Me, Too? Aziz Ansari and the Crap I Don’t Want to Process

Lauren Shields
7 min readJan 19, 2018


Srsly, I don’t want to do this rn.

Image from Babe,

A few years ago, someone asked me a question. When I answered, I learned something I didn’t really want to know about myself.

“Have you ever been raped?”

“No,” I said emphatically. “I’ve just had a lot of sex I didn’t really want to have.”

Yeah. That’s rape.

It’s been a year, and I’m sorry to say that I’ve actively avoided thinking about the ramifications of what came out of my mouth that day. Until the Ansari thing.

As I read the account of The Worst Date Ever, I found myself… sneering. “Well, yeah,” I thought. “That’s what some guys do.” I’ve had countless encounters like that. In fact, the first time I ever felt a penis was pretty much not my choice: my date for prom, a boy I’d met in youth group at church, pulled me into him on the first slow dance, like, twenty minutes after we’d arrived (I had never even held hands with a boy) and pressed his erection into my belly, as though I would be glad that I’d aroused him with my Aqua-Netted hair and clumsily applied makeup. I rushed back to my friends. “He had a boner!” I hissed at them. “What do I do?” They smiled at me, and I admit, it was kinda funny.

That’s been much of my experience: forceful kisses, uncomfortable making out where I wasn’t really having fun cause it was sloppy, painful sex. I am practiced at the art of shutting up and getting it over with.

Why? Why on earth would I tolerate that? I know self-defense. I’m a privileged, neurotypical white lady. In theory, I should never have to put up with Ansari-esque encounters at all. So why did I?

Well, there are two reasons.

  1. Because it’s safer.
  2. I am trained to see myself as an object, and objects don’t say “no.”

So, to Number 1:

This is basic, but I’m gonna go through it anyway in case you’ve never heard it: male violence is part of women’s daily reality. This is not some abstract thing that only happens “to poor people” (ew); this is our lives, every single day. Over half of murdered women are murdered by their current or former romantic partners, a category in which Ansari and my prom date would have been included. We are statistically more likely to be killed by a partner than war, cancer, malaria, and traffic accidents combined. And as literally every woman on the planet knows, the quickest way to summon a man’s righteous indignation is to deny him access to your body.

Ha ha! Not if she pisses you off, my guy

If you’re a guy, even if you yourself have never laid a hand on a woman, you “benefit” (in the sense that we’re less likely to resist) from the men who do. Women have no way of knowing, no matter what you might like to believe, whether you’re a good guy, right up until the moment your fist connects with our gut.

Besides, even if we’ve never been hit or threatened ourselves, we know men are dangerous to us: it’s a recurrent theme in movies and on television. I bet that of the next five mainstream films you see, at least one will feature violence against a woman, perpetrated by a man. We see that stuff everywhere we go. We’re not stupid.

And if, God forbid, a guy does actually hit or choke or rape or stalk us, we’re still obligated to rationalize his behavior, not to cross the line into actually calling him “a bad guy” or “a rapist,” because…

Number 2: Being socialized as a woman means being socialized to self-objectify.

Let me make it clear that I’m not saying I’m forced to uncritically accept this about myself, or that The Evil Dude Union is making me see myself this way. I’m talking about how modern American culture conceptualizes femininity, and about what it feels like. I’m not paranoid or angry; this just is.

Self-objectification is not just about how I look. It’s not just about my tone of voice or whether I’m better than guys at stuff. It’s the habit I’ve gotten into, as part of my process of socialization, of seeing myself as a thing whose primary role in life is emotional custodianship of the men around me. This includes protecting a man from the knowledge that he’s done something offensive or inappropriate. It’s not maladaptive or wrong; in fact, it’s part of what makes me a highly functional member of society.

This is absolutely logical, because for all of Western history (at least since the Roman Empire), women have been seen as things. We were things to be bought and sold in marriage until less than a hundred years ago.


We were things to have babies and we were things to make perfect homes for our young husbands to come home to, stumbling under the weight of their collective-but-as-yet-unnamed PTSD, after World War II.

Display your dominance via your tie

We were things who could not have credit cards in our own names, who could not be raped by someone we were married to until 1974, less than ten years before I was born. And now, we are things whose bodies are the lifeblood of capitalism.

This is not new. What is new is that, for the first time ever, women are beginning to be seen as subjects, and not objects.

And it sucks. It hurts, because change always does.

There’s a lot of stuff that has to happen for #MeToo and #TimesUp to flower into actual gender equality. For example, if “Grace” had said, “You know what, Aziz? You’re super pushy. I’m going home,” she would have had to have been reasonably certain that a) he wouldn’t have attacked her since they were alone is his apartment; b) if he had attacked her, fatally or otherwise, he would have been successfully prosecuted; and c) if he had not attacked her he would not also have ruined her career, stalked her, or made her life miserable in any other way.

Literally none of those things are likely. In fact, as every woman is well aware, they are all more likely to happen than not. At the very least, he would have ruined her reputation, a move as old as — you guessed it — Western civilization itself. It wouldn’t have taken much; just a well-placed, “Eh, she takes herself too seriously,” the next time someone asked Ansari about working with her, and boom. No more big-name photography events. Ansari probably wouldn’t even have thought of it as retaliatory.

So that nonsense has to change.

But why would Ansari think that that kind of approach — push push push, even after she’s said she wants to slow down — would be OK? Well, for one thing, it works, for the reasons I’ve already outlined. But also, because the mythology around women is that our sexuality is something that must be shown to us by men, because women who are masters of our own bodies are sluts.

This is part of the oooooold women-are-goods-to-be-sold-in-marriage thing. “Good” girls are uncomfortable with our bodies, until our partner does something to unlock our wild woman side — like, say, shoving his fingers in our mouths repeatedly, oo yeah — and then we can release all our lust onto him. This seems so antiquated as to be almost stupid, but go look at some mainstream porn. It’s a major thread: the sex kitten librarian, the stepdaughter (come ON), the virginal grad student (I GOT SHIT TO READ I DON’T NEED YOUR DICK RIGHT NOW). “Good” girls “need” men to unleash us.

No we fucking don’t. Know why? We’re people, and we know our bodies.

I honestly believe that if the men who have gotten into my pants because I was tired of resisting knew just how ashamed they’d made me feel, they would be genuinely sad. I don’t think most people want to be remembered as someone other people have sex with because they just… won’t… stop.

But this is new for us. I’m the first to admit that it is way way easier for me to shut up and get it over with than it is to risk displeasing a guy, for the reasons I’ve already outlined. So how do we do it anyway?

I don’t know about other women, but for me, it has to start with admitting that the multiple barely-consensual encounters I’ve had were, as I knew at the time and chose to ignore, not OK. I don’t have to fall apart, but I do have to admit, to myself, that those situations were traumatic (which I totally already know in my heart anyway). I also need to forgive myself for not wanting to do this work until now. I’m not even gonna explain why I haven’t yet, because I think literally all my female readers know.

And why should I start with my own wounds? Because the next time someone tells me their story, I want to be able to hear it, sans sneers and excuse-making. It’s no secret that we often project our anger onto others when we haven’t dealt with our own pain; I don’t want to be that woman.

I don’t ever again want to not know what I’m saying til after it’s said.



Lauren Shields

Comedian, Minister of Urban Outreach at Urban Sanctuary, San Jose. Author of The Beauty Suit (Beacon Press, 2018)