The #MeToo movement is just the tip of the larger problem that exists in our society

In the past few months, conversations among girlfriends, discussions on dates and even talks at business forums have centered around a feminist movement that's titled itself as #MeToo. In many ways, it feels like a new wave of feminism has arrived. 

The #MeToo movement, which began in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, has grown, evolved and has now become a many-headed hydra that includes everyone's stories of sexual harassment, some of which took place in the workplace, some in public spaces, and some on dates. Perhaps that's why women like Grace, a 23-year-old photographer from New York, could share her horrifying experience with Golden Globe winner Aziz Ansari.

Millie Bobby Brown and Aziz Ansari attend the Netflix Golden Globes after party at Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills on January 7, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Netflix via Getty Images)

Grace consented to go out on a date with the Master of None actor one night in September 2016; however, she found herself having an out-of-body experience as he rushed her through dinner, took her home and undressed her almost immediately, all the time failing to ask if she was comfortable.

 (L-R) Actors Emilia Clarke and Kit Harington pose with Aziz Ansari and his award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series Musical or Comedy for 'Master of None' in the press room during The 75th Annual Golden Globe Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 7, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

L-R) Actors/writers Aziz Ansari, winner of Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series for 'Master of None,' and Donald Glover, winner of Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for 'Atlanta,' with show host Stephen Colbert attend the 69th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards Governors Ball on September 17, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Actor Aziz Ansari speaks onstage during the 69th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 17, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

In her account to Babe's journalist Katie Way, Grace said she was asked several times, "where do you want me to f--- you?" A question she was uncomfortable to answer and made it clear with verbal and non-verbal cues. The photographer, who hoped he would stop after she said, "I don’t want to feel forced because then I’ll hate you, and I’d rather not hate you," found herself having to respond to his request for a blowjob even after asking him to stop.

 Aziz Ansari speaks onstage during Aziz Ansari: In Conversation during the 2017 Vulture Festival at Milk Studios on May 20, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Vulture Festival)

In the days after Grace's story made it's way to the internet, many noted that her account of the events didn't resonate with what's widely considered as sexual harassment. Many argued that the 23-year-old photographer derailed the #MeToo movement. Why? Because they didn't view Aziz's moves as coercion; instead, they defined it as a date gone wrong.

In her Op-Ed piece for the New York Times, Bari Weiss said the actor is guilty not of harassing her but of not being a mind reader. She wrote, "There is a useful term for what this woman experienced on her night with Mr. Ansari. It’s called “bad sex.” It sucks." In the same article, however, she wrote that she too experienced similar experiences on dates, remained silent and grew frustrated.

Her solution to Grace's encounter lied in being more vocal. "It’s to say, “This is what turns me on.” It’s to say, “I don’t want to do that.” And, yes, sometimes it means saying goodbye," she wrote.

Alessandra Mastronardi and Aziz Ansari attend the 'Master Of None' Season 2 Premiere After Party at The Top of The Standard on May 11, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)

However, giving and withdrawing consent during a sexual encounter is greyer and much more complex than what the New York Times article argues. More often than not, a person tends to freeze when they feel harassed. Their body shuts down, shock takes over and words are exchanged only after one has internalized the full experience. In cases like Grace, who consented to go out on a date for whom she felt a certain attraction for, the shock must have been far worse. 

To be honest, Grace is just one of thousands of women who've had to ward off men who've coerced and mistaken a no as an opportunity to use their powers of persuasion. 

 (L-R) Actress Noel Wells, creator/actor Aziz Ansari, writer/executive producer Alan Yang, actors Kelvin Yu and Eric Wareheim attend FYC @ UCB for 'Master Of None' at UCB Sunset Theater on July 9, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Dave Mangels/Getty Images)

If there's a glaring truth that arises from Grace's encounter with Aziz, it is this: men feel entitled to sex if a woman responds to their flirtation or wears a sexy outfit on a date. In other words, men feel that women are "asking for it."

Actors Aziz Ansari (L) and Priyanka Chopra attend 2016 Time 100 Gala, Time's Most Influential People In The World red carpet at Jazz At Lincoln Center at the Times Warner Center on April 26, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Time)

Aziz's apologists have inadvertently victim shamed the woman who felt violated and trapped by a man who advanced with the presumption that his sexual advances would pleasure her. And there lies the larger problem: men feel like they are the initiators of sex, that they only have to use their charm or power to end a date in their bed, that women will play coy during the entire dance.

Grace's encounter, which many believe doesn't have a place in the #Metoo movement, only exposes men's attitude towards sexual consent, privilege and power. The #Metoo has given women a space to voice their stories but the subtext is clear in their stories: we live in a culture which allows men to feel entitled.

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Rushali Pawar


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