A new allegation of sexual misconduct against comedian Aziz Ansari has several women in the media saying the #MeToo movement may have gone too far this time.
After a Brooklyn photographer who declined to use her real name told her story about a date gone wrong with the Emmy-winning creator and star of Master of None to the website Babe, Ansari released a statement denying her version of the events and saying he continues to “support the movement that is happening in our culture,” as evidenced by the #TimesUp pin he wore on stage when he accepted a Golden Globe award last week.
First, Caitlin Flanagan, writing for The Atlantic, said that the woman and the writer who interviewed her created nothing more than “3,000 words of revenge porn” that was “intended not to validate her account as much as it is to hurt and humiliate Ansari.”
In The New York Times, Bari Weiss wrote that the only thing Ansari was “guilty” of was not being able to read his date’s mind.
And now, there is former CNN anchor and current HLN anchor Ashleigh Banfield, who delivered a searing monologue on Monday evening that accused Ansari’s accuser of endangering the #MeToo movement itself.
“Dear Grace,” Banfield began, using the woman’s pseudonym in the story. “I’m sorry you had a bad date. I’ve had a few myself. They stink.”
The host acknowledged that it’s “hard being a victim,” but that was clearly not how she was viewing her in this case. “Let’s take a moment to reflect on what you claim was the ‘worst night of your life,’” she added. “You had a bad date. Your date got overly amorous. After protesting his moves, you did not get up and leave. You continued to engage in the sexual encounter.”
“By your own clear description, this wasn’t a rape, nor was it a sexual assault,” Banfield said, using the term that “Grace” utilized in the original piece. “At best,” Banfield said, it was “unpleasant.”
“So what exactly is your beef?” the host asked. “That you had a bad date with Aziz Ansari? Is that what victimized you to the point of seeking a public conviction? And a career-ending sentence against him? Is that truly what you thought he deserved for your night out?”
Banfield said she wanted to speak out because she has been a victim of sexual misconduct herself. “And it stinks,” she said. “But if you just had an unpleasant sexual experience, you should have gone home.”
“But what you have done, in my opinion, is appalling,” Banfield said. “You have chiseled away at a movement that I, along with all my sisters in the workplace, have been dreaming of for decades, a movement that has finally changed an oversexed professional environment that I, too, have struggled through at times over the last 30 years.”
“You had an unpleasant date,” she added. “And you didn’t leave. That is on you. And all the gains that have been achieved on your behalf and mine are now being compromised by allegations that are reckless and hollow.”
Banfield ended her piece by saying “the only sentence” a guy like Ansari “deserves is a bad case of blue balls, not a Hollywood blackball.”