You might know Jameela Jamil as the hilarious and lovably shallow Tahani al-Jamil on NBC’s The Good Place. However, she’s also a writer who’s written columns for outlets like The Times, Cosmopolitan, The Huffington Post, and Company. Her Tumblr is a goldmine of words that are too incisive for prime time, and her take on the Aziz Ansari situation is pretty on-point.
She doesn’t actually speak very specifically about the Ansari situation, saying, “I wasn’t there. We haven’t heard his account, and so I have no right, nor inclination, to comment.” What she focuses on instead are the conversations that this situation has sparked, specifically around consent and the acknowledgement of female desire in the sexual equation.
With regard to consent, she says that it’s important to everyone involved, but “Especially, in my opinion, if that person is the one to be penetrated. You want to enter them. You best ensure you are a welcome guest, not someone who just begged, pressured, guilt-tripped or harassed their way inside.”
She goes on to say that, “there are men I know who are respectful and patient in sexual scenarios, who I daresay are actually turned off if a woman isn’t very obviously enjoying herself. These men are sadly the exception, not the norm.” As I wrote in my piece on the subject yesterday, it’s unfathomable to me that far too many men are so hell-bent on having sex that the slightest, resigned nod allows them to remain turned on enough to proceed.
Jamil goes on to talk about the unrealistic expectations set by porn, which can be great so long as you understand that what you’re watching is fantasy, and not a how-to manual. She likens learning about sex from porn to learning about driving from The Fast and the Furious. “A terrible idea.”
However, even the fantasy is based in some really uncomfortable ideas. As Jamil writes, “Very rarely is a woman’s needs paid much/any attention to in porn, and when it is, it’s often illustrated as the woman just happening to enjoy whatever the man does, even if she doesn’t at first, without fail, she always comes round to his brilliant idea, and is the good sport we all hoped she would be.”
Here’s the part of Jamil’s essay that had me dying of laughter because it’s (sadly) so true [NOTE: if you’re not a fan of the word p#@!y, you might wanna skip this next quote block]:
“Then you have music lyrics which went from, “Try a little tenderness,” to MURDER THAT PUSSY. BEAT THAT PUSSY UP. PUT THAT PUSSY IN A TOASTER. SHRED THE PUSSY AND PUT IT IN THE BIN. THROW THE PUSSY OUT THE WINDOW. FLUSH THE PUSSY DOWN THE TOILET.
(Poor old pussy having a terrible time.)”
Jamil also addresses the ways in which women need to look at their behavior. Not in the victim-blamey, nuance-lacking way of so many “think pieces” lately, but in a way that comes from a place of understanding about the fact that women are fighting against centuries of programming about how they are perceived and how they can stay safe.
But her bottom line is that “Our society, the internet, and even our most mainstream media, constantly perpetuate the idea that men do not need to worry about what our needs and boundaries are. They just need technical consent, however that consent is acquired.”
That was really the key to it for me. The idea of “technical” consent being good enough. So, rather than sex being something enjoyable and shared, it becomes this thing that one person takes from another person with the barest minimum of permission. It means that men don’t actually care about women, they only care just enough to not go to prison.
She closes with:
“And I also hope men start to understand one day, that women have been oppressed since the beginning of time. We are only just starting to find our voices and demand equality. Do not abuse our conditioning to bend to your whims. Especially in the bedroom.”
Thank you, Ms. Jamil, for delivering some much-needed (and appropriately snarky) nuance to the conversation.
(via Diary of a Goon, image: NBC)
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