It was only a matter of time before someone sufficiently “woke” ran afoul of the #MeToo Hollywood choir. Few could expect the dreaded “sexual misconduct” would include “regrettable hook-ups.” Well, time’s up.
Golden Globe winning actor and comedian Aziz Ansari has been accused of “sexual assault” by a 23-year-old photographer from Brooklyn kept anonymous for her safety. (emphasis mine)
The bolded portion of that quote is the first alarming part of Fader’s write-up. “Sexual assault” means certain things, like rape and sexual battery. These are crimes. Not awkward bedroom moments with celebrities, as Babe’s account suggests of the date between “Grace” and Aziz.
Ansari and “Grace” met at the 2017 Emmy Awards after party and found a connection between the type of camera the two used to take pictures. She took pictures with Ansari, and gave him her telephone number before leaving.
When her plane landed back in New York the next day, she already had a message from him. They exchanged flirtatious banter over text for a week or so before he asked her to go out with him on Monday, September 25.
After dinner, the two proceeded to Ansari’s apartment where the two engaged in a variety of sexual acts. “Grace” later claimed everything Aziz did was “aggressive.” He failed to read her signals of discomfort, and that was too much for the young photographer to bear.
Throughout the course of her short time in the apartment, she says she used verbal and non-verbal cues to indicate how uncomfortable and distressed she was. “Most of my discomfort was expressed in me pulling away and mumbling. I know that my hand stopped moving at some points,” she said. “I stopped moving my lips and turned cold.”
Whether Ansari didn’t notice Grace’s reticence or knowingly ignored it is impossible for her to say. “I know I was physically giving off cues that I wasn’t interested. I don’t think that was noticed at all, or if it was, it was ignored.”
Ansari was sexually aroused and indicated as much. “Grace,” not so much. She went to Ansari’s bathroom, collected herself, and then returned with a rejection.
“I said I don’t want to feel forced because then I’ll hate you, and I’d rather not hate you,” she said.
“Grace” didn’t want to feel forced. That’s completely understandable. No one should feel forced to have sex with someone, and Ansari acknowledged he understood this.
“He said, ‘Oh, of course, it’s only fun if we’re both having fun.’ The response was technically very sweet and acknowledging the fact that I was very uncomfortable. Verbally, in that moment, he acknowledged that I needed to take it slow. Then he said, ‘Let’s just chill over here on the couch.’”
Once the pair hit the couch, “Grace” performed oral sex on Aziz.
“He sat back and pointed to his penis and motioned for me to go down on him. And I did. I think I just felt really pressured. It was literally the most unexpected thing I thought would happen at that moment because I told him I was uncomfortable.” (emphasis mine)
“Grace” could have said no. She’s ostensibly a grown woman, completely capable of telling anyone she doesn’t want to engage in sexual activity with them. “Grace” could have left the apartment the moment Ansari motioned that he wanted oral sex. None of this happened.
The night continued, with Ansari making a final advance while watching an episode of “Seinfeld” with “Grace.” At that point “Grace” felt violated and verbally lashed out.
“I remember saying, ‘You guys are all the same, you guys are all the fucking same.’” Ansari asked her what she meant. When she turned to answer, she says he met her with “gross, forceful kisses.”
After this, “Grace” left in an Uber, crying and texting her friends about the encounter. She felt “groggy and miserable” the next day. When Ansari messaged her about the prior night, the digital disconnect between the two allowed “Grace” enough space to tell Aziz how she really felt.
“It was fun meeting you last night,” Ansari sent on Tuesday evening. “Last night might’ve been fun for you, but it wasn’t for me,” Grace responded. “You ignored clear non-verbal cues; you kept going with advances.” She explains why she is telling him how she felt: “I want to make sure you’re aware so maybe the next girl doesn’t have to cry on the ride home.”
“I’m so sad to hear this,” he responded. “Clearly, I misread things in the moment and I’m truly sorry.”
None of Ansari’s actions constituted sexual assault at any point. “Grace” could have said no, left his apartment at any time. Her feeling “pressured” and “forced” to perform oral sex on Ansari, however much this pains the #MeToo crowd, doesn’t constitute any element of sexual assault.
Yet with the help of her friends, and enough recitations of her story, “Grace” managed to make the leap to “sexual assault.”
“It took a really long time for me to validate this as sexual assault,” she told us. “I was debating if this was an awkward sexual experience or sexual assault. And that’s why I confronted so many of my friends and listened to what they had to say, because I wanted validation that it was actually bad.”
Validation from your friends doesn’t meet the elements of a sex crime. It didn’t stop “Grace” and Babe from putting Aziz Ansari on trial in Internet Court. Ansari has since issued a statement, saying the entire encounter was consensual, but he still supported the #MeToo movement because it was “necessary and long overdue.”
Amy Alkon, the “Advice Goddess,” had a different take on the experience, one future “Graces” might want to consider. It’s not as touchy feely as they would like, but one worth considering for equality’s sake.
If you are a woman who is so emotionally frail that you cannot have agency — control your behavior when in the presence of an unarmed person who wants something that you don’t want — you should not be allowed out unsupervised.
As in Victorian times, you should meet men in the family parlor, with supervision.
If Ms. Alkon’s above statement offends too much, well, she doesn’t pull any more punches.
The apartment had a door.
There’s a word: “No.”
Another word: “Stop!”
If you don’t stand up for what you want on some occasion, there’s something you should do — and no, it isn’t putting another person on trial on social media. It’s deciding to turn the experience into a learning experience and figure out what you’ll do to stand up for your interests the next time around.
Bad dates don’t equate to sex crimes, and if you lack the ability to clearly say “no” to anyone, even someone previously referred to as a “woke feminist bae,” then it’s definitely time to turn your bad date into a learning experience, not accuse someone of sexual assault.