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What Aziz Ansari can teach everyone about masculinity

Accusations against Ansari mirror male behavior

Photo courtesy of: The New York Times

Aziz Ansari is responsible for ruining at least one woman’s perspective on men and dating. In an article by feminist website babe.net, titled “I went on a date with Aziz Ansari. It was the worst night of my life,” a woman named Grace (a pseudonym) recounts her night with the comedian where she felt “violated,” “uncomfortable,” and “distressed.” Grace shares that Ansari continued to make forceful sexual advances toward her in his apartment after a date, despite Grace being visibly uncomfortable and even vocalizing her discomfort. She describes his actions as mirroring that of a “horny, rough, entitled 18-year-old.”

Because Ansari has built a platform around representation and feminism, these revelations come as a surprise to fans—and even non-fans—of the celebrity. The allegations against Ansari have risen amidst the “Me Too” and “Time’s Up” movements. Both movements focus on encouraging women to vocalize instances where they have been sexually assaulted and ask everyone to keep men accountable for their actions. Both movements also represent causes that Ansari has been open about supporting.

Grace’s story first reveals that Ansari is a hypocrite. He continuously commodifies feminism as a means to boost his own career and brand, yet perpetuates behavior that the feminist movement is desperately attempting to undo.

Additionally, what her story further implicates is three-fold: the danger that women constantly feel themselves in, even when they are in a private space with someone they trust; the behavior that men deem acceptable when it comes to sexual encounters of any kind; and the overall poor treatment of women.

Perhaps Grace’s story is not one that can be specifically grouped with the accusations against other celebrities like Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer, Kevin Spacey, or—unfortunately—many more. This compartmentalizes sexual assault, as if a certain level of it is more acceptable than another. The bottom line is that sexual assault—in any form—is just that, and it is unacceptable.

So why are women resonating with Grace’s story so much? Why do they feel like men are constantly perpetrators of the same behavior Ansari was responsible for that night?

Women everywhere have likely found themselves in a similar situation. One out of every six women experiences sexual assault (rainn.org), so it’s no wonder that people—women in particular—are unsurprised yet outraged by Ansari and the endless revelations of celebrity sexual assaulters. The story, like many others, violates all women and reminds them that they are continuously unsafe, even in spaces believed to be private and secure.

After their night together, Grace exchanged texts with Ansari sharing that she felt uncomfortable and uneasy.

“I’m so sad to hear this,” replied Ansari. “All I can say is, it would never be my intention to make you or anyone feel the way you described. Clearly, I misread things in the moment and I’m truly sorry.”

Ansari has also since released a statement, stating that the encounter, “by all indications, was completely consensual.” His words boast ignorance. Are men actually completely blind when it comes to recognizing nonverbal and—especially—verbal cues by women in non-consensual sexual situations? So blind that they believe an apology removes them from the ramifications of sexual misonduct? And, why do men feel so entitled to sex—so much so that their common sense and human decency is removed from their sexual encounters?

Societal frameworks of masculinity and femininity have taught men that they are entitled to anything and everything. And Grace’s story proves that many men—even those in support of feminist movements—put their own desires over those they encounter. It’s time to undo these behaviors. Ansari has got to go.

From the Time’s Up movement itself, “Time’s up on tolerating discrimination, harassment, and abuse.” ·

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