In the wake of allegations of sexual misconduct leveled at comedian and actor Aziz Ansari, a heated debate over whether his alleged actions fall into the category of sexual assault is erupting throughout social media. Some are saying that the accusers account, published on the feminist website Babe, has put a stain on the credibility of the #MeToo movement.
Ansari responded to the anonymous accuser, who is reportedly a Brooklyn photographer, saying while he denies her version of events, he continues to “support the movement that is happening in our culture.” A handful of op-eds appearing in publications such as The New York Times and The Atlantic offered measured defenses of Ansari, arguing that he was guilty of being overly pushy on a bad date, but not guilty of sexual assault. Now, HLN anchor Ashleigh Banfield (formerly of CNN) is coming to Ansari’s defense. In a passionate segment from this Monday, Banfield said Ansari’s accuser has put the #MeToo movement in peril.
“Dear Grace,” Banfield starting out, addressing the woman’s pseudonym. “I’m sorry you had a bad date. I’ve had a few myself. They stink.”
“Let’s take a moment to reflect on what you claim was the ‘worst night of your life,'” she continued. “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, adding that at best the accuser’s experience 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?”
“But what you have done, in my opinion, is appalling,” Banfield said after pointing out that she too has been a victim of sexual assault. “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 concluded. “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.”
Watch the full segment below:
Featured image via screen grab