By ALEX DE LEON
Last year’s revelation of film mogul Harvey Weinstein’s rampant sexual predation was nothing short of a bomb dropped on Hollywood. The shockwaves have circumnavigated the globe and given rise to a movement called #MeToo.
Women and men everywhere have stepped forward to tell their stories, bringing down the likes of actor Kevin Spacey, comedian Louis C.K. and newsman Matt Lauer.
But as with all phenomenal moments in history, there is bound to be collateral damage, and good intentions can be taken too far.
Take the case of comedian Aziz Ansari, who had an allegation of sexual assault leveled against him by an anonymous accuser known as “Grace.”
In a piece published by Babe.net, she describes an encounter she had with Ansari in his apartment after the two went on a date.
In her account, Ansari kissed her and touched her breasts.
She attempted to slow his advances, saying, “Whoa, let’s relax for a sec, let’s chill.”
He kissed her more, then briefly performed oral sex on her.
He asked her to do the same, and she did.
He took his clothes off, then took her clothes off.
More kissing, then she asked Ansari if they could put their clothes back on, and they did.
There was an interlude of TV watching, then Ansari again kissed her and touched her.
What followed was about 30 minutes of what she described as a “game” in which he followed her around the apartment attempting to initiate sex.
“Where do you want me to fuck you?” he allegedly asked.
After more explicit rejections, he relented.
He called her an Uber and she left.
After the story was published, Ansari was tied to the proverbial stake and set ablaze beside the charred remains of other assaulters and harassers.
Interestingly though, another, more nuanced conversation sprang up around the incident, one that chalked the experience up to one of misunderstanding.
Something Grace told Ansari during the incident sheds some light on the issue.
“You guys are all the same, you guys are all the fucking same,” she told him.
This changes the paradigm from one of sexual assault and non-consent to ‘I thought you were different but you’re just another guy looking for sex.’
Ansari was aggressive. He did want sex and he wanted it right then and there.
But to say that there is no room for interpretation is narrow-minded and unfair.
After all, according to Grace’s own account, Ansari asked for oral sex and she performed it.
At some point her clothes came off which, short of out-and-out battery, is physically impossible without some level of participation on her part.
She kissed him and allowed him to put his fingers in her mouth.
And aside from “let’s relax for a sec,” her rejections came mostly from body language.
“You ignored clear non-verbal cues,” she told Ansari in a text after the incident. “You kept going with your advances.”
“I’m so sad to hear this,” he responded. “Clearly I misread things in the moment and I’m truly sorry.”
What we’re left with is a horny dude who didn’t know when to quit and the fact that there is so much back and forth about the incident says something in and of itself.
Both men and women have an intuitive sense about these things and can tell the difference between sexual deviance and someone who’s just being an asshole, as Ansari was.
We should all take a step back and understand that there is room for both a women’s-based fight for a freedom and good people who fuck up.
If we can’t do that, we risk turning an important moment for women into a witch hunt that damages decent people, as well as a movement that must succeed, lest we backslide into a world where men get away with the kind of behavior that has caused so much pain to those unlucky enough to be on the receiving end of it.