Aziz Ansari, the actor and comedian best known as the creator and star of Netflix series Master of None, has become the latest Hollywood name accused of sexual misconduct.
A 23-year-old photographer, under the pseudonym Grace, described being groped, harassed and pressured into sex during a date with Ansari following the 2017 Emmys, online publication Babe reports.
The woman told the publication the two had flirted via text for about a week after meeting at the Emmys party, but a date that ended at Ansari’s Tribeca apartment saw things “escalate uncomfortably”.
“In a second, his hand was on my breast,” the woman said, saying Ansari forcibly performed oral sex on her, and urged her to reciprocate. She also said he stuck his fingers in her mouth and repeatedly moved her hands towards his penis.
“Everything was pretty much touched and done within 10 minutes of hooking up, except for actual sex,” she told the publication.
The woman said she voiced her discomfort, “pulling away and mumbling” and “stopped moving” to indicate she wasn’t interested. She told Ansari she didn’t want to “feel forced”, which the actor initially acknowledged, before continuing his advances.
“He sat back and pointed at 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 the moment because I told him I was uncomfortable,” she said.
After persistent groping, she decided to leave.
The next day Ansari texted the woman to thank her for a “fun” evening, a screengrab of the woman’s phone published by Babe shows.
“Last night might’ve been fun for you, but it wasn’t for me,” she responded. “You ignored clear non-verbal clues, you kept going with advances.”
“I’m so sad to hear this,” Ansari replied. “Clearly, I misread things in the moment and I’m truly sorry.”
On Monday, Ansari released a statement confirming the woman’s account of the date, but suggested all sexual activity was “completely consensual”.
“It was true that everything did seem OK to me, so when I heard that it was not the case for her, I was surprised and concerned,” he said.
“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,” the statement reads.
The allegations against the popular star were met with shock from fans.
Ansari, 34, who rose to fame with successful comedy specials and as a cast member on hit sitcom Parks and Recreation, has a progressive persona among Hollywood’s stars, including championing women in writing and directing roles on Master of None.
During an appearance on David Letterman in 2014, he described himself as a “feminist” and castigated audience members who refused to accept the label themselves.
His 2015 Madison Square Garden comedy special featured an extended bit where he mocked “creepy” male entitlement, and the recent season of his Netflix series, where he plays a struggling actor, included a storyline where his character lost a plum job after reporting a co-worker as a sexual predator. That Aziz Ansari piece isn’t surprising to me but it is difficult and heartbreaking because I’ve been there, many times because “nice” men thought they could use whatever kindness they had performed earlier to ignore my boundaries in intimate situations.??? Lara Witt (@Femmefeministe) January 14, 2018To those who think the Aziz Ansari account was just a bad date…that is equal parts heartbreaking and horrifying. What do women have to say, scream, go through to have you change your understanding of what’s acceptable???? Izzie Steele (@izneverdone) January 14, 2018Aziz Ansari can wear a Times Up badge on stage because men don’t know what rape and sexual assault is, even when they’re doing it.??? Chimene Suleyman (@chimenesuleyman) January 14, 2018A lot of men will read that post about Aziz Ansari and see an everyday, reasonable sexual interaction. But part of what women are saying right now is that what the culture considers “normal” sexual encounters are not working for us, and oftentimes harmful.??? Jessica Valenti (@JessicaValenti) January 14, 2018