A new chapter in the debate on consent has been opened through the sexual assault allegations made against comic-actor Aziz Ansari.
An anonymous 23-year-old woman, who went by the name Grace, said the assault took place after a date with Ansari last September in New York.
The woman said they went back to the actor’s apartment after the outing.
Grace claims that Ansari performed oral sex on her and asked her to reciprocate the gesture and although she wasn’t interested, she felt pressured to do so.
According to Grace, she gave Ansari “verbal and non-verbal cues” to show her discomfort.
She said: “Most of my discomfort was expressed in me pulling away and mumbling. I know that my hand stopped moving at some points. I stopped moving my lips and turned cold.”
Back at home, Grace said she texted Ansari, saying: “It may have seemed okay. But I didn’t feel good at all.”
And the actor’s response was: “I’m so sad to hear this. All I can say is, it would never be my intention to make you or anyone feel the way you described. Clearly I misread things in the moment and I’m truly sorry.”
The actor has since responded to the allegations, saying everything that took place “was completely consensual”.
He said in a statement: “In September of last year, I met a woman at a party. We exchanged numbers. We texted back and forth and eventually went on a date. We went out to dinner, and afterwards we ended up engaging in sexual activity, which by all indications was completely consensual.
“The next day, I got a text from her saying that although ‘it may have seemed okay,’ upon further reflection, she felt uncomfortable. It was true that everything did seem okay to me, so when I heard that it was not the case for her, I was surprised and concerned. I took her words to heart and responded privately after taking the time to process what she had said.
“I continue to support the movement that is happening in our culture. It is necessary and long overdue.”
After taking both accounts into consideration, many across the world can’t seem to agree on whether the episode can be described as sexual misconduct.
A section of commenters on Twitter believes it represents non-consensual oral sex while another insists that the actor did nothing wrong.
The debate predominantly centres on the definition and limit of sexual consent.
Here are the most intriguing reactions.
I'm worried about women being conditioned to think of ourselves as inherent and hopeless victims. We're in a bad place when one person's recollection of a bad, regrettable sexual encounter can be characterized as sexual abuse, as would appear to be the case with Aziz Ansari.
— Olivia Nuzzi (@Olivianuzzi) January 14, 2018
This is not a case of awkwardness, ambiguity or feeling rejected. It was about a man, refusing to take "No!" for an answer from a woman. Even if it were about rejection, no one gives you the right to assault someone for rejecting your sexual advances. Stop defending Aziz Ansari.
— ✡️ Josh Shahryar ☪ (@JShahryar) January 14, 2018
This Aziz Ansari thing highlights the issue with the state of the sexual assault discussion: Dudes are comfortable calling out men like Weinstein because their actions feel sensational, egregious, and frankly abnormal. They are uncomfortable calling out actions that are relatable
— Mario (@TomatoGrandpa) January 15, 2018
Harvey Weinstein consistently used, abused, and flat-out raped women for decades, without any change or remorse.
Aziz Ansari majorly overstepped his bounds once, and immediately apologized.
Please don’t pretend these people are in any way on the same playing field.
— HoustonProductions1 (@Blockbustedpod) January 14, 2018
Judging by the response, it feels like the Aziz Ansari story is a major test for some who committed to believing and standing with women in the #MeToo movement.
— Tom & Lorenzo (@tomandlorenzo) January 14, 2018
urging all men to read the story about aziz ansari. take a moment to challenge your preconceived notions about what is and is not sexual assault. while the letter of the law may delineate sexual assault a "yes" and "no" game, assault still exists outside of those boundaries.
— Vaishnavi Paudel (@vaish_paudel) January 15, 2018
But that's the issue. Women DO have the power to leave. When did we become weak enough where we can't muster up the courage to leave an apartment where no one is forcing us to stay?
— Ophelia Touche (@ophelia_touche) January 15, 2018
We need honest and open dialogue about CONSENT. The divided response to the Aziz Ansari story proves that we need a real conversation on sex and relationships ASAP
— Sowmya Krishnamurthy (@SowmyaK) January 14, 2018
As a woman who has been on bad dates I can tell you that what @azizansari did was NOT assault! Nonverbal cues! Are you kidding me? She didn’t say no or that she wasn’t into it until after she gave him oral? She let him undress her and opened her mouth. That’s on her! Not him!
— Nancy (@NancyEStrong) January 15, 2018
This is ridiculous… undermines the TimesUp movement altogether…. she coulda left but stayed and waited til he won an award to make this “accusation”. She is making real victims less heard! Sorry @azizansari
— Rikki (@kkgardner1) January 15, 2018
This young woman speaking out against Aziz Ansari is entitled to her beliefs. I am a feminist, and I know this is unpopular, but I believe her account undermines the #Metoomovement. I'm not victim blaming, but her account seem to indicate mixed signals and misinterpretations
— 🦉🌼resista sista🌼🦉 (@crochetdobbysox) January 15, 2018
This post is for all the women who have been made uncomfortable and taken advantage of through sexual advances from men like Aziz Ansari who were supposed to be there for us and support us but ended up hurting us just like the shit men they once stood against
— Taylor ish (@grandhosupreme) January 14, 2018
For all the guys who wonder why women sometimes rely on non-verbal cues rather than loudly shouting “I don’t want to have sex with you!” Here you go: pic.twitter.com/8eEw5qNnHB
— Jennifer Wright (@JenAshleyWright) January 14, 2018
My takeaway from this whole Aziz Ansari thing: it's disheartening that a productive movement condemning assault and harassment has deteriorated into an excuse to call out any aggressively horny asshole you've ever had an awkward encounter with.
— Tiffany (@riptiff) January 14, 2018
He should've used words like: "Are you comfortable? Are you OK with this? Would you rather leave? Would you rather I stop?" She made her discomfort clear. He ignored it, repeatedly. He hasn't denied her story btw.
— goofball (@goofball1) January 15, 2018
The thing that bothers me the most about the allegations against @azizansari is that he has financially benefitted by using his platform to discuss the unfair treatment of women in society, yet in his private life he perpetuates the behavior he denounces.
— Sophia (@adasmooci) January 14, 2018
Some men are defending Aziz Ansari because they see themselves in that scenario and they believe it's perfectly ok
— Luisa Haynes (@wokeluisa) January 14, 2018
Aziz Ansari won a Golden Globe award for ‘Master of None’ last weekend.
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