Comedian Aziz Ansari has kick-started a new global debate on what constitutes a sexual assault. This was after a website, babe.net, published a stunning account of a 22-year-old photographer, who claimed how her date with Ansari had turned out to be the worst night of her life.
According to the girl, Ansari made sexual advancements despite being told she wasn’t willing. After a night out, Ansari and the woman photographer went to the former’s place, where the comedian initiated sex.
According to the report, when at home, Ansari told her he was going to grab a condom within minutes of their first kiss. The woman claimed that she had voiced her hesitation explicitly.
“I said something like, ‘Whoa, let’s relax for a sec, let’s chill…’ the woman was quoted as saying. She said that Ansari then resumed kissing her, briefly performed oral sex on her, and asked her to do the same thing to him. She did, but not for long.
“It was really quick. Everything was pretty much touched and done within ten minutes of hooking up, except for actual sex.”
The unnamed woman said that Ansari began making a move on her that he repeated during their encounter. “The move he kept doing was taking his two fingers in a V-shape and putting them in my mouth, in my throat to wet his fingers, because the moment he’d stick his fingers in my throat he’d go straight for my vagina and try to finger me.” The woman called the move “the claw.”
She went on to say that after she reached home, she informed Ansari about her disapproval, to which the comedian-actor said that he was sorry and how he had ‘misread things.’
The girl texted Ansari from home, “Last night might’ve been fun for you, but it wasn’t for me. You ignored clear non-verbal cues; you kept going with advances. I want to make sure you’re aware so maybe the next girl doesn’t have to cry on the ride home.”
Ansari replied, “I’m so sad to hear this. Clearly, I misread things in the moment and I’m truly sorry.”
This episode has evoked reactions from all around the world with analysts debating whether what Ansari did in a way constituted a sexual assault. Ironically, allegations against Ansari have surfaced days after he wore Time’s Up pin on his jacket at the Golden Globe awards. His Time’s Up pin was to show his support to the victims of sexual assaults in Hollywood. This was an extension to the MeToo campaign started by Top Hollywood artistes.
Here’s how media reacted to Ansari controversy.
Lucia Brawley in CNN
Lindy West in New York Times:
There is a reflexive tendency, when grappling with stories of sexual misconduct like the accusations leveled at Ansari this past weekend — incidents that seem to exist in that vast gray area between assault and a skewed power dynamic — to point out that sexual norms have changed. This is true. The line between seduction and coercion has shifted, and shifted quickly, over the past few years (the past few months, even). When I was in my 20s, a decade ago, sex was something of a melee. “No means no” was the only rule, and it was still solidly acceptable in mainstream social circles to bother somebody until they agreed to have sex with you. (At the movies, this was called romantic comedy.)
What’s not true is the suggestion that complex conversations about consent are new territory, or that men weren’t given ample opportunity to catch up.
James Hamblin in The Atlantic:
Where subtlety and reflection are most surely lost is if stories are not told. Warnings against them tend to assume that readers cannot recognize nuance—from readers of the Shitty Media Men list to readers of the stories of Weinstein and Ansari. The challenge is to trust that readers can hold multiple ideas in their heads and read critically, and that there can be discussion of stories less egregious than Weinstein’s—even amid a debate about anonymous sourcing and the decision to publish the story in the first place. The movement is easily depicted as an attempt to divide men into two bins: good or bad. In that context, it’s easy to be outraged over the idea that Ansari belongs in the same bin as Weinstein.