I read the New York Times article as well as the “babe” post about Aziz Ansari and the #metoo comparison. The young woman, “Grace,” was clearly star-struck meeting Aziz when she accepted his invitation for a date. She willingly engaged in sexual activity with him, was less than impressed by his moves and disappointed by his attitude.
All that said, “Grace” had every opportunity to pick herself up and walk out of Aziz’s apartment. Instead, she stayed with him longer and longer, sending mixed signals as she played a game of cat and mouse. “Grace” hoped that Aziz Ansari would eventually live up to the image of him which she created in her head.
There is an old saying that you should never meet your heroes.
Ultimately, “Grace” felt that Aziz was just another
immature man with an adolescent, bumbling approach to sex and intimacy. Although his moves and hurried nature gave “Grace” the icks, she could have left when she felt uncomfortable and disappointed. After all, Aziz was not forcibly keeping her against her will.
More importantly, “Grace” needs to learn that she has a real voice. She has an obligation to herself to assert her intentions and her displeasure clearly. Grace should never rely on another person’s ability to read her mind or pick up on her ”non-verbal cues.” This is not about shaming “Grace.” Women need to take responsibility for owning their sexuality in a way that allows them to set boundaries. One must learn to communicate what one likes, wants and expects from the person one is dating.
“Grace” was caught between her excitement of having an intimate date with her celebrity crush and being disappointed when he did not meet her expectations. Basically, “Grace” had a bad date with Aziz Ansari. It cannot and should not be lumped in with the “metoo” movement.
This was not a story of sexual harassment or abuse. Aziz Ansari had zero power over “Grace” from a work or dating perspective. “Grace” cannot be the girl who cries “me too” because doing so muddies the waters of this important movement which is shining a light on rampant abuses of power between men and women be it physical abuse, harassment or quid pro quo. The Women’s March of 2017 ignited this important moment in time.
The subjects of the allegations against Aziz Ansari and the “metoo” movement are ones that I believe have a place on the Solo Roamer blog from a cultural perspective. Women need to keep a level head when navigating their relationships with men (or other women) in positions of power whether at work or on the dating scene.
So, what does this mean?
First off, women need to be clear about their own intentions in the interactions they have with men. What words do we say? What body language do we use? They matter a great deal.
There is a history of violence against women in this world. While I am hopeful this dynamic will evolve, I doubt it will happen anytime soon. Therefore, we cannot afford to say or do certain things that send mixed messages and put us in unnecessary danger. I know. It’s a slippery slope.
So, how can women assert power over their sexuality on the dating scene and prevent a #metoo situation?
I will never shame a woman for how quickly she engages in sex. Sex is a perfectly natural activity to be enjoyed by everyone equally. It is galling to me that a man is congratulated for his sexual conquests by being dubbed “playboy,” “gigolo” or “ladies’ man” while the woman he had sex with is labeled “whore,” “slut,” “trollop,” “tart,” or skank.”
That said, at any point when the man you are with says or does anything to make you uncomfortable, vocalize your discomfort immediately. Do not rely on his ability to read your mind or pick up on your body language. You say “NO” and you back away from him or leave altogether. Don’t ever forget that no matter how evolved we are, sex is one of the most basic instincts we have. It should not be a shock when a man gets turned on by you, so you always need to be very vocally clear about what you will and will not do with him. Don’t be coy or send mixed messages. Your verbal language matters. Most of all, don’t put yourself in any situation you don’t feel ready for, especially if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. It only makes the lines more blurry and the potential danger more real. Keeping your wits about you is your best defense for being able to vocalize your boundaries.
How should women assert authority over their sexuality in the workplace to stop a #metoo moment?
Look, most of us want to balance having a good work ethic and performance with getting along with our coworkers. No one wants to be perceived as someone who can’t take a joke or who seems unapproachable. After all, we’re all human and we come equipped with full range of emotions and cognitive abilities (well, most of us!). We need to learn to balance participating in good-natured humor with asserting boundaries against sexual innuendo and harassment.
If a coworker touches you inappropriately without your consent, we all agree that is wrong. If someone puts his pubic hair on your Coca-Cola can (I see you, Clarence Thomas!) or often tells sexual jokes or stories, we know it’s gross. Things get dicier when someone compliments your clothing. Does that happen constantly in a creepy way? Well, tell him this makes you uncomfortable and request he stop. Has your supervisor threatened your job, compensation or benefits, if you don’t yield to his advances? That’s a “metoo” moment and you must call him out for it and report it in writing. The more time you waste not setting these boundaries, the more complicit you seem. Then, proper justice is hard to attain.
Read my article “You Need to Stop Shaming Me for Being Single.”
Get out in the world and fun. However, always be aware of your surroundings, create your own boundaries and assert power and authority over your sexuality. Women don’t do themselves any favors by being coy, alluring and sexy while simultaneously blurring lines between where interest begins and self-respect ends. No one ever wants to cry “#metoo.”
Check out my article “How to Stay Safe Traveling Solo.”
ROAM. REVEL. REPEAT.