Just because Aziz Ansari made persistent moves on a date, doesn’t mean he’s guilty of sexual misconduct. We have to save serious accusations for real criminal behavior, so we don’t diminish the #MeToo movement.
A 23 year-old Brooklyn-based woman using the pseudonym Grace told her story about the “worst night of her life” to the website, Babe, on Jan. 13, and gave a detailed account of her date with comedian Aziz Ansari, 34. In case you aren’t familiar with him, he’s best known for his roles on the TV show Parks & Recreation, and the Netflix series Masters Of None. The pair met at a glamorous Emmy Awards after-party in 2017 and stepped out on their now notorious date in NYC on Sept. 25. By the end of the evening, Grace felt that her couple of hours engaged in sexual action with Aziz in his apartment qualified as “sexual assault.” “I believe I was taken advantage of by Aziz. I was not listened to and ignored. It was by far the worst experience with a man I’ve ever had,” she told Babe, and therefore, the world.
Well, if Grace was a victim of “sexual assault”, based on her account, then watch out American men. If you are a horn dog who doesn’t read subtle non-verbal clues and you awkwardly, but not forcibly, keep trying to seduce a woman, you think is a willing participant, then you could be publicly shamed as a sexual assaulter, just like Aziz.
Sexual assault is a serious accusation. The U.S. Dept. of Justice defines it as “any type of sexual contact of behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient.” Falling under the definition of sexual assault are sexual activities such as “forced sexual intercourse, forcible sodomy… and attempted rape.”
In Grace’s case, she kissed Aziz back repeatedly, allowed him to undress her, didn’t object when he fondled her and she gave him oral sex when he requested it. In other words, she gave off non-verbal clues of appearing to be into it. When she asked Aziz to slow down at certain points in their encounter, he did and when she decided she couldn’t continue and pulled a hard stop on the action, he stopped, and he called her a car to go home.
This was a bad date, Grace, and we can all relate. We’ve all had evenings with guys who wanted to rush us into bed. “Misconduct is when a woman isn’t feeling safe and feels like she can’t get away,” explains Dr. Robi Ludwig, a psychologist and author of Till Death Do Us Part: Love, Marriage and the Mind of the Killer Spouse.
Significantly, at no point did Grace ever say she felt unsafe or like she couldn’t get away. When she wanted to leave Aziz’s apartment, she left with his help. So do we really want to risk derailing the incredibly important fight against sexual harassment in the workplace, and sexual assault and misconduct outside of it, by lumping bad date sex with these? There are very critical distinctions. That doesn’t mean that there is nothing wrong with being disappointed by what feels like insensitive, pushy guy behavior on a date. But, does that justify potentially ruining a man’s career by calling it ‘the worst night of your life’?
There are a lot of actual terrible, terrible things that can happen in a night, from being the victim of a violent crime or accident to getting awful news about your health or learning that a loved one is in danger. Does a night of bad sex moves rank up there?
“We don’t want to confuse a bad date or someone having poor romantic judgment or naïveté with sexual assault,” asserts psychotherapist Dr. Robi Ludwig. “We don’t want to demonize women or men. I’d advise people to move slowly these days — lots of women want a man to be passionate with a woman and sweep her off her feet. But for a guy, they have to be very careful these days and take it slow.”
Dr. Jenn Mann agrees that it’s “unfortunate that we live in a culture in which men think that as part of a normal sexual encounter, they to convince a woman to be sexual with them, and that many women don’t own their own sexual behavior, for fear that they’d be called a slut or would disappoint a man because they aren’t into it.” Dr. Jenn, author of The Relationship Fix: Dr. Jenn’s 6 Step Guide To Improving Communication, Connection & Intimacy, has been by the side of many traumatized rape victims on the way to hospitals and police stations. Grace’s experience is simply not in that category.
That doesn’t mean that Grace didn’t feel pain and anguish during and after her disappointing date with Aziz, but then she needs to seek counseling and learn to be more assertive in uncomfortable situations, like what happened with Aziz, explains Dr. Jenn Mann.
I’d also like to advise Aziz that he reevaluate his romance moves. Tap into his sensitivity gene and not date women who are 11 years younger. Eleven years is a big age difference at 34 and 23, especially when you’re a celebrity and live in a fishbowl.
Grace, there’s a big difference between a sexual predator and a putz. You’re doing a disservice to true victims of the #MeToo movement when you paint a putz as a predator. Do you agree, HollywoodLifers? Let me know.