Samantha Bee unleashed a fiery takedown of the backlash to the #MeToo movement, while explaining how the Aziz Ansaris of the world fit into all of this. Here’s her handy one-sentence guideline for critics: “What many fail to understand is that it doesn’t have to be rape to ruin your life, and it doesn’t have to ruin your life to be worth speaking out about.”
“Any kind of sexual harassment or coercion is unacceptable,” she said on Wednesday’s Full Frontal. “So what the f— are women supposed to do to protect ourselves? If we go public with a story, we’re petty crybabies hellbent on destroying men’s careers. If we write a secret list to protect each other, we’re gossipy shrews telling lies in the shadows. What men literally cannot understand is, this isn’t about them.”
Bee was referring to the “Shitty Media Men” list, a spreadsheet created by journalist Moira Donegan that kept track of rumors and men accused of sexually inappropriate behavior. Meant as a red flag for anonymous users who work with these men, the list, along with the polarizing response to the claims made against Ansari, are part of what Bee sees as backlash to #MeToo.
As the late-night TV personality pointed out, many claimed the list put the careers of men on the line and threatened to lump all manner of sexual misconduct in with rapists and workplace harassment. HLN’s Ashleigh Banfield, similarly, slammed Ansari’s anonymous accuser for blackballing the Master of None star and chiseling away at the larger movement for something she didn’t see as worthy of such a punishment.
“You had an unpleasant date. And you did not leave. That is on you,” Banfield said in part. “And all the gains that have been achieved on your behalf and mine are now being compromised by the allegations that you threw out there, and I’m gonna call them reckless and hollow.”
An anonymous woman, identified as a 23-year-old Brooklyn-based photographer, claimed in a story on Babe.net that she felt pressured into unwanted sexual acts and advances when she went back to Ansari’s apartment after a date. Ansari said the “sexual activity” was, “by all indications…completely consensual.” Though, he said he “took her words to heart and responded privately after taking the time to process what she had said.”
To Banfield’s remarks, Bee shot back, “It’s harder than you think to leave when you’re uncomfortable or scared. For example, you’re scaring the s— out of me right now, Ashley Banfield, and I can’t leave. And it’s not just Ashley. A lot of people are worried about Aziz Ansari’s career, which no one is trying to end because, again, we know the difference between a rapist, a workplace harasser, and an Aziz Ansari. That doesn’t mean we have to be happy about any of them.
“People like me had to wade through a sea of prehensile d—s to build the world we now enjoy, and part of enjoying that world is setting a higher standard for sex than just not-rape. And women get to talk about it if men don’t live up to those standards, especially if that man wrote a book about how to sex good,” she continued, referring to Ansari’s Modern Romance book.
Bee concluded with a message for all men who want to support the #MeToo movement: “Men, if you say you’re a feminist, then f— like a feminist. And if you don’t wanna do that, take off your f—in’ pin because we are not your accessories.”