To no surprise, we’ve added another one to the list of Hollywood stars who have been exposed for their sexual misconduct fiascos. This one though, is a special case. The cherry on top is it’s someone who you possibly really enjoyed watching on “Master of None” or “Parks and Recreation”.
Aziz Ansari is a comedian we all love. He’s funny, charismatic, and truly, a versatile actor, director and comedian. Although, some may argue that he has succumbed to the flaws of being a rich and successful celebrity, or merely the flaws of being a male in our society.
After reading babe.net’s Katie Way’s story on 23-year-old Brooklyn based photographer *Grace’s sexual encounter with Ansari, I was in awe. Despite it’s flaws, after reading it over and over again, there was no doubt in my mind that the queasy feeling in my stomach wasn’t from the pad thai I had earlier that day. But, it also wasn’t because I was certain that we had discovered Ansari’s malicious side, or because I was so certain that he had legally sexually assaulted Grace. It wasn’t even because I claimed him to be a ‘sexual predator’ per se. Rather, it was because this was something that I had no doubt in my mind many people would just dust off their shoulder.
After meeting at the 2017 Emmy’s, Ansari asked for Grace’s number to later invite her for a night out. Leaving her wine glass still full, and some left in the bottle that he had ordered them, Way reported “Grace says she sensed Ansari was eager for them to leave” the restaurant which was conveniently only 2 blocks away from his place. He allegedly then ignored Grace’s verbal and physical cues of her discomfort after arriving to his apartment where they immediately began to make out. You can read the cringe worthy encounter in Way’s article here.
Since the article was published, I’ve seen across Twitter, and even heard amongst some friends, “why didn’t she just say ‘no’?”. Even more commonly, “why didn’t she just leave if she was uncomfortable?” To be completely frank, these aren’t bad questions. If someone is put into a situation where they’re uncomfortable, then why can’t they just remove themselves from that situation? But put into context for a woman, and particularly a woman in Grace’s situation, having the freedom to do something, doesn’t mean you are guaranteed the safety doing it. It wouldn’t have been the first time a woman is faced with some terrifying consequences after just rejecting a man.
Grace and Aziz’s first and hopefully last date isn’t an example of a bad one, or even an uncomfortable one. It’s the perfect example of coercion rather than consent. This report on the incident only made me realize the disregard that Grace suffered. Her discomfort was so forcefully ignored. Even after she had verbally expressed her disinterest, she was continued to be coerced into an undesirable situation.
Maybe we need to start reanalyzing what we define as a “bad date”, or an “unfortunate encounter”. That being pressured into an undesired sexual situation is a violation of one’s body. The problem isn’t that she didn’t just “stand up and leave”. It’s that she had to come out and say, “I don’t want to feel forced because then I’ll hate you,” before he went on and tried again. The ignorance of boundaries, verbal, and physical cues isn’t something that we should tolerate in this day and age. When do we start realizing as a society that we have to become more cognizant of sexual boundaries?