Another week another sex scandal. The fucked up thing about the Aziz Ansari scandal was that when I first read it, I was like, “Oh that’s not so bad in the grand scheme of things.
And then I felt icky for feeling that way. The reason Aziz’s behavior didn’t seem so bad to me was because I have experienced it so many times by different men. The arrogance, the persistence, the sexual remarks, the grabbing. It happens so often that it just seems normal.
For me, it started in middle school when a friend invited me over to his house. He failed to tell me that his mom was gone and it would be just us. When I got there and realized this, I immediately felt uncomfortable.
After a few minutes of watching TV, he asked me to massage his back. When I gave him a funny look, he said “Damn, I’m just asking for a back rub.”
And with those words, I was the one in the wrong. The one who assumed sexual intent. The one who was making things weird and the one who was vain enough to think that he wanted to get with me. You see it on dating sites all the time. A girl rejects a guy and he comes back with “Whatever, I wouldn’t fuck you anyway,” trying to turn it around like he was rejecting her, not the other way around.
I ending up massaging his upper back over his shirt. I was 13 and didn’t know what else to do. Eventually he turned around, got close, and said, “When you gonna let me hit that?”
I told him that it wasn’t going to happen and he raised his eyebrows at me like we were playing a game. It wasn’t a question for him of if it was going to happen, but when it was going to happen. We did the awkward dance that always follows, him grabbing for me and me pulling away. After a few whines from him of “c’mon”—my favorite persuasive argument—I was able to get out of his home and away from the whole uncomfortable situation.
For the next five years, until high school graduation, I had to see him at school. It was five years of him calling me over to his desk to “talk”. If I was feeling defiant that day, I would refuse to come over and he would call me a “bitch”. If I was feeling defeated and worn down that day, I would walk over to his desk and be greeted with “When are you going to let me hit that?”
This happened at school, a place that had to go to five days a week. There was no getting away from it.
What’s fucked up is that I genuinely believe that he didn’t know how uncomfortable he made me. In high school, I didn’t have the words and understanding to sit him down and explain all the ways that his behavior affected me. I couldn’t explain that his presence made my heart beat fast and my palms sweaty, not out of love, but out of fear. I couldn’t explain the relief that I felt when he was out sick that day. And I shouldn’t have had to.
So when I heard about Aziz, I did what I always do when I’m having conflicting feelings, I took to Twitter to see what everyone else thought. What a mistake. Many women related to the victim. They’d all experienced the same thing. But there was no empathy from these women. They blamed her for going to his house in the first place, for engaging in oral, for not leaving sooner. Meanwhile, no one spoke out about how after she said “no” the first time it was fucked up for Aziz to continue pursuing it.
I thought at this point, with the Me Too and Times Up movements, that we were done with victim blaming. I thought we were done telling women how to dress and act in order to not get raped, and ready to hold men responsible for their actions.
Guess we still have a long way to go.