The Atlantic

How #MeToo Can Probe Gray Areas With Less Backlash

Reporting will always be vital to exposing the most egregious abuses of power. Yet the most underutilized tool in the movement’s turn toward lesser wrongs is fiction.
Source: Mike Segar / Reuters

Millions are talking about the comic actor Aziz Ansari’s actions during a sexual encounter with an anonymous woman who felt wronged on their date night. Her grievances were publicized by an article in the online magazine Babe. And as many have noted, the article is similar, in its subject matter and public reception, to another recent viral sensation––the fictional New Yorker story “Cat Person.”

“Each describes an evening that a woman in her early 20s spends with a man in his 30s, and the tension in each comes from the disjuncture between what the woman feels and what’s going on around her,” Anna Silman wrote at The Cut. “Each describes a sexual encounter that might safely be described as bad: uncomfortable, filled with misunderstandings, and ultimately, for the woman, upsetting.”

And each resonated with many people eager to extend the #MeToo conversation beyond criminal sexual assault and sexual harassment in the workplace.

Anna North explained this desire at Vox:

Despite a growing conversation around enthusiastic consent, most everything in American culture still tells men that they should be pushing for as much sex as possible at all times. The idea that men have more sexual desire than women still goes unchallenged, leading too many men to believe that a lukewarm yes is all they’re ever going to get, because women don’t like sex that much anyway. Boys learn at a young

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