The sexual misconduct allegation against comedian and actor Aziz Ansari has resulted in controversial opinion pieces from The New York Times, The Atlantic, and more in which writers defend Ansari and call the specific claims against him “dangerous.” Ansari was accused of sexual misconduct by an anonymous 23-year-old who wrote about a date she went on with the comedian that turned inappropriate when they got back to his apartment.
“In a second, his hand was on my breast,” the woman wrote. “It was 30 minutes of me getting up and moving and him following and sticking his fingers down my throat again. It was really repetitive. It felt like a fucking game…most of my discomfort was expressed in me pulling away and mumbling. I know that my hand stopped moving at some points, I stopped moving my lips and turned cold.”
“He sat back and pointed to his penis and motioned for me to go down on him. And I did,” she continued. “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.”
The New York Times writer Bari Weiss has bashed the allegation in an opinion piece titled “Aziz Ansari is Guilty. Of Not Being a Mind Reader.” The piece begins with the statement: “I’m apparently the victim of sexual assault. And if you’re a sexually active woman in the 21st century, chances are that you are, too.”
Weiss says the woman’s allegation against Ansari is “the worst thing that has happened to the #MeToo movement since it began in October,” explaining that it “transforms what ought to be a movement for women’s empowerment into an emblem for female helplessness.”
The Atlantic’s Caitlin Flanagan expressed similar thoughts in an article titled “The Humiliation of Aziz Ansari.” The writer wrote that the “allegations against the comedian are proof that women are angry, temporarily powerful—and very, very dangerous.” She later made note that “women are temporarily powerful” and referred to Ansari as a man “they destroyed who didn’t deserve it.”
HLN host Ashleigh Banfield responded with outrage on her show “Crime & Justice,” blasting the woman for turning a “bad date” into a full blown sexual misconduct claim. She criticized the woman for not getting up and leaving when she felt uncomfortable with Ansari, noting that the woman “continued to engage in the sexual encounter.”
“By your own clear description, this wasn’t a rape, nor was it a sexual assault,” Banfield said on her show addressing the accuser. “By your description, your sexual encounter was unpleasant. [You have] chiseled away at a movement that I, along with all of my sisters in the workplace, have been dreaming of for decades. A movement that has finally changed an oversexed professional environment that I, too, have struggled through at times over the last 30 years in broadcasting.”
But not everyone is quick to defend Ansari against the allegations. The Huffington Post contributor Harry Lewis wrote an article titled “You Might Not Be A Harvey Weinstein, But You Could Be An Aziz Ansari,” in which he writes about how the allegations are still important in proving the unspoken pressures women face to adhere to men’s sexual desires.
“The sad fact is that Grace, whoever she may be, did not choose to have what to most men seems an unpleasant sexual encounter become so deeply upsetting,” Lewis wrote. “Perhaps another woman would have been disturbed but ultimately unaffected in the long term. But this is not how trauma operates. We do not get to choose when and how it affects us, or under what circumstances it can seep into us. When we freeze up, choke on our words, are unable to fully sit in our bodies it is not because we consciously choose to do so, it is because we revert to some primal instinct of self-protection.”
In the wake of the allegation, Ansari himself responded by saying everything that happened during the date was “completely consensual.”