March 26, 2019

The Aziz Ansari Paradox

“You probably already know—or think you know—what happened on the night of September 25, 2017 between Aziz Ansari and an anonymous woman calling herself “Grace.” These are the accepted facts: she went on a date with Ansari, they went back to his house, and then had some sexual contact that left Grace feeling deeply uncomfortable. No crime was alleged, since Ansari did not force himself on Grace in any way, but this was clearly a nasty encounter for her. The next day, she texted Ansari telling him as much and he apologized for having “misread things.” Several months later, she published her account on the website babe.

For a few weeks following the publication of Grace’s story, the internet was awash with claims and counter-claims about the rights and wrongs of what had taken place. Every media outlet offered up its judgment on Ansari. To some commentators, he was the victim of a witch hunt, persecuted by an internet mob with no respect for due process. On the other side, many feminists argued that his behavior exemplified the aggressive, entitled, chauvinistic attitude that too many men show towards women. Others suggested that the reaction against Ansari was disproportionate—yes he had behaved badly, but that badly? Everyone had an opinion, not only on what he had done, but on what the incident revealed about sexual politics in the #MeToo era.

In the language of feminist theory, Ansari’s behavior fell somewhere on the “sexual violence spectrum.” This begins at one end with commonplace forms of sexual misbehavior (e.g., cat-calling, lewd comments, “microaggressions”) and extends all the way along to rape and sexualized torture and murder. The feminist claim is that everything on the sexual violence spectrum should be viewed as emanating from the same source, although some acts clearly cause more harm than others. While Ansari did not force Grace into sex, he did ignore her discomfort in a way that was arguably coercive. His behavior could therefore be placed somewhere towards the less severe end of the spectrum: worse than a misogynistic joke, but not as harmful as a sexual assault.”

Read more

JJ Editor's Daily Picks

"THE CAPTURE of the last territory controlled by the Islamic State on Saturday was far from a final victory over the movement, as U.S. commanders and diplomats were careful to emphasize."

"How a Gay Teen, an Internet Nazi, and a Late-Night Rendezvous Turned to Tragedy. When self-loathing meets the new age of online extremism."

"Benjamin Netanyahu ignored the intelligence operations of Beijing and Moscow for too long. Now, the Israeli government is finally paying attention, but it could be too late."

"Former Nick Jr. kids are now reckoning with this all-grown-up intrepid explorer, whose obstacles are a lot bigger than Swiper the Fox. And that is a hard pill to swallow."

"At the end of last week, the three-month Treasury bills' yield rose above the yield for 10-year Treasuries for the first time since 2007, prompting warnings that the U.S. is headed for recession later this year or in early 2020."

"A team of researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Technion-Israel Institute of Technology attempted to answer some questions about voting with the help of artificial intelligence (AI)."

"The experts I spoke with all said that the internet had changed the way conspiracies spread, but conspiracies, both dangerous and petty, have always been with us."

"Pop culture today is obsessed with the battle between good and evil. Traditional folktales never were. What changed?"

"Trustful parents allow their children as much freedom as reasonably possible to make their own decisions. They trust their children’s instincts, judgments, and ability to learn from mistakes."

"Arugulagate. In 2007, Barack Obama was in Iowa, speaking as a presidential hopeful to a group of farmers who were worried about the stagnation of their crop prices while America’s grocery bills continued to rise."

"To say that information exists in and of itself is akin to speaking of spin without the top, of ripples without water, of a dance without the dancer, or of the Cheshire Cat’s grin without the cat."

"Ted Cruz replaces the Democrats’ muddled manifesto with a clear and unequivocal exploration of the hatred of Jews and its particular evils."