Do I Have to Stop Supporting Someone’s Work Because There Are Sexual Allegations Against Them?

Over the Christmas holidays I read Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari, and I absolutely loved the blend of humor and his take on modern dating because it overlaps with what I teach and coach in my day job.  It was one of those positive affirmation books.  Something that I envisioned promoting as a tool to help send the message home of how my clients could or should be approaching dating.  There were just so many times that I nodded excitedly, yes, YES!  This is exactly what I have seen over the years and this is exactly the problem that needs to be sorted out.  Thank you Aziz, for researching this, and providing a book that basically spells out the current key focus in modern dating, that quest for perfection.

So, just as I am in the process of adding this book to my recommended reading list on my coaching website, a sexual allegation was made against him.  Well, damnit!  Now what do I do?  Do I now have a moral obligation to stop supporting his past work, because of a woman’s unproven story.  But wait, does it even have to be proven?  Isn’t that the whole point, that we are starting to shift the mentality to trust women when they come forward, because it does more good than harm?  Ok, let’s go with that.  I’m trusting that this woman was truthful, that she said no, and he crossed the line.  Fine, but what do I do with my recommendation for his book?  Do I pull the book and stop encouraging clients to read it?  Do I start from square one, finding a similar book, with a premise that I support, and an author who has no black marks against him to help my business?  Can I ethically feel comfortable giving this guy money, in order to help my clients?  These questions are difficult because it affects my livelihood.  I could lose prospective clients because of where I place my support.  But, I could also use the resource as intended to actually help people who matter to me.  And let’s be realistic, his book has absolutely nothing to do with the allegations.  So on a simple apples to apples comparison, do the pros’ outweigh the cons’?

These are the tough questions we need to start asking ourselves.  We are making it clear that sexual harassment will not be tolerated.  But where is the reach of this going to end?  Is this something that will affect a person’s future indefinitely, impact their past work and ruin the lives of their children?  Where are we going to draw the line?  Or will it be judged on a person by person basis?  In essence creating a flexible standard of judgement based on the alleged actions and taking into account a person’s history or even accepting their apology? Or perhaps we will land somewhere in the middle, I just don’t know, nor does anyone right now.

I will tell you honestly, that I felt a little weird watching Aziz Ansari last week, on an episode of Comedians in Cars, Getting Coffee.  And I’m not sure if it was because I didn’t find the episode funny, or because I am questioning how to judge his work knowing, that he made a woman feel uncomfortable.  It is super tough to answer honestly.  My biases are showing and I’m not sure how best to address them, other than to start asking questions.

And it’s only fair to ask you all the same question.  Will you click on his cover below that I’ve provided to see his book on Amazon?  Are you curious about the comparison between having no choice in partners, to near infinite choice and how that’s affecting our overall happiness?  Or, now suddenly, is all his wisdom and humor invalidated?  And more to the point, all the interviews, and hard work of his collaborators, do we no longer get to hear their voice because the name on that front cover may have acted inappropriately and we are angry?

When I re-read the title of this post, I desperately want to have a yes or no answer.  But the truth is, whichever celebrity or professor, or politician that I insert into that question, I came up with different answers.  And I think it is a good exercise for each of us to go down the list and put our beliefs to the test.  It’s one thing to shame a person, but where is that line, and is there some degree that they are all equal or can have comparable ramifications.  At what point do we stop supporting their work, whatever that may be?  And for how long and to what degree do they get penalized for?  I think it’s healthy for us to all take a step back, and look at the bigger picture.  Where do we see our future, and how do we get to that place of mutual respect for all humans beings.  Once we know that, I think this will start to get a little less fuzzy.

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10 thoughts on “Do I Have to Stop Supporting Someone’s Work Because There Are Sexual Allegations Against Them?”

  1. I don't believe that we need to stop supporting someone over an allegation. Until they are proven guilty or they admit to the allegations, then they have done nothing wrong. Celebs have everything to lose and nothing to gain from allegations, so I see a lot of these allegations as being false and a way of quick compensation. Don't misinterpret my words, in no way shape or form, do I support sexual harassment, assault or misconduct, but they need to be proven.

  2. That's an interesting line of thinking. However the issue inherent with that is how do you prove the he/she said dialogue. And as a result of having the burden of proof on their shoulders, women for decades remained silent. So to ask for proof is a double edged sword… hence why this is such a complicated issue.

  3. So, in the cases of Stallone and Franco, where they've both denied it, whose side do you take?

    I've seen new allegations come up lately that's happened over 30 years ago and longer. Most days I can't remember what I've had for dinner the night before, so can they really say, that is exactly how it happened? I've very douptful.

  4. I don't think I am qualified to play judge on each and every sexual allegation. I do think we need to listen and respect each person that comes forward, and at the same time, listen to what the accused have to say. There is a delicate balance that we must be aware of here. And yes, memory and proof are huge factors. Something meaningless to one, could have life changing ramifications for another. That being said, it should not invalidate the later. We need to keep asking questions and at the core, remember we are all humans and we all make mistakes.

  5. You're exactly right, we should be listening to both sides, but for the most part we aren't. The accused are automatically assumed guilty.

  6. That's a direct result of ignoring the female dialogue for so long. And you have to understand the reason we assume the accusers are right is that they have so much lose if they lie, actually even when they tell the truth.

  7. In another episode of comedians in cars getting coffee Jerry was asked if one could still like Cosby's work, and his answer wad emphatic no. End of discussion. In that "no" I get out of it that no matter how good (and I loved Cosby) he was no profit/attention should be given. There are plenty of other people just as funny. Or just as inciteful as Aziz, such as you. These people can redeem themselves in my opinion of they confront the accusation, admit, and then go on to work towards a better world where stuff that they did never happens again.

    Thanks for another good post!

  8. Cosby is an interesting one. I can dismiss his standup, because it is just him. But how do you stop liking the Cosby show? It wasn't just about him, it was a whole family, writers, directors and crew. What he did or is accused of doing is vulgar and beyond reprehensible. But do we now punish the innocent too?

  9. Good point. Maybe somebody can do a youtube version that edits him out lol. I get from Jerry's short answer that sure the work is out there, but really no one should perform his work (as I performed a stand up piece of his in school once or twice), nor should the Cosby show be in re-runs. But you're right that does punish the other actors as they would no longer get residuals. Tough question.

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