Aziz Ansari: Sexual assault, or just a bad date?

Another woman has added her story to the “MeToo” movement, claiming that Aziz Ansari sexually assaulted her during a date in New York.

Reading the details of her experience made me feel a little bit sick. But not for the reason you might expect…

You see, while I acknowledge this was a terrible experience for her, to me it doesn’t fall under the banner of sexual assault or harassment. Not even a little bit.


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It was an awkward sexual encounter, and she could have left any time she wanted to. She could have loudly vocalised her discomfort. If he wasn’t getting her non-verbal cues then it was up to her to be really vocal. Or leave.

Should he have responded to her non-verbal cues? Yes, absolutely – she wasn’t into it, and he should have clued into that.

Should she have been more vocal in her discomfort? Yes, absolutely – get as loud as you have to in order to get your message across. As Caitlin Flanagan points out at The Atlantic, “in a way… so many modern girls are weak” when it comes to advocating for ourselves.

“[We were told] over and over again that if a man tried to push you into anything you didn’t want, even just a kiss, you told him flat out you weren’t doing it. If he kept going, you got away from him,” she writes.

“Slap him if you had to; get out of the car and start wailing if you had to. They told you to do whatever it took to stop him from using your body in any way you didn’t want, and under no circumstances to go down without a fight. In so many ways, compared with today’s young women, we were weak; we were being prepared for being wives and mothers, not occupants of the C-Suite. But as far as getting away from a man who was trying to pressure us into sex we didn’t want, we were strong.”

Nowadays, at what point do we as women have to take responsibility for our own actions in an encounter? At what point does it become our own responsibility to say, “Stop this sucks, I’m leaving”, rather than placing all of the onus and responsibility on the guy?

That’s the reason why I’m feeling so queasy about this whole story: because things like this have the power to undermine all the progress we’re making against genuine sexual predators.

And when someone can anonymously accuse someone of assault and potentially destroy their career, we’re entering seriously dangerous territory.