Pocket PMF

Pocket PMF: Aziz Ansari

4 years ago by

Pocket PMF: Aziz Ansari

Today’s pocket is a timely one – the recent public accusation of Aziz Ansari of sexual misconduct. Garance, Emily, Vanessa and Brittany sit down and discuss the open letter to Aziz, the reaction from journalist, Ashleigh Banfield, as well as what it means to anonymously call out someone and the repercussions it can have on a movement. The women weigh in with their own experiences and how they feel. We’d also love to hear from all of you about your own experiences and thoughts on this very important topic.


Add yours
  • Hi Garance,

    I was a bit dissapointed by the opinions spoken about on the recent podcast. I felt like there was some thoughtfulness left out. I appreciate what you and your guests had to say about your own experiences, but I think you all left out a very important piece of empathy — that in situations of assault (in this situation, the woman DID give verbal cues too and had a back-and-forth with Aziz) not everyone has the same capacity to defend themselves and assert their agency. Especially when it comes to a celebrity male who touts himself as a feminist and “nice guy”. Aziz’s behavior is still one from a man in power. In those situations, when someone has an image that does not reflect their actions, there can be a disconnect and confusion for the victim. Furthermore, when assault happens, many victims have neurological and physiological reactions that result in silence and a sedated-like behavior. These are involuntary biological self-defense mechanisms to pain and trauma. Maybe the issue is assuming every woman has the ability to get up from their situation. Maybe it is a problem with society that not every woman and girl feels they have that ability. The Aziz situation is more reflective of what men think is okay and how women have been raised to accept pain. I have linked some conversations from other podcasts just to share some pieces of perspective you may appreciate. Thank you.



    And finally, a wonderful article on a tangent but very much reinforces these ideas that men and women have about “bad dates” and “bad sex” are so different.


  • I completely agree with you, and was also disappointed by the lack of empathy.
    Studies have shown (link below) that in every other area of life, men are able to understand non-verbal and softened versions of “no.” Only in sexual situations do they claim they can’t understand, to excuse their coercive behavior.
    He fact that what he did isn’t illegal is completely beside the point, it can be legal and still be wrong. Sex doesn’t need to and shouldn’t feel coerced, yet unfortunately this situation is very familiar to far too many women.
    We’ve come too far to not try to fix that as well.


  • Kendall March, 4 2018, 10:35

    Thank you for articulating that so beautifully

  • Bonjour, il y a des lois dans le code pénal et elles doivent être APPLIQUÉES à la lettre. S’entendre dire que l’on est jolie est gratifiant, s’entendre dire que l’on est jolie et être poursuivie dans la rue alors que l’on a exprimer son refus cela devient lourd, s’entendre dire que l’on est jolie, que le garçon tente de nous toucher le Bras, le cou cela devient du harassement, une violence sexuelle, donc viol, lorsque l’homme abuse la femme. Tous les hommes ne sont pas des « salauds » et je n’adhère pas du tout à cette formule « balance ton porc »….. qui devient comme une chasse aux sorcières. J’ai grandi avec la mise en garde de mes parents de ne point suivre un homme ou femme que je ne connaissait pas, de ne pas accepter de bonbons de qui que ce soit…et à l’adolescence être attentive aux comportements de certains garçons ou hommes. L’insistance des hommes j’y ai eu droit quelque fois dans ma vie, mais étais à même de m’en sortir en refusant les chantages à la promotion ou autres car prévenue de certaines attitudes. Ces attitudes doivent CHANGER, et dès le plus jeune âge inculquer aux enfants et adolescents de ce qui est acceptable et de ce qui ne l’est pas !!! Sincères salutations

  • Kelsey O'Donnell February, 12 2018, 7:42 / Reply

    I second Phoebe’s sentiments and appreciate how graciously she expressed them.

  • Jorge Alexandre Teixeira February, 13 2018, 3:19 / Reply

    Hi Girls ! I think you mentioned a very important point about this issue which is :
    Pressing charges against the alleged agressors ! I imagine that it can be very traumatizing going to the police , been exposed and all that but…been exposed and expose someone on tabloids without any proof of what your saying …i don’t know!

  • I feel like Pheobe : I feel very disappointed about this podcast. I´m really surprised because you talk a lot about sisterhood and be kind toward other woman but here you seem very judgemental to a very young woman you dont’ even know. It seems to me to be more gossiping than anything you did before … Sadly

    PS : I don’t really think powerful men need do be protected (especially from a young unknown woman)

  • Hi all,

    I have to agree with the first commenter. While I love that you are covering these issues, I think that much of your conversation was basically tantamount to victim blaming. “Why didn’t she go to the police?” “Why didn’t she no?” etc. I do understand that this is a much less clear-cut case of abuse. I personally am a big fan of Aziz Ansari and I feel that his text message response, where he totally apologized for what happened, speaks volumes about his character. But this doesn’t mean that what happened was not abusive and coercive and that this woman is entitled to our time and consideration. And not to basically be called an attention seeker.

    I disagree with you all in the sense that I think this is a great thing for the #metoo movement because it challenges us all to think differently about consent. It challenges us to consider that nice guys with the best intentions can still do bad things because of the culture we all live in and the norms of behaviour we all grow up with (the damned PATRIARCHY!) Abuse doesn’t start with massively violent acts, it starts with small allowances and small actions. We should all be more conscious of how we may coerce each other in our sexual encounters. It’s not ‘hot’ to be encouraged to do something you don’t want to do.

    This is an opportunity to challenge our whole culture to change – not just the major predators – but each of us, in our daily encounters with each other. This may be uncomfortable and require some self reflection, but it is 1 million percent worth it, if we can make a world where active, continuous consent is considered normal in every sexual encounter. Gender norms as they stand allow for coercion and violence to perpetrated against the vulnerable members of society by the powerful, and I think at its core – this movement is challenging that. It is pure feminism in the sense that it is saying, “hold up – the vulnerable members of society can no longer be exploited and the powerful need to be held accountable and change their behaviour. ”

    I hope I have managed to show you another perspective. May I recommend the excellent podcast the Guilty Feminist – it’s expanded my mind so much in the time I have been listening to it! http://guiltyfeminist.com/

    Love x

  • I feel like Phoebe : I’m very disappointed by this podcast. You talk a lot about sisterhood and to be kind towards other women but, here, you seem very judgemental about a young woman you don’t even know, except from some article on line. When I listen to that, it seems very gossiping compared to anything you did before … Sadly.

    PS : I don’t think powerful men need to be protected by the way (specially from a young unknown woman)

  • A consent app ???

  • Yikes! Women who are not famous as these men are never ever in power. Their consent is very ambiguous to begin with. As a feminist and a professor I must say that this is dangerous, and smokes of your class, and privilege. He was criticized for his gender portrayal of women in the latest season of Master of None. His portrayal of Asian women is highly questionable, and now he is defending his behavior. This blog is going to the dogs. Indeed consent is ambiguous- that should be the point, rather than bashing a girl who, as others claimed you don’t know. The fact that Rose McGowan may have “consented” to HW’s advances needs to be framed within the awareness that she was a new actress, a person who was with someone on whom her livelihood depended, in HIS space. We need to be very aware of the larger contexts within which these events play out.

  • I had a long discussion with my 31-year-old son, who sent me the original post about the encounter with Aziz Ansari. He was enraged on the woman’s behalf. I agree that there was definitely a power dynamic going on there as the commenters have noted. One point my son made was that Ansari was presenting himself as some sort of male feminist who understood “consent.” I think this totally outs the hypocrisy there.

    There needs to be a cultural shift, an education that both empowers young women to be forceful when saying ‘no’ but, perhaps even more crucial, trains boys and men to be respectful of women. As a Peace Corps volunteer in Morocco who worked with young adults, that was one issue my son was tackling there — but we need to address it here as well, especially in the current environment.

    I do wonder if Babe thoroughly vetted this piece in accordance with basic journalistic standards, and question their judgment on posting an anonymous account. I agree with Garance, that we should be concerned about the lack of gatekeepers.

    And yet, rereading “Grace’s” account, I can’t help but empathize with her — and I see it as much worse than just the “bad date,” your commenters think it was.

    As someone who was never directly harassed sexually, I have certainly put up with misogyny in the workplace. Having to endure “locker room” talk, for example, is quite distracting when you just want to do a good job. Some education for both boys and girls and a culture change would go a long way toward allowing us all to lead full and happy lives. And if this podcast doesn’t convince you of that, then read Garance’s letter today about what it was like to mature early. Why should any girl have to go through that?

  • Dear Garance and PMF contributors,

    I have been reading this blog for years and years and have always adored it. I’ve loved your PMF podcast, too, until now.

    I agree with Phoebe, Kat, Jo, and Judith, above, that the opinions that were expressed in this Pocket PMF episode betrayed a true ignorance about the realities of rape culture and perpetuated (rather than questioned) our culture’s tendency to victim-blame.

    I highly recommend that you read the article in The Week that Phoebe links, the one called “The Female Price of Male Pleasure.” I think it will help you to understand why “cat and mouse” dynamics in sexual interactions — even when they don’t amount to physical violence — are categorically harmful to women. It’s not sexy: it’s rape culture, and it needs to change.

    As others above have said (and as many, many experts on the phenomena of rape, abuse, and harassment have said before me): it is not the responsibility of the victim to say no, to leave, or to go to the police when she feels threatened. Men are perfectly capable of comprehending nonverbal forms of reluctance. The real problem is that our (truly horrible) sexual culture views reluctance as a necessary, even sexy, part of sex.

    I know *you* may have said no, left, or gone to the police when you experienced sexual discomfort in the past, but not everyone is able to do that. Victims may respond however they see fit, including by telling their stories publicly. It is the responsibility of the perpetrator not to inflict harm in the first place.

    At one point, someone on the podcast said something along the lines of “well, she had already done such-and-such type of sex with him, so…”– As anyone who has taken one of those mandatory vanilla online courses about consent knows: just because a woman engages in one instance of sexual activity with a partner *does not* mean she is giving her consent to future sexual encounters. Please, please refrain from perpetuating this inaccurate and harmful notion to your listeners.

    You say that you don’t want to hear about Aziz Ansari’s personal life, you just want to experience his art. Totally fine if that’s what you want to do. It’s not like Netflix took down Master of None. But other people — the kinds of people who don’t watch Woody Allen films anymore — might not want to support art made by men who treat women as sexual objects in their personal lives. Other people should have the information that they need to make that choice.

    For what it’s worth, I think Aziz Ansari responded just about as well as he could have to the woman (via text) and to the Babe.net article about this her experience with him. He also supports women in certain ways through his work (for example, the great episode in Season 2 that was written by Lena Waithe).

    But it is really important that the Babe.net article got out there publicly because women need to know that any kind of pressure *whatsoever* in sexual activity is not okay, that women (not men) are almost always the victims of it, and that it reflects the extremely problematic and pervasive idea that women ought to cater to men’s desires at all times.

    When it comes to consuming Atelier Dore content, I’m afraid that this is the end of the road for me. Now that I’m familiar with your attitudes about sex and consent, I cannot in good conscience continue to support your work. Please know that I have really enjoyed it until now.

  • Full agreement! *clapping emoji*

  • I am extremely disappointed and sad to hear the opinions expressed in this podcast. Around halfway through I had to stop listening because I simply could not stand to hear the ignorance any longer. It pains me to hear women using a platform like this podcast to victim-blame and reinforce rape culture.

    You seem to think that bringing up consent in this context discredits the Me Too movement – this shows a total misunderstanding of the movement itself. Like one journalist said, we know the difference between a rapist, a workplace harasser and Ansari, and it doesn’t mean we have to be happy about any of them. Rape culture is extremely nuanced, believe it or not, and in order to prevent the huge, awful stuff (e.g. rape) we also have to address the tiny habits, the subtle misogyny that permeates our lives. What the Ansari story brings to light is the small ways in which women face rape culture in their lives, and how woman should not just have to brush such experiences away as a “bad date”.

    A sentiment that was repeatedly expressed in the podcast was that Aziz Ansari should not be attacked for something so small, and that the consequences that Ansari face are disproportionate to what happened. But I have to ask, what consequences has Ansari faced? What this article has done has brought an important conversation and issue with rape culture to light, through Ansari. Defending famous men at the expense of a comparatively powerless woman is ignorant and perpetuates a culture of victim blaming.

    One last thing, it is so easy to say ‘I would have left’, or ‘I would have never gone home with him’ or ‘I’ve never had an experience like that’. This is a true expression of privilege, and a true lack of empathy. Who cares what you would have done, it isn’t about you. You do not represent every woman.

    I think I’m done with Atelier Dore. This was truly too much for me. I’m sorry to hear that Garance, Emily and the other employees have such damaging opinions and I no longer wish to support that.

  • Hi Garance and Team,

    Really loved that you addressed this in the podcast as it’s been a constant discussion with most of my gal pals. I too felt a sense of annoyance by the open letter nature of this 23 year old girl. It completely felt like a opportune time to add to the recent sexual misconduct allegations. To be honest it did feel like a situation where I and most of our friends have been in and yes in this case Aziz does have a public status, which could seem like he is superior. But it was a bad date, and yes she may feel in hindsight that it was completely what she didn’t want but in all honesty when that has happened with myself or my friends, we have mostly taken some accountability for our actions and lack of clarity. Okay before any one targets me, I am not in one bit excusing his or any other mans behaviour and inability to be sensitive to women, but what I am saying is that situations like this one, where there was a choice to leave at the restaurant, or to push him away even when sat on his bed, she wasn’t even clear with herself what she wanted or her course of action. Because she was on a date and at 23 yes she completely thought he expected sex and she was obliged. These are the moments that help us define our standards and our own behaviour going forward. It is unfortunate that a lot of women have to go through shitty experiences to define our parameters, but it’s like that in a lot of other areas in our lives. Again not excusing men at all, but sexual harassment, gender inequality is not a new thing, it’s been around for a long time, so yes Time is Up, now is the time we speak up, but this is ALSO about speaking up in the moment, having clarity on your standards and young girls having solid examples of women that take control of their power and don’t just expect all men are sensible enough to not think with their dicks. There will be a time hopefully that the culture especially with the youth will change and young boys won’t have to use sex as a means of dominating, because peoples attitudes will change. Hopefully!

    And NO to consent apps. The world is going nuts. How about we learn to speak, hear each other and respect each other.

    Just my opinion.

  • I was pretty disappointed with this episode. Diddo to what Nell said above. You should really rethink posting this episode.

    For now, I am done. You often come across as narrow minded, and with this issue you completely over simplified the issue. I do like Garance, occasionally, but the girls on your podcast team seem immature and offer nothing to the table.

    Also I would like to add, until you guys get a bit more diverse and open up the conversation, I will not come back to this site. Do you have any women of color on your team? Making the decisions? For the love of god, please add some color to your team. No, I don’t just mean posting photos of stylish black women. I want to see them behind the scenes, too!

  • I agree with all of these points. Thanks for putting it much more eloquently than I could!

  • This is exactly what I was thinking, I went to look at the picture and realised the group looked exactly how I had imagined. Other commenters have already observed but I’d like to add that while its great that you ladies feel confident walking out on a bad date, lots of other women feel either less confident or in fact feel a sense of obligation to see it through to the end – because, as you all said – if you’d made the commitment to go to the house, if you’ve already had oral sex then you’re complicit in the situation. So disappointed with this episode and the views expressed. I sincerely hope Garance and ‘the girls’ will all take some time to explore why you feel the way you do and perhaps spend some time with women outside of their demographic to see what life is like for other women.

  • I am going to disagree with a lot of the posters here. I actually thought you were not tough enough on this story and came here to say that. First, I want to say that I do have sympathy for Grace’s experience and have no doubt she felt terrible and even humiliated. But my immediate reaction upon reading the account was disbelief. Is a modern 23 year old a naive young girl or an adult with autonomy? Should we as a society reasonably expect Grace to have the self-awareness to realize that if her non-verbal cues are not working, either because Ansari is an ass or actually oblivious, she should try expressing herself some other way? Yes, he is rich and famous but Ansari had no real power over Grace’s career, her social circle, her finances, or her self-worth (they were on a first date!). She wasn’t wasted, she knew she didn’t like the date and she didn’t even seem to like him much. How much should we attribute to Ansari and how to attribute to her inability to know her own boundaries with this man she doesn’t really feel attracted to but strangely still wants to attract?

    But ultimately, the question is where do we go from here? Clearly a lot of people think it is assault while others don’t. So what are reasonable expectations of communication and lines of consent for two people getting to know each other? Even us commentators can’t agree. It used to be yes means yes and no means no, at least 10 years ago when I was an undergrad. But that seems to be outdated already. And with tinder and the new hook up culture, what is the right way to navigate it? No one here seems to really go into that. My first instinct is don’t go home with a guy on on the first date but that’s so puritanical that I want to cancel that right away. I just don’t know.

    Also, the app idea sounds terrible. What if someone feels pressured to tap ok?

  • I too am disappointed with this PMF. Here’s an interesting piece on the issue.
    Not all women have supportive environments to find confidence and self-esteem particularly in our patriarchal society. The price we pay is deep.
    Hopefully, you’ll consider the comments expressed here by us all.
    Another point is that this is a time for men to listen. This means truly listening and hearing things that are difficult to hear. Women have done this for centuries.

  • I agree with Phoebe as well and hope you will dialogue with the objections expressed here at some point. Extremely disappointing podcast. I was shocked listening.

  • I also feel very disappointed by the views expressed by this podcast. I honestly was expecting a much more nuanced discussion. It seemed to me like all of you were ganging up on the poor girl. Yes she should have asserted herself and left, yes no-one forced her to stay, but the imbalance of power in our society is so great that things are often not that easy. Society teaches girls from their youngest age to be ok with physical discomfort and receiving unwanted displays of sexual attraction.
    I just wish at least one person in the discussion had defended the point of view of the young woman in the story. I was also quite triggered by the argument about “the chase”, the fact that consent would eliminate the pleasure of seduction. It had much echo with the tribune signed by Catherine Deneuve and 100 women in the Monde a few weeks ago. There has been much written about this tribune and I found strange that Garance would not even mention it. In any case, thanks for talking about it, thanks for starting this important conversation on this platform. Maybe next time try to consider the other point of view in the discussion?

  • Molly Saunders February, 16 2018, 12:56 / Reply

    I agree with a lot of what others have expressed here, except that I understand because I had the exact same initial reaction. It took me several days to think through my reaction, and lots of reading. The truth is that what Aziz did absolutely arrises from a system that prioritizes men’s ownership of women’s bodies, and that we should all just learn to deal with it. A “bad date” isn’t simply a bad date, and while I agree that we all need to find our own strength and agency in intimate situations, our entire culture has made that incredibly difficult.
    It was gross reading about Aziz’s attempts to have porn-style sex with this young women. It was uncomfortable because the article was poorly written. It did feel like an assault on the legitimacy of the #metoo movement. But the truth is that this is all part and parcel with what is wrong with our society. Aziz doesn’t need our protection or our pity. Sexism is so deeply engrained that it’s easy to believe that, but it just isn’t true. I think if you all did a follow-up to this episode after reading through these comments and reading some of the excellent links, it would be a really good idea. I don’t condemn any of you because I had the exact same reaction at first. But this needs to go deeper than a conditioned reaction.

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