Another Opinion on Aziz Ansari Allegations

India Flinchum

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Aziz Ansari is not guilty of sexual harassment; he’s guilty of being a poor listener and a bad feminist. Grace (his date), is guilty of passivity and apathy during a time that called for strength. Grace relinquished control and autonomy to a that man that she (and the United States) expected more from. I’m not condoning Ansari’s actions by any means, but I truly believe he would have stopped sticking his fingers down Grace’s throat if she had said the worlds “no,” “stop”or “I don’t like that.” Yet, Grace winced and cringed behind a guise of fear and insecurity–something the “unequal” power dynamic between her and a celebrity likely contributed to, but something she nevertheless could have risen above. We’re taught in health class that an “enthusiastic yes” is the definition of consent, but women mustn’t be afraid to give an “enthusiastic no” when the time calls for it.

A more nuanced, complicated discussion has sprung from the already massive conversation regarding sexual assault that is circulating the internet. The discussion is regarding the fine line between sexual harassment and a “bad date.” This conversation is dominated by a class of women who must realize that their sexual experience is largely within their control if only they use their voice. These women have experienced sexual encounters that fit into the category of dissatisfying, grotesque, bizarre and demoralizing, all the while not adhering to the more clear cut definitions of sexual harassment, assault or rape.

Grace insists that Ansari ignored her verbal and nonverbal cues; she claims that she pulled away from him multiple times, but he wouldn’t let her move far away from her. I have to argue that going down on Ansari after he motioned towards his penis is nowhere close to a “nonverbal” cue that hints disinterest. Even when Ansari pantomimed sex, which Grace did not want to engage in, she only said “I don’t think I’m ready to do this,” a sentence that has no absolutes.

It’s time for factors like fear, guilt and power dynamics to stop inhibiting women voicing their true opinions about sex. It’s an unfortunate reality that men are taught to express sex drive while women are told to suppress it-but strong, confident and assertive women should speak for themselves. Changing the way our culture and society views sex is not going to happen overnight, but labels we have been socialized to accept can also be unlearned.

To all women: Don’t be the passive receiver of sex you don’t want to have. Don’t be afraid to tell a man to stop kissing you, touching you or groping you. Don’t be afraid to yell or scream or walk away if that’s what it takes him to listen to you.