The ladies of T.O.FemCo have a new segment called Training Bro, where we talk to boys/men/dudes/bros of all kinds about a particular issue, problem, scandal, question, or whatever.
I came up with the idea when I was (very casually) seeing a guy (Paul, a pseudonym) who considered and proudly called himself a "cuter version of Aziz." He is a "creative" who loves pasta, is very cute, aaaaand he's of South Asian descent. When January befell us like the piece of shit month that it is, babe.net published this story from a woman who went on a date with Aziz Ansari and it turned gross. After reading the story I called my boo of the moment and asked him if I could interview him about what it felt like knowing his feminist South Asian icon Aziz had shown his true colours. Luckily, he said yes.
If you don't know, Aziz Ansari is a comedian, writer, director and "feminist" known for playing Tom Haverford on NBC's Parks and Recreation and writing, directing and starring in his own Emmy-winning Netflix show Master of None. He wrote a book about dating in the modern world, Modern Romance: An Investigation 2015. (This book just so happened to be on Paul's bedside table).
This fall, Aziz won the Best Actor in a TV comedy Golden Globe making him the first Asian-American actor ever to win a Golden Globe for acting in television. That same night he met a woman at an after party. They hit it off and planned to go out when they were both back in New York. What unfolded was the terrible/uncomfortable/unsettling/creepy date where Aziz pressured Grace (a pseudonym) to go down on him and have sex when she explicitly said she didn't want to that is described in Katie Way's babe.net story. If you haven't read it, have yourself an upsetting half hour and give it a read.
As I mentioned before, Aziz is a self-identified feminist. In 2015 he said this about sexual harassment and sexism while talking to David Letterman:
"I thought it was interesting that this is happening, yet so many people are unaware of it. And the problem is people aren't talking about it. What I've learned, as a guy, is to just ask women questions and listen to what they have to say. Go to your group of female friends and ask them about times they've experienced sexism at their job, and you'll get blown away by the things they tell you."
Reading that quote after reading Grace's account of what happened on her date with Aziz makes me so angry. So many guys love to pretend that they care when it's all total crap. The problem is that they believe their own story. They believe they are the solution, not the problem. They believe and want you to jump onboard their "woke-bae" penis and ride it into intersectional feminist bliss.
I was excited and nervous when Paul agreed to let me interview him and what came out was an interesting and honest talk about representation and about misogyny. I give the controversial statement that I don't think and that I don't want Aziz to be done making shit cause I love his shit. I believe he can change and see how fucked up his actions were. I believe that this testimonial from a badass woman who asserted herself has and will change the conversation about power in relationships and gender roles. And I believe and I hope that Aziz wants to be better and change. Only time will tell.
At this point Paul and I have long parted ways but I'd like to thank him for sitting down and having a conversation, for being honest and allowing his vulnerability show.
P.S. -- Let us know what you think of the new episode and if you've experienced something similar to the date Grace had with Aziz. I know I have.