Aziz Ansari and a Lesson on Consent

Over the past week, issues surrounding Aziz Ansari’s sexual misconduct case has been in conversation. Hearing about the case originally I was absolutely shocked. I have been an outspoken fan of Ansari for a while, and his book ‘Modern Romance’, series ‘Master of None’, and stand up would lead anyone to believe that Ansari was one of the rare male characters in comedy that considers themselves a feminist, and has actually researched some of the feminist issues that have been in circulation.

***If you are interested in reading more about the sexual misconduct case, click here.

What it comes down to, is that a woman went on a date with Aziz, they went to dinner but quickly left, went to his apartment, and he coerced her to perform some sexual acts and made her feel uncomfortable. The woman in this case states that she made very clear nonverbal cues and told him she did not want to feel forced. The two communicated the next day where she told him she felt uncomfortable, and he apologized, saying something along the lines of him ‘misreading the situation’.

There has been a lot of criticism over the past few days of this article that has upset me, such as this article posted my the New York Times:

Aziz Ansari Is Guilty. Of Not Being a Mind Reader.

This article basically bashes this woman’s claims by saying that because she was not verbally clear in her discomfort.

I am appalled by this article. By stating that a woman’s feelings aren’t valid because she wasn’t verbally saying no is sexual conduct lesson #1.

Pull up your chairs! Open your brains! Let’s have a little lesson on consent.

Consent must be verbal, it must be asked about and communicated, and it must be reaffirmed. Because if it isn’t a ‘Hell Yes’, it’s a ‘Fuck No’.

If you want to have sex with someone, especially a stranger (a first date counts), you need to ask them “Hey, want to have sex?”, then, you let them reply, and you respect their response.

The issue in the Ansari case, is not that she didn’t verbally say no, but is that he never asked for consent.

Could the woman in conversation have said no or maybe kicked him in the nuts? Sure. But here’s why that’s unlikely:

Aziz Ansari is a celebrity. He has a certain social standing that is understood as ‘higher’ to the woman who we are unsure of her celebrity status, but is assumed that she is kind of your average-joanne (speaking in terms of fame). When one person is assumed to have more power (whether it be financial, social, etc) than the other, consent lines get more complicated to navigate. Which is why communication is everything.

That includes asking for consent.

So, how do we respond to the Aziz Ansari sexual misconduct case? Well, maybe we should take some advice from Aziz himself:

“If you’re a dude, ask women about their experiences and be quiet and listen to their stories. It’s mind-blowing”

Ask, and then be quiet, and listen.

Is this story messy and in a total gray area? Sure! But our experiences are our own, and if the woman in this case was uncomfortable, then we need to let her state that she was uncomfortable. The articles containing backlash or criticism of how this woman held herself in this situation is a major step back for women everywhere, and it needs to stop.

In the words of Sam Bee: “If you say you’re a feminist, then fuck like a feminist.”

 

If you’re looking for more information or another feminist stance article discussing consent and the Aziz Ansari case, click Here

 

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