The Internet's divided right now about an article written by Katie Way in babe. "I went on a date with Aziz Ansari. It turned into the worst night of my life" is the story of Grace (name changed to protect her privacy), a twenty-three year old woman who says she was sexually assaulted by Ansari during their date. If you haven't read the article, you should do that now and then come back here.
I'm positive I'm not the only person who's sharing their opinion about this article, but I want to share it from what might be an entirely different perspective.
I've never been sexually assaulted.
The more I talk to friends and read stories online, I realize that I am in the minority of women.
Some people are saying that Grace's story is just a normal crappy date and that it happens all the time to women. Other people are saying that this is really, truly sexual assault.
In her post "not that bad," KatyKatiKate says:
"I have had my fair share of what I'd call "crappy dates." And what I call crappy dates looks an awful lot like what Grace calls sexual assault. It's like we went on the same dates, wrote down the same details, and told two very different stories...
"If you got to choose a narrative for your life, which cut would you pick? The one where Clarice descends into cannibalistic hell and fights for her life? Or the one where she's caught in a jaunty love triangle with a couple of quirky gents?
"And that's the thing: we do get to pick how to decide to tell our stories, at least to ourselves. I've dated a few Dr. Lecters, and like Clarice Starling I escaped with a few tears, a few shivers of disgust, and a few stories that I rarely tell. I decided not to call those encounters assault. I decided to make those nights the bad-date montage in act one of the story of my happy life.
"That's how I moved forward.
"Grace's story is common. It's so common that I don't have to imagine it because I remember it. I laugh about it without smiling. It's the story of so much bad sex. And when I hear that bad sex described as a sexual assault, it forces me to reexamine my own history. And see, I just started feeling strong again."
I've never had a "crappy date" either.
Ideally, we should believe people who say they've been sexually assaulted, even if the assault looks something like Grace's story. But there are a lot of people denying that this was sexual assault, including women who have had the exact same experience. I haven't had the same experience, and I'm on the outside looking in. So if you won't believe the women with the crappy date experience--and you really, really should believe them--then please listen to me:
Grace was sexually assaulted.
"When Ansari told her he was going to grab a condom within minutes of their first kiss, Grace voiced her hesitation explicitly. “I said something like, ‘Whoa, let’s relax for a sec, let’s chill.’” She says he then resumed kissing her, briefly performed oral sex on her, and asked her to do the same thing to him."
Sexual Assault: generally refers to any crime in which the offender subjects the victim to sexual touching that is unwanted and offensive.
Grace said "Whoa, let's relax, let's chill" and Ansari resumed kissing her, briefly performed oral sex on her, and asked her to do the same to him. His sexual touching was unwanted. She told him to relax. He didn't. He kept going.
"Ansari also physically pulled her hand towards his penis multiple times throughout the night, from the time he first kissed her on the countertop onward. “He probably moved my hand to his dick five to seven times,” she said. “He really kept doing it after I moved it away.”"
Again, she'd already told him to slow down, and he proceeded to move her hand to his genitals, even after she moved her hand away. His sexual touching was unwanted.
"She says Ansari began making a move on her that he repeated during their encounter. “The move he kept doing was taking his two fingers in a V-shape and putting them in my mouth, in my throat to wet his fingers, because the moment he’d stick his fingers in my throat he’d go straight for my vagina and try to finger me.” Grace called the move “the claw....”
“I just remember looking in the mirror and seeing him behind me. He was very much caught up in the moment and I obviously very much wasn’t,” Grace said. “After he bent me over is when I stood up and said no, I don’t think I’m ready to do this, I really don’t think I’m going to do this. And he said, ‘How about we just chill, but this time with our clothes on?’”
"They got dressed, sat side by side on the couch they’d already “chilled” on, and he turned on an episode of Seinfeld. She’d never seen it before. She said that’s when the reality of what was going on sank in. “It really hit me that I was violated. I felt really emotional all at once when we sat down there. That that whole experience was actually horrible.”
While the TV played in the background, he kissed her again, stuck his fingers down her throat again, and moved to undo her pants. She turned away. She remembers “feeling in a different mindset at that point.”
Reminder: at the beginning of this, Grace told Ansari to slow down. When he didn't slow down, she went to the bathroom to clear her head, and when she came out of the bathroom, Grace told Ansari that she didn't want to feel forced. Later she told him "No, I don't think I'm ready to do this, I really don't think I'm going to do this." They got dressed, sat on the couch, and he kissed her and stuck his fingers down her throat.
That's rape, people. Sexual penetration of Grace's mouth, without force, by Ansari's fingers, without Grace's consent.
This wasn't a crappy date. It was a sexual assault, at the very least, and I personally think it was rape.
Did Ansari use force? No. But he certainly coerced Grace into sexual acts she told him she didn't want to do. Coercing someone into sexual acts is still sexual assault.
I am appalled that so many women have been in similar situations and have had to chalk this up to usual dating behavior because no one would say to them, "That wasn't crappy sex. You were assaulted, and it's not your fault."
So if you have ever had a crappy date like the one Grace described and no one has ever told you that it's not your fault: It's not your fault. You were sexually assaulted. You shouldn't feel guilty because you didn't do anything wrong.