From The “A Nation Of Assholes” File, “Feminists” Section: “Grace” And The Revenge Destruction Of Aziz Ansari

This revolting episode is being debated on social media and cable news. There is little to debate, from an ethics perspective. A young man, a celebrity, has been held up to the public for abuse and embarrassment without justification. The ethics villains are many and varied—there are some heroes too–,but prime among the miscreants is “Grace,” his date for an evening, who decided that it was appropriate to seek revenge in a public forum for an unpleasant private encounter that should have remained private.

Aziz Ansari  became known for his performances on  TV’s “Parks & Recreation” and “Master of None.” Katie Way,  writer at the blog–Way and the blog are two of the Ethics Villains- interviewed a female photographer identified only as “Grace.” She claimed a date with Ansari “turned into the worst night of my life,” and flush with #MeToo self-righteousness, told this story in part, through the website, to the world:

(It’s long, but you cannot understand the full unethical nature of what was done to Aziz without a substantial quote from the piece.)

After arriving at his apartment in Manhattan on Monday evening, they exchanged small talk and drank wine…Then Ansari walked her to Grand Banks, an Oyster bar onboard a historic wooden schooner on the Hudson River just a few blocks away…They discussed NYU, comedy and a new, secret project he was working on, but she says she did most of the talking…Grace says she sensed Ansari was eager for them to leave. …“Like, he got the check and then it was bada-boom, bada-bing, we’re out of there.”

They walked the two blocks back to his apartment building…When they walked back in, she complimented his marble countertops. According to Grace, Ansari turned the compliment into an invitation.

“He said something along the lines of, ‘How about you hop up and take a seat?’” Within moments, he was kissing her. “In a second, his hand was on my breast.” Then he was undressing her, then he undressed himself. She remembers feeling uncomfortable at how quickly things escalated. When Ansari told her he was going to grab a condom within minutes of their first kiss, Grace voiced her hesitation explicitly. “I said something like, ‘Whoa, let’s relax for a sec, let’s chill.’” She says he then resumed kissing her, briefly performed oral sex on her, and asked her to do the same thing to him. She did, but not for long. “It was really quick. Everything was pretty much touched and done within ten minutes of hooking up, except for actual sex.”

She says Ansari began making a move on her that he repeated during their encounter. “The move he kept doing was taking his two fingers in a V-shape and putting them in my mouth, in my throat to wet his fingers, because the moment he’d stick his fingers in my throat he’d go straight for my vagina and try to finger me.” …Ansari also physically pulled her hand towards his penis multiple times throughout the night, from the time he first kissed her on the countertop onward. “He probably moved my hand to his dick five to seven times,” she said. “He really kept doing it after I moved it away.”

But the main thing was that he wouldn’t let her move away from him….“It was 30 minutes of me getting up and moving and him following and sticking his fingers down my throat again. It was really repetitive. It felt like a fucking game.” Throughout the course of her short time in the apartment, she says she used verbal and non-verbal cues to indicate how uncomfortable and distressed she was. “Most of my discomfort was expressed in me pulling away and mumbling. I know that my hand stopped moving at some points,” she said. “I stopped moving my lips and turned cold.”…“I know I was physically giving off cues that I wasn’t interested. I don’t think that was noticed at all, or if it was, it was ignored.”

Ansari wanted to have sex. She said she remembers him asking again and again, “Where do you want me to fuck you?” while she was still seated on the countertop. She says she found the question tough to answer because she says she didn’t want to fuck him at all. “I wasn’t really even thinking of that, I didn’t want to be engaged in that with him. But he kept asking, so I said, ‘Next time.’ And he goes, ‘Oh, you mean second date?’ and I go, ‘Oh, yeah, sure,’ and he goes, ‘Well, if I poured you another glass of wine now, would it count as our second date?’” … She excused herself to the bathroom soon after.

…Then she went back to Ansari. He asked her if she was okay. “I said I don’t want to feel forced because then I’ll hate you, and I’d rather not hate you,” she said.

… “He said, ‘Oh, of course, it’s only fun if we’re both having fun.’ The response was technically very sweet and acknowledging the fact that I was very uncomfortable. Verbally, in that moment, he acknowledged that I needed to take it slow. Then he said, ‘Let’s just chill over here on the couch.’”

…she thought that would be the end of the sexual encounter — her remark about not wanting to feel “forced” had added a verbal component to the cues she was trying to give him about her discomfort. When she sat down on the floor next to Ansari, who sat on the couch, she thought he might rub her back, or play with her hair — something to calm her down.

Ansari instructed her to turn around. “He sat back and pointed to his penis and motioned for me to go down on him. And I did. I think I just felt really pressured. It was literally the most unexpected thing I thought would happen at that moment because I told him I was uncomfortable.” Soon, he pulled her back up onto the couch. She would tell her friend via text later that night, “He [made out] with me again and says, ‘Doesn’t look like you hate me.’”

Halfway into the encounter, he led her from the couch to a different part of his apartment. He said he had to show her something. Then he brought her to a large mirror, bent her over and asked her again, “Where do you want me to fuck you? Do you want me to fuck you right here?” He rammed his penis against her ass while he said it, pantomiming intercourse.

“I just remember looking in the mirror and seeing him behind me. He was very much caught up in the moment and I obviously very much wasn’t,” Grace said. “After he bent me over is when I stood up and said no, I don’t think I’m ready to do this, I really don’t think I’m going to do this. And he said, ‘How about we just chill, but this time with our clothes on?’”

They got dressed, sat side by side on the couch they’d already “chilled” on, and he turned on an episode of Seinfeld….She said that’s when the reality of what was going on sank in. “It really hit me that I was violated. I felt really emotional all at once when we sat down there. That that whole experience was actually horrible.”

While the TV played in the background, he kissed her again, stuck his fingers down her throat again, and moved to undo her pants. She turned away. She remembers “feeling in a different mindset at that point.” “I remember saying, ‘You guys are all the same, you guys are all the fucking same.’” Ansari asked her what she meant. When she turned to answer, she says he met her with “gross, forceful kisses.”

After that last kiss, Grace stood up from the couch, moved back to the kitchen island where she left her phone, and said she would call herself a car. He hugged her and kissed her goodbye, another “aggressive” kiss. When she pulled away, Ansari finally relented and insisted he’d call her the car….

Earlier in the piece, we learn,

The night would end with Grace in an Uber home, in tears, messaging her friends about how Ansari behaved. Babe spoke to the first friends she told about it, and reviewed the messages on her phone. The day after the incident, she wrote a long text to Ansari, saying: “I just want to take this moment to make you aware of [your] behavior and how uneasy it made me.” To that message, Ansari responds: “Clearly, I misread things in the moment and I’m truly sorry.”

After this article was published and “went viral,” as they say, Ansari raleased  a statement. He acknowledges “sexual activity” but says “by all indications [it] was completely consensual.”

What’s going on here?

What’s going on here is that a young woman is using the internet to take vicious, unjust and unethical revenge on a date who disappointed her and was overly sexually aggressive for her tastes and desires. Because he was a celebrity, and his humiliation would generate more clicks than if he were a random lawyer, truck driver or college student, she felt empowered to wound and perhaps destroy his career during the zenith of a cultural mania in which material distinctions have been jettisoned to demonstrate the power of women to destroy with a memory and a pointed finger.

To their credit, some women have been clear and vocal about what is wrong with “Grace’s” ambush.

CNN’s Ashleigh Banfield:

“You had a bad date and your date got overly amorous. After protesting his moves, you did not get up and leave, you continued to engage in the sexual encounter. By your own clear description, this was not a rape nor a sexual assault….What you have done in my opinion is appalling…

“Here is where I am going to claim victim. You have chiseled away at a movement that I along with all of my sisters in the workplace have been dreaming of for decades. A movement that has finally changed an oversexed professional environment that I too have struggled through at times over the last 30 years in broadcasting…As you grow in your photography career, I hope you remember what you did to someone else’s career because of that bad date that was not sexual assault or sexual harassment by your description. I hope the next time you go on a bad date, you stand up and smooth out your dress and bloody well leave. The only sentence that a guy like that deserves is a bad case of blue balls, not a Hollywood blackball.”

Banfield is alluding to the Golden Rule, an ethical principle that the mob seeking out men to destroy based an unsubstantiated accounts or, as in this case, private encounters that basic decency and fairness demanded stay private either rejects or never accepted. In this case, nobody is saying that Ansari behaved correctly, appropriately, sensitively or well. He didn’t. But social relationships are not, cannot and must not be strict liability encounters. Rape, assault, sexual harassment and abuse are not acceptable in any circumstance and there should be consequences for these at the earliest possible time. For clumsiness, insensitivity, selfishness, and the failure to read social messages, the negative consequences should be failure, rebuke, reprimand, shunning and other similar responses in private.

Ethics Alarms has explored this area many times. Would you want your worst moments in personal interactions broadscast to teh world so that is the sole basis for their assessment of you as a person? Of course not. Who hasn’t misbehaved, made mistakes, or made an ass of himself on a date?I know I have. Just writing that caused a flashback that makes me want to ge in a hole. Lucky for me, the young woman involved didn’t set out to ruin my life.

There is nothing in the account that suggests that “Grace” was not free to leave at any time  Nor was she forced to engage in sexual activity. The actor had no power or authority over her. He was not her boss, or superior. She was not underage (as with Roy Moore’s victim), nor was this a workplace.  She was not dependent on his favor or good will. She does not describe him as threatening, and he is hardly physically imposing. In tort law, there is a principle called the duty to mitigate damages. If the victim of misconduct can limita harm, or prevent it entirely with reasonable effort, the law expects him or her to do it. The victim cannot make choices that he or she knows is running up the damages tab needlessly.

“Grace” had the power to end the bad date the way bad dates have ended for centuries: she could have left. Nothing and no one was stopping her. She shares responsibility and accountability for what happened.—it may be on the way to an Unethical Website distinction here—lumps Banfield’s arguments with the tweets of cretins who have said “She wanted it!” as “slutshaming.” I’m not slut-shaming. I’m asshole-shaming. Grace is a vicious, vindictive asshole….and we have a right to know her name so she can be accountable, in public, for what she has done to Aziz Ansari .

I could guess that blogger/author Amy Alkon would be disgusted by this episode, and she did not disappoint, writing in part (she also blogged about this issues here and here):

If you are a woman who is so emotionally frail that you cannot have agency — control your behavior when in the presence of an unarmed person who wants something that you don’t want — you should not be allowed out unsupervised. As in Victorian times, you should meet men in the family parlor, with supervision…

The apartment had a door.

There’s a word: “No.”

Another word: “Stop!”

If you don’t stand up for what you want on some occasion, there’s something you should do — and no, it isn’t putting another person on trial on social media. It’s deciding to turn the experience into a learning experience and figure out what you’ll do to stand up for your interests the next time around.



97 thoughts on “From The “A Nation Of Assholes” File, “Feminists” Section: “Grace” And The Revenge Destruction Of Aziz Ansari

  1. Is it just me, or does Way’s screed read like a “Penthouse Letter,” written in the 3rd person, with a heapin’ helpin’ of licence poétique in quotes?

    Any expressed or implied familiarity with ”Penthouse Letters” is coincidental hearsay; I got it for the articles…

  2. I remember “Penthouse Letters.” They were hilarious. I assumed most were made up. My favorite was the one about the guy who had grown up over a seafood store, and was aroused by the smell of fish. He was afraid to tell his wife, and then one night waited until; she was asleep and began rubbing her all over with a herring. He writes that he suddenly noticed she was awake, and the fact that she didn’t protest made him ecstatic.

    (She didn’t protest, I assume because her husband was massaging her with a herring, and she realized that he was a lunatic.)

  3. I agree with you, and with Banfield. So far, all the women I have spoken to about it are also in agreement. I’m optimistic that the Grace experience will help define a clearer much-needed line by so clearly having crossed it. I don’t think you’ll see a lot of bleeding liberals lining up to support her.

  4. I am going to blame the victim here.

    I’ve made mistakes in my life, and yes, in the sexual realm, and it is what has led me to really look into human sexuality, trying to understand what is healthy sexuality, and what isn’t. From my investigations, I have concluded our culture has gone insane sexually. Ansari is a case in point.

    We have moved from a time when sex was (rightly!) expected to be contained within a marriage. Then we progressed to sex being an act between two people who are very much in love with each other, so it doesn’t matter if they are married. Now we are at a point where expecting sex on a first (maybe the only) date is not overly questioned.

    Ansari’s actions are disgusting. They epitomize the use and discard mentality that is showing up all too often in men these days. (The reason that mentality is on the rise is the subject of another rant.) I don’t personally care if a court of law would not convict him of any wrongdoing; his actions show such a deficit of decent behavior, such a dearth of respect for the woman he was dating, that I would say it is signature significance, not a one-off bad decision. His attitude is that of a man who is accustomed to getting what he wants.

    As for Grace, I do concede that there has been an effort to train women to be assertive, to speak out clearly “No!” However, there’s this little thing called the amygdala. It is the portion of your brain responsible for the fight/flight/freeze reflex. When people find themselves in a confrontational scenario, the amygdala takes over. It literally draws blood from the prefrontal cortex. The effect is that when we most our cognitive abilities, they end up being impaired. It takes training and practice to recognize when the amygdala is taking over, and what to do to re-engage the thinking-reasoning portion of the brain. I cannot speak for how much training Grace has received in knowing what to expect in a situation like she endured, but I’m willing to believe that she was completely unprepared for what she encountered. Even if she were accustomed to a first date leading to sex, Ansari’s aggressiveness and fetishes easily could have become a confrontational situation, and when Grace’s amygdala took over, her response was essentially to freeze. Thus it was hard for her to articulate a “No”. It was hard for her to even give cues that Ansari’s actions were unwelcome. From her account, she kept trying to engage her thinking brain, but she was essentially on autopilot, letting the lizard brain do all the non-thinking for her. Only when the situation passed and she could recover enough blood to her prefrontal cortex could she process what had happened.

    On Ansari’s side, his actions as I said are signature significance. We see on display a predator who knows what he wants, how to get it, and the blood in his brain is entirely concentrated on getting what he wants. Of course he thought everything was consensual. His brain was trained to focus entirely on getting what he wanted and automatically discarding anything that would contradict indulging in his desire. This is another established account of brain science. Our brains are lazy. Once we discover a means of doing something, the brain goes on autopilot for that task. Again, blood is pulled away from the prefrontal cortex. This is why when you walk into the kitchen, you go and open the pantry door looking for a snack, even though you really wanted to look for the flashlight. Once we’ve trained ourselves into a deviant behavior, once we start down that path once again, thinking mostly shuts down. The conversation in which the brain previously engaged between the id and ego no longer happens. Thus even if there are subtle clues from Grace, or other girls, that what is happening is not wanted, the brain ignores them. This is especially true if the brain encountered those subtle clues in the past, and a satisfying sexual encounter still occurred.

    Do I think Grace was wrong to go public with her denunciation of Ansari? Absolutely not. If no legal authority is going to question that she was of her own volition in Ansari’s apartment, and by her own admission she did not explicitly say “No!”, then there is no legal recourse. If she does not speak out, then she is another one of those people who remain silent when an abuser just goes on abusing. No, Ansari did not have any authority over her, but he demonstrated vividly that this was not his first rodeo, not a one-time mistake, but a habit.

    Would I want it broadcast to the world that I once tried to call a girl I was interested in maybe thirty times in the span of a few hours, trying to get ahold of her? Not really, because that was a one-time deal, and I learned from it and never did such a thing again. But if I demonstrated vividly that this was my modus operandi and I would likely treat the next girl the same, then I think she would be in her full right to shout to the heavens what I was doing and turning public sentiment against me.

    It might be loud enough to overcome the amygdala, and re-engage my prefrontal cortex.

    • Well, I’ve heard his standup routine before. I don’t need a seedy first-person account to be able to assume the guy’s a creeper, and I think any woman wouldn’t need one to know not to go into his apartment on a first date unless you want a bad time.

      • Weird–most people I’ve read have said the exact opposite, Isaac: that Ansari is one of the last male comedians one would expect to do something like this, and that his comedy indicates more sensitivity to women than the average comic. This was my reaction; I’m curious what you remember from Ansari’s standup routine that would make you think he’s a creeper.

        • He’s a typical fan of casual sex and hookups as “liberating,” but also a try-hard “woke bae” far-left virtue-broadcasting male feminist.

          At this point, you can almost predict a rape accusation when the above criteria are met.

          • In case the above needs further explanation:

            “Proposals to transform the relations between the sexes have long gone hand in hand with plans for the socialization of the means of production. Marriage is to disappear along with private property . . . Socialism promises not only welfare — wealth for all — but universal happiness in love as well. This part of its programme has been the source of much of its popularity. It is significant that no other German socialist book was more widely read or more effective as propaganda than Bebel’s Woman and Socialism, which is dedicated above all to the message of free love.” –Ludwig von Mises, “Socialism”

            If a person is so “woke” as to denounce marriage and traditional families as patriarchal institutions…then do NOT pursue a long-term relationship with them. There is no good reason to expect them to be monogamous. If you just want and expect to get freaky, then proceed.

    • I have no personal experience in the world of “hook-up culture,” Ryan, but aren’t this couple simply the poster for it? Is they guy such an outlier among twenty and thirty somethings? Friends with benefits? Sex without any sort of commitment? I’m guessing, but I’m guessing it’s the norm rather than the exception. This guy is just taking what’s on offer. Let’s remember that getting a blow job hasn’t been having sex since the long ago ’90s. (Man, was I ever born too early.)

      • Other Bill,

        All I have to say to that is the normalization of deviance was what led to the Challenger explosion…

        Just because something deviant has become the norm doesn’t mean it doesn’t have terrible consequences. I think this is a case in point. I could hope that maybe it would lead toward a return to sanity regarding our sexuality, but people would rather endure endless torment than give up sex on demand…

        • I think we agree. It’s not a good situation. But this guy is not the cause of the problem, he’s a result of the problem.

    • Ryan,

      You have made some incredibly insightful posts in the past but I found that you made some rather biased reasoning.

      First, you accept without question the statements made as 100 % factual with no embellishment on the accuser’s part or the potential that some of her actions may have been ommitted, on a site that clearly has the mission to portray males as predators.

      You point out that physiological conditioning resulted in her “freezing” to the advances but discount the fight or flight responses as options which are also involuntary responses when faced with a threat. Thus, her freezing due to involuntary reaction excuses her act of not being able to mount an effective defense Then you say that physiological affects caused the male to get what he wants without thinking using his prefrontal cortex which demonstrates he is a predator.

      From the text how did you determine that this was not his first rodeo and a habit but fail to accept that this might not be her first rodeo either.

      • Chris,

        I’m not going to deny any of what you said. I should have stated in my rant that I was going to proceed by accepting the description of what happened as accurate, and base the analysis on that.

        If we later find out that Grace was 100% lying, even to the point that no date even occurred, much less any sexual activity, I would fully retract what I wrote.

        Is it reasonable for me to accept what Grace wrote as accurate? I’ll ponder that a little more. I’m willing to accept her account at the moment because it sounds so much like what happens (as Other Bill commented above) that it is very believable.

        But I’ll take your chastisement to heart and think a little more about this.


        • Ryan,

          Consider how people recount a situation in which they may have some culpability. We all have selective memory. In he said she said situations the truth falls somewhere along a continuum that stretches from 100% accuracy of the accuser to 100 % accuracy of the accused.

          When trying to assess where the truth lies, I must have 2 accounts. I cannot simply accept the first version as absolute truth.

          I also consider whether my upbringing colors my pespective. Do we believe the female based on Victorian ideals of women being pure and chaste with only men being sexually aggressive?As a consequence, do we rush to rescue the damsel in distress to show our own virtue or heroism which permits us to gain favor of the opposite sex. Or do we see the world through the modern notion of friends with benefits in which women are equally likely to be initiators of intimate behavior?

          I have always wondered if chivalry is simply respectful deference to females or is a means of ingratiating onself to be looked on favorably by an object of desire. Maybe it’s simply polite behavior that should be extended to either sex.

          Another commenter tried to make the point that the more we rush to the defense of the female the more we unconsciously facilitate further dependency on society for her protection. If equality is the goal then the standards of behavior and responsibility we expect from males should be expected from females.

          • Chris,

            The more I ponder what I wrote and why I wrote it, the more I realize I wanted to:

            1. Wax eloquent on my views of how terribly I think men treat women in the sexual realm

            2. Wax eloquent on all the cool things I’ve learned over the past few years about brain functions, and how they impact our reactions (especially when we find ourselves in confrontational situations, and find ourselves reacting nowhere near where we wanted to act!).

            In doing so, I violated my own principles of:

            1. Innocent until proven guilty.

            2. When one has a problem with someone else, the problem should be addressed between them privately, at first. If it is still problem, then a small group should handle the situation. Only if that fails, should it escalate to something higher.

            3. Present my best analysis of the situation after reading in detail what I am responding to, making sure I deliberate on all the points being presented, and not rushing to post just to post.

            I want to apologize also to Mr. Ansari for not giving him the same presumption of innocence that all accused deserve. I was completely unjustified in my presumptions.

            • Hats off to you Ryan for providing a live example of keeping an open mind, and doing so openly. We all need to do that. Make that, “I” need to do that.

            • Wow Ryan…that admission is an excellent example to follow. I really appreciate how you analyzed your intentions – highlighting your ego and presumptions.

              If only more of us (including myself) could be willing to do that. Bravo.

              • Mrs. Q,

                Thank you, and everyone else, for the kindly manner in which you handled my initial post and my retraction. Okay, that’s maybe a little formal, but I’m trying to figure out how to say to you and Charles Green and Chris Marschner and others a proper thanks without getting overly sappy. I was banging my head against the wall for quite a while over this…

            • First of all I’ll join the chorus saying well done on reconsidering an initial reaction rather than simply anchoring to it.

              Second, with regards to your #2 about the cool things you’ve learned about brain function, do a little looking into how memory works (this is not sarcasm, it’s actually fascinating). Essentially our memories, even fresh and vivid ones, are constructs wholly created by our biased brains, and every time you recall that memory your brain doesn’t just “replay the recording,” it rebuilds it entirely- and flaws and bias are added to every rebuilding.

              So while our emotional reaction is to think “she was clearly very upset, these memories must be very vivid and therefore more likely to be accurate,” the weird human brain may actually mean that the memory of a distressing incident, repeatedly recalled to tell friends and interviewers over and over, filtered through a desire to be a victim rather than to have acted wrongly… well, that extremely vivid memory can be nearly whole cloth by now. It’s why I’m reaching the conclusion that victim testimony is nearly useless except as a tactical gambit to get sympathy.

    • As you could guess, I could not disagree more, and by your standards, about 90% of men are predators. I’d recommend reading Alkon’s latest posts (the links are there): For example:

      Women evolved to be the choosier sex. It does not benefit a woman to just have sex with anyone because a single sex act could leave her with nine months of pregnancy plus the burden of parental care for years that follow. Males, however, can have sex and walk away — in the human species and others. Trivers (parental investment theory) notes that the sex that has to do more parental care (as an outcome of having sex) will be choosier about whom they have sex with. In a few species, this is the male — the jacana (a bird), for example. Mostly, females have the burden of pregnancy and parental care afterward.

      If you are a guy, and you are gay, you can go to a gay bar and somebody is likely to be willing to fuck you in a bathroom stall and never see you again. There’s a reason straight people can’t do this — guys would; women will not go along.

      Men will generally want casual sex far more than women do. If you’re a woman who wants a relationship, it’s wise to not meet a man at his apartment on the first date and to decline when he invites you up there afterward.

      If, perhaps, you are too excited about his celebrity to decline, that’s on you.

      If you are naive, this is also on you. I was a timid wimp. This meant I got taken advantage of — badly. I decided to transform and worked very hard on myself to do it. Nobody takes advantage of me now — nobody. At the very least, when somebody tries, I sure don’t sit down for it. They at least are miserable, thanks to my efforts to not let them get away with it, in the wake of their trying to victimize me.

      The denial of biological sex differences contributes to women being victimized. If you know and accept that men and women tend to have differing sexual strategies, you know what to expect.

      In short, if you understand men’s and women’s differing sexual strategies, you understand that men are likely to try for casual sex and women are likely to want some sort of commitment — even from casual sex partners, even when they know they want to just nail and bail.

      But more to the point…WHAT?

      “Do I think Grace was wrong to go public with her denunciation of Ansari? Absolutely not. If no legal authority is going to question that she was of her own volition in Ansari’s apartment, and by her own admission she did not explicitly say “No!”, then there is no legal recourse.”

      There’s no legal recourse because there was no abuse, and she had it in her power to stop it all, at any time. Are you really saying that the proper response to bad behavior on a date is to have your life and reputation scarred forever by a vengeful cyber-attack? And to do it anonymously, which is cowardly and despicable? I don’t get your reasoning at all. If this is what every date risks, then anyone is foolish to date. Ever.

      • Jack,

        Are you really saying that the proper response to bad behavior on a date is to have your life and reputation scarred forever by a vengeful cyber-attack?

        At this point, I’m going to just blame my amygdala and sheepishly backtrack…

        You said before that no one is treating Ansari’s actions as anything but despicable, and that the focus was on the public, web-based, anonymous hit. I was so focused on my disgust of what I read that I did not pay attention to the primary topic of the post.

        I apologize.

        • I think Ryan raises some good points. I’ve heard from many women who told stories similar to Grace’s; who “froze up” when their date got too forceful and didn’t say no, but who were sending clear cues that they were uncomfortable.

          One thing I’ve heard from a lot of women discussing this story is that they don’t want Ansari to be legally punished or even have his career ruined. They want people to realize that consent isn’t just about going as far as you can without the other person saying “No,” it’s about making sure the person you’re having sex with actually wants to have sex with you.

          Does this justify Grace’s ambush of Ansari? In my opinion, no. To use him as a means to an end to start a conversation about bad behavior that isn’t illegal or even abusive is wrong.

          • I agree with all of this.

            (But my wife and I both waited until after we were married to have sex, and then lived blissfully ever after. No consent issues there. Reconciling the problems inherent in the sexual revolution is not really my problem to solve. We’re just sitting here with our popcorn watching the world burn.)

            • … being married most emphatically does not remove issues of consent from sexual relationships. Please do not imply that marriage is some magic panacea that fixes all issues involving sex… it is, at best, an institution which helps to mitigate some of them.

              The hope, of course, is that married couples will be able to communicate with each other sufficiently well that issues of consent do not arise. But really, the ability to communicate clearly and listen to what a partner is saying is not inherently tied to any institution you and the partner might be part of. It’s just a set of learned skills, on the part of all individuals involved… skills which, clearly, neither Anzari nor ‘Grace’ are particularly adept at.

            • …we were married to have sex, and then lived blissfully ever after. No consent issues there…

              *Snark generator engaged*

              If anything, the negotiations are much more ‘complex’ once one is married! Throw kids into the mix and learn what a nun or monk experiences… not through lack of desire but because you are too tired to bother 🙂

              Consent now means ‘reserving the energy to perform the act,’ in a balancing act with bills, work, household chores, and the needs of children… some of whom have to be evicted from the bedroom before mama is having any of that.

              • I was talking about consent issues in the context of the news story being discussed (two strangers on a first date.) Sorry if that wasn’t clear enough.
                I thought it was.

        • No apology necessary at all. You didn’t do anything wrong.

          Your reaction to the guy’s conduct is important for everyone to keep in mind. Saying that he shouldn’t be drawn and quartered in the public square isn’t a verdict of innocence. Nor is the fact that men may be hot-wired to pressure females into sex—as Alkon and others point out—an excuse not to be civilized, fair and respectful in social engagements whatever the objective.

          Indeed, if there were nothing objectionable about his conduct, then exposing it to the world wouldn’t be much of a wrongful act itself.

      • Perhaps if we invoke parental investment theory in the realm of child custody in which the male must care for the offspring in a physical rather than financial manner, males may be a bit more circumspect with their daliences. It might also reduce child poverty.

        • We used to do that. It was called marriage.

          We used to expect the man to marry the woman if he got her pregnant.

          We used to also preempt that by telling young men and young women to get married.

          I’ll ask the question again:

          Have we gained more as a culture by sacrificing prudish attitudes towards sex or have we lost more by sacrificing prudish attitudes towards sex? Because it was a trade off…the sexual revolution seemed to have some positive benefits…it seemed to have some negatives. Are the positives gained worth the negatives that came with it and better than the positives lost? Were the negatives we shuffled off worth the loss of the positives and less bad than the negatives we picked up?

          More and more, I think our ancestors were on to something.

          • I think you would have to examine the lives of our ancestors in more detail, and just how far back are we going? Promiscuity has been around since the dawn of human history. Really, the most important change has been the advent of reliable birth control and STD prevention.

            • “Promiscuity has been around since the dawn of human history.”

              This is just a derivative argument of “No point discouraging behavior because people are still going to do it.” It’s a worn out argument.

              Promiscuity has of course been around forever. What hasn’t been around forever is our cultures’ outright embrace, celebration, and protection of promiscuous behavior. And we KNOW that when a community openly and actively discourages conduct, that conduct manifests much, much less. When a community openly and actively encourages conduct, that conduct is more prevalent.

              Your observation was no answer to my question.

              • I was not answering your question — I posed my own. I think there has never been a good era to emulate in terms of sexual values.

                • “I think there has never been a good era to emulate in terms of sexual values.”

                  That is merely an admission that Mankind is sufficiently broken enough in that realm that NO set of societal standards or controls will solve ALL the problems that derive from the sex drive.

                  And instead of asking what set of standards and controls solve the problems, the question is what set of standards and controls provide an *optimum* solution.

                  Which is what my original question was, which focused on the fact that there are trades off in any system:

                  “Have we gained more as a culture by sacrificing prudish attitudes towards sex or have we lost more by sacrificing prudish attitudes towards sex? Because it was a trade off…the sexual revolution seemed to have some positive benefits…it seemed to have some negatives. Are the positives gained worth the negatives that came with it and better than the positives lost? Were the negatives we shuffled off worth the loss of the positives and less bad than the negatives we picked up?”

                  Sounds to me, based on a comment below, you think there is a MORE optimum or even near perfect solution.

                  “the next step should be modelling responsible sexual norms.”

                  But what does “modelling responsible sexual norms” mean?

                  “modelling” carries a ton of weight in that statement.

                  • I’m referring to good parenting, good sexual education, as well as education generally about the social and emotional pros/cons of sex and sexual partners.

              • That institution has been around so long that we don’t even have a date for when it began, though. I assumed Spartan was referring to a social change recent enough that we actually have documentation of it.

              • I personally feel it is irresponsible for people to get married without having sex, because sex is such an important part of marriage — and people need to know if they are compatible. I will also not throw cold water on one-night stands, but I will agree that most sexual encounters should be between people who know each other well. That’s why I said that I can’t find an era to emulate here — I definitely think the “wait for marriage” people are both impractical and irresponsible (if the goal is healthy and stable marriages), but I also can’t subscribe to the free love, it’s okay to have 50 sexual partners group. Now that we have reliable and cost-effective birth control and STD protection, the next step should be modelling responsible sexual norms. We’re not there yet.

    • Though you rescinded yourself below, you are certainly on to something regarding physiology.

      Is there a “point of no return” in some of these encounters where hormones are doing the talking and the inhibiting part of the brain is all but comatose?

      Did our cultural prudishness before actually serve a useful barrier to ensure we didn’t even get close to putting ourselves into positions where chemistry creates nearly unstoppable processes? Serve to keep us in mental and emotional states where we were clear headed?

      • Tex,

        As I understand it, there is a point of no return, and it isn’t simply hormones driving the deal, though they certainly have a big influence. I’m trying to find my notes on the brain science, but essentially what happens in your brain when making decisions is that there is an interaction between four parts — the part that wants something, the part that keeps a list of ways of satisfying that desire, a part that plans how to go about satisfying that desire, and the part that is supposed to direct everything. Usually, we want that last piece to be in control all the time. But when we start to have tension between the director and the part of the brain clamoring for satisfaction, all the parts of the brain start working back and forth, putting together plans, recalling how things went in the past, looking at the morality of the situation, and so forth. If the director wins the argument, it stays in control. If the desirous portion of the brain wins the argument, then it takes control and the rest of the brain goes along with it. That is the point of no return.

        The dangerous thing is, when we form habits, we start to skip out on the dialogue. That’s not bad if those are good habits, but if they are bad habits, such as overeating, sexual gratification, drug use, video game/smart device dependence, then the distance between feeling a desire and acting to satisfy it shortens dramatically. What is worse, if we’re speaking of some manner of dopamine-inducing activity (like orgasm, drug use, or smart device usage), the brain starts to crave the dopamine, and requires greater doses of dopamine to satisfy it. That means that the clamorous part of the brain acts up more and more, and the director finds itself losing the battle more and more frequently, sometimes to the point where it has almost no say whatsoever. The end result here is addiction.

        I do think our past prudish attitudes toward sex helped keep us well away from that point of no return. We of course can argue the tradeoffs, such as prudish attitudes that culminate in sexual dysfunction or beliefs that sex is a bad thing, but given how easily the misuse of our sexual capabilities can hurt ourselves and others, I think we were better off before.

  5. Something we all need to consider in this case is that the only thing we know for sure is there was sexual contact, we do not know if some relevant details have been exaggerated and if other relevant details have been completely omitted; I suspect that there is both going on. At this point in time I’m going to dump equal blame on both of these individuals; the adult thing to have done after this encounter would have been to learn from your mistakes and move on – someone chose differently.

    The part that I found worthy of an ethical blog other than the fact that it’s another case in the train wreck is the fact that this woman has chosen to remain anonymous, not learn from her own mistakes in this encounter, I think she has equal responsibility in this, but yet is willing to smear Aziz Ansari in the court of public opinion. I am suspicious of this woman, her motives, and her honesty.

    Question for you legal buffs: is there reasonable cause for an intentional defamation suit?

      • Not specific to this case or specifically about sexual encounters but as a general question:

        What, if any, legal recourse do victims of these kinds of public web executions have. Do they have absolutely no rights against such unprovable accusations that are presented to the court of public opinion that appear to only have two purposes; 1) destroy the life of the target with malicious accusations; 2) promote the accuser.

        I’m really having a problem with this new form of vigilante justice – public web execution. I can see an inevitable outcome to this continuing, it’s going to get much much worse until people are literally killed by mobs of social justice warriors.

  6. I’ll try and circle back to the original post when I have some time, but how is this different from the pastor guy? Those seem like very similar situations and your treatment of the issue is very different.

    • RPE,

      The pastor had a higher duty and legal duty of care to avoid the event even if the female is the aggressor.

      That is not to say that the 17 year old was the aggressor it’s just the bottom line.

      This is among 2 adults with no differential power relationship.

    • off the top of my head: no power imbalance to exploit. Wasn’t the pastor guy some sort of youth leader, and, with her alone in his car, intentionally drove off into the woods (against her wishes) to try and hit on her? I think there’s a pretty significant difference between the details of the two.

    • Oh, only completely different in materials ways:

      The pastor: Abuse of position; exploitation of authority; workplace harassment; no date; consent under duress; victim without easy mode of exit, and the victim was a child (ethics doesn’t care about arbitrary “ages of consent”), and finally, using emotional blackmail as a cover-up.

      Aziz: None of the above. Equal adults on a consensual date.

  7. Mr. Marshall,
    You are a master at exposing unethical double standards. Please check out the 1989 Chicago Tribune article on Ralph Abernathy’s unflattering “literary” revelations about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.:

    “Indeed, it is ironic that in this era, a time in which media standards have changed radically in regard to how much of the private lives of public figures should be allowed to remain private, that the smearing of Dr. King`s name which J. Edgar Hoover attempted two decades ago is being conducted by today`s media with the help of one of his closest friends.”


    Note the greater ironic parallels (and unethical double standard) when comparing current media treatment of President Trump, e.g., “Fire and Fury.”

    Best Regards

  8. On Ansari’s side, his actions as I said are signature significance. We see on display a predator who knows what he wants, how to get it, and the blood in his brain is entirely concentrated on getting what he wants.

    Is that right? Or do we see a man whose experience tells him that women who meet him at his apartment, go to dinner and come straight back to his apartment want to have sex with him, and that women who have sex with him enjoy having it in the way that he was suggesting to Grace?

    Ansari says he thought everything that happened was consensual. Grace says that she was sending out unmistakable nonverbal signals that she didn’t want to him to do what he was doing, but Ansari says that her signals weren’t at all clear to him. And there’s plenty of evidence even in Grace’s own version of events that her nonverbal cues aren’t as clear as she thinks they are. Her parting complaint that, “you guys are all the fucking same” suggests that she has had more than one previous experience with other men who, like Ansari, misread her cues. Maybe in the future, she should try using words instead. For example, in the part of the encounter where he sat on the couch and she sat on the floor between his legs hoping that he would play with her hair or rub her back, she could have tried saying, “Why don’t you play with my hair and rub my back?” — instead of tossing her head and stretching like a cat or whatever it was that she did so unsuccessfully in her hopeful, nonverbal way to hint that she wanted him do that.

      • Considering the order in which this occurred, I do not see how Ansari would not have interpreted a request for a back rub or hair tussle as foreplay for sex. Using her words better would have been the ideal solution, “Hey, I’m not interested in sex tonight. Could we just watch TV?” Or just leave.

  9. What if Grace is a white woman, pointing an accusing finger at a brown man who, in my view, was guilty of being a little too raunchy but clearly had implied consent?

    Ohhh, raaaaayyycccciiist.

    • No, no, no, Glenn, at the present moment a #MeToo woman is higher than a wealthy brown man (probably any brown man, but DEFINITELY a wealthy and successful brown man) on the hierarchy of victims. After all, you must believe the woman, always. Just ask Atticus.

  10. So, a female voice here — this woman had a bad date. End of story.

    I am in a female lawyer private group, and we have been discussing this endlessly. The vast majority of us agree that this was just a bad date — but there are some that think he crossed a line.

    I think this was a useful story to discuss appropriate sexual cues/responses, but I would have omitted names.

    The real lesson here is to get to know someone at least a little bit more before going up to his/her apartment. This guy was too sexually aggressive for her taste and she is an eggshell plaintiff. Bad combo.

    • Thanks, SS…I’ve been waiting patiently for you to weigh in, and would have gone into severe self-doubt and depression if you had announced that “Grace” was a paragon of #MeToo virtue.

      It is amazing to me that the name issue isn’t getting more attention. She and could have sparked the same discussion by leaving Aziz as an un-named clod—nothing but revenge for a bad date was served by outing him and hurting is image and reputation.

      • It is amazing to me that the name issue isn’t getting more attention. She and could have sparked the same discussion by leaving Aziz as an un-named clod—nothing but revenge for a bad date was served by outing him and hurting is image and reputation.

        They couldn’t have sparked the same discussion by leaving him nameless, though, because the whole reason you and I even know about this article is because it was about Aziz Ansari. I read some feminist blogs and I’ve never even heard of before this; I would have assumed it was a porn site from the name.

        Again, that doesn’t justify naming him.

  11. As a side take- I’m a homely-to-average looking guy who’s always had trouble with my love life. One of the truths I came to accept with bitter humor is that I had a finer line to walk: actions that would be seen as charming, confident, and cute in a more attractive/popular guy are perceived as creepy, pushy, or annoying in a guy with less immediate appeal (no, this isn’t Mens’ Rights whining, it’s knowing the Halo effect is real).

    I always hoped someday the average and nerdy would get the same benefit of the doubt, I’m both surprised and dismayed it’s taken a sharp pivot in the other direction and now ALL men are guilty of being creepy and pushy if they make an unwanted move.

    • I’ll take the conversation way out on a limb here, referencing some of the ethno-biology material that Jack introduced. That writing is extremely persuasive: I recommend it to anyone.

      Basically it suggests that much (incredibly much) of our behavior (not just sexual) can be explained by an innate desire to pass along our genetic material to future generations. The “male” strategy (across all species with male/female splits) is one of volume; the “female” strategy is one of quality. This makes simple sense given the biological requirements of parenthood (basically, m=virtually nil, f=extremely demanding).

      The sexual strategies are therefore almost deductively evident. Women seek genetically powerful mates to sire their children; that alone explains why groupies are female (think Bill Clinton vs. Maggie Thatcher). Men by contrast are programmed to be promiscuous.

      The data are astounding: lower social-class mothers favor daughters (as indicated by longer breast-feeding), as they have a better chance of attracting a powerful mate, whereas upper social-class mothers favor sons, as they have a better chance of impregnating more women. Lower class men are left out on a limb, making them cannon fodder for dreams of virgins in heaven and other forms of ideological extremism.

      To bring it back to Ansari, and men in general. Men in positions of power are genetically more attractive to women (“power is an aphrodisiac”). This suits men in power just fine.

      Socially, this means the more famous and powerful a man is, the more he is easily seduced into thinking that women like him because he is attractive, witty, humorous, strong, whatever-virtue-you-want. Only those who fall suddenly from power must face the realization that it wasn’t them that was attractive, it was their position in life that made them so.

      Folks like Ansari – generally the ‘good’ side of men Hollywood – are nonetheless prone to confusing the signals they are sending and receiving. It’s easy (I’m assuming here, certainly not preaching from personal experience) to assume acquiescence where it wasn’t intended, because after all, they have an easier time of it attracting women.

      In many ways, society is an attempt to regulate our biological urges.

      • CG; is what you’re talking about ”Sociobiology?”

        And that X-n-Y Chromosomal Units possess innate…um…approaches that are “organized ahead of experience”? (H/T Dr. Jonathan Haidt)

        I dated a 2nd wave feminist 40 years ago (for a short period of time) that was vehemently against Sociobiology’s predetermination aspect; she thought it put females in a poor light.

        I guess we’ll embrace what we believe are “nice/flattering” tendencies while avoiding others like they’re syphilitic lepers.

        Or as Michael Gold (Jeff Goldblum) put it in “The Big Chill”:

        “Everyone does everything just to get laid.”

        • Paul, I did intend to say “sociobiology,” pardon the brain lapse, and thanks for the correction.

          I would suggest:
          a. Predilection doesn’t necessarily mean predetermination; that’s where free will and etiquette come in to play;
          b. Your ex-feminist girlfriend was unnecessarily denying the above truth;
          c. Note Jeff Goldblum is a male;
          d. It’s been more than a few decades since I read Freud’s “Civilization and Its Discontents,” but as I recall the thesis: Neuroticism is the price we pay for being civilized. Always struck me as an interesting insight.

      • I was just thinking the element missing from the discussion of this guy is the groupie phenomenon. Glad you brought it up, Charles. This guy Ansari was being sought out by a groupie so he assumed she wanted to fuck him and then go her merry way.

        My wife’s bridesmaid had a more succinct explanation for what you’ve described above, Charles: “There’s nothing sexier than a fat wallet.” I’m sure your and my observations are considered passe and patriarchal by today’s illuminati, but they work for me.

      • With regards to the differing strategies, that’s also how I explain it to my female friends who bemoan the cookie-cutter nature of messages from men on dating sites and apps. Women get to be pickier (as my HS biology teacher loved to say, “sperm is cheap.”) Technology has broadened the sexual marketplace to the point where women can be VERY picky. The instinctive primate brain of the man knows that he can expend his energy trying to properly court a small number of women and still likely be ignored or rejected by each, or approach a large number of women in a shoddy but efficient manner and take whatever he can get.

        • There’s a new wrinkle to this, as women can perhaps be picky when it comes to sex partners but are having trouble finding suitable mates. The universal acceptance of casual sex means that women have no more “bargaining power,” or as grandmothers used to say, “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?” That plus the extreme nature of web porn means that women are acting increasingly desperate in competition for the attention of men they want. Meanwhile, growing numbers of men see no reason to marry.

          I don’t know if this is related, but sperm count and make fertility are also going down worldwide.

          • On the whole I think men and women both are probably more miserable than ever in this regard. The extreme feminist and MGTOW movements are probably just symptoms of this. It was nice back when men and women liked each other.

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