Aziz Ansari is known for his quirky television characters and often-relatable stand-up. This week, however, an exposé published by the website babe.net portrayed the comedian in a dark, but perhaps even more relatable scenario for college-aged women.
According to Babe, a woman by the alias of “Grace” met Ansari at a party, exchanged numbers, and agreed to a date. Grace alleges that later, Ansari made sexual advances, toward which she attempted to signal her discomfort before eventually leaving.
In the wake of this article, variations of “If Aziz Ansari committed sexual assault, then every woman I know has been sexually assaulted,” spread across social media. While the events of this evening were not rape, they are a frightening example of the rape culture occurring on college campuses.
At IU, we are reminded by every bathroom stall that help is available to sexual assault victims, yet we have been socialized to believe that coercing women into sexual acts is normal. We have memorized the definition of consent, but find ourselves confused, violated and shameful in the wake of “bad hookups” — as if we are responsible for our experience because we are prudish or oversensitive.
It’s easy to be consumed by celebrity scandal, but it is important to remember that everyday women, many of them students, lie at the center of the #MeToo movement. Its mission is not to embark on a witch hunt, but to call attention to the fact that it is the very definition of rape culture to trivialize situations such as this.
New York Times contributor Bari Weiss alleges Ansari is guilty only of his inability to read minds. I disagree. Aziz Ansari is not a criminal, but the allegations against him are not to be taken lightly.
His actions were undoubtedly inappropriate, and we must use this story to start a larger societal conversation about consent, encouraging students to engage in open and honest discussion during sexual encounters. It doesn’t take a mind reader to understand "no."