BeyChella Was Not a Celebration of Women

BeyChella Was Not a Celebration of Women

Beyonce’s performance, this past weekend at Coachella, was magical, powerful, breath taking, and absolutely not a celebration of all women, and that’s okay.

In 2011, Beyonce stood on an MTV stage with the word “feminist” in a bold pink shade against a black background which illuminated behind her. Chimanda Ngozi Adichi’s “We Should All Be Feminists” piece eachoed throughout the arena. And we claimed that as a feminist moment, and as I look back at it, as my feminism has grown, and I can see it was another moment we, in this movement, stripped the blackness away from a moment and claimed it for ALL women. (#AllWomenMatter)

I have seen a lot think pieces in the past few days talking about Beyonce’s celebration of womanhood as a headliner at Coachella, a first black woman achievement, yet it’s some how a celebration for all women. And not to be dramatic or anything, but I genuinely hate these people, because they literally did not pay attention to anything that happened on that stage.

White women truly suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out) whenever it comes to black women’s performance, talents, and successes. It’s like our brains instantly turn into the very men we mock about masculinity so fragile and being excluded. We, yes I say we because even if there are a few us of we still have to answer for the masses, we immediately claim black women’s powerful, successful, and magical moments as a collective celebration of womanhood, but we rarely stand with black women when they are suffering as the hands of systemetic oppression and not dancing around the most famous stage in the world.

Beyonce’s performance was not for us white girls. We can consume it. We can pay for it. We can engage with the content. We can champion it. We can celebrate it. But it was not a celebration of just womanhood for all. It was not our celebration. While Beyonce created, visualized, and prepared for this performance, she did not think nor care about white people. In fact, her mother told her she was worried the primarily white audience wouldn’t understand her references to black culture. She didn’t care.

Beyonce’s performance was a celebration of blackness, specifically of southern black women, and even more specifically in college cultures. It was a true artistic masterpiece of hard work, talent, representation all mixed together from years of Beyonce catering to an industry that has white washed music since the beginning of “pop music.” If you didn’t know record labels in the 50s and 60s stole songs from black artists, gave them to white artists, put it on the radio, and made them thousands of dollars. And as we progress into modern history we still continue to see that same appropriation through Miley, through Katy Perry, through the Kardashians.

Queen Bey graced the stage in Egyptian garments and vibrant hues of yellow and black to represent the first Black Fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, who also heavily uses Egyptian symbols in their clothing and logos. She added in marching bands, drumlines, cadets and step shows both are an experience of black universities (if you’re white and don’t know what this means to black culture, pleasewatch the movies Drumline and Stomp the Yard). She also has stated she will provide the Formation Scholarship starting this year at historically black schools of Xavier, Tuskegee, Wilberforce, and Bethune-Cook. A quick reminder that last week, a black student applied to 20 Ivy League schools, was accepted into all of them, and was called “obnoxious” on Fox News.

She sang “Lilac Wine” by Nina Simone and had a clip from Simone’s “Strange Fruit,” (watch What Happened Miss Simone on Netflix), and she included Malcom X’s famous quote, from “Who Taught You to Hate Yourself,”

“The Most disrespected woman in America is the black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America is the black woman.”

For more of the specifics about all the black culture in her set, I would prefer you read it from a black woman, Dee Locket, so read her piece here .

Because while I want to celebrate and address Bey’s celebration on Main Stage at Coachella, we also need to address the elephant in the room: white women.

Beyonce becoming the first black female headliner of Coachella was not truly a feminist moment, it should be, and if our feminism was truly intersectional, then maybe it could be. But it isn’t.

In a time of Trump’s America, an America where 52% of white women voted for Trump, full of police brutality, modern day slavery in our American prison systems, Flint, Michigan and where (on the same day Bey performed) two black men in Philadelphia were arrested and held over night in jail, because they were in a Starbucks for waiting on a friend to arrive. All of this caught in the cross fires of 3rd wave feminism, black excellence, black girl magic, black representation in media, Black Panther, Black Lives Matter, Get Out, Beyonce’s Lemonade, a black storm trooper, Kendrick Lamar, and Cardi B.

So these moments cannot simply be feminist. The success of black women cannot be just clumped together with Taylor Swift, Lena Dunham, Amy Schumer, and Jennifer Lawerence and their medicore acheivements. To deny these moments of their blackness is detrimental.

Across the field at Coachella, Cardi B performed in an all white jumper that beautifully showcased her baby bump. A woman who got her fame through Vine by being authentically from the Bronx, authentically “ghetto, ratchet, trashy,” and whatever other words white women would have called her not even 2 years before her rise to fame.  And the one thing about Cardi’s graceful entry in main stream pop culture, she never toned down her blackness, her bronxness, her ratchetness. So while we talk about her achievements as a female rapper, and we deny the layer of her blackness, then we strip her of her success, her hard work, and her ambitions.

Black women have historically been forced into a decision to either prioritize their race and put their gender on the back burner, or to prioritize their gender and put their race on the back burner. And we as allies, should be fully acknowledge the success and the moment for black women. We shouldn’t be making them choose between race or gender. We should be able to champion on these moments for them.

We don’t need to sound like “What about Men’s History Month,” as we see a moment is NOT for us, but neither is it inherently against us.

 

 

Please note I did not include any pictures of Beyonce or her performance, because her team has been really strict about images, and my little blog didn’t want to deal with that.

Rose McGowan, White Feminism, and TERFS

Rose McGowan, White Feminism, and TERFS

If you’re like me, then you spend about 85% of your day online. I come across a lot of content from Twitter to Google Searches to working.

If you’re not like me, then the video clip that starting circulating of Rose McGowan having an “I’m not even sure what to call it” moment in a Barnes and Nobel hasn’t found its way onto your timeline yet. If you haven’t seen it, pause, click here and watch video 1 and video 2.

What we see is Rose at a booking signing in a Barnes and Nobel, and a trans women in the audience yelling at her. I’m not sure I want to use the verb yelling, but her voice was raised in anger and frustration. Rightfully so. I’m learning more and more the use of verbs projected onto specific groups while writing about them. So bear with me.

So, the first time I watched it I kept saying, “I don’t get what really happened. I clearly missed the first part of the video.” Then I finally got it. The woman in the audience, who I later found out is named Andi Dier, a prominent Trans Activist (and from what I have read today has SA assault allegations against her, but I do not know this information in detail and Rose did not know this when it happened), says this to Rose; “I have a suggestion. Talk about what you said on RuPaul. Trans women are dying and you said that we, as trans women, are not like regular women. We get raped more often. We go through domestic violence more often. There was a trans woman killed here a few blocks [away]. I have been followed home –.”

I missed the RuPaul part originally. So I went to find out what Rose said on RuPaul’s Podcast.

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This is what we call TERF– Trans Exclusive Radical Feminism. Which as we all know can’t fully be feminism, because if that shiz ain’t intersectional, then it is not really feminism. But let’s break down what Rose says here, but I think there are some really interesting points we can take away from this and learn as a community.

I’m not really sure what Rose was meaning to say, all I can read is what Rose said. But this is what I think on this subject. “That’s not developing as a woman, that’s not growing as a woman, that’s not living in this world as a woman.” Okay. Let’s pause here. If we ignore the layers of womanhood, then we will never ever be able to progress. My experiences a white, cis, upper-middle-class woman will DRASTICALLY differ from an immigrant Muslim, lower class brown trans woman. Does this discredit either of our experiences into developing into womanhood? No. Maybe Rose meant something else, but I don’t think she did. What she is projecting is that there is one singular experience of womanhood. Which is just absurd. Firstly, the question about the period…. What should I tell a trans woman who asks me? Yeah, it freaking sucked and my male teacher mocked me one time for needing to go change my tampon in High School? Or what about my friends whose cramps are so bad they want to remove their uterus or what about my friend who didn’t get her period until she was 19? My point is this is not an experience of womanhood that we cis women all experience in perfect unison.

So let’s move on to Rose and Andi in the bookstore.

Andi starts to address her questions and her voice raises, because well, who wouldn’t. But I as a cis woman can’t really imagine going into a Barnes and Nobel and yelling at a woman talking about her sexual assault, but again I am cis. So my perspective on this is meh, whatever.

So how does Rose respond? By saying we are all the same, “Hold on. So am I. We are the same. Point was, we are the same. There’s an entire show called ID channel, a network, dedicated to women getting abused, murdered, sexualized, violated and you’re part of that, too, sister. It’s the same.”

Sigh. No, we aren’t. My friends who are women of color will never experience the world like me full of privilege. My Trans friends will never feel my privilege. While I don’t like the idea of stating me and the Other, I note how incredibly important it is to acknowledge the Other’s experiences in these conversations. In one of my classes, my professor asked us what we saw in the mirror and I said: “I see a woman.” And a woman of color next to me responded with “I see a Black Woman.” That is something I will never experience, the color of my skin is part of my self-identification.
When we talk about White Feminism, we don’t inherently mean white people, though it tends to be, hence the name. White feminism means that you just don’t care about the layers of womanhood- race, religion, gender identification, sexual identification. A black woman fighting for the right to abortions, but is very anti-Trans woman can still be a white feminist. Though, I have only seen this a few times.

It usually looks more like pink pussy hats and Instagram worthy protest signs ignoring how many white women voted for Trump, ignoring fighting for policy changes that affect Black women and Trans women.

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But I must ask this,  and maybe this is TERFY of me, and it if is, then call me on my shit. Do I need to specify the differences between Trans women vs Cis women? This feels as if I am alienating Trans women, that I have to call you a Trans woman. You’re just a woman to me. Is this part of your self-identity like of my friend from class? Am I stripping you of something if I just call you a woman?

Andi then says words: “You do nothing for them. Trans women are in men’s prisons. And what have you done for them?” Rose responds with “What have you done for women?”

She then says “This is like the AIDS crisis all over again. This is white cis feminism,” as she was escorted out.

So this is something I have seen a lot in the Feminist movement recently. From Cis women of all layers–gay, bi, straight, Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Black, Brown, White. “What do Trans women do for Cis women?” And it’s an interesting question. Becuase while we should champion for each other, are we all meant to be activists for each other? I spent most of my years working as Rape Advocate and Anti Rape Activist, but I’m by no means a Trans Activist. I have gone to many BLM marches, but I would feel so wrong standing there being an activist in a narrative that doesn’t belong to me. Is it wrong for Cis women to take the back lines and allow Trans women to be the voice of their narrative? I am NOT saying we should say Transphobic things, but I’m also asking am I as a Cis woman fit to be a Trans activist? Do I need to have that self-identity to be an activist? I am literally asking you as my reader. I don’t know.

I do remember resenting the white male savior who walked into our discussions on teaching consent on campus. “I would love to develop a gender-based violence course,” he said. I remember the man who said, “my feminism wasn’t helping enough, but he knew the answers, he knew how I should express my pain.” But then I remember the men on campus who said: “I am here to support you.” My point being there is a difference between being an activist and being an ally. And is it right to be an activist for a movement that isn’t your identity?

Now. This tweet from Rose from this past October is NOT what I mean by the definition of being an ally. No. This is talking over the narrative. Of course, we need to fight for these things. Trans and Cis women need to fight for these things regardless of which one it affects. Same as we as Trans and Cis women need to fight to protect women who go to prison.

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So this is the part of the video where people get really upset. Rose says this as the Trans woman is leaving. “Don’t label me, sister. Don’t put your labels on me. Don’t you fucking do that. Do not put your labels on me. I don’t come from your planet. Leave me alone. I do not subscribe to your rules. I do not subscribe to your language. You will not put labels on me or anybody. Step the fuck back. What I do for the fucking world and you should be fucking grateful. Shut the fuck up. Get off my back. What have you done? I know what I’ve done, God dammit.” Specifically “I don’t come from your planet.” I think when we really look at this, this wasn’t Rose stating that Trans women come from a different planet; I think this is Rose stating she herself doesn’t come from our planet. I straight up think Rose is really unhinged, I don’t think she is okay. I don’t think she is stable. I think we saw this in the mindset that Rose herself is in a different world. But fuck. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe this is my privilege blinding me to something.

The next thing Rose says is that really upset people was “What I do is for the fucking world. And you should be fucking grateful. So shut the fuck up. Get off my back. What have you done?”

Damn. This to me screamed again she is so not stable. She isn’t okay. But also telling a Trans woman who is expressing her issues to shut up? Gross. Saying a Trans woman should be grateful when most of your activism has been for white upper class cis woman of Hollywood? Just….uhm, odd? Also if you’re in activism for praises, you’re doing it wrong.
“I’m mad you put shit on me because I have a fucking vagina and that I’m white [or I’m black, yellow or purple]. This also seemed to really upset the internet. Which to me, I found really interesting. Now, if we define sexism a little more liberally, then I would say “it is the hatred of a person with a vagina.” And even further, sexual abuse of women come as a result of having a vagina. So what I Imagine in Rose’s mind she is sexually abused, because she has a vagina. She then is hated for her sexual abuse aka her vagina in Hollywood. And now as she tries to tell this narrative, a Trans woman says she isn’t good enough because she has a vagina and is not fighting for women without a vagina. This is not what I think literally happened. But what I picture is her mindset for this statement.

Now obviously, Rose has a pretty open track record of saying Transphobic things, which of course is different than sexism. But it is still rooted in the same kind of hatred for “the Other.” Obviously, Rose is being attacked for her past quotes. Not that she is Cis. Not that she is white. But to note, that when we talk to someone who is clearly unhinged, they feel, they hear, the see the world a lot differently than someone else. I think Rose is hurting. I don’t think Rose is okay.

What amazed me was the tweets that followed. How blatantly Transphobic “openly proud feminists,” were.

 

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Like…girl what? Where did you even learn this “information.” There are tons of these tweets. Hundreds. Thousands. To different threads and didn’t personal tweets. And man did it bum me the hell out. I eventually just stopped reading them.

But I also gotta say, the tweets saying “fuck Rose she can die,” also seemed just not appropriate. Rose is harboring a lot of pain, anger, and violence. She is clearly not well. She is not stable. And well, I just don’t think some of those tweets were the most constructive. Has she said things like this before, well maybe not to this extent, but Transphobic things, yes? Has she learned? Clearly not. But I just also can’t imagine adding turmoil to someone’s life who is clearly sinking in her own pain of sexual assault. But again, as I said from my first comment–I am a cis woman so my overall stance on this is just meh.

I think as we grow as people and grow as in our movements, Me Too, BLM, Feminism, Trans Movement, Pride, etc, then we constantly need to strive to learn more and more. What Rose said was horrible, but did it lead way to a conversation a lot of white feminists in the movement need to self- reflect on? Are you fighting for all the layers of womanhood? Are you an ally to all women? Are you listening to what other women say and need for their survival?

Let’s Talk: Using the word ‘Gypsy’ in the travel community.

Let’s Talk: Using the word ‘Gypsy’ in the travel community.

Before we begin, I must state that I do not expect anyone with the name gypsy in their Instagram handle, blog name/URL, or branding to change their name. What I do expect is self-reflection upon the issue I am writing about. I used to be the angry PC keyboard warrior who would yell and cuss and try to shame others for not fitting into a perfect mold. But I quickly realized, this was for my own ego stroke. “Oh look how woke and educated I am compared to these other people,” I would subconsciously say. It was never fully and truly about helping the world, constructive conversations, and education. I think a lot of it had to do with growing up and probably a lot to do with living abroad now for almost 2 years.

So here is my education, and what you choose to do after reading it will be up to you.

If you google  “gypsy definition” the first thing that comes up is Google’s definition. And while yes the second definition is the one we probably are most familiar with, let’s read the first one, “a member of a traveling people traditionally living by itinerant trade and fortune telling. Gypsies speak a language (Romany) that is related to Hindi and are believed to have originated in South Asia.” Screen Shot 2018-01-15 at 1.29.59 PM

If you move on to the next two searches under the definition we see urban dictionary and dictionary.com and they look like this:

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Right there, the first line. “While normally considered a racial slur, the word gypsy refers to a person of Romani heritage.” Ever heard the verb “jipped?” Yes, it actually is just as offensive to say as “you j*wed me.”

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So what is actually offensive about the word gypsy? A word we have heard almost our whole lives in America as free people who wear pretty boho skirts and lots of beads and head scarves? The Sinti Roma website writes, “When it is used in the context of historical sources, the clichés and prejudices behind this term must always be borne in mind. The term cannot be clearly derived etymologically. It comprises both negative and romanticized imagery and stereotypes which are attributed to extant people”

Well, let me tell you a little history about the Sinti-Roma people. The Sinti and Roma people originally migrated from the Punjab region in India towards Asia and Europe and more recently North America. They arrived in Europe anywhere from 8th to 10th centuries, but the name Gypsy originated in about the early 1500s when Europeans believed they came from Egypt, and the German word for Gypsy was “Zigeuner,” the original Greek meaning “untouchable.” Sinti people refer to the members living in Western and Central Europe, and Roma people lived in Eastern and Southeast Europe; Roma is often tied to the people outside Germanic speaking lands.

Both communities spoke Romani which is a language based in Sanskrit, the class Indian language. And both communities had Christian and Muslim members. By the 1900s both communities were referred to solely as the Roma people and/or as a racial slur “gypsy.”

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Up until about the 1900 Roma people were nomads who had a reputation for theft, swindling, and conning. But in pre-war Europe, many Roma people were settled working as craftsmen, blacksmiths, cobblers, and even shopkeepers. Some still continued performing nomadically as singers, dancers, and circus trainers.

By 1939, the year WWII would begin, around a million Roma lived throughout Europe. Half of these people were located in Eastern Europe in Soviet Russia, Romania, Hungary, Yugoslavia, and Bulgaria. In Germany, there were around 30,000 Roma people, and almost all held German citizenship, and 11,000 of these 30,000 were in Austria.

While the Sinti Roma did not face nearly the same numbers as the European Jews did, they met most of the same terrible fate under Nazi Occupation.

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Many German Citizens had social prejudices towards the Roma people as any “us and the other,” type of racism. The Nazis deemed the Roma people to be racially inferior. Under the Occupation, Roma people saw arbitrary internment, forced labor, and mass murder.

I will not go into detail on what the Roma people faced during Occupied Europe, I will provide mainly links below if you are interested in more research, or if you would like to reach out and have a conversation about it.

Unfortunately, like every other group traumatized by the Holocaust, historians are unable to give an exact number of Roma people who lost their lives. Historians estimate that the Germans and their allies killed around 25 percent of all European Roma. Before the war, there were roughly shy of a million Roma people living throughout Europe, the Germans and their Axis partners killed up to 220,000. Let that number sink in. I know it is not the millions of Jews, but one thing I learned in my Holocaust class is after about 5,000 our brains can’t process that many people. 220,000 individuals lives were lost to a group of people who never learn about.

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After the war, discrimination against Roma people continued on both sides of the Iron Curtain. Until 1979 Roma victims were not up to restitution, who had been incarcerated, forcibly sterilized, and deported out of Germany for no specific crime.

Even today the word is still used as a racial slur.

My host family in Hungary regularly called “poor” people “gypsies.” And they also loved Ronald Raegan and called Hillary Clinton a “gypsy.”

When my friend Grace and I were in Prague, we went to a small museum, and the tour guide had a weird gate made of PVC pipe that he called his “gypsy alarm system.”

For those who have not traveled to Europe, there is a small population of beggars in major tourist cities who have a very infamous reputation of sedating their children and covering them in dirt and begging for money. From what I understand these people are NOT Roma people.

Now, as I type this history out, I understood this is heavily neglected in our Western Textbooks. I was actually in my SECOND WWII class before I even touched on the Roma people. But I think as travel bloggers we have such a responsibility to promote education of places, cultures, and peoples. And it makes me very sad to see the word connected to bloggers who promote content in Germany, Russia, Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Romania, and Bulgaria. Maybe I am what some call a snowflake and too sensitive, maybe after I really should, as Ann Coulter said, “grow a pair.”

I don’t have the answers.  I really don’t. But the least I could do was use my platform to educate, and probably many of you didn’t even know this history or the racism connected to the word. Again, I am not asking you to change your brand, your name, etc. Anything you have worked hard on. I just wanted to share the trauma and pain an entire group of people faced, whose history is often neglected and romanticized.

Let me know your thoughts below.
Are you interested in more history lessons connected to travel? Or history lessons to be more educated as a person? Is this not fun, glamorous, or sexy for a travel blogger?

I don’t have the answers, but I’m really trying to find my voice in the travel community. And this is my first step.

OPINION: Let’s Talk about Aziz Ansari

OPINION: Let’s Talk about Aziz Ansari

TW: Sexual Assault, Rape, Sexual Misconduct, Self Harm

Look, I’ve had my fair share of witch hunts from celebrities to hardcore to college frat boys. In college, I started down a route, which was the first of many in my feminist awakening, in which I proudly and daringly defended victims of Sexual Assault. I was not afraid to call them out and support women who fell victim to the abuse of men. But I soon become swept up in this movement where I always chose to side with women, and this became dangerous.

I remember one account on Twitter from a woman I didn’t even know about a man I did know who used to send me under pictures with hard-ons and say “I wish you were here,” I would brush him off and reply with “‘I’m studying lol shouldn’t you be studying.” He lived 1,200 miles away from me. And this girl lived near him. Apparently, he tried to kiss her one too many times after she rejected him, and she wrote a lengthy post on her Apple notes page and posted it on Twitter. (I say apparently, because, well, I can’t even remember their names or what it actually said). But surely enough, the internet turned on him. He went from a couple thousand followers on Instagram and Twitter to nonexistent. I don’t remember if I personally partook in this event of publicly shaming him, but as I reflect back I remember he was called a rapist and abuser. But why, he didn’t actually rape anyone? Was he gross? Yes. Did he not give up when we wanted him to? Yes. If he did it me and some other girl was he probably pushy towards other women, I can’t say yes, but probably.

I had men ask for nudes, and quickly respond with “okay well you’re fat anyway.” This ability to shame them on Twitter became a sort of power for me, and maybe other women as well.  It also became a platform of justice for many women who would never see the inside of a courtroom. Has anyone seen that episode of Newsroom where Don goes to find the woman at Princeton and talks to her? I really think maybe this is where my wake up call came from.

Let’s fast forward to about 2 years ago. Where many of the people reading this will remember, I made a terrible mistake and lost friends over it. A woman decided to share a piece about a man who pushed far too many limits, involving alcohol, etc. But when she posted her piece on Twitter she never once used the word rapist or abuser, but what did I use? Rapist and abuser, yes you guessed correctly. It was wrong of me, but that person and I have a long history of hatred between us so I Ignored her points and went for my own justice, and apologies are due that I have not given.

I quickly became the one thing I didn’t want to be: someone hurting the feminist movement. I threw words like abuse, rapist, racist, around like no tomorrow. A few years ago the worst thing to call someone was a racist, but as we slowly called more and more white people against BLM a racist their eyes kinda glazed over as we talked about racial issues. And this is what happened as we used rapist and abuser: people stopped listening.

This is when we stopped using Twitter as our courtroom for the Justice we would never see, and we turned it into the punching bag for all men that made us feel violated.

So how does this tie into Aziz Ansari? Well, I am sure at this point we have all read this post written by Katie Way and posted at Babe. If you haven’t read it, pause and read it before continuing to read my post. Yesterday, the witch hunt began. “Well, Aziz is canceled.” “We don’t support this in this house.” “Aziz is a rapist.”

This young woman, 22, covered by anonymity as Grace shares her details of her date with Ansari, and the internet went crazy. And I read post after post calling him a rapist.

Let’s be clear, Aziz has disappointed a lot of us, but point blank he did not commit rape. Point blank.

Aziz has painted him as a feminist, an ally, and monetized for years of being these things. I think that is where it struck a deep chord with most of us. It made me cringe. I also think for most of us, we can remember situations like this. I can think of one night in particular where I met a guy at a party, and he kept kissing me, and I felt guilty to say no, as I had danced with all night. I was too afraid to say no, to some ugly frat boy. So I can’t even begin to imagine the fear Grace felt at 22 articulating the word no to an older man, let alone a man of Ansari’s fame status. I also think for men, this is such normal behavior for them, that they can’t begin to understand why this would be bad. Isn’t this the hookup culture we created? Even in his apologies he wrote “I thought it was consensual.” And I think this speaks volumes. Why does he think coercion is consensual? Why do men think this is consensual? This is the root of the issue here. The heart beat of rape culture.

Much like the piece Cat Person published by the New Yorker. That piece really stuck to us, because well, it is now part of our generation. Vapid and shallow conversations via texts and sharing memes don’t mean we know someone. And I think Grace was hoping for something more intimate, as we see that she hoped he would play with her hair or back. And I think Margot was too.

I read a few tweets this morning, from an account I will choose not to share, because of the witch hunt. While she had some great points, she also had some bad points.

Her first point was that men aren’t responsible to learn our social cues. And to be honest, that is bullshit. You’re adults, you can tell when a woman is uncomfortable. And surely after the sentence “I won’t enjoy it if I’m forced,” Aziz knew she was uncomfortable as she sat on the floor wanting affection and then suggested oral sex from her. Nope. He knew better right here. And I can’t imagine the fear and uncomfortableness of wanting to say no, but not knowing how to get the words. You know we are uncomfortable. And consent isn’t no is no, consent is an affirmative yes. Grace only felt comfortable or safe once she left Aziz’s presence. Which is his fault. He had a responsibility on that date, especially in his own domain of his home, to make her feel safe. She was younger, non famous, and a woman. She repeatedly demonstrated she was not interested and kept hoping he would be better. Haven’t we all been in a situation like this?

The second point from her was that 22 is around the age we start learning about sexual experiences we don’t want or do want. And yes and no, we don’t know this woman, this could have been her first time kissing a man or maybe millionth time. What we do know is she was a nonfamous 22-year-old photographer from Brooklyn in a room alone with one of the most famous comedians from our generation. Who had the power in this dynamic? But ultimately yes, she is right. At 22 we are wading the waters figuring everything out, but I think for this argument to be on point we have to be at the same level.

Her third point was one that made me really upset. She discussed that the woman needed to crowdsource her feelings. This might have been the first time this woman ever felt violated, but by the sentence “you’re all the same.” I highly doubt that. Look here and listen, some women take days, months, years to process their rape and sexual assault, and typically they do it outwardly–talking, self-harm, drinking, etc. This isn’t unusual, and this sure as shit does not negate her feelings of being violated, or any woman’s experiences of rape and assault.

Now let’s get to the Atlantic’s piece and holy shit was this piece awful, but also my thoughts. Flanagan writes this, ”

Was Grace frozen, terrified, stuck? No. She tells us that she wanted something from Ansari and that 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.

Twenty-four hours ago—this is the speed at which we are now operating—Aziz Ansari was a man whom many people admired and whose work, although very well paid, also performed a social good. He was the first exposure many young Americans had to a Muslim man who was aspirational, funny, immersed in the same culture that they are. Now he has been—in a professional sense—assassinated, on the basis of one woman’s anonymous account. Many of the college-educated white women who so vocally support this movement are entirely on her side. The feminist writer and speaker Jessica Valenti tweeted, “A lot of men will read that post about Aziz Ansari and see an everyday, reasonable sexual interaction. But part of what women are saying right now is that what the culture considers ‘normal’ sexual encounters are not working for us, and oftentimes harmful.”

I thought it would take a little longer for the hit squad of privileged young white women to open fire on brown-skinned men. I had assumed that on the basis of intersectionality and all that, they’d stay laser-focused on college-educated white men for another few months. But we’re at warp speed now, and the revolution—in many ways so good and so important—is starting to sweep up all sorts of people into its conflagration: the monstrous, the cruel, and the simply unlucky. Apparently, there is a whole country full of young women who don’t know how to call a cab, and who have spent a lot of time picking out pretty outfits for dates they hoped would be nights to remember. They’re angry and temporarily powerful, and last night they destroyed a man who didn’t deserve it.

Here is my opinion, half of this is really mean, and half of this is spot on.

First, we don’t know if Grace wanted to be his girlfriend, but in the first few weeks of texting and dating don’t we all get caught up in that? So I dislike that the writer added that thought in there.

Aziz apologized immediately, which partly I think is bullshit. He knew he pushed some limits. Why else would she so abruptly leave? Come on, you’re an adult. But also, when she texted him, he apologized immediately. But at the same time, Aziz has been famous for a while now, and in that culture, I don’t doubt that he wasn’t surprised she didn’t want to have sex with him. Meaning, I’m sure he feels like a trophy fuck, and a nonfamous girl wouldn’t be excited for an opportunity to have sex with a celebrity. And it’s the world he is wrapped up in Hollywood.

Referencing the Newsroom again, but remember that episode where Hallie wrote a really personal piece about her and Jim for likes and retweets. Yup. This is ultimately what this piece reminded me of. It was solely aimed at likes and retweets for a magazine that wasn’t on the map.  As for the woman? I’m not sure her full intentions, but it didn’t fully seem pure or to warn and protect other women. This truly seemed a chance at destroying a man that, as Flanagan wrote, didn’t deserve it. Meaning he didn’t deserve to be called a rapist and the spotlight of anger and canceling him online. He deserves backlash and education to grow.

If we are so quick to write people off for mistakes, will we ever become better? We need to educate, and honestly, Aziz is at an age where he has a lot to unlearn. Just like most of us. The whole point of the movement is to make the world a better place, and we have to ask ourselves if this is the best tactic and approach to making the world a better place– canceling people on social media. Take for example, the internet called Emma Watson a white feminist and many wrote her off. But she took that time to learn about how her behavior was supporting white supremacy. In fact, calling her out, calling out a woman in power,  helped her grow and learn and hopefully use her power to help.

Aziz was wrong. And I hope he learned. I hope other men use this experience as an educational situation and not a scare tactic to understand what consensual sex is, that coercion is 100% not consensual, and that it is your responsibility to learn social cues in a world where saying no often leaves women dead. I know this woman feels violated and hurt. But I just have a gut feeling about this article and the social media response that followed.

I truly hope we take this an educational moment. Because the only way we will be better is through education. As I wrote to a friend “why did he think this is consensual? Why do men think this is consensual? I think that is the root of the problem here. And not a means to destroy him for the sake of destroying him. But to destitute him to teach other men: this isn’t okay. This isn’t consensual. Because this is muddy. This isn’t exactly rape. But it is something almost all of us have experienced. And it’s even more heart breaking coming from a man who painted himself an ally in public. But I also think we need to use this as an educational moment and not a scare tactic.

Here is Aziz’s Response. 31 hours after the post.

Aziz is a learning curve for men who don’t understand or know why their sexual behavior is wrong. Here is your chance to step up to the plate.

I would really like to hear everyone’s thoughts on this. I know this is muddy and grey water we are trekking into. But is this hurting the feminist movement or helping the feminist movement?