US comedian and actor Aziz Ansari has reacted to an allegation of sexual misconduct, saying in a statement issued on Sunday that he believed the encounter was “completely consensual.”
Women’s website, Babe.net, published a detailed account over the weekend from a woman, identified as a 23-year-old photographer from New York, who said that a date she went on with Ansari last year left her feeling “violated.”
Known only by the pseudonym Grace, the woman told the website that the date Ansari asked her on shortly after they met in 2017 ended up being “by far the worst experience with a man I’ve ever had”.
She said she felt compelled to speak out after seeing Ansari wearing a “Time’s Up” pin while accepting a Golden Globe for his Netflix series Master of None, which takes a humorous look at modern romance and the absurdities of dating culture.
“I believe that I was taken advantage of by Aziz,” she said.
She told the website she was uncomfortable with how quickly the sexual activity escalated at his apartment after dinner and that he either did not notice or ignored her verbal and non-verbal discomfort.
This is the text Grace* sent Aziz Ansari after their date which left her feeling “violated”. She tells Ansari how uncomfortable he made her feel, saying “you ignored clear non-verbal cues” and “kept going with advances.”
— babe (@babedotnet) January 14, 2018
She said he moved her hand to his genitals repeatedly and “pressured” her to perform sexual acts after she “told him [she] was uncomfortable”.
“I felt violated,” she said. “It took a really long time for me to validate this as sexual assault.”
— Philip Lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) January 15, 2018
However, in a statement issued on Sunday night, Ansari said:
“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 OK’, upon further reflection, she felt uncomfortable. It was true that everything did seem OK 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 woman’s texts to Ansari the day after their date were supplied to Babe. In them, she wrote:
“Last night might’ve been fun for you, but it wasn’t for me. You ignored clear non-verbal cues; you kept going with advances.
“You had to have noticed I was uncomfortable … nothing [changed] even after I expressed that I’d like to slow it down.”
“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.”
Ansari, 34, is a stand-up comedian, writer and actor. He has a Golden Globe and an Emmy for his series, Master of None.
Much of his comedy and TV work has focused on relationships, gender issues and women’s rights, and he has been a vocal supporter of the Me Too movement against sexual assault and inappropriate sexual behaviour in the entertainment industry.