Aziz Ansari Accused of Sexual Misconduct

Aziz Ansari was one of many men to wear a "Time's Up" pin to last Sunday's Golden Globes. Ansari's decision to wear the pin made sense. The comedian is a self-proclaimed feminist and has a history of using women's issues as fodder for his comedy, shedding light on problems that women face. Unfortunately, today a piece came out on the website Babe titled "I went on a date with Aziz Ansari. It turned into the worst night of my life."  

Image courtesy of Context.

The reporter Katie Way recounts a story told to her by Grace (a woman whose name has been changed to protect her identity). Grace tells Way of her date with Ansari in which he initially showed very little interest. Grace says she did most of the talking and Ansari seemed eager to end their date. However, when Grace and Ansari returned to Ansari's home, he quickly, and forcefully, attempted to make the relationship sexual. Ansari repeatedly stuck his fingers in Grace's mouth and vagina, and "also physically pulled her hand towards his penis multiple times... he really kept doing it after I moved it away".

Grace also says that her discomfort was expressed both verbally and nonverbally, "most of [her] discomfort was expressed in [her] pulling away and mumbling" and one point she says she "stopped moving her lips and turned cold". While Ansari suggested sex on multiple occasions, she made it clear that she did not want to have sex with him and suggested just hanging out. While he initially seemed to be concerned for how she was feeling, after a few minutes of just "hanging out" he would suggest oral, or penetrative sex again, and forcefully kiss her. Grace decided that he was obviously not going to respect her or her wishes, and she proclaimed "you guys are all the same" to which he responded with kissing her forcefully. Grace announced that she was calling a car to pick her up, and he continued to kiss her aggressively until he finally freed her and called a car for her. Grace says that she cried the whole way home. 

Cases like Ansari's, such as that of Louis C.K., have to make us wonder why men who claim to be "feminist" and pro-women end up being sexually inappropriate. A close friend of mine actually sent me this article this morning asking me to share my thoughts, and we found we had almost the same ideas about Ansari's behavior. While we feel horrible for Grace and feel she was violated, we also feel that it is not necessarily sexual assault. In our opinion, Ansari did not intend to assault Grace, and yet he did not respect her body or her boundaries. 

Very often in our society the only images of sex we get are from porn, which do not promote consent, communication, and often are trying to portray sex in the hardest, fastest way possible. Grace described Ansari, 34, as a "horny, rough, entitled 18-year-old". As it seems in the case of Ansari, and to varying levels many other men, our sex-negative, patriarchal power structure in America, has taught men to not be communicative about sex with their peers, and sex partners, and has also given men the "right" to always be in power. Image courtesy of Pleasant Valley Community Church.

Very seldom does porn show women in power, expressing bodily autonomy or their own pleasure, and when it does, it is usually a fetish. Even if men think porn doesn't affect their perception of sex, it does. Men largely do not know how to give up power and be vulnerable while having sex. In the case of Ansari, it seems he could not even register that a woman was not consenting to what he wanted to do sexually, because that doesn't happen in the fantasy world of porn. 

Ultimately, all people need be open about their sexual desires and habits with friends and sexual partners. Sex will never be a fully positive experience if we continue this cycle of sex negativity. I hope Grace's story can make Ansari, and all sexually-active people, examine their habits and become more comfortable with honest and open communication.