An Average Male’s Response to the Aziz Ansari Harassment Allegations

For some reason, this one has got me in all sorts of ways. We all knew Harvey Weinstein was a dick, and that James Franco was fucked up too, but Aziz Ansari?! I’m a big fan of Aziz. Parks and Rec, Master of None, his bits on late night talk shows; whatever he puts out, I’m a fan. I don’t re-watch a lot of TV, but recently I dove back into Season Two: Episode One of MoN; the black and white Italy episode, if you need a reminder.  Maybe that’s why this incident hurts the most (so far).

Kevin and I always play this game of, “Which celebrities would you befriend for a night and turbo with,” and Aziz has always been named at the top of my list. He’s just one of those dudes that seems super cool and down to have a good time, right?

Enter this past week with the babe.net story. His name is now in the fold with all of the others. For the next three days, I am scrolling through my Twitter feed and reading everything I can about the incident. I’m reading responses for and against and it starts spinning my head around and around to the point where I don’t know what to think or feel.

I sit on it for a few days. I start texting some friends about the issue and then it starts to sink in. All this time, I have been trying to form my own opinion. I’ve been trying to avoid my bias of being a fan of Aziz to come up with an objective response. I’ve been sifting through how to communicate an appropriate response. I’ve been listening.

My response? I don’t have one. I don’t think it’s the time or place, for me as a white dude, to have one. All I know for sure is that the right thing to do is to continue listening and give room for more people to share their stories and hear them out.  

Maybe I’m having a Michael Scott “I DECLARE BANKRUPTCY” moment? How does one announce that they are listening? Is it ironic that one needs to speak (or post) to say they are listening? That’s all I want to communicate right now. That I am here and I want to listen. I want to hear more stories. I want to build empathy. I know that will be difficult considering who I am and where I come from, but I am willing to try. I want to step out of the spotlight and let it shine on others who have been less fortunate.

Now… who’s coming with me? Who’s coming with me to sit beside while stories unfold and we objectively — and with an unbiased opinion — listen actively? That last part is key: Listen actively. Meaning, listen to everyone without a response loaded in your holster. So many times I find myself reading a headline and already forming a response, for or against. I start defending or attacking the piece as I’m reading. How can I then really digest what is being written? I can’t. I’m trying to get better at this. Just like I am trying to get better at listening. Maybe these go hand in hand?

So, my dudes, let’s start actively listening, not just listening. I know this is not our forte, but we owe it to a lot of people out there to make it one.

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