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‘Grace's’ Story About Aziz Ansari Has Lessons for Men and Women

‘Grace's’ Story About Aziz Ansari Has Lessons for Men and Women

Sonali Kolhatkar
Grace’s story sparked a rift between those wanting #MeToo to remain squarely focused on ending legally defined harassment and assault, and those who want so much more.
Actor Edgar Ramirez wears a Time's Up pin at the 75th annual Golden Globe Awards on Jan. 7 in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Jordan Strauss / Invision / AP)
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okay. now I’m confused. From her description of the event:

They had a date, went back to his place, drank wine, made-out, got undressed, made out some more, then she said STOP and he stopped. But she chose to remain naked and stayed. Until he suggested that they get dressed. When she said she wanted to go he called her a cab.

What a monster.

Or am I missing something?


Hi LeaningUp,

You are missing something. Check your filter on the complexity of power and sex. Sonali elides the complex interplay between seduction, sex, and dominance in this bawdy story of an aggressive interlude. As Kissinger said, “Power is the best aphrodisiac.” It is easy to be mesmerized by power, no fault of Grace she was seduced by a big screen fantasy. Just didn’t turn out that way when her ‘hero’ implemented his entitlement. Hat’s off to Grace for adjusting her attire and getting out of the building only somewhat scathed. Gotta say though, it might have been a mortal mistake to get into a car Ansari ordered.

So a woman is ‘mesmerised’ by power and celebrity and then it’s the man’s fault if he sleeps with her because he happened to be a powerful celebrity? Surely, that’s her own prediliction that she has to control and sort out herself or is no one responsible for anything these days?

Reverse the situation, say a married man with kids, gets hit on by really attractive, seductive young woman on a night out somewhere, she really throws herself at him and in the end he can’t resist so ends up sleeping with her in his car or something. I’m sure you’d class him as just another typical male cheater, a bastard and the rest of it, but by your reasoning he was mesmerised by her feminine pulchritude so should bear no responsibility for his actions.

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No. To be more clear, Ansari was using his (unequal) power and fame to force himself on her after she repeatedly made it clear she wasn’t happy with what was going down. Is she responsible for naively walking into a trap and being mesmerized by a fake woke bea? Sure. However, Ansari is despicable for using his fame and power to greedily attain another notch on his belt. He couldn’t care less that she was a human being is how it appears from her story. He is that much more revolting with his obfuscations and excuses. The interesting thing here is not finding fault but the dynamics of power and how it corrupts. All that aside, Ansari demonstrated himself to be a very selfish and poor lover.

When I read this piece by Sonali yesterday I wasn’t aware of this recent installment of the current sex wars. So I found the original article on the babe site and read it. Ansari does seem to have accomplished a complete disconnect between the public persona he’s cultivated and his private behavior. It seems that his expectation of “a date” is no different than if he would have purchased a prostitute on the street. If “Grace’s” account is accurate there was sufficient warning before going to his apartment that what he wanted - and only what he wanted - was sex, instantaneous and disposable.

I agree with Haps parsing of this incident above. She surely must have suspected what was coming, and he surely is a fraud.

To be honest, I don’t know anything about this case, I don’t even know who Aziz Ansari is, not being an American and all, I was just responding to the syllogism made in your comment responding to the previous poster which I took to be a summary of the event which seemed unreasonable to me. And still now, from your further explanation, it strikes me that she is a responsible adult and didn’t have to go along with anything if she didn’t want to just as a man enamoured by a seductive woman doesn’t have to. If he is “despicable for using his fame and power to greedily attain another notch on his belt” then so is a woman who seduces a man using her sexual attraction and powers knowing he may be married and even have a family. What’s the difference in principle? If he forced himself upon her against her will as you say then that’s another matter as that is a criminal offence. But if it’s not against her will, what’s the difference between the two situations?

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Hi Hobgob. Your reference to “unreasonable” syllogism is intriguing however obscure. Being a student of logic I’m amused and confused. On to your other points. If you were speaking to a feminist you would be told you are mansplaining. This is where women become so frustrated with men and say, “You just don’t get it,” which closes the conversation. Your comment on this “case” as you say “woman who seduces a man,” is not equivalent to the story as it’s told. Grace didn’t attempt to “seduce” him, according to this story.
To her, it was a date where you get to know someone. He assumed (apparently in his hubris) a date with a (somewhat) naive fan meant he was entitled to stick his fingers down her throat, and request where she wanted to be fu***d, etc. Numerous times! Even when the etcetera was repeatedly declined. The nuance of this story is what makes it most interesting because there were times when she was passive and possibly willing but other times clearly objecting. You are correct, times in which she was objecting were criminal. Ansari is lucky she’s not going there.

It appears you have never had someone bigger and more powerful than you (let alone famous) violate you and begin to rape you. Imagine for a moment that you are in such a situation. Perhaps in prison, or just being arrested and beaten till your last breath by a cop who is now going to use his baton. It will always be profoundly disturbing if that is what is understood to be the situation. The sympathetic nervous system goes into in hyperdrive it is Fight, Flee, or Freeze. And, one or another of those can happen in rapid sequence beyond your conscious control. Freeze often happens in rape situations and unfortunately both victims and therapeutic aids, to say nothing of police or the law comprehend or appreciate this fact. So victims blame themselves for freezing and the state dis-believe victims because they froze. “Why didn’t you say No.” They have no idea what the adrenalized state is about.

I’m pretty much done with this conversation. If you can accurately demonstrate a false syllogism, that would be appreciated.

Well, Haps, the syllogism was, or appeared to be, 1) the woman in question was mesmerised by celebrity and power, 2) the woman goes along with the sexual situation because of that, therefore, 3) it’s Ansari’s (whoever the hell he is) fault because he happens to have and play on his celebrity and power.

How can be ‘mansplaining’ when I don’t even know the gender of the person I am posting to? And how do you know I am a man? (I am, but that’s beside the point!) When I post I just concentrate on what I am saying, notions of gender don’t even enter my head, I’m just debating and explaining my point of view to another sentient human being. Why complicate this simple fact by bringing in ad hominen gender politics? Over sensitivity like this is what gives the feminist cause a bad name. Sounds more like a manipulative strategy to control a discussion, a subtle form of bullying designed to limit another person’s self-expression.

You misunderstand my analogy, I didn’t say Grace tried to seduce him, I meant that, in both examples, the person surrendering to the sexual act is mesmerised by the power of the other, in the reverse example this being the power of a woman to tempt and seduce an otherwise married man with her sexual attraction/power, therefore, as with this celebrity, she is using power to her own ends and getting the man to perform a sexual act his rational side is probably fully aware is not really a good idea and could capsize his life. Yet no one would say the man was raped or abused. Do see my point now?

Well, generally, as said, I don’t know anything about this incident so maybe it was more aggressive than the other poster describes, but then, as said, I was just responding to your points which I disagreed with.

Afraid your wrong about how I’ve ‘never had someone bigger and more powerful than you (let alone famous) violate you and begin to rape you’ as I have, though I’m not about to disclose the sordid details of that here on a public forum, so I’ve been in that position and more than once. Similarly, when I was a young man, especially when I decided to hitchhike across Europe aged about 17, I had gay men and the occasional woman, hitting on me quite often, and I had men propositioning me, stroking me whilst talking, putting their hands up my thigh despite me repeatedly pushing it off again, and even on one occasion where I niavely accepted an offer to stay at someone’s flat, a middle-aged man climbing into bed beside me, and in each case I just rejected their advances and told them to stop and that was that. Can’t say any of this traumatised me even remotely, or effected me detrimentally in any way, to me it was just part of life, just part of the adventure of life, an experience, even quite funny, and actually, I recall, my main thoughts on some of these occasions was concern that I may be hurting the person’s feelings by making them think I was anti their right to be gay. That apart, I take your point that a frozen lack of resistance is not the same as consent, though I’m not sure if that applied in this instance, but if it did, then that’s another matter entirely and not the same as what you wrote in your original post

Although the phenomen has been little studied, the role of “celebrities” in contemporary capitalist society is clearly very significant. It seems to me that these few thousand individuals serve to justify a system of extreme inequality. When non-celebrity people actually meet a figure whose face and voice is familiar from media, they feel a thrill of some kind, maybe almost religious. They are excited and text all their friends. The young man who was about to be molested by Kevin Spacey sent a selfie to his girlfriend. Ordinary young people for the most part simply do not treat the celebrity as if he or she were an ordinary human being.

The Ansari story reinforces our celebrity president’s accurate observation that " when you’re a star they let you etc." Not only does the “star” feel entitled; the non-celebrity women and men who encounter them evidently feel privileged even to speak to such exalted beings and are quick to allow the stars to behave in ways they would probably reject in fellow non-celebrities. Only by understanding the corrupting nature of celebrity itself can working people avoid being abused and compromised.

Hi Hobgoblin, I have had some time to think and speak of this story with my wife and my opinion has changed. I believe it to be more in line with yours now. Before addressing that I want to disagree with a couple of statements in your missive. Although you quoted me ideas somewhat well (leaving somethings out) it is not a proper syllogism which proceeds from 1) a major statement or premise, and 2) a minor statement or premise, 3) a conclusion that is deduced. The postulate (1) would need to be a self-evident (or assumed) basic truth, “postulate n : (logic) a proposition that is accepted as true in order to provide a basis for logical reasoning.”

Just to note, women can “mansplain” as well as men. It is known as a metacommunication about a person’s rhetoric. Definition: "Stating accurate, verifiable facts. Especially when these facts are inconvenient to the feminist worldview, or contradict feminist talking points. ". There was no attempt to cast ad hominem aspersions. Apparently, I didn’t make my point clear enough because you were not responding to it. The reference was how you digressed from my point.

What intrigued me about this story was the play of power and celebrity more than ascribing blame. It is impossible to say how intimidated, frozen or mesmerized ‘Grace’ may have been. Or, was she playing a bit of “come hither” and I’ll say “No” for only a little while longer and then you can have the “gold”. It is also hard to say how much each may have been caught up in the situation or been actually rational at alternate moments. She is clearly responsible for not leaving after the first continuation when she clearly objected. If you have not viewed Ashley Banfield’s take on Babe and ‘Grace’ it is worthy of a view (Youtube).

Apparently, you handled somewhat aggressive sexual overtures toward you fairly gracefully and used them as learning experiences. I am glad none of those situations became violent. It doesn’t appear we can say exactly the same for ‘Grace’. It’s also impossible to know how aggressive or violent Ansari’s actions actually were.