WHEN I SAY THAT EVERY MAN IS AZIZ ANSARI
I don’t literally mean every man. I mean in August of 2015 I invited a man back to my apartment, and he got his dick out while we were still fully clothed and kissing. I mean the man did not ask nor inform me he was taking this action. I mean when I told the man that I was uncomfortable he said we, “didn’t have to do anything that I didn’t want to do,” and returned to kissing me. I mean that moments after saying this he did not put his dick away, but instead proceeded to jerk himself off. I mean when I stopped him and insisted he should go, he sat down on my bed and asked if he could stay the night. I mean when I said I was uncomfortable with that he said he, “wasn’t going to do anything, what’s the big deal.” I mean he didn’t deserve the ten minute debate I had with him. I mean when I finally said, “get the fuck out of my house,” he did in fact get up and leave. I mean there’s no way he didn’t see the tears in my eyes. I mean he still expected a goodnight kiss.
When I say that every man is Aziz Ansari I mean that these men, and worse, have been the majority of my dating experience. When I say that every man is Aziz Ansari I mean that so many of the men I have called friends would define these experiences as just “bad dates.” When I say that every man is Aziz Ansari I mean that a man’s “bad date” is meeting up with a woman whose personality he finds repulsive. A man’s “bad date” is too much awkward silence and terrible food. A man’s “bad date” is finding out someone is completely physically incompatible with them. My “bad date” makes me fear for my safety. My “bad date” coerces me into doing things I don’t want to do out of fear of the worse things that could happen instead.
When I say that every man is Aziz Ansari I mean every man who has on any level been sexually coercive, assaultive, or threatening, was a man I trusted. These men donate to Planned Parenthood and tell you about it. These men go to marches protesting the policing of non-cis men’s bodies. These men call themselves feminists and maybe even think they mean it. These men will read this essay and not for a moment believe it is about them.
These men will read this essay and not for a moment acknowledge the ways in which they are not like Aziz. The ways in which the white men and men of financial privilege get away with it far more often. The ways in which an author like me, a white woman, is uniquely positioned to be able to speak out in these forms. The many survivors of color, femmes in particular, who do not have the privilege of saying publicly that every man is Aziz Ansari, or when they so bravely do, will receive much harsher response than I.
We, the non-cis men, know the rules. If we get hurt, it’s our fault — never the people who did the hurting. When I say that every man is Aziz Ansari, I mean I have blamed myself for every man who has hurt me. I mean society will tell you exactly the type of man you should trust, and then in the very next breath condemn you for trusting them. This is why there are so many women berating the victims of assault who went to the man’s apartment, who agreed to the date in the first place, who didn’t just call a cab home, whose narratives are complex and filled with gray area. Believing these victims hurts. If all this is true, then maybe the rules are incorrect. Maybe it was never our fault. Maybe the things that felt deeply, morally, unequivocally wrong, were. Maybe all the ways we have been hurt were valid. Maybe all the men we thought we loved and trusted really did hurt us in the ways we had never allowed ourselves to believe they did.
When I say that every man is Aziz Ansari, I don’t literally mean every man. I mean that until you prove otherwise, I will believe that you are, too, Aziz Ansari. I mean that I don’t know that you can, truly, prove otherwise. I mean that I am just trying to survive, and I will no longer apologize for doing so.
The author would like to thank Cassandra Myers, poet and victim advocate, for their contributions to the revised version of this article.