After more than a year out of the spotlight, Aziz Ansari has returned to Netflix with a new comedy special, Right Now.
Aziz wasted no time discussing the sexual assault allegations that were made against him last year in which a girl recounted a date she went on with the actor. She explained that she tried to say “no” several times and felt pressured into engaging sexually with Aziz.
Aziz told the audience,
“There’s times I’ve felt scared. There’s times I’ve felt humiliated. There’s times I’ve felt embarrassed. And ultimately, I just felt terrible that this person felt this way.”
“I hope I become a better person. And I always think about a conversation I had with one of my friends where he was like, ‘You know what, man? That whole thing made me think about every date I’ve ever been on.’ And I thought, Wow. Well, that’s pretty incredible. It’s made not just me but other people be more thoughtful, and that’s a good thing. And that’s how I feel about it.”
Later in the special, he addressed the situation again and how he’s changed since the story was run.
“That old Aziz who said, ‘Oh, treat yo’ self,’ whatever, he’s dead. But I’m glad, ‘cause that guy was always looking forward to whatever was next: ‘Oh, am I gonna do another tour? Am I gonna do another season of the show?’ I don’t think that way anymore. ‘Cause I’ve realized it’s all ephemeral. All that stuff, it can just go away like this.”
The allegations against Aziz were extremely controversial at the time and opened up a conversation as to what constituted sexual assault.
In Aziz’s situation, it was clear that the woman involved felt like the signals she was sending were clear and that she was uncomfortable. But to Aziz, he didn’t seem to understand that at all.
At the time the story broke, Aziz released a statement in which he said,
“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.”
The sad thing is that Aziz’s story is extremely common. There are often times when women are trying to communicate their comfort level, are trying to say “no,” but the message isn’t getting through to the guy. Other times, women feel too pressured to even say anything at all.
I do believe that what Aziz did was not malicious in intent. But that doesn’t change what he did and what happened.
On a personal note, it’s forever changed how I view the comedian. I used to see him as the quintessential “nice guy” and to learn that he was sexually aggressive with someone made me completely rethink how I saw him.
I truly hope that this is not only a lesson for him, but for every other “nice” guy out there.
It’s time to rethink how we date, how we hook up, how we communicate. Hopefully, this is just the start of a long conversation about what it means to be sexually assaulted.