In a world where some women are still claiming to be faking it, how does a man know when the lines of consent have been blurred by nonverbal cues? Last night, I was catching up on The View and theyc were discussing the allegations being brought against “Master of None” star Aziz Ansari. A woman he had a sexual encounter with was now alleging that he assaulted her when he did not pick up on her nonverbal cues refusing consent.
Some are crying foul and calling it a case of buyers remorse and others have their pitchforks ready to martyr Aziz for his inability to read minds. Now I do not want to trivialize nor discount either one of their experiences. I too have been in a situation where I felt that I was taken advantage of sexually. But after further examination I realized that the lines of consent were blurred.
I was out of town visiting friends and that night we all went out and had one drink too many. I was beyond inebriated. The next morning I awoke to a strange feeling that something was not right. I felt someone behind me and I immediately turned around and he fled out the room. I was still processing it all when I observed several empty condom wrappers. I was instantly in a state of shock and disbelief. I went to a friend and tried to make sense of it all. I quickly learned that he felt that we had a wild romp and it was nothing to get flustered about. Everyone in the room knew what happened but me.
In my hyper-vigilant state I felt that I had been violated. I felt like there was no way I would have under a different set of circumstances consented to a sexual encounter with him. How did we end up in bed together? It was horrifying how we behaved. I felt like I was having an out of body experience that left a bitter remnant in my memory back. I was incensed about how he was peddling the story of our sordid night.
I mulled it over on the ride home and it still did not feel right. It was not until I brought it to my therapist that I realized that I could not rightfully accuse him of sexual assault. We were both extremely inebriated and neither of us could have consented. It was one of those out of control nights. Now just because I came to that result does not mean I do not to this day still feel violated because I do. Yet, I had to realize my accountability in all that transpired. When, I came to the next morning there was no more sexual activity we both became aware that both of us were not willing participants.
Although, I empathize with this woman I also want her to realize that it would not be right to persecute Aziz for a crime he did not commit. Everything was consensual in that moment. Afterwards guilt and regret set in. While her feelings are valid so are his. He felt remorse and sympathized with her feelings of being uncomfortable and her resentment regarding their encounter.
There is so much murkiness in this story. I do not think we should make a rush to judgment on either part. There needs to be careful examination of this encounter. It is a private matter that now has been made public. How do you enable the accuser and the accused to feel vindicated without ruining one or both their lives?
Women we are often guilty of not speaking our mind to the men in our lives. At times we expect them to understand that we mean no when we are saying yes. In order for these movements Me Too and Time’s Up to thrive we have to be vocal. There is no room for misconstrued language. We have to be direct in saying we are women and we have the right not to be violated. We have the right to be respected regardless of any man’s preconceived notion about us as individuals or women in general.
All I am saying is be vocal about what you want and do not want. Do not plop that decision in his hands. We are more than capable of stating that this is/isn’t a consensual act. The lesson I learned from the experience I shared is to be mindful of my alcohol intake as well as my surroundings. Now this does not justify assault but it definitely can deter it.
Should a man’s inability to properly read a woman’s nonverbal cues be grounds for him losing his freedom? Please chime in below.