First, it goes without saying that men who actually rape or assault women or use their power to blackmail, threaten, or intimidate women into engaging in sex, are disgusting human beings who should be castrated and locked up. There is no excuse for it: period.
At the same time though, an unfortunate consequence of MeToo is that it fails to blur the clear line of demarcation between what I described above and male-female social and sexual interaction that comes across as awkward or uncomfortable. In addition, MeToo essentially infantilizes women, treating them as helpless agents who have no control over any aspect of an interaction with a man, as if they are observing from afar. This is ultimately degrading to women and not helpful to their empowerment.
This brings us to Aziz Ansari. I'm a huge fan, so I when I first read the headlines, I was absolutely shocked and disappointed. Then, I read the account by the woman, who submitted it to the salacious babes.net website. I became convinced that Ansari is the victim, falsely accused of sexual assault.
Here is a brief synopsis of the events that transpired:
- The woman, a 23-year old Brooklyn photographer who is referred to as "Grace" in the article, attended the Emmy after party last September, in L.A. She was there with a date. She noticed that Aziz was taking pictures with vintage 80's camera, the same kind that she uses. She was a bit drunk and felt confident and approached Aziz. They started talking, but since she was already there with a date, their interaction was limited.
- As she was leaving, Aziz approached her and asked for her number. The next day, she flew back to NYC. Over the next week, they exchanged flirtatious text messages and agreed to go on a date.
- "Grace" was super pumped up, excited to be going out with a funny comedian and a celebrity. She consulted her friends on what to wear.
- On date night, Aziz told her to meet him at his apartment for pre-drinks, which she did. Afterwards, they went to a seafood restaurant a few blocks from Aziz's apartment (any other straight bros also arrange to meet with a girl not too far from his apartment? yeah this is something we've all done). They had dinner and drinks, and Aziz suggested they go back to his place. "Grace" thought it was "strange" that he wanted to go back to his place so quickly, but they walked back.
- Once they were at his place, Aziz got aggressive, making sexual innuendos and kissing her. "Grace" said she was uncomfortable and said they were going too fast. At no point was Aziz forcing himself upon her, making threats, or preventing "Grace" from leaving. Somehow, magically, despite her reservation, Aziz managed to get her naked and performed oral sex on her. Finally, she left before they actually had sexual intercourse.
"Grace" subsequently told her girlfriends that it was the "worst" night of her life. So here's what Aziz is guilty of: bad game and being too thirsty and misreading social cues. Aziz was a dork most of his life, and especially as an Asian man growing up in South Carolina, I'm sure it was rough for him socially. Now, he's rich and famous (he lives in the same Tribeca apartment building as Taylor Swift), and he's milking it for all that it's worth, and quite frankly, I don't blame him. "Grace" obviously wanted to date a celebrity, to become his girlfriend and was disappointed when it turned out that Aziz just wanted to fuck her. Uh yea, he's a straight man. "Grace," as an adult and an independent agent, had numerous chances to walk away. Yet, she chose to go home with him (did she think that they were gonna play Starcraft at his place?), and she chose to let him undress her and get to "third base."
Personal responsibility matters. Unfortunately, stories like this take away from actual victims of rape and assault and undermine the purpose of MeToo.