This is a mess.
In the 3000 word piece, 22-year-old Way shares the story of 23-year-old ‘Grace’, who believes she was sexually assaulted by the Hollywood actor and comedian.
As was Babe’s intention, everybody read it. But within the clumsily written narrative – littered with irrelevant details that, whether purposefully or not, undermined the very integrity of their subject – lay what is quite frankly media gold: The inability to put the story down and move on with our lives.
This was ‘The Dress‘ (the 2015 viral photograph, that had people yelling “it’s blue and black!” or “it’s gold and white!”) all over again. Except far more serious.
“Can you read this?” we asked our mothers.
“What did you think?” we asked our colleagues on Monday morning.
“Am I crazy?” we posted in our group chat, with a link to the story, in a desperate attempt to have our sense of reality confirmed by those around us.
LISTEN: Mia Freedman, Holly Wainwright and I have a heated argument about the accusations against Aziz Ansari. Post continues below.
And that is human nature. We are constantly checking that we have not, indeed, gone mad. “Can you smell that?” we inquire. “Is it just me, or…?” we suggest over drinks.
It is why we go crazy in solitary confinement; because we can no longer entirely trust what we see.
So when we read the Babe piece, we desperately searched for our tribe.
Just like The Dress, or a Rorschach test, when a picture is so entirely clear to you, it is near impossible to understand how anyone can see it so differently.
Days later, there have emerged two clear camps. One, sees Grace The Victim. She was coerced and throughout the night expressed verbally and non-verbally, ‘No’. At times, she went along with sexual acts, but her consent was never enthusiastic. In a world where it is estimated that one in three women are subjected to sexual assault, and one woman a week (in Australia) is murdered by a current or former partner, Grace The Victim makes sense.
i cannot overstate how exhausting it is to wake up every morning and be reminded how allergic our culture is to the idea of trusting women
— Hannah Giorgis (@ethiopienne) January 16, 2018