Comedian and actor Aziz Ansari was branded a "sexual predator" by the media after an anonymous 23-year-old female photographer accused Ansari of sexual misconduct in a blog post from Babe magazine. However, the accuser, known only as "Grace," outlined a vivid consensual, albeit awkward, sexual hook-up. Her alleged "non-verbal cues," as she physically acquiesced to Ansari, were foggy and apparently misread by the actor.
With the #MeToo movement in full swing, Ansari was immediately labeled a sexual predator for what amounted to failing to correctly read the woman's "non-verbal cues." Essentially, Ansari was guilty of not being a mindreader. Caitlin Flanagan of The Atlantic went as far as to say that the "Parks and Recreation" actor was the victim of "3,000 words of revenge porn."
After coming forward in the days following the blog post-smear to reiterate that the sexual conduct was consensual, Ansari has all but disappeared.
On Monday, though, the 35-year-old addressed the controversy during a standup routine in New York City, reports Vulture's Jesse David Fox, who was at the show.
Ansari revealed that he was initially "terrified" to talk about the issue and confessed to feeling "humiliated and embarrassed." Now, Ansari hopes he has grown from the incident.
"There were times I felt really upset and humiliated and embarrassed, and ultimately I just felt terrible this person felt this way," Ansari said, adding: "But you know, after a year, how I feel about it is, I hope it was a step forward. It made me think about a lot, and I hope I’ve become a better person."
"If that has made, not just me, but other guys think about this, and just be more thoughtful and aware and willing to go that extra mile, and make sure someone else is comfortable in that moment, that’s a good thing," added the comic.
Ansari has steered clear of addressing the controversy directly in his routines predating Monday night, but has apparently tried out bits criticizing "woke" mob culture, reported The New York Times.
According to Grace, the night of her hook-up with Ansari was "the worst night of [her] life." After the two had dinner, they went back to his apartment and got undressed. Ansari performed oral sex on Grace and then asked the woman to do the same to him. She did.
"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," recalled Grace.
"It was really quick. Everything was pretty much touched and done within ten minutes of hooking up, except for actual sex," said the 23-year-old.
Ansari apparently pulled her hand toward his genitals, but when Grace said no, Ansari 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," wrote the Babe reporter. Grace noted, "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."
Ansari called Grace an Uber when she told him she wanted to go home.
In a text to Ansari the following day, Grace said she gave the comic "non-verbal cues" to stop. Ansari replied with an apology, noting that he must have "misread" the situation.
"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," texted Grace.
"I’m so sad to hear this. Clearly, I misread things in the moment and I’m truly sorry," replied Ansari.