Comment Writer Jadzia Samuel argues that the Guild of Students goes unrecognised by many students, and suggests how this can changeWritten by Jadzia on 19th March 2018
Has the purpose of the #MeToo campaign been lost in a social media frenzy?
Comment Editor Alex Goodwin questions the latest campaigns surrounding the #MeToo movement
Let me start by saying I am an avid feminist, an advocate of women’s rights, and I solemnly take the ‘believe the victim first’ approach. However, the backlash against Margaret Atwood and the recent allegations against Aziz Ansari have made me question many parts of the #MeToo campaign.
First off, the article that sprung up this week on ‘Babe.net’ with the title ‘I went on a date with Aziz Ansari. It turned into the worst night of my life’ has split women down the middle, and I am shocked to say I fell on a side I did not expect to.
I truly feel for any woman that is performing sexual actions in a manner that she is not 100% comfortable with. It must feel degrading, dirty and downright awful. However, sexual assault is not consensual sex between two people, that then turns weird for your sexual preferences.
“Ansari publically claims to be an advocate for women, himself sporting a ‘Times Up’ pin at the Golden Globes, and it is disheartening and sickening to see how he then treats women in private
Once ‘Grace’ (kept anonymous) finally uttered the word ‘no’ the comedian stopped and suggested they simply ‘chill on the couch’ with their clothes on. ‘Grace’ allowed him to perform oral sex on her, followed by her doing the same to him, which for me, shrouds the issue of non-verbal non-consent.
Aziz Ansari showed a huge lack of respect for women in ‘Grace’s’ recount, and I am in no way arguing otherwise. Ansari publically claims to be an advocate for women, himself sporting a ‘Times Up’ pin at the Golden Globes, and it is disheartening and sickening to see how he then treats women in private. However, ‘Grace’ states she non-verbally made herself clear, and was surprised Ansari did not pick up on her body language.
A message the next morning from Ansari read how much of a ‘pleasure’ it was to meet her, which was met with a reply from ‘Grace’ stating how uncomfortable she had felt and how he had ‘ignored her non-verbal cues.’ The comedian avidly apologised and stated it was not in the slightest his intention and he must have ‘misinterpreted’ the situation. A misinterpretation that could have arisen from the fact there were no certain verbal cues until the final ‘no.’
“But, unfortunately, this is a story so many women know so well. It was bad, uncomfortable sex, but it wasn’t sexual assault
I am not suggesting that if a woman is lying there, stationary, clearly against sexual actions, men may act their fancy until she says no. Rather, if you both perform oral sex, there is an element of enthusiasm surrounding the encounter, whereby this particular case becomes a grey area. Whilst reading the article I felt ‘Grace’ was more ‘turned-off’ by the way Ansari was going about the encounter. Albeit, he came across as arrogant and blindly horny, but he never pushed her into anything she contested.
But, unfortunately, this is a story so many women know so well. It was bad, uncomfortable sex, but it wasn’t sexual assault. This is not to say we don’t need to reverse this trend of sexual encounters- plot twist, its not all about the man.
However, there’s been a sense of ‘if you’re not with us, you’re against us,’ with rising feminist movements, further highlighted by Margaret Atwood coming under fire this week for an article in The Globe and Mail, where she stated she believes ‘women are human beings,’ with the ability to assert agency and themselves.
And, to me, ‘Grace,’ at no point asserted herself. She allowed a man to order a wine she did not want (yes… ‘Grace’ made a point to say he only offered her red, when she wanted white). She allowed him to undress her with no protest. She performed oral sex on him with no protest, and then after she finally said ‘no,’ he stopped, just like she wanted him too.
I am not suggesting that ‘Grace’ didn’t feel pressured, many women feel immense pressure in uncomfortable sexual situations. 'Grace' found Ansari’s actions uncomfortable, awkward and downright unenjoyable, resulting in her wanting to stop it from going further. Ansari’s behaviour was awful, but unfortunately, it was also ordinary.
Ordinary in that this trend of pressurised, uncomfortable sex is a story shared by probably, every sexually active female in the world.
However, the solution to this issue is not to accuse every man of sexual assault. It is to highlight the discourses in society whereby men assume its okay to act in a certain way. ‘Grace’ did not need to publicly claim she was sexually assaulted to validate her hurt at the events that occured. She was treated poorly, and Ansari should be grovelling. However, ‘non-verbal’ cues are not the way to approach consensual sex.
“The solution to this issue is not to accuse every man of sexual assault. It is to highlight the discourses in society whereby men assume its okay to act in a certain way
‘Grace’s’ account seems as if she wished to be mollycoddled by Ansari. She wanted him to ‘rub her back, or play with her hair’ to make her feel better. But for me, the #MeToo movement is about empowerment. Women are strong humans, with the ability to speak their mind, and I for one do not want a man to comfort me if he is the reason I feel uncomfortable. I want to have the agency to stand-up, tell him I felt his behaviour towards me was not acceptable, and hop in a taxi to my best-friend’s house.
We should not teach our daughters that men will be attuned to ‘signals.’ We should teach them to be strong and assertive, alongside teaching our sons to understand the concept of consent, with full compassion and respect.
#MeToo should promote a woman’s ability to determine to a man what turns her on.
#MeToo should promote the need for men to respect women in a sexual encounter (far more so than Ansari showed towards ‘Grace’).
#MeToo should hold men accountable, both legally and socially, for sexual assault, abuse, and misconduct.
#MeToo should be about empowering women to say ‘no’ loudly and proudly.
“The legal system often fails victims, especially victims of sexual misconduct. Atwood’s critics took to twitter to criticise her form of feminism, claiming she is declaring war against the younger, less powerful females
Furthermore, Atwood, has now been branded as a ‘bad feminist’ for suggesting in her article that the #MeToo campaign is the product of a broken legal system. I do fundamentally agree with Atwood, although of course I see the flaws in her approach.
The legal system often fails victims, especially victims of sexual misconduct. Atwood’s critics took to twitter to criticise her form of feminism, claiming she is declaring war against the younger, less powerful females. There is truth to this, as often, it is the less fortunate females (the minorities, economically poor and/or the young) that are failed by our justice system.
However, if the final goal of the movement is to not hold men accountable for their behaviour, and ultimately ensure the correct behaviour becomes a norm in society (with well attuned judicial consequences), then what is the goal?
I myself have been sexually assaulted. I was walking home one evening when a complete stranger forced himself upon me outside my front door. It was terrifying and violating. I initially did not call 999, thinking I would be bothering the police. However, after I shared a facebook post warning other students of the man wondering our streets, another young woman commented to say it had happened to her too, a mere 3 hours later. I quickly after dialled 111 and reported the incident.
“Females are so attuned to believing we are not important in the eyes of the law, and for the most part this is not true
The police validated to me that a 999 call was completely in my right and the correct course of action for my situation. Females are so attuned to believing we are not important in the eyes of the law, and for the most part this is not true. We must utilise our legal system, and hold our abusers accountable. Accountable through the court system, not through an anonymous online article.
I went through ID parades and court hearings to ensure my attacker was found guilty. Closure for me was achieved through catching the man that assaulted not only myself, but also 8 other women (that we know about). Whilst I completely understand some women don’t want to share their unfortunate experience, or go through the legal process, I believe this is what feminists and the #MeToo campaign should be promoting.
The promotion of giving women a voice. The promotion of being strong enough to dictate our preferences and wants in sexual encounters. The promotion of taking back our legal system to punish our abusers.
My heart goes out to ‘Grace.’ Far too often women come away from sex with a man feeling violated, as if they’ve been forced to act out a pornhub film. However, non-verbal non-consent should not be our goal, and neither should the advocation of victims utilising social media in favour of our justice system.
We need to be strong, assertive and take back our legal system.