Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Why Is Anyone Surprised About The Lame Accusations Against Aziz Ansari?

Here's the deal: current feminist / progressive/PC / Title IX-type / "Yes-means-yes" / affirmative consent orthodoxy is pretty clear: it entails that Ansari is a rapist. Which in no way seems to be true, of course. But he moved in a direction his date didn't want to go, and he was insufficiently responsive to her expressions of less-than-enthusiasm. Pretty much an open-and-shut case on the theory at hand. He'd be kicked out of a whole lot of universities.
   Why is anyone surprised by anything about any of this? "Affirmative consent" orthodoxy entails that, if Smith and Jones are having sex, and Smith doesn't like what Jones is doing, Smith has no obligation whatsoever to say so, nor to give any indication. The burden is entirely on Jones. Smith is not obligated to say 'no,' not obligated to express displeasure in any way...not even obligated to refrain from giving misleading feedback. If Jones fails to secure enthusiastic "affirmative consent" at every point, then Jones is a rapist. Smith could even intentionally refrain from expressing a lack of consent for the very purpose of making Jones a rapist. Jones would, on this theory, become a rapist. If we take seriously what the Ministry of Sex has decreed about these matters, this is all pretty damn clear.
   (Incidentally: in practice, it's almost always men that this burden falls upon. There's exactly no chance whatsoever that the arbiters of culture would tolerate something like this if the sexual tables were turned.)
   As is not uncommon: the forces of cultural reconstruction have replaced the old, defective theory (you owe him; lie back and think of England) with an equal and opposite kind of crazy. 
   All this was obvious from the beginning, and the accusations against Ansari are right in line with central, obvious, undeniable aspects of the doctrine. So it's pretty crazy that it's taken so long for opposition to affirmative consent ideology to gather significant steam. Maybe it's in part because Ansari is popular with progressive millennials. Maybe it's even in part because he isn't white. (This is unfair to men carries virtually no weight on the left; this is unfair to nonwhite men--or, for that matter, nonwhite x--is different.) With a few minutes' thought and a little intellectual honesty, these objections could have put the brakes on extremist affirmative consent ideology years ago, and avoided the destruction of many men's lives.
   It's not the easiest thing in the world, but this stuff isn't rocket science, either. There's a big difference between the things Harvey Weinstein is accused of and the things Ansari is accused of. It's not that difficult to think about it in a way that recognizes the differences. No set of rules or conventions is ever going to catch every bad actor without unjustly "catching" some innocents. Currently the left wants us to adopt a convention that (a) catches every bad actor and (b) redefines much perfectly permissible behavior as bad and (c) is indifferent to whether or not it unjustly catches even uncontroversially innocent men. The general contemporary feminist view is: society should be restructured so as to incorporate conventions and policies and laws which maximally benefit women, preferably at the expense of men. Harming men isn't exactly their goal...but it isn't exactly not their goal. Having accepted "privilege theory," they see basically everything as zero-sum, and they think that men have and do always benefit unjustly at the expense of women. So they see such changes as just. I'm sure that what they'd really like is rules that are sex-specific--a double-standard that puts men under more stringent obligations than women. But they seem to realize that'd be a bridge too far.
   Note: I in no way think that your average reasonable woman-in-the-street who thinks of herself as a feminist wants such a thing. But I suspect (but don't know) that's what the vocal vanguard wants. Reasonable feminists probably want what we all want: some way of stopping the Weinsteins without persecuting the Ansaris.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

How is the Aziz case any different from the Mattress Girl case? If anything Aziz seems more at fault than that guy. I'm wondering if there's some privilege stack jostling at play. This is BS feminists often get away with, but now it's directed at a prominent person of color, so it splits progressives between two levels of the stack.

I think it is important to frame this as the tradeoffs between preventing false negatives (the goal of feminists) and preventing false positives (the typical procedural liberal approach). It's important to realize how oppressive you have to be come to truly minimize false negatives, especially when there is no real attempt at behavioral development upstream of the act (previously schools, churches, and voluntary organizations did a really good job of this, now we have nothing but TV and the Internet). If activists really want to pursue that goal, it's going to get far worse than what Aziz is dealing with.

1:26 PM  
Blogger Pete Mack said...

Who exactly is making the "rapist" case? Mostly I've seen accusations that his actions were...in questionable choice shall we say. Also: see Alexandra Petri. She has the best recent column on the general topic.

11:12 PM  

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