For the past few days, I’ve been having discussions with a number of the people closest to me about the same thing: the Aziz Ansari case. Now, granted, my opinions are based on a piece written by a middle-aged woman that made it seem like things were being blown out of proportion so my views are not entirely impartial. Having a penis also makes it easier for me to empathise with Aziz than it does with the anonymous accuser. I do, however, carry the belief that everything that is championed has to make sense to someone and in order for me to avoid dismissing what’s right for what’s comfortable, I must see things from a different perspective.
Who is Aziz? Has been a question that some of my friends have posed to me. Aziz is a comedian who is probably most known for his recurring role on Parks and Recreation. I do not know his story all that well but what I do know is that I’ve been seeing him more often since then. He has since started his own award-winning show (Master of None) that has made some groundbreaking leaps; my favourite of which is that the first black female writer to win an Emmy for comedy writing (Lena Waithe) won the award for co-writing an episode of the show. So what? You may be asking. ‘His CV has nothing to do with his behaviour’ you may also say and you’d be right in saying this so let’s look at the incident in question.
According to the story, a young woman meets Aziz at a party in LA. They bond over cameras and eventually exchange details. They meet up later in the story when they’re both in New York. Aziz takes her to a restaurant, rushes her through her meal, and then takes her home with him. At his place, drinking happens and pretty soon he has her on his kitchen table as he performs cunnilingus. He insists on them sleeping together and they do. The interaction is not pleasurable for the both of them as she feels increasingly offended at his requests. Eventually, they stop and she leaves in tears while saying “You’re all the f*@king same”.
It’s important to note that this wasn’t a sexual assault case but rather a blog post. The original post was incredibly graphic and detailed, apparently. There’s been some backlash because of this and it has affected Aziz’s livelihood. From the tone of the article I read, everything seemed consensual but in bad taste. So why post it? Well in a climate where it just takes an accusation to end someone’s career, this seems like it was meant for that exact purpose. I mean, yeah we could say that Aziz was an asshole in that situation but does that mean his career should be affected because of it? Famous people being assholes has pretty much been the norm since before I could remember. They live entirely different lives than we do.
Chelsea Handler was once quoted as saying that whenever a woman lays a claim of sexual assault against a man then we should automatically believe her. No one disagrees with the fact that sexual assault should not go unpunished but to immediately believe the woman would cause all sorts of issues wouldn’t it? What happened to innocent ‘til proven guilty? These are questions I’ve asked myself as a man. The court of public opinion is never concerned with facts, it’s always the narrative that determines the verdict.
‘Why would Chelsea say something like that?’ I asked myself. Before I could finish the question, my inner voice had already answered with another: ‘how many sexual assault cases go unprosecuted?’ That stopped me dead in my tracks. There are cases where women are even told that the courts will not be able to help them because of a lack of evidence. Does this mean that the assault did not occur? No, it just means that they can’t prove that it did.
I remember hearing of a case where a woman willingly went to the guy’s place and consented to sex initially, only to change her mind right before it happened. After being raped she tried to report it but the cops told her that there was virtually nothing they could do for her. Countless women get assaulted on the daily. Now the question is, do we leave room for the innocent men that are trying to feed their families or do we leave no room for the guilty men to escape? This is a catch 22 type of decision and I’m just happy that I don’t have to make it.