Monday, January 15, 2018

Anonymous Photographer, Katie Way of Accused of #RevengePorn Against Aziz Ansari

Nothing more depressing for a writer than to find that someone else shared your thoughts about something but was so much better at putting them into words.

While my response to a tweet from Cher about the Aziz Ansari allegation -- which to me is the more interesting (but with far higher stakes since it affects real lives) version of The New Yorker's Cat Person (fiction) story everyone was debating last month -- got some play, Caitlin Flanagan really nailed it in her piece for The Atlantic.
Was Grace frozen, terrified, stuck? No. She tells us that she wanted something from Ansari and she was trying to figure out how to get it. She wanted affection, kindness, attention. Perhaps she hoped to maybe even become the famous man’s girlfriend. He wasn’t interested. What she felt afterward—rejected yet another time, by yet another man—was regret. And what she and the writer who told her story created was 3,000 words of revenge porn. The clinical detail in which the story is told is intended not to validate her account as much as it is to hurt and humiliate Ansari. Together, the two women may have destroyed Ansari’s career, which is now the punishment for every kind of male sexual misconduct, from the grotesque to the disappointing. 
The "revenge porn" phrasing is what was so brilliant, because that's exactly what this (and others I've called out) are: smear pieces chock full of deeply personal and embarrassing details -- that you know are wrong to look at yet you can't turn away -- revealed only to get back at someone the alleged victim perceives as having done him/her wrong, dressed up as #MeToo sagas. (I'm going back and relabeling pieces by David Ng of the Los Angeles Times, Mary Ann Georgantopoulos of BuzzFeed, Robin Pogrebin of the New York Times, and Dawn C. Chmielewski / Dominic Patten of Deadline as the #RevengePorn that they are, (Click on news organization names for offending works.)

As awed as I was, I suppose it was foolish to think even Caitlin Flanagan had gotten the final word on the subject. Indeed, I woke up to reactions from friends I greatly respect that still saw nothing wrong with the #RevengePorn piece on It was only in the shower while getting ready for work that I realized that a far greater percentage of the world is OK with (what I call) the Yelpification of everyday life, meaning anyone (and everyone but especially celebrities, obviously) should be on notice that anything (and everything) you do -- even in the privacy of your own home where there is just that, the expectation of privacy ("the claw"???) -- is fair game to scrutiny by the world, by way of an artfully worded tweet directed at the lowest-hanging "journalist." I guess just because she had his phone number and he was completely receptive to her concerns that was no reason not to run to the "media" and share what happened six months ago with the world, instead. Not a fan of Ansari's -- and no one is saying his behavior was commendable -- but it will be interesting to see if Katie Way and Ansari's still-anonymous date's effort will be able to exact the maximum revenge they seemed to be aiming for. 

Aziz Ansari responds:
In September of last year, I met a woman at a party. We exchanged numbers. We texted back and forth and eventually went on a date. We went out to dinner, and afterwards we ended up engaging in sexual activity, which by all indications was completely consensual. The next day, I got a text from her saying that although "it may have seemed okay," upon further reflection, she felt uncomfortable. It was true that everything did seem okay to me, so when I heard that it was not the case for her, I was surprised and concerned. I took her words to heart and responded privately after taking the time to process what she had said. I continue to support the movement that is happening in our culture. It is necessary and long overdue.
Note the reference to responding to her concerns ... PRIVATELY. (Just because there's social media doesn't mean we can't speak directly to one another, people.)


Rix said...

I actually clicked into that Atlantic article directly after I read your post last night and wondered If you had seen it.

btw Yelpification is pretty good.

Mike in Asheville said...

Yeah, this is really getting fucked up; alas, the real cases are the ones that suffer for including unfortunate encounters as MeeToos.

And yes, revenge porn is an apt label. It won't be easy for Ansari, but, the very details of the allegation actually sink the case of excess. Grace belabors everything she did and what she did not do -- she never spoke. THat is, until they had been naked for at least 10 minutes, finds herself bent over and being prodded, is asked where/how she wants it, and then, then, finally says, actually I don't. And, according to Grace, what happens next, does the horny blueballer stiff her anyway? "Lets put our cloths on and chill out".

All that detail, all those happenings, descriptions of foreplay after foreplay, all heading to the main event. And just a couple words, not shouted for surely she would have that detail, and, Anari stops. Grace sinks her own charges. Of course, getting that above the noise is the challenge.

Katie said...

I tend to overwhelmingly take the side of the women telling these stories... And this woman clearly did not have a good time... But I don't think this rises to the level of career-ending assault? I think some men with non rapey intentions can legitimately be this stupid... Men (straight ones at least?) tend to be terrible at reading nonverbal cues, especially when grasping at the possibility of getting laid.

He can talk as good a game as he wants... He is probably literally getting more ass than he knows what to do with. Those guys tend not to progress beyond the horny 18 year old level because... I hate to go there... "when you're famous they let you do it."

The Gay Curmudgeon said...

I agree with the #MeToo movement in principle, but sometimes it can go too far (i.e., Al Franken). I think each case needs to be looked at individually and any person accused of sexual harassment is entitled to due process.

Will said...

Anyone who’s said “we’re not doing that” or “I’m calling it a night” or whatever wonders why Grace couldn’t wouldn’t didn’t. Maybe I know a v different set of women (and men in situations similar to Grace’s). Not persuaded she’s typical of anything.

jaragon said...

If you don't want to have sex then don't get naked

Crys said...

I've been in situations like this both ways around. In my early 20s I was not very self aware and had some self esteem issues. I'd end up in awkward sexual situations even resigning to having sex I didn't really want just so the bloke would leave me alone or because somehow I thought I had to. I don't consider those men sexual predators, maybe sexually aggressive and not giving a shit about anything but them getting off (didn't really matter to them, it seems, if I was into it or not). On the other hand, I am quite confident now and know what I want. I'm certainly not used to a guy who is hesistant about jumping in the sack, so I go for it if I want it. Never had complaints, except upon reflection once. First time we hung out, I figured like most guys, he wanted to have sex, so I engaged in foreplay. He really just wanted to hang out and get to know me, I guess? Anyway, although he was aroused, it became apparent to me that he was not comfortable, so I stopped. Sexual encounters can be awkward and people, male or female, can be unsure of what they want even when their original intent was to hook up. Are we supposed to constantly ask the other person if they're okay? Have safe words for any sexual encounter? Obviously, work needs to be done on being more sensitive to rack other's needs and better at reading nonverbal cues, but these gray areas are hard to navigate. I know I wouldn't want a guy checking in with me every few minutes

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