This was originally a Facebook post, prompted by arguments with men regarding what constitutes sexual harassment and coercion, and what consent should be in the wake of men being called out for poor behavior.
I think what I've learned most from Aziz Ansari's behavior is that it is possible for men who think they're doing normal things in romantic situations with non-men to be sexually coercive and abusive.
What I find to be the saddest thing, outside of what this woman had to go through, is the response of men. Instead of looking at our own behavior and saying, "How I interact with women isn't healthy or safe," there's denial and forcing the blame back on the person we hurt.
Men want to define sexual coercion and assault and say that interactions like this are normal so they can't be hurtful or traumatic, all without realizing that the truth behind those statements is that abuse ISN'T what we think it is every time, and that sexual interactions we think are normal CAN BE hurtful. I know that it's entirely within the realm of possibility that I've done something with someone that could be seen as abusive or manipulative. I know that I could do it in the future, completely unintentionally.
From a young age, men are taught that women are objects to be desired and pursued, and that anything outside of a firm no is a subtle yes.
This is socialized behavior, reinforced by parents laughing at their sons kissing their neighbor's daughter without her permission; built up by climactic chase scenes in romantic comedies; and excused encounters like a celebrity inviting a fan to his apartment and aggressively coming onto her and forcing her into a sexual encounter appear to be a healthy part of dating culture.
But more importantly, this is men's behavior. Take ownership of how you're acting and how you are perceived.
You should always be considerate of another person's feelings and doubly empathetic toward what non-men have to deal with on a daily basis. You may be the guy who goes in for a kiss and is fine when they say they're not interested, but previous experience dictates that you could just as likely be the one who becomes violent.
Please: take this account of Aziz Ansari's mistakes as a learning experience. If you think you have trouble identifying what a healthy sexual relationship looks like, and how to ask for consent on a date, just ask. Ask your friends. Ask your friends who are non-men. Definitely talk to your friends who are men about it. Open up to each other and share your thoughts and feelings in a healthy way.
Above all else, listen to non-men. They know more than we do about this. They live on the edge of violence every day, and that violence is coming from people who look like us.
You could say "not all men," but how about instead you wonder why someone would think it's all men in the first place.