There were many of us who, from the beginning, warned that the Me Too movement would turn into a witch hunt. I would say it became a witch hunt almost immediately. But whenever the transition occurred, there is little doubt that we have now officially arrived in Salem.
Case in point: the allegations against comedian Aziz Ansari. The accusations from an anonymous woman, published by some website called Babe, have generated many headlines declaring Ansari guilty of “misconduct” or “assault.” Most people will not take the time to read the actual account — and I can hardly blame them, it’s 3,000 words long and filled with graphic details — so, in the minds of the public, Ansari is now simply a sex predator and a rapist. Damage done.
It doesn’t help matters that Ansari is a liberal nincompoop, and had been a supporter of the Me Too crusade, prompting some on the Right to trumpet the allegations, despite their flimsiness, as another example of left wing hypocrisy. Many on the Left have just as eagerly crucified Ansari, hanging him alongside Harvey Weinstein and the rest, because his status as a man overrides his progressive credentials and even his brown skin in the eyes of the Identity Police.
An interesting shift has taken place. We are at a point where a privileged white woman can launch accusations at a brown-skinned Muslim man, and the white woman will be automatically believed. Women, even white women, have ascended to the top of the Left’s sacred Victim Hierarchy. Now, all a woman needs to do is motion toward a man and say, “off with his head,” and that will be the end of him. Or, at least, the end of his career. This is a very dangerous situation, and those conservatives who are enjoying the schadenfreude should think twice about cheering along. The male feminists of Hollywood are the first ones on the chopping block, but it won’t end with them. It never does.
Aziz Ansari may be a hypocrite and perhaps a bit of a creep, but he is not a predator or a sexual assaulter. An honest look at the allegations reveals an awkward sexual encounter, not rape. To save your time and your appetite, I will summarize the rather gross story for you:
The woman, known only as “Grace,” says she first met Ansari at the Emmy Awards in 2017. She approaches him, he blows her off at first, but she ends up leaving with Ansari’s number in her phone anyway. The two exchange “flirtatious” text messages over a number of days and eventually go on a date. Things begin going badly right from the start, Grace says, because Ansari only offers her white wine even though she prefers red. Dinner is rushed and he’s obviously anxious to get her back to his place.
The two start going at it as soon as they arrive in his apartment. They take their clothes off, they perform various sex acts on each other, and Grace willingly goes along with all of it. Ansari makes it clear that he wants to have intercourse, but Grace says she wants to slow down and take it easy. She tells the reader that she didn’t want to be there, she “didn’t want to be engaged in that with him,” and she insists that she was giving off many unmistakable “non-verbal cues,” but she did not communicate any of this to Ansari. Instead, she gets naked and sits on his kitchen counter. And, even after expressing her desire to slow things down, she still winds up performing even more sex acts on him.
Finally, she says definitively that she wants to stop. Ansari relents and suggests that they put their clothes back on and watch some TV. She agrees, but after sitting on the couch for a while, Ansari starts kissing her again. She reacts angrily and states her desire to leave. He calls her an Uber. She texts him the next day and expresses her discomfort with the way things went the night before. He apologizes and says he “misread things in the moment.” Sometime later, after discussing it with her friends, she comes to the conclusion that she was assaulted. Then, after Ansari got publicity from his Golden Globes win, she decides that she needs to talk to the media.
This is not how rape works.
Ansari never forced Grace to do anything. He pursued her; he tried to seduce her, but he did not prevent her from leaving nor did he physically impose himself upon her. She could have exited the situation at any time but she did not. She could have kept her clothes on but she took them off. She could have declined to perform sex acts on him but she performed them anyway. Twice.
She did give “non-verbal cues”: She gave a cue when she got naked in a strange man’s house. She gave a cue when she began kissing him. She gave a cue when she performed oral sex on him. She gave a cue every moment that she stayed there instead of using her perfectly functional legs to get up and leave. Most importantly, she gave a cue when she came back to his apartment in the first place. She does not strike me as a sheltered woman. She must have known that a man does not invite you back to his apartment on a first date because he wants to play Scrabble. And, if you did think Scrabble was on the agenda, you ought to have realized otherwise as soon as he started taking off his pants.
Of course, none of this gives a man license to physically force himself on a woman. But they are cues, signals, and if you’re relying on a man to pick up on your cues, you may want to consider all of the cues you’re actually giving. Your annoyed facial expression may be an “I don’t want to do this” cue, but the fact that you are naked in his living room is a cue of its own. A man, even a reasonable (if not gentlemanly) one, may argue that the latter cue is far more noticeable and compelling than the former. At the very least, they are conflicting. Which means, rather than relying on the guy to solve the puzzle, you may have to resort to verbal communication. “I am not going to do this,” you could say, and then leave.
Grace felt violated after the fact. I don’t blame her for that. I blame her for seeking revenge by publishing intimate details of a clearly consensual encounter, but her feelings of emptiness and vulnerability are perfectly warranted. She was indeed violated, but she was complicit in the violation. That is the nature of casual sex. The two partners violate each other. A man uses a woman’s body for his own selfish ends, and the woman allows it, and reciprocates by using the man for her own purposes. If either wakes up feeling depressed the next day, it’s because they regret participating in such a degrading and humiliating exchange. The regret is real, and can be crushing, but it does not retroactively turn the events of the previous evening into rape. The sex remains what it was when you willingly participated in it: self-centered, dehumanizing, shallow, soulless, and, yes, consensual.