The allegations that recently surfaced against Aziz Ansari open a less talked-about take on sexual assault one that’s more common for women to experience: a less outright and concrete breach of rights. These experiences are equally as traumatising and unacceptable as a woman yelling “no” and fighting back, but are often overlooked and need to be addressed as the assault that they are.
The anonymous woman, who went on a date with Ansari, creator of hit show “Master Of None”, stand-up comedian, and main character on “Parks and Recreation,” described her experience where he would not stop pressuring her into physical acts, even though she kept trying to indicate she wasn’t interested. She tried to indicate this by moving away and saying she “didn’t want to feel forced,” but he continued to coerce her into sexual acts and follow her around his apartment.
Ironically, Ansari is one of the most well-known celebrity male-feminists and a large amount of his stand-up comedy material stems from making light of the disrespect women experience in the dating scene compared to men. He is even author of bestselling book “Modern Romance” where he details these inequalities further. If someone who claims to be such an advocate for women does not even see the issue with his actions, these micro aggressions must really be ingrained deep in our society’s view of what is okay and what is not.
Many men came to Ansari’s defence on Twitter citing the same argument: She never outwardly told him no! He’s not in the wrong! If what happened was sexual assault, then every woman I know has been assaulted!
And that’s exactly the point: Although people may not realise what they’re doing is harassment or assault, it doesn’t change the fact that it is and that it affects the person on the receiving end. Sexual assault is making someone perform or comply in a sexual act they did not agree to or coercing the person into doing so. We need to change the conversation on sexual assault to make people even more aware of the effects of their actions.
If you are not communicating with your partner and consistently asking them if they’re okay with what is happening, how can you be sure they like it and aren’t feeling attacked? The answer is simple: constant communication. You don’t need to be some magical mind reader in order to have a physical relationship with someone. The person is right there: just ask them what they want and don’t pressure them into anything they don’t. You wouldn’t want them to do that to you.
There’s no secret formula to knowing what is and isn’t assault, and people aren’t out on a pointless crusade against anyone they’ve ever been in a relationship with. Women are simply bringing attention to those who keep pressuring and pursuing them even after they’ve expressed disinterest. It’s simple folks, if it isn’t an enthusiastic and constant “yes,” then it’s a no. By bringing this often overlooked form of assault into the light, we
can make a culture that’s even more considerate and respectful of women and their experiences, and better our treatment of others.