Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Science Finds Men Understand Body Language, Ignore It


The Aziz Ansari thing is hard to write about. Yes, I was hoping he was one of the few good men. I was hoping he was one of the few real male allies. I loved his stand-up special speaking out against men who harass women online and in person. How he explained the difference between how men harass women on Twitter and his experiences on Twitter. Just before the news came out, I was thinking about him after yet another dude messaged me to call me a fat lesbian for my South Park article.

But the truth is that I'm not surprised. There were other parts of his stand-up that concerned me. The way he talks about dating women and texting women like it's a game he can't figure out suggested that he couldn't connect with women on a real level. And that suggests that he doesn't think of women as people. I watched the first season of Master of None. You know what it kind of reminded me of?


I'd like to believe that Aziz is really a feminist ally that just never learned how to interact with women and never learned about consent. But that becomes really hard to believe when you consider the basics of feminism. If he were really an ally, really cared at all about women, then the first thing he should have learned is about consent and how to be sexual with women. He never even asked for consent. Asking her where she wanted him to fuck her doesn't count.

So the only logical conclusion is that Aziz is another fake ally - a predator who used his status as a "woke bae" to get women to trust him before he assaulted them and shield himself from accusations. I'm disappointed and I'm hurt.

But I'm more disappointed in all the supposed feminist women and all the supposed allies using the same old lines to defend him that sexists and general assholes use to defend men these feminists and liberals don't like - men they're happy to condemn because they didn't like him to begin with. I'm tired of seeing supposed feminists turn on feminism and prop up rape culture for the sake of their friends. Hypocrites are everywhere, I guess.

I think that in the face of this newest revelation, it's time for feminism to take a new step. I see a lot of jokes or not-so-much-jokes about "why don't men understand body language" and "what is wrong with men why don't they get basic human interaction?" Let's be done with that, jokes or not. Because the truth is, men understand completely. Men, like all humans, recognize non-verbal cues just fine. They choose to ignore them, and saying "oh I didn't know" is just a convenient excuse. And it's time for us to stop allowing and abetting that excuse.

Mythcommunication: It’s Not That They Don’t Understand, They Just Don’t Like The Answer

Check the date. This article was published in 2011 about a study that came out in 1999. This has been out there for nearly 20 years. This is what they found:

Drawing on the conversation analytic literature, and on our own data, we claim that both men and women have a sophisticated ability to convey and to comprehend refusals, including refusals which do not include the word ‘no’, and we suggest that male claims not to have ‘understood’ refusals which conform to culturally normative patterns can only be heard as self-interested justifications for coercive behaviour.

Men understand non-verbal cues. They understand facial expressions and body language that means no. They just ignore them and then pretend they didn't get it. They use this excuse to abuse and rape women. And what Aziz Ansari did? That was rape. Penetration happened. Aziz Ansari raped a woman. Aziz Ansari is a rapist. And like so many men before him, he ignored clear non-verbal refusals and clear signs of her discomfort and unwillingness so that he could rape a woman and then claim that he didn't know she didn't want it, and therefore he's sorry but innocent.

This has happened time and time again. Anybody claiming this wasn't rape because she didn't say no is either full of shit or has been living under a rock. Anyone calling themself a feminist who says she is to blame should be ashamed. We should all be familiar with the pattern of coercive date rape by now.

We should all know that rape almost never looks like a dude in a mask jumping out of the bushes and dragging a woman kicking and screaming into an alley. Rape often looks like men taking advantage of cultural messages that tell women that saying "no" is not okay and that if women don't say "no" explicitly then they don't have to stop. That is what Aziz Ansari did. And the story of the victim reads like so many similar stories I've read. Hundreds of them over the years, because I actually care. And it is rape.

This is massively common. This is a huge cultural problem. We need to name it. Men do understand non-verbal cues, and they can detect discomfort, and they know when verbal refusals that aren't just an explicit "no" mean "no." They choose to ignore this and assault women, confident that social norms will protect them from consequences. This has to change. This will change. This is changing. And Aziz Ansari's fans and friends are either going to have to deal or become rape apologists who will be left in the dust of history. Your choice.

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