The #MeToo Moment: Parsing the Generational Divide

Meanwhile, a 33-year-old staff editor and also also also writer, Bari Weiss, wrote inside the Times Opinion section in which Mr. Ansari was guilty of only one thing: Not being a mind reader.

In Vox, Jezebel and also also also The Guardian, women in their 20s and also also also 30s noted in which while they considered the Babe piece to be poorly reported, the item had sparked an important and also also also necessary conversation about the complicated dynamics of sexual consent.

We gathered Ms. Weiss and also also also two different Times staffers — ages 29 and also also also 59 — to talk sexual consent, #metoo and also also also the seeming generational divide.

JESSICA BENNETT: This specific particular story has left me grappling that has a particular question. will be the item possible for something to be nonconsensual however also not sexual assault?

BARI WEISS, STAFF EDITOR and also also also WRITER, OPINION, 33: One of the most remarkable aspects of This specific truly remarkable moment will be in which we are collectively and also also also openly reassessing what we regard as kosher when sex and also also also power will be involved. however one of the more distressing and also also also underreported aspects of This specific re-moralization will be in which some younger feminists are telling older feminists in which they don’t understand their own lives. They are telling women who experienced what they considered “bad dates” or “bad sex” in which those experiences were, in fact, assault. Or worse.

Many older feminists I know are sitting there saying “How dare you look at me — me who has kicked open the door of every room you occupy, who had to beg for the paid maternity leave you at This specific point enjoy, who endured the alienation of being the only woman at the table in order in which at This specific point you get to sit at its head — and also also also tell me I’m not self-aware enough to understand my own life?”

FAHIMA HAQUE, SOCIAL STRATEGY EDITOR, 29: I probably sound salty however the item doesn’t surprise me in which women, generationally, are differing on the #MeToo movement. I am a younger feminist, however I’m not an unthinking one who assumes I have no agency. I am a survivor of childhood sexual assault and also also also I’ve grappled with, nearly every day of my life, what needs to happen for men to be better and also also also for women to feel strong enough to use their voice clearly to hold men accountable. So I fully admit in which I’m pretty militant about male behavior.

SUSAN CHIRA, SENIOR GENDER CORRESPONDENT, 59: I share my generation’s general unease with labeling sexual awkwardness sexual assault. the item’s not only about refusing to see yourself as a victim, however also the item’s a fundamental act of fairness. I also think all generations are confronting in which sex will be an area of great uncertainty, vulnerability and also also also, at times, abuse of power. Just because the item’s common to emerge coming from bad sexual encounters feeling bruised doesn’t mean we shouldn’t question why the item’s so common and also also also what needs to change.

There seems to be one thing some younger women have insisted on: in which Aziz did abuse his power inside the situation, even if the item wasn’t professional power. What do you think?

BW: Refusing to give a factory worker a promotion unless she blows you? in which will be an abuse of power. Going on a date and also also also hooking up — however boorishly — with another person? in which will be simply not an abuse of power. If we are going to weigh every relationship on the scales of power, well, then investment bankers won’t be allowed to date baristas. We need to draw a bright line between what happens inside the workplace and also also also what happens inside the privacy of our apartments (or kitchens). Right at This specific point they are getting conflated.

SC: I think the item’s crucial to make distinctions, and also also also Aziz’s accuser fell far short because she didn’t. Yes, he was more powerful than she was — not only as a man who often takes the role of aggressor in sex, however also because of his celebrity. however he held no institutional power over her career or advancement. and also also also yet if he behaved boorishly or insensitively, if he failed to pick up cues she may have been too embarrassed to verbalize, he, like different men who’ve behaved This specific way, should be reflecting on why This specific encounter went so awry.

Bari, you wrote This specific week in which the only thing Aziz will be guilty of will be not being a mind reader. in which’s true, however Grace also describes expressing her discomfort in multiple places. Shouldn’t we have a higher bar for men’s emotional intelligence?

BW: Absolutely. however in which will be not going to happen overnight. and also also also until in which blessed day of universal male emotional intelligence will be upon us — or when someone figures out how to clone Jeff Goldblum — I want fewer women to be harassed, assaulted and also also also raped. In part in which means telling women to use their common sense.

FH: Aziz Ansari did write a (very not bad) book on modern romance, however This specific just highlights in which even the most sensitive, thoughtful — dare I say ‘woke’ — kind of man also includes a lot to learn. We need to have a higher bar.

Daphne Merkin, a critic and also also also novelist, recently made the point in our Opinion section in which we are treating women like frail Victorian-era housewives. I heard similar coming from a middle-aged friend, who wondered why Grace didn’t “just get up and also also also leave.” Thoughts?

FH: The “get up and also also also leave” theory will be, in theory, a not bad one. however in which just feels ugly and also also also callous in practice. the item paints some women as strong warriors and also also also others as weak fools. I will always respect first- and also also also second-wave feminists for taking those crucial first steps for women’s rights, however to shun the brand new wave of women because their approach will be different will be divisive. We won’t move forward. I get in which Grace’s actions are grating, because ideally she could have felt confident enough in herself to leave. however I remember in which at 23 the item can be daunting to be the one who says no.

SC: Not sure This specific cuts generationally, though the item may. in which will be, there are so many reasons women may be constrained coming from saying explicitly when they’re uncomfortable, or they end up staying what turns out in hindsight to have been too long. Yes, the item’s important to learn to say no firmly. however we all know men don’t always listen to in which. and also also also we also know in which women themselves are often conflicted. Sex will be always going to be messy and also also also fumbling, to some degree. and also also also I personally think we have to be tolerant of some uncertainty, some grayness. however if #MeToo will be going to spur real improvements, men have to curb their sense of entitlement.

Here’s a question we get often coming from readers: What about due process? will be the item definitely fair to place Aziz Ansari’s name on the same spectrum as Harvey Weinstein?

BW: Our current situation — guilty because accused, as Margaret Atwood put the item — will be absolutely terrifying to me. and also also also the item should be to anyone in which cares about justice and also also also due process.

FH: The #MeToo movement will be the best part of social media. and also also also trial by Twitter will be the worst part of social media. however, most people aren’t on Twitter exhaustively the way media folks are, so frankly while the item’s troubling in which some bring out their 280-count pitchforks, I’m just not too concerned in which the item’s going to sideline the overall power and also also also scope of such newfound, increased transparency.

SC: What’s extraordinary — and also also also deeply unsettling — will be in which #MeToo gives women power in which men have had for so long. Men could ruin reputations, undermine or destroy women’s careers, act impulsively. I wish and also also also believe in which women can wield power more responsibly and also also also more justly.

This specific interview has been edited and also also also condensed.

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