Actor and writer Aziz Ansari was recently accused of alleged sexual assault in a graphic account, published on the Babe website, by a woman whom the article called “Grace.” Grace alleged that on their date, Ansari ignored her nonverbal behaviors, indicating that she wasn’t interested in having sex with him.
Bari Weiss, a staff editor at the New York Times, wrote an op-ed about the exposé, in which she defended Ansari for “not being a mind reader” and understanding what Grace wanted from him without her explicitly telling him “no.”
Weiss posits that Grace’s nonverbal cues were not clear enough to communicate her desire for Ansari to stop his alleged aggressive sexual advances.Babe.net/Twitter
Weiss called Grace’s account, “arguably the worst thing that has happened to the #MeToo movement since it began.” According to Weiss, if Grace wanted to leave Ansari’s apartment, she needed to simply do that.
Prefacing that she’s “a proud feminist,” she wrote:
If you are hanging out naked with a man, it’s safe to assume he is going to try to have sex with you … If you start to hook up and don’t like the way he smells or the way he talks (or doesn’t talk), end it. If he pressures you to do something you don’t want to do, use a four-letter word, stand up on your two legs and walk out his door.
Weiss admitted on “Morning Joe” that she has been through similar experiences and said that she doesn’t blame Grace for what she went through — she took issue with her connecting the event with the #MeToo movement.
“Having been in similar situations myself as has every breathing woman on the planet that I know, it’s a hard thing to do. So I’m not blaming her for doing it. I’m not blaming her for a night of bad sex. The problem is to group this story in with what we’re talking about with MeToo is extremely problematic.”
Weiss accused Grace of undermining the #MeToo movement by suggesting that women are helpless beings.
It transforms what ought to be a movement for women’s empowerment into an emblem for female helplessness …[Ansari] had no actual power over the woman … lumping him in with the same movement that brought down men who ran movie studios and forced themselves on actresses … trivializes what #MeToo first stood for […] The insidious attempt by some women to criminalize awkward, gross and entitled sex takes women back to the days of smelling salts and fainting couches.
Weiss purports that Ansari’s only indiscretion in Grace’s alleged incident was being “aggressive and selfish and obnoxious” on their date. Weiss wrote that her alleged sexual assault is just a case of “bad sex,” which she and many women can relate to.
Weiss explained that she has had experiences similar to Grace’s in the past that she would not consider sexual assault.
I’m sorry this woman had this experience. I too have had lousy romantic encounters, as has every adult woman I know. I have regretted these encounters, and not said anything at all. I have regretted them and said so, as she did … There is a useful term for what this woman experienced on her night with Mr. Ansari. It’s called “bad sex.” It sucks.
Bari, thank you for your bravery in writing this piece. Good movements can turn into witch hunts if reasonable people don’t speak up.
— Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) January 16, 2018
Weiss did agree with this thought in her op-ed:
Shouldn’t we try to change our broken sexual culture? And isn’t it enraging that women are socialized to be docile and accommodating and to put men’s desires before their own? Yes. Yes. Yes.
It’s so disheartening that you claim to defend the importance of the MeToo Movement while making snarky trivializing comments about what she went through. You conveniently forgot to mention how she verbally told him to stop and how he still kept on pushing himself on her.
— max (@MegaNinetales) January 16, 2018
Weiss wrote that men need to be instructed to be less sexually aggressive, and women need to be more asserting in stating their needs.
Weiss wrote that people must:
push for a culture in which boys and young men are taught that sex does not have to be pursued as if they’re in a pornographic film, and one in which girls and young women are empowered to be bolder, braver and louder about what they want.
The exposé that Babe published presents another layer of complexity in the current, ever-present topic of sexual consent. Weiss denounced Grace’s description of her experience as sexual assault and stated that women must be able to clearly express what they need in sexual situations.
You can watch Weiss’s interview on “Morning Joe” below.