Here is an honest question: if you went out on a date with someone, went back to his or her apartment, made out, performed oral sex on each other, accepted your date’s fingers in your mouth not once but several times, allowed your date to penetrate you with his or her fingers a few times, tolerated your date’s frank and explicit sexual dirty talk for a protracted amount of time, performed oral sex on your date again, and finally left the apartment after your date called you an Uber—-would you consider the experience enough of a traumatic violation to publicly denounce your date as a sexual assaulter?
Probably not. But that’s just what happened with Aziz Ansari, the comedian who has now been publicly slandered as a sexual predator by a woman with whom he went on a date last year. The two went out to dinner and then returned to Ansari’s apartment, at which point the drama above played out. Ansari’s anonymous accuser eventually decided that, because she wasn’t really interested in Ansari’s advances but he kept on advancing anyway, he had “sexually assaulted” her. “You ignored clear non-verbal cues,” she told him over text. “You had to have noticed I was uncomfortable.”
Maybe this young woman is right—-perhaps her cues were obvious enough that a gentleman, so to speak, would have politely put his penis back into his pants and called it a night. And yet there is such a surreal quality to the alleged victim’s account, a quality that is prevalent throughout so much of modern feminist literature. Namely: Couldn’t Ansari’s date have just, you know, left the apartment? Like, right when things started getting too heated?
There is a weird and destructive impulse in modern feminism to reject such practical advice in favor of ideological purity. “She shouldn’t have to leave,” feminists say. “Ansari should have respected her obvious desire to not have sex!”
Well, okay: stipulated. But, assuming the young woman’s “non-verbal” desire was in fact so obvious, it is nevertheless the case that Ansari wasn’t respecting it. Like, at all. The woman claims to have recognized this more or less from the beginning. It was extremely clear early on in their sexual encounter that Ansari was basically a loutish horndog. The proper choice, assuming one wasn’t receptive to his loutishness, would have been to get the hell out of there. So that’s what she should have done.
The bizarre responses to this simple and reasonable suggestion have been legion. “Yes, women should feel empowered to speak up when something they don’t like is happening to them or they feel coerced,” Josephine Yurcaba wrote at Romper, “but it is because of a culture of sexual intimidation and aggression — created by men — that we stay silent.” This is, quite frankly, preposterous. By all accounts the young woman’s sexual encounter with Ansari was awkward, weird and juvenile. It was hardly the stuff of “intimidation” or “aggression,” properly construed. In any event, if a twentysomething woman is so profoundly susceptible to this “culture of sexual intimidation and aggression” to the point that she is literally incapable of leaving a male slut’s apartment when she wants to, then perhaps—until this culture is radically changed—the smart thing would be for women to not go back to guys’ apartments at all. Is that unreasonable?
Here is a modest suggestion to all women, everywhere: If your date is doing something, anything, that you don’t like—if he is pestering you like a 17-year-old on prom night, or plying you with cheap white wine, or sticking his fingers down your throat, or any number of things—then end the date right then and there. He sucks; he’s not worth it. Don’t worry about offending him; you’re not going to see him after tonight, because—again—he’s not worth it.
Don’t listen to the chorus of preening feminist commentators who insist that you’re too incompetent to slap him across the face and leave his apartment. You can do it. Accepting anything less than full self-agency in this regard is a cheat to yourself and a sop to hysterical ideologues who depend on your weakness to sell their silly ideologies.