“I went on a date with Aziz Ansari. It turned into the worst night of my life,” is the as-told-to that launched a wave of impassioned think pieces and Twitter threads.
The queasy-making narrative, shared on the website Babe.net by a 23-year-old woman using the pseudonym “Grace,” recounts a date with the comedian that led to sexual activity Grace says occurred as the result of bullying and coercion. The worst night of Grace’s life has occasioned something of a crisis moment for the #MeToo movement. Women who once rallied in support of victims of sexual assault are arguing over whether Grace’s experience counts, with some saying it undermines the power of female agency.
On the other side of the divide are those women who believe Grace’s story regardless of its imperfect provenance (Babe.net is a mess of contradictions and the piece itself is in desperate need of an edit).
For every woman proclaiming their conviction that Grace should have left the scene after telling Ansari to go to hell, there’s another who has been in her exact shoes. Feminist thinkers see Grace’s story as an emblem of the systemic inequalities that plague our culture, one that often plays out in traumatic sexual experience for girls and women.
Wherever you sit on the spectrum, it’s clear Grace’s experience—and its implications for sex and culture—are troubling. Here, 10 women share their thoughts on this highly divisive encounter.
Melissa Morgan, 24, Toronto-based art director/entrepreneur
I am heartbroken to hear not only Grace’s story, but the many occurrences of women victimized by self-entitled men who use dinner and drinks as sexual currency. It’s not okay, and it needs to stop.
That said, I have mixed feelings about this particular incident. I am in full support of the powerful #metoo movement, but I feel we are mistaking rightful denunciations for vindictive indiscretions.
If a man invites you home after a first date and you willfully accept, that usually means he’s after one thing—and he thinks he’s getting it. Are we that naïve to think otherwise?
Men are not mind-readers. No means no… but did Grace ever explicitly say this? From the Babe article, it seems she said something along the lines of, “Maybe next time.” As a child, when my parents said “maybe,” it meant yes! I just had to smile a little wider and ask a little nicer. Since it always worked, I kept doing it. I can’t help but feel the actions of men like Aziz have become habitual due to repeated “successes.”