So as has been well discussed to the point of repetitious repetition, Aziz Ansari went on a date and things didn’t go so well. Per what was reported by the date he managed to not only make her uncomfortable, but completely ignore her. And a lots has been made of her, after all why didn’t she leave, what was she expecting and so on. But wasn’t gotten as much attention is Ansari himself, specifically his own attitude that shows through in how things went.
The issue that has not gotten much attention in the whole thing is the reality of men’s entitlement to women’s bodies. It’s expressed in every comment of “What does a woman expect going over to a man’s place?”. As if the only purpose for a woman to go to a man’s place is for sex. That men have women over only for the purpose of their bodies. That when a man invites a woman over he’s saying “I’m gracious enough to do this now I get what I want”. And sure enough when Ansari got his date home, he didn’t really waste much time getting to what he wanted. To what he felt entitled to.
Now you could argue that it’s assuming too much to say he felt entitled. But if he wasn’t then the rest of everything doesn’t happen. If he didn’t feel entitled he’d have made sure his date was alright with having sex as well as what he wanted to do and have her do. His date would have been an equal participant not merely someone engaged in providing him what he wanted. Not only would he ask if she was up for what he wanted, but he’d ask what she’s into and what she’d like. Absent entitlement, she’s an equal partner so what she wants counts as much as what he wants.
Another sign of entitlement is how everything proceeded. Starting with fingers in the mouth. Who does that right off with someone their first time together? That’s not exactly going to make much of a mood for a woman or work her into it. And then it went from there. Eventually getting to where she pushed him away as well as pulled away from him. Now anyone who is paying even a sliver of attention to their partner knows both mean something is not right. Something is not right and needs to be addressed.
And that night there were a whole lot of things not right. All because Ansari felt so entitled to her body that he could only focus on himself. And let’s be honest, that sort of entitlement doesn’t come out of the blue. It’s been there. The immaturity of not engaging a partner to seek their ascent to what he wants and to know what they want, didn’t just show up that night. It’s been there. All because he feels entitled to a woman’s body. Not just hers. As his conduct wasn’t something to appear out of the ether so too would his entitlement not be limited to her body.
Where things turn odious is when the assumption of his entitlement and the implicit right of it is used to try to shame his date. Or to shout down criticisms of Ansari. Like if she didn’t want to have sex she shouldn’t gone with him. Which says women have to accept men’s entitlement to their bodies. You’d expect a guy to just hang out? Oh silly girl, you’re at his place, you’re there to put out, not hang out. He doesn’t want you to hang out. He expects to have his entitlement fulfilled. And there are those who’ve even said that if she didn’t want sex that her presence at his place would be a waste of his time. In other words her being is reduced to something of no interest to a man except as an object for sex. She is not a woman with her own agency, in a man’s realm she exists only as an object for his wants.
Also within every criticism of “Why didn’t she leave?”, “Why didn’t she say no?”, “She sent him mixed signals” is the seed of entitlement. That it’s not up to him to care about her comfort, her pleasure, it’s up to her to assert herself. And she most do so in a proper manner, for an entitled man can’t be expected to notice his partner. It’s in effect beneath him to pay attention to anything not directly related to his own pleasure.
And beyond that where the slut shaming, and let’s be honest that’s what it is, also turns bad is in the expectation the date act as others expect her to. That is if she doesn’t do what others declare, if not demand, she do then whatever happens is her fault. Her reactions, responses and conduct are no longer valid. Of course this assumes a woman who is a blank slate. Which no woman is. We know nothing of her history, her past experiences with men. Experiences that could lead her to simply just go along with what a man wants. To feel that if she’s ignored at first she’ll continue to be ignored so any further assertion of herself would be futile.
In the end the entire defense of Ansari, of the entire premise of the night at his place and of how men treat women in such instances, comes down to men’s entitlement. That men are entitled to women’s bodies and that the maturity to engage with a partner is not a requirement. That a man need no have interest in his partner’s agency or pleasure. She’s there, so it’s all on her, because her body is there for him. For his pleasure. Because he’s a man and that’s how it is. And taken to their conclusions that’s what every defense of Ansari gets to.
Of course Ansari isn’t alone in being entitled. It’s not even rare. The very existence of men whining about being “friend zoned” speaks to that. When a man complains a woman has put him in the “friend zone” he’s saying that she didn’t yield to his entitlement to her body. That without giving into it, she’s of no worth to him. Also often present is the idea that if a man does the right things a woman will yield. If she doesn’t do so, the man views her as flawed. Her offer of friendship of no interest, she’s doesn’t exist for him to be that. Indeed men will say it’s frustrating to be around a woman they know they won’t have sex with. Or even not worth their time, which is as great a declaration of their feeling of entitlement as there can be. Well, short of actually saying they’re entitled.
In the talk of being “friend zoned” what also emerges is men’s pleas of being “good guys”. That they behave well and properly, they do what a woman expects or what they think she expects. And that her refusal to yield is a rejection of them and terribly unfair to someone who is such a “good guy”. That a man reducing women to existing only for his pleasure may seem incongruous with being a “good guy” is of no consequence. He’s a “good guy” darn it and it’s so unfair another woman just wants to be friends.
Beyond the case of the “friend zone” there are plenty of other men claiming to be good in the absence of any justification. Perhaps the most common over the last few months is the men who by declaring they’ve never harassed a woman and never assaulted a woman, ought be seen as good. As if merely obeying general norms of conduct and not breaking the law qualifies as making them good. That not making things worse for women should count as if it were making things better.
For women, that rings hallow since not making things worse still means they’re not good. A man who declares his goodness by virtue of meeting minimal standards seems more interested in earning praise than in actually bettering things for women. It too is a form of entitlement. That by not acting badly a man is entitled to the praise of women. That his part in things being bad should be overlooked.
Of course they do have a part in it. They may not harass, but they say nothing when they witness a woman being catcalled. I’ve had a man tell me it’s not his responsibility to do anything about that. Another said he wasn’t going to get in a fight over “mere words”. Showing a gross ignorance of what catcalling is. In both cases, the men thought women just need to put up with the daily harassment of other men. That them not interceding, was not contrary to their status as “good guys”.
There is plenty more that could be said about men who claim there goodness and how it effects things for women. And how utterly useless it is as far as actually doing anything. That it’s merely a way for men to declare their expectation and even entitlement to praise from women. They are saying “Hey I didn’t shout you’ve got nice tits, now shower me with praise” or “I didn’t grab your ass, so now tell me how wonderful I am”. There’s no way to parse that but men feeling entitled to validation from women for not mistreating them. As if in the absence of that validation, why bother not mistreating women?
In the end, the defense of Ansari is of the same cloth as men claiming to be “good guys”. It rests on the idea of men being entitled to women’s bodies and praise. Ansari’s entitlement caused him to ignore his date’s own clear indications of how she felt. The entitlement other men feel causes them to expect praise for doing nothing. In both cases, without men’s entitlement being dealt with the rest of each issue can’t be dealt with. Because at the end of the day, both are about unchecked entitlement and the consequences of it for women. .