Sexual politics confront modern sexual etiquette

This is an emerging story which needs expansion if you wish to EDIT to add information or discuss it in TALK.

The conversation about appropriate sexual behavior, provoked by the heightened awareness of harassment from the Harvey Weinstein allegations, has evolved again judging by an explicit account of a date-gone-wrong involving comedian Aziz Ansari.

Babe, a lifestyle website for young women, published an account from an anonymous 23-year-old woman who said she was “taken advantage of” on a date with Ansari. Despite “verbal and non-verbal cues to indicate how uncomfortable and distressed she was,” Ansari persisted with sexual activity with the woman, according to the account. Ansari said he believed the encounter to be “completely consensual” and said he apologized to the woman.

The account, which lacks the power imbalance or assault claims of the Weinstein and comparable cases, has drawn battle-lines between those who think Babe went too far in publicly hounding Ansari – such as a Washington Post columnistanother in The New York Times and a therapist who said the Babe allegations distracted attention from rape and assault. Others saw the kind of behavior described in Babe as a new front on male aggression in the bedroom.

The reporting of the detailed account itself came under fire for mishandling the story that included photographs of the dinner, screenshots of a text exchange between Ansari and the woman, and details of her outfit and wine choices.

The “almost prurient and unnecessarily macabre interest in the minute details of their interaction” opened the subject of the story up to further criticism, feminist website Jezebel said in a critique of the Babe report that has been praised for articulating how the story was mishandled. It said the poor execution of the piece did a “disservice” to the topic of sexual misconduct, gearing conversations towards assumptions of modern young women, and away from questions about the serious issues at play, such as power imbalances and sexual impropriety.

We’re thinking about where to take this story further – and if, to take it further.

This is an emerging story which needs expansion if you wish to EDIT to add information or discuss it in TALK.



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