I saw many similarities in Roxane Gay’s piece about Robin Thicke and Aziz Ansari’s alleged behavior outlined in the Vox article. Both men think it’s okay to dictate what a woman wants. It is odd that men think they can discern whether a woman is okay with their advances. This probably rooted in their inherent misogyny and entitlement, but when I was finished reading both pieces, my main takeaway was that we’re in too deep and nothing we do will solve our problems because they’re ingrained so deeply in everyone’s psyches that even if we did work to change the way we speak about consent and what not, we wouldn’t be able to see the tangible results of our work in our lifetime. I could be wrong though. As I was reading the Vox article, I asked myself questions like (though many of them were answered later on in the article) : Is it worse in Aziz’s case because he touts himself as a liberal feminist ally while not practicing what he preaches? Why does he do this? Entitlement? Fame? Is he really making a difference if he is preaching to people who probably already agree with the sentiments he’s expressed?
After the allegations against Aziz Ansari came out, it blurred lines in the #MeToo Movement. Though most people believe Grace’s story, it was unlike much of the rest of the #MeToo movement, which Framke points out in her explanation. From less extensive journalism procedures, to the history of Ansari, to the situation Grace expressed, more fervent critics arose and the movement became divided. Expressing the movement had moved to “too much”, critics began wanting to the end the unique movement as it crossed a line. This line, essentially, is that incidents like this are far too common. By crossing this line arises a huge question for all of society- what should these consequences be? Should there be any?
This question remains a suppressed one. In a male dominated society of “Men want[ing] what they want”, they don’t want consequences. Gay analyzes this in “Blurred Lines, Indeed”. Men dominate, and those who question this need to “lighten up”. Pop Culture and government are just two examples of this, but it describes society as a whole- viewable in the #TimesUp Movement and Hollywood. Though we finally are questioning it, some people are going through the same dilemma Gay faced. Unsure of the blurred line between lightening up and taking action, this is what drove the #MeToo Movement to be long overdue.
In her essay, “Blurred Lines,” Gay makes her argument against restrictive legislation for reproductive rights by comparing the government’s misogynistic behavior to that of popular music. Gay argues that if we continue to ignore pop music’s prejudiced messages against women, which reduce them to merely objects, then it’s no wonder we’re finding it so easy to also ignore the government’s encroachment on women’s rights. Gay ties this analogy together with the repeated phrases, “Men want what they want,” and “Lighten up,” to represent the similarities between prejudiced music and prejudiced legislation, arguing that in the end, they both cater to the desires of men and the consideration of women’s judgement as practically worthless. The “men want what they want” argument feels strikingly similar to the “boys will be boys,” “locker-room talk” justifications behind Trump’s Access Hollywood tapes, so Gay’s argument feels very relevant—we don’t only have congresspeople who disrespect women, but a president who does as well.
In the Ansari piece, Framke makes several points that relate to the “blurred lines” Gay mentions. Because the Ansari story had several elements that made it difficult to identify as “sexual assault”—the arguably careless reporting by Babe.net and the fact that the allegations weren’t nearly as incriminating as those of the Weinstein scandal—reveals the blurred lines between the sides of the #MeToo movement. At what point should an allegation be taken as a case of sexual assault, at what point can it merely be indicative of a larger social tendency to disrespect women, and at what point can it just be written off as a misunderstanding? I agree with Framke that Babe.net’s reporting made it difficult to judge the Ansari story; however, it appears as though the Ansari story does address many of the assumptions men make about dating and what women want without really realizing it.
In both “Blurred Lines, Indeed” by Roxane Gay and “The controversy around Babe.net’s Aziz Ansari story, explained” by Caroline Framke they explore the culture of implicit or unclear sexual assault.
Gay discusses how many artists often “blur” the lines between implicit and explicit sexual violence. Often there are “undertones” of sexual violence which in ways can be more dangerous because they are more readily accepted or dismissed by society. After being called out for his song, “Blurred Lines” Robert Thicke addressed this issues (or didn’t address it) by saying that “Men want what they want” which implies that a women’s opinion is marginal in decision making around sex which isn’t consensual. These attitudes are reflected often in both music and comedy which makes them harder to address because they are cast aside as just being jokes. She argues that this attitude isn’t just a pop culture phenomena but is also reflected in the decision making of our lawmakers. Controversial decisions around reproductive freedom often stem from men in government inhibiting women from having the autonomy to make personal choices around their reproductive health such as access to birth control and especially abortions. This stems from the same culture reflected in “Blurred Lines” where men make decisions for women without consulting them or without their best interest in mind.
This “Blurred Lines” attitude is also related to the themes discussed in The controversy around Babe.net’s Aziz Ansari story, explained”. A women who went on a date with Aziz Ansari and went back to his house afterwards felt deeply uncomfortable with his sexual advances and later told the story to Babes.net. Framke argues that men like Ansari “focus on their own desires without recognizing what their partner wants” which creates a reality for women where sex is a “gray area between pleasure and pain”. Aziz Ansari’s in his public image and show “Master of None” were commended for addressing issues such as sexism and sexual assault. This made the woman’s story that much more surprising but also concerning. Though the woman didn’t experience explicit, extreme sexual violence, she was very uncomfortable with the events that happened.
“Wolfpack” is a contrast to the other pieces we have read thus far, but offers new insight to how ones race and sexuality affect ones life. For the women in the story, these uncontrollable characteristics were practically their downfall, as they were sentenced to intense charges and media due to their homosexuality. Upon first skim, I was confused by the alignment to our course and past reading. However, a more in depth read proved that Sullivan wrote the store to prove a complex side and forgotten of sexuality.
I really enjoyed Sullivan’s writing and techniques in Wolfpack. Her use of imagery and narration is realistic and rich, making the short story more impactful and real. Additionally, this writing helps one understand and connect with the characters, understanding their tough positions as unjust incarcerated women. Through the three different perspectives, the first-person perspective helps to tell the story in a unique and expansive way. The audience is able to better empathize with the characters. Though one may know the report of the incident of the New Jersey Four, one cannot understand the point of view, position, or feelings until empathizing. Sullivan uses this short story as a vehicle to do so.
Although I enjoyed and understood “Wolfpack”, I am not completely sure on the message and themes of the story. I look forward to discussing and understanding this themes in class today.
I think that Mecca Jamilah Sullivan does a great job of keeping the perspective of the story in favor of these women. I think in many cases that the assailant would be viewed as the victim which is just sad. The way the story is written is incredibly straight forward. While I normally hate fiction, I think that it is important for stories of black girls to be written and told. A word that was brought up a lot in “Wolfpack” was “dehumanizing”. The headlines pertaining to the attack and counter attack of the man alone are backwards. “Killer Lesbian’s Trial Begins”. Minorities, and female minorities in particular, are dehumanized on a regular basis for various reasons, but Mecca Jamilah Sullivan forces the reader to sympathize with the women. While described as “bloodthirsty” by the media, the reader is aware of the verbal, sexual, and physical harassment that may have justified the killing. It forces the reader to question what they would have done in the same situation as well as not be so quick to judge those for their actions.
I had a difficult time getting through “The Wolfpack”, I felt could actually feel the pain and fear that each narrator felt. The author did a great job of showing the humanity in these women, which everyone else seemed to overlook. This story reminds me of a study done at University of Virginia which asserted that people in the medical field think that black people have a higher pain threshold than white people, which can result in misdiagnoses and inadequate treatment of people’s conditions. I made the connection because I feel like in this story, and in general, black women are constantly having their humanity called into question. They are constantly dealt the harshest punishments, and unfortunately this treatment extends into all aspects of their life. This dehumanization is only amplified by the women in this story’s sexual orientation. I read a few articles about the case after reading the story, and I saw that newspapers used their sexual orientation to justify their harsh sentences. I’m not new to knowing how unjust our system is, especially in regard to marginalized people, but this story just reminded me again. I also like that the author chose to omit any details about the assailant. Many of the articles talked about him and his career, as if what he did should be overlooked because he’s a creative. They also tried to paint him, an assailant, as a victim. The author did correctly reversed the roles and showed who the real victims are, the four women and their families as well.
We met on Sunday to create an outline of our presentation and figure out what themes. On Monday in class, we created our presentation and practiced.
Yesterday we created an outline for our presentation and found articles that discussed the topic that we plan to focus on. We decided to focus on longterm relationships in Sex and the City. At the end of our meeting, we planned to meet up again today to finish our powerpoint and find more evidence to prove our argument.
Today in class we went through each of the questions on the assignment sheet pertaining to the presence of Love and Sexuality in the show Friends. We also brainstormed about what we want our general theme of the presentation to be, and decided on family. Then we came up with different things we can talk about and how family affects the dynamic of the characters on the show, and we came up with several examples and ideas for video clips that we can use for our presentation.