On Saturday, Babe ran a reported piece by Katie Way detailing anonymous allegations by a photographer who had an awkward and terrible intimate evening with comedian Aziz Ansari. According to the article, Ansari asked her to dinner; they went; he asked her back to his apartment; she acquiesced. They got undressed, Ansari said he would grab a condom, and the woman objected, saying, “Whoa, let’s relax for a sec, let’s chill.” Here’s the story:
She says he then resumed kissing her, briefly performed oral sex on her, and asked her to do the same thing to him. She did, but not for long. “It was really quick. Everything was pretty much touched and done within ten minutes of hooking up, except for actual sex.”
She accused Ansari of pulling her hand toward his genitals multiple times, but she never got up to leave, and when she said no, he stopped. “Throughout the course of her short time in the apartment, she says she used verbal and non-verbal cues to indicate how uncomfortable and distressed she was,” Way reports. The woman states, “I know I was physically giving off cues that I wasn’t interested. I don’t think that was noticed at all, or if it was, it was ignored.”
But those cues were at best ambiguous: she told Ansari she didn’t want to have sex, because she didn’t “want to feel forced.” He said okay. Then they sat on the couch, and he asked her for oral sex:
Ansari instructed her to turn around. “He sat back and pointed to his penis and motioned for me to go down on him. And I did. I think I just felt really pressured. It was literally the most unexpected thing I thought would happen at that moment because I told him I was uncomfortable.”
Finally, after some more of this back and forth, the woman said she wanted to leave, Ansari called her an Uber, and she went home. She texted a friend that she “had to say no a lot. He wanted sex.” Later, she texted Ansari, “Last night might’ve been fun for you, but it wasn’t for me. You ignored clear non-verbal cues; you kept going with advances. I want to make sure you’re aware so maybe the next girl doesn’t have to cry on the ride home.” Ansari replied, “I’m so said to hear this. Clearly, I misread things in the moment and I’m truly sorry.”
This piece never should have been printed. It’s essentially a bad Penthouse diary entry. Here’s the reality: nothing in the piece suggests that Ansari took advantage of this woman. He seems like a jerk, but she acquiesced to performing oral sex not once but twice; no physical force was alleged at any time. She never attempted to leave, and when she did, he called an Uber for her.
Obviously, this woman perceived the situation differently than Ansari — but there is no evidence that Ansari did anything here that she openly rejected, and that he then persisted in doing. This is a bad date story, and a bad sex story, but it’s not rape and it’s not sexual assault by any legal definition. It’s absurd to think that given her own story, Ansari should have read her mind and believed she wasn’t having a good time. She may have thought she was sending “non-verbal cues,” but there is literally no way for readers to tell whether that is true or not. And when she gave verbal cues, he followed them.
This is where the #MeToo movement has gone off the rails. Men sometimes do terrible things. But suggesting that men are also supposed to define women’s agency for them — that they’re supposed to make the call for the women, and that they’re supposed to perform like Carnac the Magnificent during sexual encounters, is ridiculous. It undermines our ability to fight actual bad actors. And it destroys the credibility of women who really do have evil activity to allege.