Category: Ansari and Blurred Lines

The Overwhelming Power of Men

Both the blurred lines and Aziz Ansari articles deal with the overwhelming power of men, even though we have made huge strides as a society to stray away from it. In the blurred lines article, Gay shows the sexual assault done by Thicke with his disgusting lyrics of having a sex with a girl, when she says no. Thicke is implying that when a girl says no, she really means yes. Because it’s such a catchy song, many people know the lyrics and only reinforces the male dominance in an unacceptable way against women. Even Gay says that she has to lighten up and realize that it’s part of the culture, and that some parts of the pop society have ventured into those jokes.

 

The Aziz Ansari article shows the similar power in a different way. In this article, Ansari shows his power with many people tending to believe him and dismiss the victim’s case as nothing. This case is more complex because it isn’t blatant sexual assault. It seemed that there was fault on both sides, where Ansari seemed to not pick up the signals of the other. However, the power shows when many people discredited Grace’s story and felt it was silly that she couldn’t speak up and leave when she was uncomfortable. They put too much blame on the victim without looking at the other side as carefully, and shows how women and their stories tend to be stooped to a lower level, even though there has been movement to stray away from that for years.

The Power of “Manhood”

In these two readings “Blurred Lines, Indeed” by Roxanne Gay and “Babe.net’s Aziz Ansari Story, explained,” the normativity of sexual harassment and assault against women is discussed.

Through her analysis of the song “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke, Gay explains how this hit song implies that “when a woman says no she really means yes” (187). She also discusses how incredibly problematic this is, and how messages like this being perpetuated by pop culture can only reinforce the disturbing trend of male dominance and abuse in our current society. In the Vox article addressing the Aziz Ansari scandal, there is a similar factor of influence from popularized culture. Aziz Ansari, who was accused of sexual assault in an article published by Babe.net, is an incredibly prominent and well-liked actor. He has also made efforts to popularize the feminist movement, and has openly said that he believes everyone should be a feminist. I personally find it very interesting to look at these two cases of successful and famous men in the media, and how they seem to be excused from inappropriate behavior towards women, even when one of them claims to be in complete support of women and publicly denounces perpetrators of sexual assault.

In the chapter from her book, Gay talks about how “so much of our culture caters to giving men what they want” (189). This is clearly present in the discussion about Robin Thicke’s hit song, as he made statements claiming that “men want what they want” in regard to the way that he talks about and views women (187). clearly, this is an example of misogyny, as Thicke blatantly objectifies women and emphasizes their purpose as bringing pleasure to men. It’s hard, then, to compare him to someone like Aziz Ansari, who is so beloved in popular culture and who was supposedly one of the good guys. Yet, he has still demonstrated an alarming amount of disrespect towards women, especially in the context of him deriving pleasure from them. In the story from Babe.net, he is characterized as someone who does not pay attention to signals that he should stop what he’s doing, and who forcefully attempts to get women to perform in favor of his own sexual pleasure. Whether or not one chooses to interpret the behavior of these men as sexual assault, the fact remains that they are still placed in a social position where they are able to be dominant over women, and where they can use women to get what they want with little regard to their existence as human beings.

A Man’s World

In both Roxanne Gay’s essay, “Blurred Lines,” and Caroline Framke’s article, “The controversy around Babe.net’s Aziz Ansari story, explained,” the subject of implicit versus explicit sexual consent is explored.

Through her analysis of both Robin Thicke’s hit single, “Blurred Lines,” and legislation regarding abortions, Gay asserts that in this current society and culture, “women exist to satisfy the whims of men… [and a] woman’s worth is consistently diminished or entirely ignored” (Gay, 189). In Robin Thicke’s song, “Blurred Lines,” many of the lyrics suggest that when a woman says no, she actually means yes or maybe. When lyrics like this are expressed in a song that is so widely accepted by society, the undertones of sexual assault and violence are absorbed by society and no longer seen as taboo, but are accepted. Though the subject of sexual assault and consent are serious, it is often difficult to address them as such because of how they are often cast aside as jokes. Gay continues to argue that this way of thinking is not only limited to artists but is also reflected in the judgments and decisions made by our lawmakers. The controversy surrounding abortion rights often stem from men in the government and often interfere with women’s abilities to make decisions that are personal. Much like the “Blurred Lines” mindset, this school of thought again demonstrates how many men tend to make decisions for women without first consulting them with the assumption that they know what women want more than the women know themselves.

Similarly, in her article, Framke also highlights society’s tendency to dismiss and belittle the prejudices that women face through examining the story of Grace and her date with famed comedian, Aziz Ansari. Although there were many elements in this case that made it difficult to legally consider Grace’s date experience as sexual assault and the careless reporting by Babe, many critics dismiss her story by saying that Grace was just “making something out of nothing, a bad date in which Grace failed to speak up and physically leave when she felt uncomfortable” (Framke). Regardless of what actually transpired on Grace’s and Ansari’s date, it is yet another demonstration of how many women’s stories are disregarded and belittled.

Themes and controversies

I really enjoyed reading Roxanne Gay’s piece on pop culture and women’s sexuality being taken advantage of. What especially struck me in the piece was her shift between topics. Her discussion ranges in topics, from music, to abortion, to male persistence. It was very refreshing to read such a wholly encapsulating piece that seemed to summarize the majority of problems that women face in the US lately. However, I was hoping for a deeper analysis of the song in the title – Blurred Lines. In my sophomore year of high school I analyzed the lyrics of Adam Levine’s “Animals” to find more and more oppressive language and become horrified about the reality of the song’s message. Although it was not clear that Gay would be doing the same with Blurred Lines, this was still implied.

Aside from this, I was very impressed by Gay’s writing. Specifically, her discussion about abortion resonated with me. Growing up in Dubai, questions to pro-choice vs pro-life were not ever debated, unless behind closed doors and only within the company of liberal-minded people. This is because the UAE follows Sharia law, therefore abortions are illegal and not discussed further. It was very refreshing to read about the topic in more detail with a clear example of why being pro-choice is not a bad thing. Overall, her argument was sarcastic and fun to read, but slightly convoluted because she discussed many topics in a short space.

When reading the Aziz Ansari article, I was very interested in finding out about why the conflict about the scandal was prevalent. After the Harvey Weinstein scandal, I would think that most allegations would be taken seriously, however it was pertinent in the article that there was more controversy about the scandal than I thought. I was especially struck by the mention of Ansari’s private vs public persona, which I would definitely like to analyze further in day-to-day social groups.

The Call of the Oppressor

In both Roxane Gay’s “Blurred Lines, Indeed” and Caroline Framke’s explanation of the Aziz Ansari scandal, both authors reference the efforts of men and women (though mostly men) to tell women to shut up about sexual assault and harassment. The examples of these incidents occur frequently on a large spectrum, from the literal (such as Donald Trump literally telling his accusers to shut up), to the more figurative. Both articles, however, introduce the issue in slightly different ways.

In Framke’s piece, she describes the silencing of women as a process of denial. Framke describes part of the backlash against the Babe.net article as a retaliation of people who believe that the #MeToo movement has gone too far. Regardless of your thoughts on Aziz Ansari and his actions, the #MeToo movement has undeniably uncovered countless powerful men who have abused their power to harass and assault women without consequence. The backlash then strikes a blow to those wishing to change power structures, as they are essentially denying the actions of more powerful men.

For Roxane Gay,  the call of the oppressor for quiet comes in the form of diminishing the experience itself; in her words, they tell women to “lighten up.” Here, the men do not deny that the allegations of sexual misconduct, but rather claim that it doesn’t matter. For many, this is almost more dangerous than the other kind; to assert that the actions of men upon women simply do not matter is not a debate that can be easily fought, since it is not based on any logic. Thus, there is no way to stop such rhetoric, which very well may lead to more assault and misconduct in the future.

 

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