Actor and comedian Aziz Ansari, who just won a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series, Musical or Comedy, for his Netflix series “Master of None,” has become the focus of heated debate in Hollywood over sexual behavior.
The debate follows the publication over the weekend of an essay detailing allegations by a woman who went on a date with Ansari only to be pressured by Ansari to have sex with him, as she describes it. The website Babe.net published the lengthy piece, which provides a detailed account of the date based on the woman’s recollections.
“I believe that I was taken advantage of by Aziz,” the woman, who is not named in the report, tells the publication. “I was not listened to and ignored. It was by far the worst experience with a man I’ve ever had.”
Ansari, who has been vocal about his support for the #MeToo movement, released a statement after the Babe.net report began receiving attention. In his account of the date, Ansari says: “We went out to dinner, and afterwards we ended up engaging in sexual activity, which by all indications was completely consensual.”
Ansari adds: “The next day, I got a text from her saying that although ‘it may have seemed okay,’ upon further reflection, she felt uncomfortable. It was true that everything did seem okay to me, so when I heard that it was not the case for her, I was surprised and concerned. I took her words to heart and responded privately after taking the time to process what she had said.”
CNN reports that supporters have been lining up on both sides of the issue.
“Some are saying the allegations against Ansari [weaken] the #MeToo movement,” CNN reports. “The other side: This is the kind of conduct that has given rise to movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp and that just because it happens a lot doesn’t make it right.”
In The Atlantic, writer Caitlin Flanagan goes after both Ansari’s accuser and the writer of the Babe report, Katie Way.
“The clinical detail in which the story is told is intended not to validate her account as much as it is to hurt and humiliate Ansari,” Flanagan writes. “Together, the two women may have destroyed Ansari’s career, which is now the punishment for every kind of male sexual misconduct, from the grotesque to the disappointing.”
Another person critical of Ansari’s accuser is Bari Weiss, a staff editor and writer for the New York Times’ opinion section. She says, in a Times op-ed piece, that the account told by Ansari’s accuser in the Babe report is “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.”
Los Angeles Times opinion contributor Jamil Smith added his voice to the other side of the debate, sending out a tweet in which he wrote of Ansari: “From the described events, he appears to have no understanding whatsoever of sexual consent. Nor do his defenders, it seems. It is appalling to see some shift attention away from his coercive and violative acts.”
Feminist author and speaker Jessica Valenti, has also been tweeting on the subject — you can read one of her tweets below …