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Why We Can’t Stop Talking About Aziz Ansari

A woman identified by the alias Grace publicized her story of a tumultuous evening spent with comedian/actor Aziz Ansari. Grace felt that, in light of recent sexual assault victims sharing their stories, her experience would address a recurring problem on Hollywood culture: shaming and dismissing victims who speak out against celebrities monopolizing on their fame to take advantage of those they have power over. In the article released by Babe, Grace recounts Ansari’s contemptuous attitude and hasty behavior, from rushing her through dinner and drinks to crossing her boundaries when she expresses her uncertainty of Ansari’s expectations of her for the night. Ansari’s complete disregard for her feelings and vocalizations of discomfort is a testimony to the misunderstanding of the word no, and the movement to end sexual assault has an evident social disconnect of acknowledging and respecting boundaries.

It is imperative to the movement for Ansari, and others who have abused their power to exploit people, to be held accountable for their actions, especially if they are allying themselves in support of those affected by sexual assault. Many have spoken out about the actors brandishing their support for the “Time’s Up” movement who, simultaneously, have been accused of sexual misconduct in a professional environment, using their fame and privilege as a means of control over a victim, or discriminating against someone for refusing sexual advances from someone in a position of power.

At the Golden Globes, multiple actors came under fire for showing support by wearing black or label pins signifying their alliance to the movement to end sexual assault: James Franco was photographed with a pin that read “#Time’sUp” on his lapel, despite multiple allegations of past student’s claiming Franco would remove the dental dams protecting the actor’s genitals while simulating oral sex on them, and would become angry when actors voiced their unease with appearing nude in certain scenes. Lena Dunham also dressed in solidarity with the “Time’s Up” movement and expressed how humbled she was to work with amazing women, regardless of her apparent lack of involvement to the "Time’s Up" campaign and notwithstanding the fact that she has also been accused of sexual assault in the past in regards to her collection of essays titled Not That Kind of Girl where she details the “sexual exploration” she forced upon her infant sister. Justin Timberlake was also scrutinized for wearing all black attire to the Golden Globes as a statement to show support for sexual assault victims as well as to fight against the inequality experienced by women in the workplace, even though he continued to support and act alongside Woody Allen in a film after allegations were made against him claiming he sexually abused a 7-year-old.

In order to unite one’s self with the movement to end sexual assault, one’s gestures must match the core values of the campaign. Exploiting employees by abusing power, taking advantage of non-consenting individuals, and collaborating and supporting with sexual predators directly prohibits the progress being made in recognizing and handling sexual assault as a serious offense, all while giving victims the support and justice they deserve. Calling out the celebrities monopolizing on the “Time’s Up” movement for publicity reasons is necessary in determining the magnitude of the horrific sexual assault problem rampant not only in Hollywood, but in corporations and businesses everywhere that treat sexual exploitation as a means of employment or promotion or job security. These allegations are harsh realities, as many of them were unexpected and shocking, or frustratingly hypocritical, and a zero-tolerance policy is vital in promoting a campaign dedicated to orchestrating serious, policy-influencing work that will leave no victim feeling isolated or silenced. Speaking up about the injustice of sexual violence is the only way to fight the stigma around the topic to open conversation that produces a healthy perspective on the issue, rather than sweeping it under the rug or classifying it as something commonplace in society.

 

Photo Credit: Cover Image, 1, 2

Taylor is a junior at VCU majoring in English and caffeinated beverages. She likes reading books and writing short fiction as well as marathoning terrible reality television shows.
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