Aziz Ansari accusations start conversations about sexual assault

FILE - In this Jan. 7, 2018, file photo, Aziz Ansari arrives at the 75th annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)

One of the most powerful campaigns of 2017, the #MeToo movement has given victims of sexual harassment and assault a voice to speak up against perpetrators of sexual misconduct. The movement began with women voicing their stories about Hollywood giants like Harvey Weinstein, and has continued to expose people who have engaged in sexual misconduct late in January 2018. One of the most recent men of Hollywood to be exposed is comedian Aziz Ansari, who was accused of sexual assault in an article published on Babe.net.

In the “Babe” piece, author Katie Way recounts the story of “Grace,” a photographer from Brooklyn who met Aziz Ansari at an Emmy Awards after party. After a night of flirting, the two agreed to meet up for a date. The date itself was described as a bit awkward and rushed, with Way stating that Grace could tell that Ansari was eager to leave. After dinner, Grace and Ansari walked back to his Tribeca apartment, where Grace describes what she later believed to be sexual assault. According to the article, Ansari pushed Grace into performing sexual acts that she felt uncomfortable doing, and he did not pick up on her verbal and nonverbal cues.

Grace said that it took her some time to come to terms with whether or not this is sexual assault, stating “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.”

Out of all of the powerful men in Hollywood that have been exposed by the Time’s Up and #MeToo movements, Aziz Ansari’s case is drawing significant attention due to his support of the aforementioned movements and feminism. According to the Babe article, Ansari has used his show “Master of None” to discuss issues like sexual assault, even including a story line where a food TV personality gets “accused of sexually inappropriate conduct” by a number of women.

Ansari even went as far as to wear a “Time’s Up” pin at the Golden Globes, showing his support for the growing number of sexual assault and harassment victims speaking up in Hollywood. Ansari has released a statement regarding the events, stating that he was “surprised and concerned” when Grace had told him that the experience had made her feel uncomfortable, according to “Babe.” Grace’s account has brought up the question of whether Ansari’s public persona is ignorant, hypocritical, ironic or downright predatory.

Grace’s story has also, for many, started a conversation on what constitutes as sexual assault. As mentioned earlier, Grace herself had some trouble in the beginning deciding if her experience with Ansari had been a case of assault, or just a really bad date. People seem to be split over whether or not this counts as sexual misconduct, with one “New York Times” opinion article by Bari Weiss titled “Aziz Ansari is Guilty. Of Not Being a Mind Reader” calling the Babe piece “arguably the worst thing that has happened to the #MeToo movement since it began in October.” Others like “Full Frontal” host Samantha Bee were hesitant to call it sexual assault, but continued to support Grace, stating on her show that there should be a “higher standard for sex than just ‘not rape.’”

Whether or not you believe Grace’s experience constitutes sexual assault, it goes without saying that a national dialog in the country surrounding sexual assault and harassment is long overdue.


Lauren Brown is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at lauren.brown@uconn.edu.