Temporal relativism takes a while to end

Reality certainly doesn’t feel as such.

I knew returning from the heightened state of Hyperborea would be a process, so I’m exercising self-love and compassion. I’m intentionally not putting myself under any pressure to accomplish a single thing today. Today does not exist for exercise, caloric concerns or expended energy. It’s about turtling up and rediscovering my space in the world’s heartbeat. If it happens, spectacular. I shot for the Earth and ended up in the stars. Time and I aren’t on equal footing right now. I feel temporally displaced. The world will go at its own pace as I struggle to find mine.

It’s a little surreal. While logically it makes sense for me to be in the office plugging away at my desk, emotionally it’s hard to determine why I can’t feel fresh air on my face. Why is anybody here? Why did we all agree to this Brutalist social structure devoid of individuality? Where are the bursts of creative expression? What of the sights, colours and sounds of mirth? It’s simultaneously noisy and deafeningly quiet.

Everything seems strange and alien right now. Last night I went on Facebook and saw people aggressively arguing about some ephemeral minutiae. It felt so bizarre and unnecessary. This morning I stood in darkness at the precipice of my door. I felt a surge of emotion and barely managed to hold back tears. I looked out into the world and the sky was somber. Today as I rode on the TTC it was nothing but downcast faces and avoidant behaviour. Money doesn’t make sense. I’ve been leaning hard into music to grasp at any modicum of belonging I can. It’s an adjustment for sure, but presently it’s hard to imagine holding a place in this existence.

After days of living in immediacy, clocks have reared their ghastly faces. Calendars and schedules just seem so unforgiving. If you’re present where you are, the concept of “missing” anything is little more than absurd. Why care about things outside of your control? Why care so much about controlling everything? It’s all chaos, just hold on tight to what you love and find your place in the maelstrom.

Problems are for another day. For now there’s only acceptance.

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By this point, it’s do or die.

An admission. I’m not in a balanced headspace right now. I’ve been watching clips from the March for Our Lives and it’s been affecting me. My skin is hot, I have constant shivers and I’m alternating between states of incredible fury and heartbreak. I’m in a very emotional state and I feel like psychological dissociation is a very real threat right now. So I’m going to write in the hopes that it will tether me. Because I’m not sure what else to do. Frankly, the fact that I’m utterly powerless to do a thing is probably the hardest pill to swallow.

I can’t do shit. I’m an unimportant spec of New Zealand Canadian who has never lived in a country where it was legal to carry firearms. Guns terrify me. Back home our police weren’t even allowed to wield guns. There was serious ethical friction when the idea of equipping the cops with tasers was raised. So everything I’m saying is of a mentality that’s the furthest possible from accepting open carry. I now live in Canada. Open carry is not legal here. The country also has a significantly lower volume of gun violence than America does. I don’t know a single country that doesn’t. I’m saying this not to gloat, but to point out that my words, my emotions, my capacity as a voting member of the public are in every single manner totally useless to do a thing about the horrific state of the United States. I feel worthless and it’s radiating out from a point of frustration into a total body experience. I can’t do a thing. I need to accept the things I cannot change and focus on what’s within my power.

America, you’re fucked and there’s nothing I can do to help.

I’ve been looking at the groundswell of activism in American youth. It’s both warming and breaking my heart simultaneously. It’s so far beyond incredible that the English language doesn’t yet have a word strong enough for it. This burgeoning generation has inherited a systematic nightmare they should never have had to face and will spend their lives trying to disentangle from it. Those who are lucky enough to still have their lives. Do you want to think about that for a second? The number of children – and these are fucking kids- who face the “privilege” of being able to wake up in the morning? Those who have seen classmates buried. Who will spend the rest of their lives permanently altered by injuries both physical and psychological. Who will have to unpack the unearthly weight of their fortunes for the rest of their goddamn existence.

Despite this colossal opposition, they’re staunchly fighting for their lives with an unbelievable vigour. We don’t deserve them and I can’t wait for older generations to bite the fucking dust so they can inherit the earth. These kids, who’ve been teased about their safe spaces and language policing, are braver than we’ve ever given them credit for. They’re creating the world we’ve told them they deserve and they’re doing everything within their power. Because utopia has been taken from them by the selfish, complacent, short sighted generations that came before them. Fucking myopic nationalist simpletons who think their desire to keep their toys is more important than these kids’ right to keep their lives. Politicians caving to gun lobbyists, favouring the money slipping into their back pockets over the safety of the country they have been charged to preserve and lift.

The thing that breaks my heart, is that it’s all going to amount to nothing. No change will come of this. The rallies, hashtags, impassioned speeches, truth spoken to power. The callouts and cries for reform, the lives lost and sacrifices made? I sincerely fear that there’s no way it will even nudge policy. I would love nothing in this world more than to be proven wrong. If anything concrete was going to happen, it would’ve happened when a gunman walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School and killed 20 children between the ages of six and seven. Nothing did. Crickets. The lives of kids who probably still listed their ages in half years were ended. Congress gave them thoughts and prayers.

For years you’ve been told that together, your voices can move mountains and make the earth quake. You’ve been told that you live in a democratic society that works for the good of its people. Lies, all lies. You’re all fucked because these politicians consider their income to be more important than your rights. Sorry, you lost. Good luck next time. Your loss, fears, hopes and dreams aren’t enough. None of this will end until the politicians responsible for protecting their broken system know what it feels like on a personal level.

But why would you want to move mountains? Moving a mountain would be a colossal waste of energy. It’s far more efficient to drill underneath, to undermine. Pure force pales in effectiveness to subterfuge and I can’t imagine a generation better suited to using everything at their disposal to manifest their dreams to reality. You’re compassionate, intelligent, resourceful and mobilised. Use that. Don’t try to shame congress into action.

MAKE THEM AFRAID OF YOU.

Reach out to sympathetic legal professionals and discover what the absolute limits of your rights are. Then do everything within your legal rights to make these politicians terrified. Use your resourcefulness to figure out every single politician taking bribes from the NRA, then ruin their lives. Be merciless. Send them physical letters every single day demanding change. Send these letters to their office, their homes. Group together, each of you sending mass individual letters. Send emails too. Post comments. Look for every public outreach channel they have. Dominate them with your voices. Twitter. Facebook. Linkedin. Instagram. Call their offices demanding change. Endlessly. Go to their homes and peacefully protest. When they’re out in public, be there. Be everywhere. When they’re out there looking for a nice PR opportunity? Be there. When they go out for dinner? Be there. At the supermarket? Be there. At their family picnics? Be there. At their kids sports events. Be there. Make your voices be heard. Don’t take no for an answer. Make your presence so insurmountable that they can’t do their jobs. What if they start putting out restraining orders? AMAZING. Get others to join in and force them to bring out more restraining orders. Tie them up in the legal system. Take their time. Force them to funnel their money back into the system or shell out for hiring private security guards. Make it impossible for them to live their lives. Make them terrified to leave their houses. You outnumber them exponentially, you’re quicker to react, you’re smarter and better. Make their existence a nightmare. Every single one of them. Let them see just how effective their thoughts and prayers are against a motivated, politically mobilised generation who are better, smarter and more multitudinous than they are. You’re inspiring the rest of the world with your actions and conviction day by day. They forfeited their right to happiness when they chose comfort over doing the right thing. Let them feel even a percentage of the unbelievable misery they’ve brought into this world. Beat them at their own game by changing the rules.

You are powerful beyond belief, but they only way you can win is if they know what loss feels like.

Show them.

Identity politalks.

I use Facebook muchly. Every now and again I get involved in discussions, arguments, whatever you want to call them. One of my friends posted this article, which I thought was quite fair. One of her Facebook friends took issue with it and stated his position thusly:

“Nop. Fuck that. I knit, I sew, I do fabric work, and I can cook 33 dishes. But if someone calls me girly, I’ll knock their teeth out. I’m me – a man. Girly men are not men anymore. It’s simple as that.”

I thought this was a pretty narrow way of looking at things. A discussion thread developed where this guy raged about identity politics, individualism and such. I decided to chime in.

Also [Person’s Name], I can be snarky all day but I’m not sure it’d get us anywhere. Frankly, I’m not sure an actual conversation will get us anywhere because from your responses, it seems like you came here to be adversarial. Who knows? If that’s not the case, here, have an essay.

I don’t know if you read the article or not. In case you didn’t, the TL;DR is basically “it’s silly that we push people away from doing certain activities because of gender, when they could benefit from them.” It’s actively heading away from identity politics, which seems to be your Hulk-esque trigger. It’s also weird, because it sounded at the start like you were in agreement with this concept. Cooking and sewing are activities and it makes no sense for them to be gendered, right? We all got argumentative and stuff, but I think we were all on the same page here. I’m pretty sure [My friend’s name – Redacted] said as much (and better). Let me know if I’m wrong.

You seem to get really hung up on words while also being all “labels don’t matter”. You’re right. Labels don’t matter. By giving a shit about them (which you say you don’t, but then you’re also all “if someone calls me girly I’ll remove their teeth with my knuckles” or something. That seems like a pretty drastic response, but what do I know? I just like my teeth, is all), you’re the one giving them power. It’s entirely within you to remove yourself from this narrow view of what defines an individual. If someone calls you girly, does that really affect you? Doesn’t that seem more like their issue of suffering from such a myopic societal view? As you’ve said, people are all “cooking and sewing are girly” and you already know how silly this is. Why would you care if they’re wrong? Let them be wrong.

Also from what you’ve said there seems to be this super binary way of thinking to your worldview. I can see the flowchart in your brain when you say stuff like:

“I do not believe in identity politics. =>
To me, that is synonymous to mental illness. =>
And that is why labels are bad.”

There’s so much more nuance in society than that. I understand that stereotypes were created in order to make it easier and more efficient to process information, but it also means that you start judging people and situations without context and depth. Identity Politics => Mental Illness => Labels are bad?

Let’s talk for a second about Identity Politics.
Maybe some people take comfort in finding others who resonate with them. Community is a pretty strong beacon for a ton of people and it makes them feel connected. Is that wrong? Are people aberrant in seeking out comfort and connection? It doesn’t mean that by default they reject anyone who’s not connected with them, but it might mean that they’re able to share more of themselves with people who add value in their lives. I play Magic the Gathering. I tend to like to meet others who play. We can talk about our favourite decks, play games and stuff. I’ve met tons of cool folks playing. Some people might call me a Magic player because I play. Sure, I’m a magic player. It’s not the entirety of my existence. I also love stand up comedy and occasionally engage in bloated and protracted dialogues with people on Facebook. Someone calling me a Magic Player or Nerd or Geek or whatever doesn’t get rid of that nuance in my life. They can call me whatever they want, but I’m still the myriad of things that make me Me. So I figure there’s no sweat in other people’s labels, right?

Other people may congregate for religious stuff. I’m not a religious person, but them enjoying that in their lives doesn’t preclude me from enjoying my life for not being into religion, right? If something’s not for me, that doesn’t automatically make it wrong.

For some people, they may group for things that unite them like gender or sexual identity. Maybe they’ve been judged or persecuted throughout their lives because of who they’re in love with, or that the way society makes them feel about themselves makes them uncomfortable. That sounds pretty shitty to me, I don’t know how you feel about that. I can also imagine that when you come together with a ton of people who have similar experiences to you, certain viewpoints get reiterated and amplified. The world looks a particular way because of how people talk about it. We tend to absorb aspects of the personalities of people we spend time with, because we often admire them and want to be more like them. Within a lot of communities, I’m sure this happens. I’m sure it leads to people outside of the group hearing a homogeneous voice from a mass of people, when in fact it’s tons of people saying lots of things, but the more commonly said things are more audible, because they’re more often said. Then we hear those amplified things and think “they’re all so narrow minded”. We judge them. Probably unfairly.

Maybe identity politics don’t matter to you, but is it possible for you to understand that for some people they matter a great deal? That they might be lonely without them? That even if they sometimes lead to homogeneous thought, it makes an otherwise challenging life easier and more engaging for those people?

Also I don’t know if indirectly you were casting negativity on people with mental illness. If so, that’s shitty. Straight up. If that’s the case, that’s a whole different discussion and one that should be had.

I have a tendency to be super condescending on Facebook and I’ve really tried not to be here. Mostly. If you actually want to have a conversation about this stuff (rather than me posting an essay) with back and forth in a non-judgemental manner, feel free to send me a message request and we can do that. This whole thing doesn’t have to be yet more emotional labour for [My friend’s name – Redacted].

If not, and this is just destined to be a polarising Facebook argument, please at least come back and qualify your system for deciding that you know exactly 33 dishes, because trying to figure out the specifics is doing my head in.

Here I was thinking Women’s Day was a New Zealand publication.

Happy International Women’s Day. I’m in a sorta grouchy mood, but that’s not IWD’s fault.

Let’s get some stuff straight. I think International Women’s Day is important. I want nothing more than people around the world signal boosting that there are so many issues where it’s vital we stand behind women. The zeitgeist is finally catching up to the fact that the subjugation of women in a patriarchal society is no way to move forward. It’s essential that we all work together to clamp down on institutionalised sexism and actually treat women as equals. It’s amazing to see the momentum behind a number of recent global movements. Time’s Up, Me Too, etc. It’s wonderful that these have captured the public eye and prompted serious examination of what we’ve for so long treated as acceptable. It warms my heart that us men have been put under the microscope and taken to task for the awful systematic shit we’ve perpetrated throughout our lives. I truly believe that a seismic societal shift needs to happen in order for us to advance. I’m not sure if it’ll happen in my lifetime, but I’m hopeful that the necessary fire has been lit (after years of agitators doing great work to get it started) that’ll usher in meaningful change.

I also want to say that regardless of stuff that I’ll inevitably say, where I no doubt put my foot in my mouth or just otherwise make a dildo out of myself, the baseline is at a better place than it was ten years ago. Baby steps are better than zero progress. There’s also the caveat that I’m a dude. This is all coming from listening to friends and their qualms, reading articles they post and generally soaking up their wisdom, but also interpreting it through my own lens. I’m not gonna get everything right, but I’m all too happy to be wrong. How else will I get better.

With that said, holy shit has there ever been a flying fuckload of tokenism being thrown around today? If there’s one thing I’ll never get tired of shitting on, it’s capitalist entities co-opting political movements to try and shift more of their stock. So Kim Kardashian released a line of feminist Kimojis, right? What a great way for fans to show their support of this burgeoning societal conversation than by rolling out stylised commodification of catchy slogans for $2.99 a pack. If your politics come with a fiscal barrier to entry, they’re pretty fucking hollow. It’s one thing to support an artist doing vital work. This is not that. You’re just stamping the Kim K brand over a movement she’s directly profited from. Worse, people are literally and metaphorically buying them.

Or what about this bloody (wow, I actually didn’t intend that pun at all) women’s fitness ad I keep seeing on TV at work? It starts off with these two women furiously dance battling. They come face to face with staunch looks and bold blue writing appears onscreen:

ONE OF THESE WOMEN IS ON HER PERIOD.
WHO IS IT?

Then half a second for dramatic effect.

IT DOESN’T MATTER

They start laughing and hug each other. Cue company slogan. Yaaaas Queen! Boom Goes The Dynamite! Gotcha! Shame on you, sexist! What a monster for buying into these dynamics. Thing is, that was the last thing anyone was thinking. There’s zero causal link between a woman dance battling and her menstrual cycle. You were the one who brought that idea up, then tried to roast us for it. Do you realise that by introducing this as a concept, you’re actively reinforcing the outdated stereotypes you’re high-fiving yourself for calling out? You’re a fitness joint. Maybe instead of bringing blood and the moon into it, reinforce the notion that an active lifestyle doesn’t discriminate between body types. Or that people should feel safe and respected irrespective of ethnicity, socio-economic status or gender. It’s a fucking construct and maybe if you had interest in being progressive, you’d applaud people for having the motivation to put themselves out there regardless of discrimination instead of using feminism to sell your product. Nah man, let’s just get a good zing in. Fuck you.

I dunno. I’m trying to learn to be better over time. If you’re looking to learn, listen to women. Treat non-binary folks, people of colour, sex workers, queer, disabled and everyone I’ve failed to mention (I did say I’m still learning) as human beings. Don’t treat women as gatekeepers. They’re people. They’re don’t exist solely to nurture you, to be your emotional support, for your physical pleasure or gratification to your ego. Seek out women as friends because you enjoy their company, you think they’re brilliant and funny, because you respect them. When they talk about stuff that bothers them, hear them out instead of trying to poke holes in some kind of devil’s advocate bullshit.

We can all be better. Let’s do that.

Bill da wall.

I’ve been in a monologuey mood since my trip. I’ve had a bunch of Facebook discussions with friends. Here’s something that cropped up from a chat about American folks tendencies to look at the world as existing within their own borders. It’s very much a thematic extension from yesterday’s topic.

You’re totally on the money there. When we took our US RV road trip in 2011 we had a lot of thoughts on this. There’s a shocking statistic out there that without exaggeration something like 87% of Americans don’t own a passport. For many it’s a financial issue. You know that post about “Temporarily Embarrassed Millionaires” that was going around during the election? I think that plays into it a bunch. There’s also the notion that for years they’ve been fed this message that America is the greatest country in the world, so why go anywhere else? The message is so pervasive that as a kid growing up on American TV, I used to believe it.

Living in NZ it was insane to me that some people had never seen the ocean. In NZ the ocean is everywhere. I think you’re something like 2 hours drive away from the ocean at max at any time. It’s a huge element of our way of life. Because of the scale of the US you can drive for days without seeing it. Some people go their entire lives without the opportunity. For me I just had to cross the street.

Then when you travel the US you realise how geographically and (relatively) culturally diverse most states are. It’s like traveling between countries. Add to that a country with a dense fear of change. If they’re sticking to their own borders they don’t need to think about different currency, languages or customs. They can be unapologetically themselves.

While I couldn’t be more vehemently opposed to the mentality, I understand it. I love travel and it’s led to a lot of my opportunities for growth. I’ll always remember meeting Peggy Sue, who worked at a checkout in a Roanoke Walmart. She was the sweetest. Very funny and kind, but had also never heard of New Zealand before. When we told her about our plastic money, she laughed at the absurdity of it, handed us a coat hanger and said “here’s your chance, sir”. She thought we were making it all up. She’d never in her life traveled more than the next town over. I don’t think it’d really occurred to her. We all felt a little sad, but at the same time realised that thinking any less of someone because they haven’t had the same opportunities as you was a shitty, elitist and classist mentality.

It’s tempting to look at the insular nature of the US and think “oh, it’s just cause they’re dummies” and be done with it, but this is a hella myopic view when the reality is so much more complicated.

I rolled a 12 on my constitution check.

For my entire life, I’ve existed in spaces where Americans have been ridiculed constantly for being ignorant, aggressive gun toting simpletons. At the same time, whenever I’ve travelled to the U.S. I’ve found them to be primarily warm, friendly, good-hearted and well-intentioned people. Enough that my previous description defines the exception rather than the rule.

With my past few trips to the U.S. I’ve felt like most of my issues with America are systemic and the people inside those systems either don’t know any better or haven’t been given the capacity to learn differently. The messaging that’s being fed is so bombastic that it leaves little room for nuance. In short, these are mostly decent people within shitty systems.

An illustration:

I loathe what airport security has become. Leaving Austin yesterday I had to take off my shoes and put them in a bin with my windbreaker. In another bin I had to put my kindle, bluetooth keyboard, cellphone and headphones. In yet another I had to put a sandwich, a cookie and protein bar. My backpack went on the conveyor belt, then my carry on baggage. As an aside, it made me feel kind of ashamed to have so many material goods.

I was told to clear my pockets, so I asked what I should do with my passport, wallet and tissue. The guy told me I could just hold them in my hands. I approached the full body scanner, and the lady operating it told me I couldn’t have anything in my hands. I asked if that was true, because the guy told me to hold my passport, wallet and tissue in my hands rather than a bin and I thought it was sort of gross for me to be making any potential germs from my tissue into someone else’s problem. She thought for a second and acquiesced. I walked through the scanner with my arms held up then came out the other side. I was directed to stand on a mat with another chap, to spread my arms out so he could give a rigorous pat down to my stomach. I sighed and followed suit. He did his task and let me go.

I approached the conveyor belt and looked at my array of stuff. My carry on and snacks weren’t there. A guy looked over at my and told me to come over to him, there was something he needed to check out. I sighed again and asked if I could at least pack up my gear. He quirked his head, as if to say “why wouldn’t you be allowed to?”. I put on my shoes and windbreaker. I put most of my electronics back into my backpack and held onto the keyboard.

Look. I’m a white cis dude with a silly accent and generally pleasant demeanour. I felt frustrated, disheartened and a little dehumanised. I can only imagine how tense and emotionally charged these kind of situations must be for anybody outside of the extremely limited spectrum the system defines as “mainstream”. To feel so utterly powerless because I wanted to get on a plane from a holiday and go home? And for what? How many people do they really catch out with this kind of system? I’m absolutely sure that if anyone was planning on doing some serious criminal activity, they’d be smart enough to learn the system inside out to check for loopholes. I’m having a very hard time believing that the ends justify the means.

In any case, the guy with my carry on/lunch called me over, so I grabbed all my stuff and went to his area. He told me that by regulations, they have to scan basically anything that could imply organic material. He pointed to my Whole Foods bag and said “I scan a lot of Whole Foods stuff, but I’ve never gone in. What’s for lunch?” I told him I’d gotten a bison/arugula sandwich and was pretty excited for the Tollhouse cookie I’d gotten as a treat. “That sounds great man, I hope it’s as good as it sounds.”

I looked at my carry-on luggage. “Is it my Magic deck?” I asked. I brought a Magic the Gathering deck with me just in case I could find casual games while on the go. He nodded. “Yeah. These come up in the system as organic material for some reason and they’ve got an odd shape. We have to scan them.” He thought for a second and continued. “I used to work at a Tattoo shop and the guys there loved this game. I thought the art was cool, but I told ’em to stop it and play a real game. So we closed up shop that night. I bought a bunch of beers, grabbed some character sheets and played DnD. Had a hell of a time. Those were the days.” He finished up with the scanning, sent me on my way and told me to enjoy my lunch.

The whole experience had been one big emotional arc. None of these people were truly rude or unpleasant. They were all just doing their jobs. Over the holiday we talked in bars with locals a bunch. Even when we had fundamental ideological disagreements with them, it rarely seemed like they were truly mean-spirited or hateful. They’d just existed within a system that shaped them a certain way and as far as they knew, they were all killing it.

Seeing all of this made me thankful for my upbringing. For the cultures that raised me and guided me to question why, rather than pushing me in one direction. At the same time, I realised that there’s a certain amount of smugness in both New Zealand and Canadian culture that’s as uncharismatic as it is unearned. For any faults we’d assign to these myopic systems that run rampant within the US, goddamn if they’re not some of the friendliest people on the planet.

Am I too contrite to make an Aziz An-sorry pun? Looks like I’m just trite.

I want to talk about the Aziz allegations, because I think it’s worth putting thoughts out there. I’d like to emphasise that I’m not aiming to grandstand, to throw out some pointed think piece to put people in their place. My experiences aren’t relevant enough for that, there are better voices to listen to. Still, some conversation (is that what it’s called when I put words out into an echo chamber?) is better than none.

With all the allegations flying around right now, I’m sure everyone has a list. Some desert island top five of celebrities who you’re only wanting to hear squeaky clean things from. That may not even be the best way of putting it, ’cause frankly we all want to continue to believe that our faves are beyond issue. However, this ever-relevant piece by Ijeoma Oluo stands true. Anyway, I’ve got a bunch of dudes that I really, really don’t want to hear shit about. Aziz was on my list, as I’m sure he was for most. He’s made some great television, written a well-received book on dating, had compelling stand up bits and half-staked his career on the notion that he’s one of the good guys. It’s to the credit of his work that a bunch of people likely responded to his allegations with oh, is that it?

Pieces like this from the New York Times: Aziz Ansari Is Guilty. Of Not Being a Mind Reader. Seeking to find fault in the victim’s behaviour, her lack of verbal rejection or conviction in getting the fuck out of an uncomfortable situation. Making it her problem that she wasn’t more direct in avoiding an unpleasant interaction. I get it. I want to keep on enjoying his material guilt free. The most prevalent reaction I’ve seen online has been that’s not assault. It’s just bad sex. I get it. I understand this reaction 100%. Why? Because I’ve been Aziz before.

I can recall a number of times in my early sexual experiences where I entirely ignored clues of disinterest. Whether this was out of ignorance or wilful desire, there’s no question that I was placing my wants over the comfort of others. Taking a soft “no” as a “not right now”. Slipping my hand between a partner’s legs and being rebuffed, only to try again ten minutes later. Pushing for sex when I got the sense she wasn’t interested, but I was. I don’t think I ever pressured a partner enough that she relented and gave in to get it over with. I did, however, fail to create a sexual environment where enthusiastic consent was imperative. I’m certain that I’m not the only guy who could admit as much. In fact, I’m quite sure that similar stories are likely more of the norm than we’d care to admit. I’m sure many guys wouldn’t even see fault with my behaviour. That’s why there’s fault in how Aziz acted. That’s why the culture of sexual consent in our society needs a major restructuring.

My initial response to the Aziz allegations was resigned frustration. As I said above, I’ve been there before. I’d hoped that someone like Aziz would be better than that, which clearly was hoping for too much. I was embarrassed that Aziz, who was 33 at the time, was behaving like a 21 year old. I was embarrassed that this behaviour in my mind was classified as that of a typical 21 year old. Unlike most of the allegations that’ve come out, this one has resonated with me the most. Why? Because these aren’t the shocking actions of a serial abuser like Harvey Weinstein. According to many of the female voices I’ve heard, they’re pretty run of the mill. That’s why it’s important men listen to what’s being said and swim in how it makes them feel.

If they’re not embarrassed or frustrated, maybe they should look at why that is. This movement marks a departure from what we all considered normal and a necessity to explore past experiences for egregious activity. We need to look at what we’ve done in order to learn how to be better. It’s important to sit with guilt, to use it to recalibrate both expectations and behaviour. The system is broken and fixing it is gonna take wilful intention and education.

Do I think Aziz is a monster who deserves to be stripped of his career? Honestly, despite what I’ve said today, I don’t. I think his story deserves to be out there as a cultural learning moment. I think he needs to have a long look at his past experiences and create meaningful change from here on out. I think if his heart is really where he’s made it out to be, that he should use his platform to admit fault and be a role model for the great many men who think he did nothing wrong.

As for me, I’ve spent years trying to unlearn what I took for granted. I’m not done yet. The movement may be called Time’s Up, but for a bunch of us it’s just begun.