Soooooo, I have been thinking a lot about the #MeToo movement and the #TimesUp propaganda and this Aziz Ansari story and many of you may not like what I have to say, so you should stop reading right now.
Those of you who are a glutton for punishment, let us start with what Luvvie reposted from Aisha Taylor:
So ya’ll know, I’m not a feminist. I just can’t with them and I’m making a vast generalization about who is feminist and what they believe, but they be killing me, because my experience and understanding of feminists is that they hate men and want to destroy men and masculinity. IJS.
Aisha Tyler perfectly explains my issue with this #MeToo movement. I am confused by the parameters. Because right now, everything is categorized as assault and should be prosecuted or the person fired.
“It is delineating, and separating, true incidents of assault and sexual leveraging (in the workplace, promises of career support, threats of career diminishment, sexual violence/intimidation) from uncomfortable/offensive encounters.”
Now, if #MeToo would stay here and be about the real power dynamics being used in the workplace, then I’m here for it. Then I’m like let’s figure out how we teach our young people about these dynamics, let’s socialize our boys and girls around their own self agency. Let’s talk about the institution’s role in protecting employees from intimidation and harassment.
But noooooooo, #MeToo includes every single kind of interaction between males and females and all of it is criminal.
NakeebaRoots, MsToiny and I were talking about #MeToo awhile back and when I told them I had never been sexually harassed in the workplace they bristled and even told me, maybe I didn’t recognize it. I told them, maybe we have different definitions of harassment. I still maintain that I have never experienced sexual harassment at work ever. Now can I recall offensive or uncomfortable encounters at work? At this point my memory says nope. But don’t hold me to that. And maybe I can’t recall because I shut that shit down when it came my way.
Ok, but by now you must be asking yourself why is she writing about this on a blog for educators?
Because adolescence is messy asf and in the day and age of #MeToo meaning everything is criminalized, I wonder how are we talking and teaching our students in a nuanced way about interactions between boys and girls?
And so then here comes the Aziz Ansari story about a woman who described a date and the sex that followed and how she felt pressured to have sex with Ansari.
In the story the woman talked about all the cues she gave to show Ansari she didn’t want to have sex, and that he ignored them.
And I wondered, and I’m being honest here, why didn’t she leave once she felt uncomfortable? Why did she eventually “relent” and sit down on his penis?
The truth is, I know why.
We as women are socialized to acquiesce to men even when we’re told to resist them. Add to that, celebrity and alcohol and all the ways girls and women are told to deny their intuition and you have 1000’s of stories like this one.
And see, my problem is that then this becomes ONLY about the man. Ansari should have known she didn’t want to, he should have stopped pressuring her. He should have…He should have.. He should have…all true things.
But then is there any space for what she should have done? Or does any suggestion of what she should have done, considered victim blaming and shaming? Because after all, only boys/men have agency. Women, we’re just here, waiting to be told and coaxed into what to do.
And the only thing I think she should have done is listened to her intuition when it said, this doesn’t feel right.
End the night.
Do we teach/socialize our girls to give enthusiastic consent when it comes to sex?
Do we teach/socialize our girls to have self agency over their bodies?
Do we teach/socialize our girls to have a sexual identity that isn’t steeped in shame?
And if girls/women practiced enthusiastic consent wouldn’t they be labeled as a slut or a hoe?
Because currently we teach girls and women to resist all of the sexual advances of boys/men by any means necessary unless they are promising some form of commitment, because only then is sex warranted?
Unless you a hoe. Why buy the cow if you can get the milk for free?
Am I bugging and living in an antiquated mindset? My boo, is probably shaking his head in the affirmative at this question.
But it is my experience that we still tell boys to go out and get all the sex they can and to get it by any means necessary which means a lot of coaxing and priming and convincing.
And we tell girls to keep their legs closed by any means necessary, but, to keep the boys wanting more, but, we only give them more if they claim us. And even if girls display some sort of sexual agency it is solely for his pleasure.
I want you to really keep track of sexual encounters and innuendos that you see on the TV and in the movies and listen to in our music. You thematize what you see and hear and tell me what you believe we’re all being fed. Then do this activity with your students; if the content and age is appropriate.
When it’s all said and done, I am concerned about the #MeToo movement. I don’t know where it’s trying to move to and I don’t know what messages it is sending to young people, conflating all interactions as criminal, all men as dumb asf and all women as victims incapable of making decisions.
Now, do we have work to do in our society? Yes.
Do men have work to do in our society? Hell Yes.
Do women have work to do in our society? No doubt.
I’m just not sure that any of us know what that work is. But I’m sure that the work looks different in different communities and yes, that difference can be based on race, ethnicity, religion and culture.
As for me, I’m focusing on one thing with this #MeToo movement:
What does developing self agency for Black girls/women look like with regards to their bodies and their sexuality?
Ok, maybe two; “if we lump every negative or uncomfortable encounter together, then we give all those who want to undermine and erode the #metoo movement with exactly the ammunition they need to label us all hysterical, hypersensitive wildflowers.”
As educators, we have to be thinking about these things and finding ways to craft learning experiences around these issues so our young people can share what they’re thinking and what they’re struggling with.
And please, when we do this, make sure that we aren’t characterizing girls as victims and boys as dumb violent brutes.
In solidarity with my womanists!