Aziz Ansari was accused of sexual assault this weekend, and the conversation around the allegations has been heated, to say the least.
In an article on the website Babe headlined, "I went on a date with Aziz Ansari. It turned into the worst night of my life," a 23-year-old woman accused the comedian and actor of repeatedly trying to initiate sexual activity and ignoring her "clear non-verbal queues" that she didn't want to have sex with him.
The woman, under the pseudonym Grace, said she left Ansari's apartment feeling uncomfortable and victimised, and that she cried in the taxi on the way home. She said she texted him the following day to tell him how he made her feel, to which he replied: "Clearly, I misread things in the moment and I'm truly sorry."
Now, Ansari, a self-proclaimed feminist ally who wore a Time's Up pin at the Golden Globes, has released a public response to the allegations through a representative, but many people believe it's not good enough.
In the statement sent to Refinery29, Ansari confirms he went on a date with the woman. Here is his statement, in full:
"In September of last year, I met a woman at a party. We exchanged numbers. We texted back and forth and eventually went on a date. We went out to dinner, and afterwards we ended up engaging in sexual activity, which by all indications was completely consensual.
The next day, I got a text from her saying that although “it may have seemed okay,” upon further reflection, she felt uncomfortable. 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. I took her words to heart and responded privately after taking the time to process what she had said.
I continue to support the movement that is happening in our culture. It is necessary and long overdue."
Responses on Twitter centered on continuing the conversation around consent, with some decrying Ansari's statement for not addressing it or apologizing for his behavior.
Others have accused Ansari of intentionally misrepresenting what happened that night through his use of language and framing of the incident. In particular, some took issue with his claim that the woman only felt uncomfortable "upon further reflection" – i.e. only after the incident had taken place – which doesn't correspond to her account.
Before the statement was released, a passage from Ansari's best-selling book Modern Romance, in which he outlines the importance of reading body language in romantic encounters, was widely retweeted.
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