Before We Move On: An Open Letter to Aziz and Grace

"Most of the men who sexually harassed or accosted me are presumably dead or nearly dead, and good riddance."

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Aziz
"I'm going back to Mars -- you should go back to Venus!"

Dear Aziz Ansari,

You’re still a jackass. I just wanted to write that before the world moves on. As I read (and re-read) the story on Babe about your insistent pursuit of intercourse with your date, Grace (a pseudonym), I relived a dozen bad dates of my own, some practically verbatim.

Reading Grace’s story, Aziz, I felt like I was in the room with you. I felt like you were talking to me, either ignoring or not believing the fact that I just didn’t want to fuck you. I guess you didn’t believe Grace because you’re rich, you’re famous, you’re somewhat cute and you’re a man. You seemed certain that she really wanted to fuck you, and maybe was just playing hard to get. Now we all know you’re a horny dude, too. How embarrassing for you. Happily, you’re not violent.

I even relived the ancient history of telling my gynecologist over and over again at every visit — when I was 40 for God’s sake — that I wouldn’t be having children, only to have him pat my arm at the next visit and ask me when I’d be getting pregnant. Fortunately, he was easy to get away from — he wasn’t coming onto me. He just knew, apparently, what I needed and wanted better than I did. I totally deja-vu’d that while reading Grace’s post.

I understand how you might have been confused, though, because Grace had given you a requested blowjob when you both returned to your apartment after dinner. After that, though, she said she gave you consistent verbal and non-verbal clues which meant “no.”

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Grace, this next part is actually for you. This is what I don’t understand. You had an uneasy feeling about the dude’s behavior at the restaurant. You said it seemed like he wanted to get out of there really quickly and back to his place. It seemed like just a date. It wasn’t mutual love at first sight, it wasn’t a passionate, soulful romance in bloom. It seemed like he wanted to get you alone. Did you wonder why? Because his behavior before getting you back to his place was also a clue.

Earlier this month, I wrote a post here about my wild-child years and also about personal responsibility, and I received a fair amount of criticism about it. Several people unfollowed The Clyde Fitch Report, called me ignorant, and I even heard from some good friends who expressed their disagreement with me privately. I took all the feedback gratefully, and with a grain of salt. I totally support women who come forward to tell their stories, and I’ve told some of mine. All water under the bridge now. Frankly, most of the men who seriously sexually harassed or accosted me are presumably dead or nearly dead, and good riddance.

One person who commented on the CFR Facebook page wrote about power imbalance and that men seek out women specifically to exploit it. It seems she really didn’t read the post carefully, like several other people who popped their corks. I specifically wrote: there’s a big difference between flirtatious games and a woman feeling cornered and threatened in any way.

I’m tired of hearing about powerless and victimized women. It so totally rubs me the wrong way, but not because they don’t exist, unfortunately. Women are victimized at work, at school, raising kids with an abusive partner, victimized by the system. I’m fully aware and I’ve had several of these experiences personally and I fight for all of us. I just think using a blanket excuse can be a big cop-out. Notice I didn’t write “it’s always a big cop-out.” Women have brains and courage for days. No one is going to guilt me into thinking Grace was powerless to choose alternatives that might have kept her safer before she found herself alone in an apartment with an obnoxious horndog. It makes me seethe, it’s so insulting.

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But back to you, Aziz, and you too, Grace.

Aziz, you need to seriously learn some more about sexual harassment. Which is to say, a whole lot more since you’re touting yourself as a #MeToo supporter.

Grace, in a world where it’s been proven over and over and over again that men who were thought to be “nice” commit violent acts against women, why go to a completely private place with a man you hardly know? Does my point of view seem…extreme? I don’t think so. Here’s the question, then, that I’ll be pummeled with: So a woman can’t go to a private place with a man without fear of being coerced, condescended to, drugged, raped or killed? Here’s my simple answer: she can go without the fear, certainly, but unfortunately not without the possibility. Read the papers. Talk to your peers, talk to women raped on college campuses. Wouldn’t you (and your parents) expect you to be safe at college, for God’s sake?

I’m not suggesting we excuse men from responsibility, and continue to bear the burden for good behavior. Hell, no. But many men act badly, and they’re protected by institutions, other men, their families, churches. When giving them that opportunity can be avoided, it’s a good idea.

Grace, you were foolish.

Aziz, you were a pig.

One more thing. I’m so totally convinced that men are from Mars and women are from Venus. I don’t understand why we didn’t all just stay where we were.