I’m apparently the victim of sexual assault. And if you’re a sexually active woman in the 21st century, chances are that you are, too.
That is what I learned from the “exposé” of Aziz Ansari
published this weekend by the feminist website Babe — arguably the worst thing that has happened to the #MeToo movement since it began in October. It transforms what ought to be a movement for women’s empowerment into an emblem for female helplessness.
The headline primes the reader to gird for the very worst: “I went on a date with Aziz Ansari. It turned into the worst night of my life.” Like everyone else, I clicked.
In the 30 or so minutes that followed — recounted beat by cringe-inducing beat — they hooked up. Mr. Ansari persistently tried to have penetrative sex with her, and Grace says she was deeply uncomfortable throughout. At various points, she told the reporter, she attempted to voice her hesitation, and that Mr. Ansari ignored her signals.
At last, she uttered the word “no” for the first time during their encounter, to Mr. Ansari’s suggestion that they have sex in front of a mirror. He said: “‘How about we just chill, but this time with our clothes on?’”
They got dressed, sat on the couch and watched “Seinfeld.” She said to him: “You guys are all the same.” He called her an Uber. She cried on the way home. Fin.
If you are wondering what about this evening constituted the “worst night” of Grace’s life, or why it is being framed as a #MeToo story by a feminist website, you probably feel as confused as Mr. Ansari did the next day. “It was fun meeting you last night,” he texted.
“Last night might’ve been fun for you, but it wasn’t for me,” she responded. “You ignored clear nonverbal cues; you kept going with advances. You had to have noticed I was uncomfortable.” He replied with an apology.
Read Grace’s text message again.
Put in other words: I am angry that you weren’t able to read my mind.
I’m sorry Grace 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. And I have regretted them and said so, like Grace did. And I know I am lucky that these unpleasant moments were far from being anything approaching assault or rape, or even the worst night of my life.
But the response to Grace’s story makes me think that many of my fellow feminists might insist that my experience was just that, and for me to define it otherwise is nothing more than my internalized misogyny.
There is a useful term for what Grace experienced on her night with Mr. Ansari. It’s called “bad sex.” It sucks.