Aziz Ansari controversy broadens scope of #MeToo movement

Caroline Guthrie, Staff Writer

Aziz Ansari found himself in the spotlight this month after being accused of sexual assault by an anonymous source. The victim informed a journalist who wrote a detailed article on titled, “I went on a date with Aziz Ansari. It turned into the worst night of my life.” This article sparked a debate for the #MeToo movement, with people taking sides as to whether or not the actions that took place constituted sexual assault. Although Ansari’s character remains less malevolent than other sexual assault perpetrators (such as the infamous Harvey Weinstein) following the release of the article, it is evident that he is guilty of coercion and sexual assault.

The article detailed the woman’s night with Ansari. Upon returning to his apartment after dining at a restaurant, he began seducing her almost immediately; she felt that things escalated too quickly. The article described the unnamed woman telling Ansari after he tried to take things further to “relax for a second.” Ansari continued kissing her and kept urging her to go further, with physical movements and words. She kept trying to move away, but he pulled her back. The article goes on in a descriptive recount of the story. Although the woman continued to engage with him, her verbal and nonverbal cues should have been enough for him to realize she was uncomfortable and wanted him to stop.

This woman received a lot of backlash because her story of sexual assault was different from many others that have come out in recent weeks. Some believe that she was expecting Ansari to “read her mind.” However, it is evident that she made an effort to let Ansari know how distressed she was, and it was his responsibility to stop coercing her physically and verbally. Ansari is an intelligent man — he knew what he was doing by choosing to keep pressuring her. The woman repeatedly told him she did not want to do anything further. He would stop, but a few minutes later reattempt to kiss her or force himself onto her. Although Ansari never took the situation to the furthest extent of sexual assault, it is clear he crossed a line. He probably wasn’t trying to be malicious, (as seen with many cases of sexual assault), but he must have known he had taken it too far.

Ansari apologized to the woman, claiming he felt that everything they did that night was consensual. In a statement, Ansari wrote, “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.” Ansari chose not to attend the SAG awards in wake of the new allegation.

It remains true that in this woman’s perception of the story, Ansari made unwanted sexual advances, and he should be reprimanded for them. This case is different from many others; Ansari has the ability to make a comeback and be redeemed in the public eye. He embodies intelligence and compassion, shown through his years in the spotlight. He has the capability to learn his actions were inappropriate and illegal, and make a change.

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