Aziz Ansari’s Accused Behavior Is Sexual Misconduct

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This weekend Babe published an article about a woman, who anonymously is identified as Grace, accusing Aziz Ansari of sexual misconduct after they went on a date in September 2017. Grace described a post-date scenario that has resonated with lots of women. Ansari allegedly kept coercing Grace into sexual acts while toeing the line of criminal assault.

Allegedly Ansari kept pulling Grace’s hand to his penis and forcefully sticking his fingers down her throat. Grace described trying to get around Ansari like a football play, “It was 30 minutes of me getting up and moving and him following and sticking his fingers down my throat again. It was really repetitive. It felt like a fucking game.”

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She went into detail about how she became unenthusiastic but Ansari kept trying to persuade her to have sex with him.

The article has since been widely scrutinized. Unlike other #MeToo stories, Ansari hasn’t been immediately been made out as a bad guy because the accusations aren’t as deplorable or illegal as others that have been reported.

The wave of sexual misconduct allegations and the #MeToo movement is more than just outing people, primarily men, as sexual predators, but it’s a movement to change men’s behavior towards women, LGBT+ members, WOC and trans people in sexual and abusive situations. It’s about hearing these stories and seeing what’s wrong with our societies power structures, rape culture and dating culture, rather than discredit and silent women who speak out.

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I think the reason why Grace and Babe have received such backlash is that this situation is more than normalized in hookup culture, so people are struggling to see how Ansari’s behavior is unacceptable because right now it’s considered acceptable.

The Atlantic published a piece about Ansari in response to the allegations. The article minimized Grace’s experience with Ansari because the author was date raped twice and that is her litmus test for sexual assault.

Sexual assault is a varying spectrum and isn’t a competition. No one was sexually assaulted more than the other and to think like this is to diminish other’s experiences and enforce silence instead of speaking out about sexual assault.

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Then you have the people who consider Grace’s encounter with Ansari, not assault or misconduct because she could have just said no and walked away.  Yes, that seems like the logical thing to do. But in situations were assault and harassment are happening you can be frozen not knowing what to do. Also, survivors in those situations, especially trans people and WOC, are afraid to say no because statistically many times it results in violence.

Ansari’s behavior has just been normalized and the #MeToo movement is there is un-normalize this exact behavior. Ansari kept moving Grace’s hand to his private parts and he kept following her around his apartment putting his fingers in her mouth. When she said she wouldn’t sleep with him and felt uncomfortable he asked for a blowjob.

It’s the hookup culture that reinforced Ansari’s actions, hooking up is about male pleasure no matter what. Ansari didn’t rape Grace, but his behavior is still problematic, sexual assault doesn’t have to be criminal for it to count as sexual assault. Ansari’s behavior is rooted in male power and pleasure that lead to him pressuring Grace into sexual acts that given other circumstances she may have felt comfortable to give, but in this situation, with Ansari, she wasn’t.

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Our culture has notoriously let sexual assault and rape culture grow and thrive. Women aren’t educated on how to diffuse commonplace situations like Ansari’s and Grace’s, but more importantly, men aren’t taught that his coercive behavior is unacceptable. Men have been taught that when they hook up with someone it will always end with them having an orgasm. Women have been taught that when they hook up it will always end with them providing that orgasm.

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If you do not consider Grace’s experience as sexual misconduct and a valid part of #MeToo you are victim blaming. #MeToo and rape culture don’t stop at serial rapist and abusers who have a track record with a long list of survivors, it’s about changing the culture which all sexual misconduct behavior thrives.

Yes, Ansari is no Harvey Weinstein but when you boil it down Weinstein’s and Ansari’s behavior are both results of rape culture. Their actions are on far different ends of the assault spectrum, but they are both rooted in rape culture.

Ansari released a statement about Grace’s accusations saying that they did go out on a date and believed all activity was consensual.

I don’t think Ansari’s career is over like Weinstein’s and Louis CK’s careers are, but I do think it’s important to not disregard this story and his actions. Changing the culture of sexual misconduct means rectifying all actions that fall within that culture.

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