Accusations Against Aziz Ansari Spur Conversation Around Sexual Misconduct, #MeToo

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In this Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018 file photo, Aziz Ansari arrives at the 75th annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
In this Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018 file photo, Aziz Ansari arrives at the 75th annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Aziz Ansari stands accused of sexual misbehavior during a date that he went on two years ago by a young woman.

The accusation, published by, came out in the middle of a national conversation about sexual misconduct, but the debate around Ansari has been especially complicated. It has raised questions around what counts as sexual misconduct, how we consent and the future of the #MeToo movement.


Emma Gray, executive women's editor at HuffPost. She tweets @emmaladyrose.

Julianne Escobedo Shepherd, deputy editor at Jezebel. She tweets @jawnita.

Interview Highlights:

On The Journalistic Ethics Of The Piece:

Julianne: “The way [the story] was framed, with salacious interest in some of the details... in a sort of way felt exploitative. The person who wrote this was quite young, in her 20s. This goes up to her editors. It was an editorial mistake by not showing her the best practices.

"That’s why the whole thing feels so salacious and damaging because I feel like it’s exploiting Grace but also exploiting young emerging journalists.”

Emma: “It’s upsettingly opened the subject of this story up to so many personal attacks than were necessary was this story handled with the care that is deserved.”

On How Women And Men Should Approach Sexual Interactions:

Emma: “I’m all for opening up the conversation and encouraging women to articulate our boundaries and our desires more clearly. ... What’s upsetting is I hear very constantly the question of ‘Why didn’t she leave? Why didn’t she say something?’

“What we're not really hearing as much is, ‘Why didn’t he stop? Why didn’t he check in with her?’ We also need to hold men to a higher standard. We need to ask men to be reading their sexual partners, checking in with their sexual partners, and making sure that before they barrel through and, kind of, continue to wear a woman down sexually [to make] sure that is what she wants.”

Julianne: “Enthusiastic consent … goes beyond the idea of even just asking but understanding that not only are both parties consenting but they are consenting enthusiastically. … There are several points in [the] story where he should have stopped and he should have asked her how she was feeling.”

On The Age Divide In The Reaction To Ansari's Story:

Emma: “I think it’s simplistic to distill this down to age. I do understand that there might be a natural defensiveness...if you [have] lived through years in the workforce or the dating world and you recognize some experience you’ve had [are similar to] Grace’s story and you don’t feel traumatized or violated, I understand the impulse to say, ‘Don’t tell me that what you experienced was worse than I felt it to be.’

“But young women are in a position where they’re just stepping into these arenas. They have the freedom to renegotiate the terms and the space … to imagine a world where maybe their sexual encounters don’t have to look like this.”

This segment aired on January 18, 2018.


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