The Aziz Ansari Incident


Sammy Chintakrindi

On Saturday, January 13, an article was released on titled, “I went on a date with Aziz Ansari. It turned into the worst night if my life.” The article was from an account of an anonymous user (with the pseudonym ‘Grace’ for the privacy purposes) “regretting consensual sexual activity,” with Aziz Ansari in September. Aziz Ansari is an actor, writer, stand-up comedian, and also directs and stars in his own Netflix Original, Master of None. He is also an established feminist; he actively participated in the #TimesUp movement during the 2018 Golden Globes. The #TimesUp movement is a push for women to speak up about their experiences with sexual harassment. He also recently won a Golden Globe for Best Actor- Television Series Musical or Comedy for his show, Master of None. It was while watching Ansari receive his Golden Globe that Grace felt she needed to speak out with her experiences.

Grace and Aziz Ansari’s exchange had occurred in September, but Grace only stepped forward with her experience in mid January. She stated that this is because she wasn’t sure if this was an actual sexual assault or if it was all in her head. However, why did she only step forward while Ansari was in the spotlight? To me, it seems like the perfect opportunity to ruin Ansari’s reputation.

The account on described Grace’s experience on a date with Aziz Ansari, during which she felt “uncomfortable” and “violated,” but still participated in seemingly consensual oral sex. The narrative describes in detail how she was feeling and what happened, while focusing on how much Ansari wanted to engage in sexual activity. Grace concluded by saying that she “believe[s] she was taken advantage of by Aziz.” But that makes me wonder… how much of that statement is really true?

The answer to this is unknown, of course, as it could be false and only published to destroy his career, or it could be an account of a sexual violation. I, however, believe that this situation could’ve been avoided entirely. The accuser has made it clear that she was very uncomfortable, however only in the later published article. She never said she told Aziz Ansari to stop, and never voiced her feelings. If she had said “no,” then she might not have had to feel like she was taken advantage of. Not only this, but she also complied more than once to Ansari’s requests.

Although she said she had given nonverbal cues, a woman should be able to say “no,” to a man she felt was invading her comfort zone. For example, Grace also stated that she was given white wine, even though she preferred red wine. The point she was trying to make is that she was not given the any choice and wasn’t asked what she wanted. However, this conveys the opposite effect. If Grace really wanted red wine, then she had the power to speak up for herself, but she didn’t. She complied even though she didn’t want to. During a time when the #TimesUp and #MeToo movements are taking place, it is especially important for women or men, particularly of the entertainment industry, to be able to speak out about issues such as sexual harassment and gender inequality.

Later, Aziz Ansari responded with a statement saying he was surprised and concerned that their interactions weren’t consensual. He said that he had gotten a text from Grace the day after they met, which said she had felt uncomfortable during their exchange the previous night.  He then took the time to privately reply to her text. Judging by Ansari’s alleged reaction and the lack of verbal cues conveyed by Grace, it is difficult to say if he was in the wrong here. This is a scenario that we don’t know much about, and it’s important not to speculate. Grace obviously felt like a victim, but is she really the victim in this case?