Disclaimer: The views reflected in this article do not reflect the view of Her Campus York University, and are the views of the writer.
Content warning: This article discusses the topic of sexual assault and contains subject matter which may be triggering or harmful for some readers.
My first reaction to hearing about the accusations against Aziz Ansari was disgust. I thought, “here we go again, yet another beloved Hollywood actor revealing his true colours.” However, I dug deeper into the case, and my opinion began to shift. As, I did my research I realized how cloudy this case really was. Many were saying that the woman in question who we only know as “Grace” was not describing what she calls “sexual assault” but in actuality just a bad date.
“Grace” went on a date with Ansari in September of 2017. Ansari took her to dinner and “Grace” tells babe.net that he rushed through it so that they could get back to his place. Once they got back to his apartment it quickly turned sexual, and she said that she gave him nonverbal cues to let him know she did not want to have sex with him. Ansari continued to put her hand on his penis, and she would move her hand away. Ansari also, put his fingers in her mouth multiple times.
Ansari continuously pursued her and she felt pressure to go down on him. They gave each other oral and afterwards she told him that she did not want to have sex. His response was: “Oh of course, it’s only fun if we are both having fun.” “Grace” still felt pressure from Ansari even after vocalizing that she did not want to have sex. Ansari asked if they could have sex on the second date, and she awkwardly responded with yes. He went ahead to say that if he poured her another glass of wine that could count as the second date. She refused the glass of wine, put her clothes on and told him she wanted to leave. He got her a cab and she cried on the way home.
She later sent him this text:
To which Aziz responded:
Many outraged by “Grace’s” accusations spoke out defending Ansari, including Ashleigh Banfield, a reporter at HLN:
“You had a bad date. Your date got overly amorous…After protesting his moves, you did not get up and leave right away. You continued to engage in the sexual encounter. By your own clear description, this was not a rape, nor was it a sexual assault. By your description, your sexual encounter was unpleasant.”
Click the link if you want to know the rest of Banfeild’s open letter to “Grace.” I highly recommend watching it all the way through if you want to look more into those defending Ansari.
That being said, Ansari is a grown man, and he was making advances towards a girl that was pulling away consistently. He did not seem to care about her or how she felt in his presence. It does not take a genius to realize that when someone pulls away it means either they do not like what you are doing or they do not like you.
Ansari claims to not have noticed how uneasy his date was and he made this statement afterwards: “It was true that everything did seem okay to me so when I heard that it was not the case for her, I was surprised and concerned. I took her words to heart and responded privately after taking the time to process what she had said.”
This case raises questions as to what constitutes sexual assault. More women are coming out with their own stories about these types of questionable acts that ride the line of whether it is a violation or not. Ansari did not treat her with respect, and he used his status to try to coerce her into acts that she did not want to partake in.
I do not think the blame should fall on the woman when a man pressures her to push her boundaries. Yes, she could have left earlier but according to an article by the Huffington Post titled, “What Therapists Want Us to Know About Aziz Ansari, ‘Bad Sex’ And #MeToo”: “it’s easy to freeze when confronted with someone physically larger than you who expects an orgasm.” Ansari should understand that he holds the power in this situation. He is older, has status and he is stronger. He also has been an advocate for women and he is a self-proclaimed feminist. Ansari should have been more straightforward with what he wanted out of that night. He could have asked her multiple times if she was comfortable.
This case is said to have set the #MeToo Movement backwards. However, I believe that it is just another part of the conversation. No, she was not raped or molested but she was treated like an object and was left to feel uncomfortable in Ansari’s overly aggressive presence. The issue is that every girl in some form or another can relate to this story. That means that discussion of consent is not happening as often as it needs to. Men and women need to actively be having a dialogue about consent and what is acceptable to the person they are with.
My final thought is that Ansari should rethink how he treats the women he takes on dates. But what do you think? Was this sexual assault or just a bad date?