Since news broke last week that comedian and actor Aziz Ansari was accused of forcing himself on a woman, I have to be honest that this accusation is not so clear-cut for me.
By reputation, Mr. Ansari is far from the likes of Matt Lauer and Harvey Weinstein. He comes off as a genuine nice guy. I was honestly surprise when the woman making the accusation, known as Grace, seemed to putting him in the same category as Lauer and Weinstein.
My interpretation of the story is that it was a date gone horribly wrong. For whatever reason, Mr. Ansari believed that his accuser wanted to sleep with him, despite the verbal and non verbal cues that she allegedly says she was giving him.
The lesson I think we need to learn here is two-fold: first is that we have to stop teaching our daughters to only be caregivers. There is nothing wrong with that lesson, but we also need to teach our daughters that it is ok to speak up. Women were given voices for a reason, we need to use them. The other issue is that we need to teach our sons, especially when they get to age when they start to go on dates, on how to read the cues, both verbal and non verbal from their date. If their date is obviously uncomfortable or saying that they are not interested in having sex, our sons need to learn to read, understand and respect the wishes of their dates.
While the accusation against Mr. Ansari is not as extreme as others, it is still symptomatic of much larger cultural issue of how we treat our daughters compared to our sons and what we teach our daughters compared to our sons. To find a cure, we must diagnose the problem based on the symptoms. If the symptoms in this case are the treatment and education of our daughters compared to what their brothers are receiving, then the cure is equal treatment and respect for both sexes.