Nandini Arora works as a Brand Manager in a Software Development company in New Delhi. Although married to numbers, her first love has always been books and writing. She regularly writes about issues such as women’s safety, Feminism, LGBTQ etc. on her blog nandiniaroraweb.wordpress.com
Consent: the most mysterious word in the world.
Disclaimer: The following blog contains excerpts from another article which contained words pertaining to the sexual activity and the male reproductive organ. The reader is advised to not proceed if it makes him or her uncomfortable.
Consent is probably the most confusing, puzzling, and incomprehensible words in the world. A large number of men have complained about how peculiar the concept of consent is and that is why, I’d like to take this opportunity to clear the confusion about this baffling concept of having the patience to wait for your partner to be equally into it, before you go on to declare every second you have as the mating season.
Watch this video to understand the bizarre concept that consent is, in more detail.
(source: Thames Valley Police, Youtube)
See, it’s not very difficult to understand. If your flirting feels like sexual harassment, you’re flirting wrong. It’s that simple.
I’d like to take the example of Aziz Ansari here. Recently, a woman who once went on a date with him came out about how he ignored her cues, both verbal and non-verbal, and managed to make the night one of the worst of her life.
Read her account here. https://babe.net/2018/01/13/aziz-ansari-28355
The website, babe.net, which published her side of the story (link above) has faced more criticism than support following the release of the article. Calling it “3000 words of revenge porn”, websites such as theatlantic.com have condemned the account saying that, “Allegations against the comedian are proof that women are angry, temporarily powerful—and very, very dangerous.”
The woman’s story along with Ansari’s response to it are equally shocking. In response to the woman’s accusation, Ansari said, “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.”
Here are screenshots of the texts they exchanged the next morning.
Read his entire statement here. https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/aziz-ansari-responds-allegation-sexual-misconduct-i-took-her-words-heart-1074658
Now you may argue that it’s easy to misread signals and that she should have just said no or shouldn’t have gone up to his apartment or shouldn’t have drunk alcohol or a thousand other justifications. But here’s the thing. Accepting a drink is not a ‘yes’. Wearing a dress isn’t a yes. Neither does coming up to your house automatically translate to a yes. And she did refuse. Multiple times. He was either too full of his entitlement and celebrity status to even pay attention to the fact that she was uncomfortable or he had absolutely no clue about the fact that your partner is also supposed to want it, a.k.a consent.
Now just because your partner hasn’t clearly spelt out a ‘no’ for you, does not mean that he or she is saying ‘yes’. Just remember this. Unless it’s not a clear ‘yes’, it’s a no. Always. Going back to Aziz Ansari’s case, it is clear from both their statements that he ignored her consent and assumed that she was okay with whatever was happening.
As proof, following are a few excerpts from the woman’s story posted on babe.net. You can read the entire article from the link given above. So, for those of you arguing that she didn’t say no, here goes:
- “Whoa, let’s relax for a sec, let’s chill.” – That was a solid No.
- “He probably moved my hand to his dick five to seven times,” she said. “He really kept doing it after I moved it away.”” – All the times she moved her hand were all ‘No’s. And all the times he ignored her physical cues were ‘I don’t care’s.
- “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.” – Anyone with their eyes open could notice this No.
- ““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.” – again, just because a ‘No’ hasn’t been spelt out for you, does not mean it’s a ‘Yes’.
- “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. at first. She was happy with how he reacted. “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.” – After ignoring the fact that she wanted him to stop, he continued. His ignorance or simply an ‘I don’t care’ attitude pressured her into doing something she didn’t want to. How is that not sexual harassment?
- “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.” – Here’s a tip. When you ask a question, at least pause for an answer.
- “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?’”” – Another clear No. And before you argue that, “okay, he’s acknowledged her No here.” Hang in there. Because it ain’t over.
- “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.”” – You’ve got to be purposely ignoring her to not get that she’s uncomfortable and upset.
Multiple times, from the moment she stepped into his apartment, she had been saying no. Asking him, repeatedly, to slow down and stop. He paid no attention to her wishes or whether she was even interested. All he cared about was getting laid and that’s what turned this from a simple date to a sexual violation. In the article, Grace said that, “I was not listened to and ignored. It was by far the worst experience with a man I’ve ever had.””
The article on babe.net quotes Grace saying, ““It took a really long time for me to validate this as sexual assault,” she told us. “I was debating if this was an awkward sexual experience or sexual assault.” Some of the criticism directed at the woman accuses her to have given mixed signals and that she should have just left if she was upset. What people fail to understand is what goes into the mind of a victim when he or she is trying to register the fact that they’re a victim to a sexual crime.
The next point you might want to raise is why now. Why is she bringing it up now? According to ‘Grace’, “the Golden Globes brought the events back to the forefront of her mind. “It was actually painful to watch him win and accept an award,” she said. “And absolutely cringeworthy that he was wearing the Time’s Up pin. I think that started a new fire, and it kind of made it more real.” Nevertheless, the fact is that whether you report a crime immediately after, two days later or ten years later, it’s still a crime and that is irrespective of gender, race, or religion.
All things aside, what hurts me the most is how, following an accusation, everyone becomes concerned about the man’s career. Here too, calling this ‘a date gone bad’, people are more worried about Ansari and how it’s going to affect the poor thing’s career and that he is the actual victim here. The only thing that reactions like these promote is the rape culture.
What ‘Grace’ went through is something that is unfortunately very common. The lack of knowledge or even bothering about consent has turned many dream dates into sexual misconducts because one of the partners was too full of himself or herself to even bother making sure if their partner was okay. People often fail to understand that ignorance of consent can lead to unpleasant experiences for both parties. Consent isn’t as complicated as it’s pictured to be. Maybe if we realised the gravity of having someone’s consent and were given proper sex education classes which included lengthy lectures on ‘consent’, we could probably avoid sexual harassment, possibly even rape!
Opinions are of the writer.