By MOLLY HOLT
A recent article released on the website Babe.net has both protesters and supporters of the #MeToo movement questioning what qualifies as sexual assault and what counts as consent.
The article told the story of a woman, using the pseudonym Grace, and her violating evening with comedic actor and recent Golden Globe winner Aziz Ansari.
Grace and Ansari went on a date in September 2017, and the two left with very different interpretations of how the evening went.
According to Grace, after the two returned to Ansari’s apartment after dinner, they began engaging in sexual activity, but Ansari either ignored or did not notice her nonverbal and verbal cues that she wanted things to slow down.
This is the core issue at hand. While Grace felt she was being explicitly clear with him, other people do not think she was being clear enough.
Some have argued that her nonverbal cues were not clear enough to indicate that she was not comfortable with what was going on, and defended Ansari, saying that he isn’t a mind reader. Grace’s nonverbal cues included moving her hand away from Ansari’s genitals after her repeatedly moved her hand there, physically getting up and moving away from him and not kissing him back.
Grace suggested they wait to have sex until the next date, and Ansari proceeded to pour more wine and asked if that counted as a second date. At another point in the evening, Grace told Ansari she didn’t want to feel forced into anything, and Ansari responded with what seemed like a sweet response stating that it is only fun if they are both having fun. However, once they moved to the couch, he then motioned for her to perform oral sex on him, which she did.
“I think I just felt really pressured,” Grace told Babe. net. “It was totally the most unexpected thing I thought would happen at that moment because I told him I was uncomfortable.”
People are conflicted over how to handle these allegations about Ansari. Some think Grace took things too far by calling this a sexual assault and publicly calling out Ansari, including HLN host Ashley Banfield.
Banfield criticized Grace for endangering the progress that the #MeToo movement has made by going to the press with a story of a bad date, undermining the experiences of those who came out with serious allegations against workplace harassers which have led to a social change.
“You had an unpleasant date, and you did not leave – that is on you,” Banfield said in a harsh on-air open letter to Grace.
It’s a lot harder than people may think to leave in a situation that makes you uncomfortable, and it takes a lot for some people to speak up.
“Somehow for far too long we have felt disempowered to just get up and walk out,” Megyn Kelly said on her show “Megyn Kelly Today.” “I am fortunate enough to say I have always managed to extricate myself from these situations, but I know lots of strong women who were not able to.”
Banfield clarified that she thinks this issue is conversation worthy, but that it was “launched in a very sloppy and reckless way,” because it is not legally actionable and essentially led to a public sentencing of Ansari.
Kelly commented on the situation saying that, “She didn’t seem to be saying #MeToo exactly. She seemed to me to be saying this is another thing we need to discuss.”
That’s the point that everyone seems to be forgetting. Grace did not use #MeToo. She did not call for Ansari to be shunned from Hollywood and even privately wished him luck on his upcoming projects. Rather, she was calling Ansari out for the hypocrite he is.
Ansari is a self- proclaimed feminist who has openly supported the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements and wrote a book entitled “Modern Romance,” yet he seems to have a warped definition of consent and respecting women.
That is the conversation that needs to be had.
“The social media campaign is, of course, intended as a wakeup call for men,” Hu Post’s Angelina Chapin wrote in an October 2017 article. “If every woman you know has been harassed or assaulted, then every man you know has made a woman feel unsafe.”
Not only men, but people in general, have different definitions of what is and is not acceptable behavior in
the dating world, and they are scared to talk about it, because that means admitting that maybe each of us have made someone else uncomfortable or been made uneasy more than we would care to admit.
It isn’t right to label everyone the same monster as Harvey Weinstein, but it also isn’t right to let people leave dates feeling pressured and violated.
And it certainly doesn’t seem right to parade around claiming to respect women when someone is being a rude, persistent jerk to the women he dates.
“What many fail to understand is that it doesn’t have to be rape to ruin your life, and it doesn’t have to ruin your life to be worth speaking out about,” political comedian Samantha Bee said.
Bee said that we need to start “setting a higher standard for sex than just not rape.”
Making someone feel pressured and used is unacceptable. It is rude, violating and worth speaking out about because that is the only way for the culture to change.
No one knows what to call Ansari or call his actions. Many people, including talk show host Wendy Williams,
will just call this incident men being men.
“She compared him to a horny 18 year old. Well, aren’t all men?” Williams said.
These crude actions are brushed o as men being so preoccupied with sex. Women shouldn’t have to deal with these behaviors.
“We know the difference between a rapist, a workplace harasser and an Aziz Ansari. That doesn’t mean we have to be happy about any of them,” Bee said.
People have also found fault in Grace’s choice of going to Ansari’s apartment after dinner in the first place.
“If you aren’t interested in a physical relationship or you don’t want to have a makeout session, then say goodbye after dinner,” The View host Whoopi Goldberg said. “Don’t go to their apartment because it is quite possible that you going to someone’s apartment may make them feel that you are comfortable with this.”
But while it may be assumed that going back to someone’s apartment is a sign that a person is interested in something physical, that does not excuse a person from the responsibility of making sure that is what his or her date is looking for. Consent is needed before proceeding with any sexual advances.
“Consent is a really difficult thing. When is no, no? When is yes, yes?” co- host Sunny Hostin said on “The View.”
But consent really is not all that difficult. “Yes” means yes. “No” does not mean yes. “Let’s chill” does not mean yes. Going back to someone’s apartment does not mean yes. “I don’t know” does not mean yes. The absence of a “no” does not mean yes. The only thing that means yes, is the word “yes.”