On February 11th, comedian Aziz Ansari performed a stand-up comedy set in New York City. And for the first time on stage, he addressed the sexual misconduct allegations leveled against him last year. A quick recap: On Saturday, January 13th, 2018, babe.net published a story from an anonymous woman (who went by the name Grace) stating that she had experienced unwanted sexual touching by Ansari in his Manhattan apartment after a date.
After her account was published, Ansari said he reached out to Grace directly. He also issued a public statement, saying, “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.”
Fast forward to last night when Ansari approached the subject in his new material.
According to Vulture, Ansari said, “There were times I felt really upset and humiliated and embarrassed, and ultimately I just felt terrible this person felt this way….But you know, after a year, how I feel about it is, I hope it was a step forward. It made me think about a lot, and I hope I’ve become a better person.”
He continued: “If that has made not just me but other guys think about this, and just be more thoughtful and aware and willing to go that extra mile, and make sure someone else is comfortable in that moment, that’s a good thing.”
This sounds pretty heartfelt, but let’s be real: gaining a partner’s enthusiastic consent and making sure they’re comfortable in a sexual situation should be basic tenets of human interaction—not something you learn by being called out for sexual misconduct. Plus, Ansari failed to apologize for the encounter. Even if he perceived it as consensual (Grace’s account suggests she felt pressured to engage in more intense levels of sexual activity than she desired), she is still owed an apology for the trauma she endured. Instead, he chose to center the discussion on his own growth and the new “perspective” he’s gained since the allegations become public.
Twitter definitely had thoughts on that:
Ansari also said he was “scared that I’d never be able to do this again,” meaning work as a comedian, again centering himself and his own success rather than being self-reflective or attempting to understand what Grace had to give up during their encounter: a sense of safety, respect, and dignity.