After seeing him wear a “Time’s Up” pin at the Golden Globes last Sunday, a 23-year-old Brooklyn photographer made the decision to go public with her story of a sexual encounter with Aziz Ansari that left her feeling uncomfortable and violated. In a story by babe, “Grace” relays how a date last September escalated from a fancy dinner to an hours-long ordeal where she gave Ansari many verbal and non-verbal cues that his behaviour towards her was inappropriate.
Grace describes how she met Ansari at an Emmy Awards after-party in the fall of 2017 and agreed to a date in New York after a week of flirtatious conversation over text. The two shared a meal and then went back to his apartment where Grace says he was immediately intent on having sex with her. She describes escalating circumstances during which he moved and touched her body while she attempted to slow him down and put distance between the two of them.
At one point, when she realized that he was not going to pick up on (or was ignoring) her non-verbal cues, Grace reports telling Ansari, “I don’t want to feel forced because then I’ll hate you, and I’d rather not hate you.” He replied, “of course, it’s only fun if we’re both having fun,” and then suggested they “chill” on the couch. Grace assumed this would be the end of the sexual encounter, but instead, Ansari began kissing her again after a short time.
When he asked her for oral sex after that, she obliged because she said she “felt pressured.” She said that the request was “the most unexpected thing” because she “already told him [she] was uncomfortable.” After a few more advances rebuffed non-verbally, Grace told Ansari, “No, I don’t think I’m ready to do this, I really don’t think I’m going to do this” and got an Uber home.
“I didn’t leave because I think I was stunned and shocked,” she told the magazine, “This was not what I expected. I’d seen some of his shows and read excerpts from his book and I was not expecting a bad night at all, much less a violating night and a painful one.” Aziz Ansari has been vocal about his feminist views, explores feminist issues in his TV show Master of None and even wrote a book, Modern Romance, about the nuances of dating (you know, like understanding non-verbal cues). Grace did not expect someone branded by fans as “Woke Bae” to be so forceful and obtuse to her resistance.
The next night, Ansari texted to tell Grace how much he enjoyed their date to which she replied that she didn’t feel the same way. She told him how he didn’t appear to pick up on her resistance and how that made her feel. He was regretful and apologized immediately. Grace shared those texts with babe.
This is the text Grace* sent Aziz Ansari after their date which left her feeling “violated”. She tells Ansari how uncomfortable he made her feel, saying “you ignored clear non-verbal cues” and “kept going with advances.”
— babe (@babedotnet) January 14, 2018
Grace came forward with her story when she saw Ansari wearing a “Time’s Up” pin while accepting his win at the Golden Globes this year. She said it was “actually painful” to watch him and she found it “absolutely cringeworthy that he was wearing a Time’s Up pin.”
Ansari released a statement Monday in response to the story, saying he was “surprised and concerned” that she felt the way she did and that he “took her words to heart.” He added that he will “continue to support the movement that is happening in our culture.”
— Philip Lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) January 15, 2018
Ansari’s statement reflects what he said in the text messages and speaks to a larger problem. With all the talk about sexual harassment and assault and the unequal power dynamic between men and women that so often leaves the latter victim to the former’s desire, something we haven’t discussed at length is the concept of coerced consent. In a lot of these instances, men make the first move by either touching or exposing and then the victim is left feeling helpless and tries to remove themselves from the situation. The Ansari incident shows that a victim doesn’t always say “no” explicitly or put up a fight, but “not a no” is not consent. Sometimes victims are too terrified of the consequences of saying “no” or the persistence of the man overwhelms them into a situation that makes them uncomfortable or pushes them farther than they are willing to go.
“It took a really long time for me to validate this as sexual assault,” Grace adds at the end of her story, “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.” Sometimes assault is obvious, and sometimes it’s just someone moving too quickly, but a violation is a violation, regardless. The definition of rape lays with the victim, not the perpetrator.
The Aziz Ansari stuff is a perfect demonstration of how rape culture works and how men are socialized to feel entitled to sex. No, there was no rape, but this thing where men pester women for sex and don’t let up, even when it’s clear she isn’t into it, IS RAPE CULTURE.
— Meghan Murphy (@MeghanEMurphy) January 15, 2018
Me reacting to the Aziz Ansari piece: pic.twitter.com/E6y08NAIqG
— Chloé S. Valdary 📚 (@cvaldary) January 15, 2018