Sexual mores in the West have changed so rapidly over the past 100 years that by the time you reach 50, intimate accounts of commonplace sexual events of the young seem like science fiction: You understand the vocabulary and the sentence structure, but all of the events take place in outer space. You’re just too old.
This was my experience reading the account of one young woman’s alleged sexual encounter with Aziz Ansari, published by the website Babe.
In the recent New Yorker story “Cat Person”—about a soulless and disappointing hookup between two people who mostly knew each other through texts—the account has proved deeply resonant and meaningful to a great number of young women, who have responded in large numbers on social media, saying that it is frighteningly and infuriatingly similar to crushing experiences of their own. It is therefore worth reading by women and especially men and, in its way, is an important contribution to the present conversation.
Here’s how the Babe story goes: A young woman, who is given the identity-protecting name “Grace” in the story, was excited to encounter Ansari at a party in Los Angeles, and even though he initially brushed her off, when he saw that they both had the same kind of old-fashioned camera, he paid attention to her and got her number.
He texted her when they both got back to New York, asking whether she wanted to go out, and she was so excited, she spent a lot of time choosing her outfit and texting pictures of it to friends.
They had a glass of wine at his apartment, and then he rushed her through dinner at an expensive restaurant and brought her back to his apartment. Within minutes of returning, she was sitting on the kitchen counter and he was—apparently consensually—performing oral sex on her per her account, and pressured her for sex in a variety of ways that were not honorable so the story goes.
Eventually, overcome by her emotions as well as the oral exam I assume she told him, “You guys are all the fucking same,” and left crying. I thought it was the most significant line in the story: This has happened to her many times before? What led her to believe that this time would be different? I have had many dates but none of them lead to oral sex that my partner showed any sign of discomfort or distress.
The girl magazines and advice books, novels and TV shows that many women including my sister, friends and not to forget my mother devoured, were decades away from being handed over to actual girls and young women to write and edit true stories of love and romance. They were filled with love savage fury and harlequin romances with Prince not so charming but often well hung. Some had cautionary advice and moralistic codes of the ’50s written by men posing as women.
The explicit physical details, like Grace’ story usually appears on Lifetime Network between the dead beat dads and cereal killing boyfriends. These are the works of middle-aged women writers and bitterly disappointed girls crying in a taxi muttering, “They’re all the same.” Make a few changes to Grace’s story and it would fit right into the narrative of those books, magazines and TV, which would have dissected what happened to her in a pitiless way.
When she saw Ansari at the party, she was excited by his celebrity—“Grace said it was surreal to be meeting up with Ansari, a successful comedian and major celebrity” which the magazines would have told us was shallow; he brushed her off, but she kept after him, which they would have called desperate; doing so meant ignoring her actual date of the evening, which they would have called cruel.
Agreeing to meet at his apartment—instead of expecting him to come to her place to pick her up—they would have called unwise; and ditto drinking with him alone.
Drinking, we were told, could lead to a girl’s getting “carried away,” which was the way female sexual desire was always characterized in these things—as in, “She got carried away the night of the prom.” As for what happened sexually, the writers would have blamed her completely:
What was she thinking, getting drunk with an older man she hardly knew, after revealing her eagerness to get close to him? The signal rule about dating, from its inception was that if anything bad happened to a girl on a date, it was her fault.
Those magazines state 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. You were always to have “mad money” with you: cab fare in case he got “fresh” and then refused to drive you home. They told you to slap him if you had to; they told you to get out of the car and start wailing and walking 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 (not go down on him) without a fight.
Was Grace frozen, terrified, stuck? No.
She tells us that she wanted something from Ansari and that she was trying to figure out how to get it. She wanted affection, kindness, attention. Perhaps she hoped to maybe even become the famous man’s girlfriend and live within his star lifestyle. He was only interested in hooking up. Yes! most men are like that. Gay or straight, finding a play partner consumes most of their free time. It is the nature of the beast. If one does not understand the simple creature, just spend more time studying the animal outside his natural habitat (his apartment or home).
What she felt after oral sex was she was rejected as a potential wife/girlfriend yet another time, by yet another man. He wanted sex, she wanted picket fences with a celebrity. I am smelling regret number 5. I’ll bet you this girl has 14 bridesmaid dresses in her closet.
And what she and the writer created was 3,000 words of revenge porn.
The clinical detail in which the story is told is intended not to validate her account as much as it is to hurt and humiliate Ansari. Together, the two women may have tried to destroy Ansari’s career, which is now the punishment for every kind of male sexual misconduct, from the grotesque to the disappointing.
Twenty-four hours ago—this is the speed at which we are now operating—Aziz Ansari was a man whom many people admired and whose work, although very well paid, also performed a social good. He was the first exposure many young Americans had to a Muslim man who was aspirational, funny, immersed in the same culture that they are.
Now he has been—in a professional sense—assassinated, on the basis of one woman’s anonymous account.
Aziz Ansari has responded to an allegation of sexual assault by a woman he went out on one date last fall.
“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,” Ansari wrote in a statement, “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,” Ansari’s statement continued. “I took her words to heart and responded privately after taking the time to process what she had said.”
In a story published by the website Babe on Saturday, a 23-year-old photographer, who shared her account anonymously, described meeting Ansari at an Emmy Awards event in September where she gave him her phone number.
About a week later, the two went out to dinner. The date continued at Ansari’s apartment afterward, where, according to the woman, she was repeatedly “pressured” by Ansari to have intercourse, which they didn’t, and to perform oral sex, which she and he did.
The woman told Babe she used verbal and non-verbal cues to communicate she was “distressed.” I am a bit confused. What kind of non-verbal cues were used while performing or enjoying oral sex?
Following the encounter, Ansari arranged for an Uber to pick her up, she said. “I cried the whole ride home. At that point I felt violated,” she said, telling Babe she felt her experience with Ansari amounted to sexual assault.
This is the smoking orifice right here. He sent her home. He dismissed her. She was picking out china patterns in her head and when he called the Uber driver she realized Mr. Toad’s wild ride was over. She was not violated she was disappointed and once again rejected. If Ansari was not overwhelmed by her charms he is now overwhelmed by her accusations.
When Ansari won a Golden Globe Award for his Netflix series “Master of None” earlier this month, the woman said she felt compelled to share her experience. Would the bitter woman seeking the lime light please step forward?
She stated, “It was actually painful to watch him win and accept an award,” she said. “That happens to many loses in the room. She continued with “It was absolutely cringe worthy that he was wearing the Time’s Up pin. I think that started a new fire, and it kind of made it more real.”
Really! girl. You were on his kitchen counter while he performed oral sex on you and you made no verbal utterings that indicated you were anyway uncomfortable or wanted him to stop. Now your violated? In this case I am not buying it. Crying wolf is damaging when not backed by reality. Men are pigs and should be called out for their bad behavior whenever and however it arrives.
Time’s Up is a campaign by women in entertainment to heighten awareness of gender inequality issues and curtail sexual harassment across industries. “I continue to support the movement that is happening in our culture. It is necessary and long overdue,” Ansari’s statement concluded.
The allegations against the 34-year-old comedian, who wrote a 2015 book on dating called “Modern Romance,” have sparked debate about what constitutes sexual consent.
Feminist author Jessica Valenti tweeted, “A lot of men will read that post about Aziz Ansari and see an everyday, reasonable sexual interaction. But part of what women are saying right now is that what the culture considers ‘normal’ sexual encounters are not working for us, and oftentimes harmful.”
I agree to a point, but here is a solution. Do not go home with any man while you or him or both have been drinking. Do not go home with a man hoping for romance and not a hook up. Lastly do not go home with a man. Go home alone.
I thought it would take a little longer for the hit squad of privileged young white women to open fire on brown-skinned men. I had assumed that on the basis of intersectionality and all that, they’d stay laser-focused on college-educated white men for another few months.
But we’re at warp speed now, and the revolution—in many ways so good and so important—is starting to sweep up all sorts of people into its conflagration: the monstrous, the cruel, and the simply unlucky.
Apparently, there is a whole country full of young women who don’t know how to call a cab, and who have spent a lot of time picking out pretty outfits for dates they hoped would be nights to remember. They’re angry and temporarily powerful, and last night they destroyed a man who didn’t deserve it.
Look Aziz is a male, single, employed. He is funny, a celebrity who doesn’t mind taking his date out to an expensive restaurant. He is intelligent and sweet and did I mention funny? He also will perform oral sex so I am thinking he is a keeper. He had me at employed.
Now Aziz, you and your honor have been violated by this woman’s anonymous account. Where is the movement for you? It goes both ways ladies and gentlemen as some of us are not predators, but also victims of bitter soulless vindictive individuals seeking their 15 minutes of fame..
Aziz Ansari, we here at SPY support and most importantly believe you. Now go out and be funny.
Lee Sills, Editor