On Aziz Ansari and Other “Feminist Men”//Renee Mikorski, M. S.

Retrieved from: mic.com 

Of all the sexual assault allegations that have been coming to light in Hollywood recently, the allegations towards Aziz Ansari are perhaps the most heartbreaking and disappointing for me. I am not trying to discount any other experiences of assault and harassment in Hollywood, as all survivors’ stories are important. However, over the past few years with the release of his show, Master of None, Ansari has really started to hold a special place in my heart. One episode entitled “Ladies and Gentlemen” tackles the issue of sexism head on. The opening scene is particularly memorable where Ansari and his friend (played by Eric Wareheim) walk home at night lighthearted and carefree, while their female friend is encountering a creepy man following her home. This episode in particular gave me some hope that maybe some men in power were actually starting to “get it."

These hopes were dashed for me the other day after the accusation against Ansari was published. Along with these hopes being crushed, many fears started to surface. If a so-called “feminist man” like Ansari can treat a woman like that, whom can we trust? Are there any men who actually “get it?” It has become “hip” for men in certain progressive circles to adopt the label of “feminist” or “ally.” The label of “feminist” allows men access to circles in which “non-feminist” men may not have access. When I hear a man say he is a feminist I get hopeful and I feel more trusting towards that person.

However, as has been discussed throughout the social justice literature and blogosphere, there is so much danger to adopting such a label. It signifies to the marginalized group that you are a safe person to be around, that you are supportive, and you intend to do no harm. And it is almost more devastating when that person shows just the opposite with their actions.

I have learned over the past week or so that I am naïve. I am still struggling with the idea that perhaps this is a new form of predatory behavior in which men can gain access to women who identify as feminist and then replicate oppressive and harmful behaviors towards them. This makes me very scared and I hope that is not true.

I have perhaps been reaching for hope in the wrong places- hoping that some men are finally “getting it." I still believe that we need the voices of men in order to make changes that are needed in terms of sexual assault prevention and rape culture. However, if these men actually want to help they need to do more than just say they support women’s rights. They need to do more than attend rallies and marches. They need to support, respect, elevate, and communicate with the women in their lives. Whether that woman is a romantic interest or a friend, men need to start listening. Men need to do better.

Written by Renee Mikorski, M. S.

1 comment:

  1. It's why its an accusation, not completely factually backed up