitant to label it as rape several years ago.

  3. Thanks. Hearing how it’s been better for you, how you are no longer *automatically* torn open by such stories… well, that’s the first damn ray of sunshine I’ve seen since this whole #metoo shitshow started. (I’m gonna trust you follow my meaning.) Thank you for healing. Thank you for the hope.

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