Aziz Ansari's Response To Sexual Misconduct Allegations Indicates That He Continues To Support #TimesUp
Following a report from Babe that circulated over the weekend, Aziz Ansari has responded to the sexual misconduct allegations made against him by a 23-year-old Brooklyn photographer. The woman (speaking under the alias of "Grace") claimed to the publication that Ansari made unwanted sexual advances toward her during a first date last year. In his response, Ansari confirmed the basic details of her account, but claimed he'd understood the sexual encounter to be "completely consensual" at the time, and was "surprised and concerned" when the woman texted him the next day to express that she'd felt violated. (Bustle reached out to Aziz Ansari's representatives for comment on the allegations, but has not yet heard back).
You can read Ansari's full statement, published by numerous outlets including The Hollywood Reporter, below:
"In September of last year, I met a woman at a party. We exchanged numbers. We texted back and forth and eventually went on a date. We went out to dinner, and afterwards we ended up engaging in sexual activity, which by all indications was completely consensual.
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.
I continue to support the movement that is happening in our culture. It is necessary and long overdue."
The content of his statement matches up with the account "Grace" gave to Babe. In the report, the woman said that she and Ansari had met and exchanged numbers at the Emmy Awards in September 2017, and after about a week of texting, reunited in New York for a date. When they went back to his apartment after dinner, however, she alleged that Ansari coerced and pressured her to engage in sexual activity despite her allegedly giving him repeated verbal and non-verbal cues that she didn't want to.
The woman also shared an alleged text exchange between her and Ansari with Babe, who reported that the number matched the one listed for Ansari in a public register. "Last night might’ve been fun for you, but it wasn’t for me,” she said she wrote to him in a text. “You ignored clear non-verbal cues; you kept going with advances." Ansari then reportedly responded: “I’m so sad to hear this. All I can say is, it would never be my intention to make you or anyone feel the way you described. Clearly, I misread things in the moment and I’m truly sorry.”
"Grace" told Babe that she'd been prompted to come forward after watching Ansari receive a Best Actor award for his Netflix series Master of None at the 2018 Golden Globes, a night largely dedicated to combatting sexual violence, harassment, and bias within the entertainment industry. In support of the movement, Ansari wore a #TimesUp pin on stage.
For fans of the actor/comedian, the allegations hit particularly hard. He's been widely lauded for championing feminism in his stand-up, and Season 2 of Master of None, which Ansari co-wrote and produced, featured a storyline about a seemingly well-meaning man sullied by accusations of sexual harassment. Now, some people have begun to question his public allyship as possibly performative, and his show as a mirror for who he might be in private.
On a broader level, the allegations against Ansari have sparked an important conversation about consent. Some argued on Twitter that the woman should have done more to indicate her discomfort and that Ansari had done "nothing wrong," while others noted that power dynamics often prevent women from pushing back against their male abusers, whether in the moment or afterward. Regardless of what did or did not happen between Ansari and "Grace," it's clear this story has opened a pivotal dialogue about what consent looks like, and how we can all do better to dissolve the gray area that too often surrounds it.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit online.rainn.org.