metootimesupKiera Merriam

The level of victim blaming on the commentary around recent Aziz Ansari allegations is alarming.

Those who refuse to acknowledge his alleged role in the situation as it was presented by the woman involved (her full account can be found on babe.net) are putting all the onus on her to be clearer, louder, and more direct in her discomfort. Why was the onus not on him to make sure she was an enthusiastic participant in what was happening? Why was it all on her? She moved away multiple times, she expressed her unease but he persisted, creating an unpleasant situation. 

Ansari has been accused of sexual misconduct stemming from the 2017 encounter with a woman he met at an Emmy after-party. He has responded and apologized.

If you are in the dating game (or are in a relationship, for that matter) and are not making sure that your partner is enthusiastically engaged with what’s happening every step of the way, then you need to check yourself.

Women have been told from an early age to be polite, not to make waves, to be nice. And this is very much a contributing factor to how many of these situations play out. Sex through coercion is still assault and if you want to be on the right side of history and, you know, be a decent human being, set your mind to making sure your partner is into it every step of the way. If you’re unsure, ask. If it’s unclear, ask. An understanding that 'no' means 'no' is no longer enough. Only enthusiastic participation means 'yes' and therefore equals consent. All else is unwanted and unwelcome; and yes, assault.

If there’s one thing that #metoo and #timesup have granted us, it’s an opportunity for reflection, a chance to further define and solidify our boundaries; what we will and will not accept. In some cases where lines have been crossed there is no hope of redemption, no chance at forgiveness; in some cases there is. But in order for that to happen we first have to be accountable. We have to be honest in our hindsight. We have to acknowledge where we went wrong, recognize and accept how we made someone else feel. We have to own it and then we have to do better.

Saugeen Shores Hub welcomes Opinion columns and Letters to the Editor. Email news@saugeenshoreshub.ca.