As I was watching the Golden Globes, I remembered seeing the sea of black outfits as everyone wore black together to honor the TIME’S UP campaign. All of the powerful women, standing together in unity, made me feel good about the strong force that’s moving us toward a better world to live in. However, as lovely as it was seeing everyone wearing black, I remember being cautious about the amount of men wearing black. It’s not uncommon for men to wear a black suit to an awards show, and yet many actors still received a large amount of praise for supporting the movement. It didn’t go unnoticed that many actors wore a TIME’S UP pin to stand in solidarity with the survivors of sexual assault and harassment.
One man, in particular, comes to mind. Aziz Ansari, a self-proclaimed feminist, wore a TIME’S UP pin to the 2018 Golden Globes. Not too long after, a woman stepped up anonymously and shared her story with the world about a date gone horribly wrong. After meeting her briefly and taking her out on a date, Ansari invited this woman back to his apartment to continue the night. This woman repeatedly rejected his sexual advances, saying in different ways each time that she wasn’t ready, comfortable, and didn’t want to do anything. At multiple points during the night it appeared that he understood, by leading her over to a couch “to chill,” but then very soon after would flip and continue his forced kisses and attempted sexual actions.
And yet here we are, acknowledging the fact that he wore a TIME’S UP pin but didn’t seem to understand how his actions could be considered sexual assault or sexual harassment.
Let me put it bluntly. If someone seems uncomfortable, unsure, unwilling, or not in the mood, it’s not consent. If someone shuts down while you’re kissing them, then it’s not consent. If someone appears to be scared, or you have to coerce them into doing sexual acts, then it’s not consent. Unless it’s an enthusiastic and resounding yes, then it’s not consent.
There were no questions about whether or not that woman wanted to go that far with Ansari. In response to the allegations against him, many men have spoken up and said how they don’t understand how it could be considered assault. Many say that she just regretted it, or that she’s just making a big deal out of nothing. What that means is that across the world, there are men who don’t know what constitutes assault or harassment. Everywhere, there are men who have likely gone too far and not even realized it, because there’s such a lack of education about consent and about what’s okay to do. How many women out there have suffered in silence, knowing if they spoke up they’d just receive backlash?
What truly saddens me is how unsurprised I was to see this. Ansari, previously held high in my mind, has come crumbling down. At this point I am so desensitized to actors having allegations to them. It’s not longer a shock to see previously favored actor have a dark history. It just goes to show how easily things are swept under the rug, especially when people are in places of power. Aziz Ansari is a big name, right up there with Louis C.K. and Kevin Spacey. These are men with power, and power is exactly what assault is all about. It’s about a person getting to show their power over someone else, fully in control of the situation.
Now as I walk around campus, I wonder how many of my fellow classmates have gone a little too far with their relationships. How many haven’t read the social situations, the verbal and nonverbal cues, and made someone scared. It’s a chilling thought. This campus doesn’t have a good history with sexual assault, which is something I am conscious of every day.
Times are changing. People are getting called out and held accountable for their actions. We’re moving toward a better world to live in. Survivors will not be shamed any longer for coming forward and sharing their stories.
No longer how big, how powerful, how well-liked you are, your time IS up.