If you read my last post, you know that I have been confused as to where I stand on the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements (at least on certain kinds of allegations). Soon after, Aziz Ansari was accused of sexual assault by a woman named Grace (a pseudonym). She shared her story with Babe.com. Read the story here, as I will be referencing details below.
As soon as I read the article, I found myself to be, for lack of a better word, annoyed at the situation. Of course, I feel horrible for this young woman who felt uncomfortable. Being in a sexual situation that you’d rather not be in is the worst feeling. And I’ve definitely been there. However, I don’t think Ansari is a criminal, or creepy, or a pillar of toxic masculinity. Sure, he may have come across as a bit aggressive (a horny man — who knew?), but he should not be held to the responsibility of following “non verbal” cues (yeah, I don’t know what that is either). After Grace willingly performed oral sex on him, he probably, I don’t know, thought she was into everything they were doing. Wild.
SIDE NOTE: In the Babe article, she describes that Ansari ordered white wine at dinner. She prefers red, but apparently didn’t get to choose. This small detail that may be overlooked by many was included for a reason. Hints like this are somehow supposed to make us feel bad for Grace from the start, because she didn’t ask for red wine. A modern day tragedy.
I get a lot of crap for watching The View, but their commentary on these allegations was just what I needed to hear to know that I am not alone with my confused and mixed feelings on the topic. I almost never agree with Meghan McCain, but she seems to feel the same way I do. We don’t want to shame Grace — no woman should feel uncomfortable in such a vulnerable situation — but something just isn’t quite right with this story. At the end of the day, this case is not sexual assault. Yes, Ansari probably could have taken things a little slower, but from her own account, Grace didn’t attempt to stop it outright. Consent should be a very clear, both visually and verbally, two-way street.
In my opinion, it is allegations like these that demean and are detrimental to the importance of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements. Furthermore, it takes away from the tragic stories of men and women who are brutally sexually assaulted and raped. Sorry Grace, not sure if this one cuts it. (In addition, entertainer’s careers are on the line. Aziz Ansari is not Harvey Weinstein, and should be compared as such.)
Watch the segment here.
Today, CNN released an op-ed on the issue. Just like The View segment, the editorial shows that I am not alone in my view. The writer, Lucia Brawley does not question Grace’s agency, though asks that women like her use it. “If your date is being creepy, let him know, get out of Dodge, and be sure you teach your sons better one day,” she says. Grace confronted Ansari over text the next day (this happened a year ago), to which he quickly apologized, noting that it all seemed consensual. It was.
Brawley says, “Let us teach our daughters that sexuality is healthy. They should be clear and safe if they want to have sex, and clear and safe if they don’t.”