Actor and comedian Aziz Ansari was accused of sexual misconduct by a woman he met at the 2017 Emmy Awards and went on a date with shortly after. Ansari claimed in a statement that all sexual activity with the woman was consensual.
The woman made the accusations in an article on the website Babe, titled “I went on a date with Aziz Ansari. It turned into the worst night of my life.”
Babe is a female audience-oriented website that says it is “into good news reporting, trash trends, personal stories, industry-leading analysis of f—boys and the pettiest celebrity drama.”
What the article said
Ansari and the woman (who the article refers to as Grace, a pseudonym) met at the 2017 Emmy Awards and bonded over the fact that they were both shooting photos with the same film camera from the 1980s.
The two exchanged numbers near the end of the night, and exchanged text messages for about a week before he asked her out on a date.
They went to dinner and then back to Ansari’s apartment, where they kissed and engaged in sexual activity which Ansari said was consensual, and the article does not claim otherwise.
However, Grace reported in the article that he kissed her forcefully several times, and that he tried to convince her verbally to have sex with him more than once, even though she was not interested. She also reported a general discomfort with even those sexual acts that she consented to, saying she felt pressured.
Grace said she tried to signal her discomfort to Ansari by “pulling away and mumbling” or when she “stopped moving my lips and turned cold.”
Eventually, Grace said she was ready to leave and Ansari called an Uber for her to take her home.
“I cried the whole ride home,” Grace said, according to the Babe article. “At that point, I felt violated. That last hour was so out of my hand.”
The next day, Grace sent a text to Ansari telling him, “I just want to take this moment to make you aware of [your] behavior and how uneasy it made me.”
Ansari responded, “Clearly, I misread things in the moment and I’m truly sorry.”
How Ansari responded
Here is the full statement Ansari released in response to the article:
“In September of last year, I met a woman at a party. We exchanged numbers. We texted back and forth and eventually went on a date. We went out to dinner, and afterwards we ended up engaging in sexual activity, which by all indications was completely consensual.
“The next day, I got a text from her saying that although ‘it may have seemed okay,’ upon further reflection, she felt uncomfortable. It was true that everything did seem okay to me, so when I heard that it was not the case for her, I was surprised and concerned. I took her words to heart and responded privately after taking the time to process what she had said.
“I continue to support the movement that is happening in our culture. It is necessary and long overdue.”
Public response to the article
The public's response to the article varied widely. Some put the responsibility on Grace, saying she should have clearly said "no" to anything she wasn't comfortable with, rather than only sending nonverbal signals of her discomfort. Others said she should have left his apartment at the first sign that things were escalating past her comfort level.
Also, critics of the article accuse the woman and the site of being exploitative and of hurting the true victims of sexual abuse.
On the flip side, those who take Grace's side say that the type of culture that would defend Ansari's behavior is exactly the kind of culture that allows sexual abusers to feel comfortable misbehaving sexually with women.
In their view, Ansari should have been more aware and acknowledging of the cues Grace was sending, rather than trying to aggressively initiate sex multiple times.