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Aziz Ansari and his accuser are both delusional messes

Comedian Aziz Ansari arrives at the BAFTA Los Angeles Britannia Awards in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Oct. 27, 2017.

Chris Pizzello, Invision/AP

Comedian Aziz Ansari arrives at the BAFTA Los Angeles Britannia Awards in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Oct. 27, 2017.

I’ve been on some dates that have led to some uncomfortable situations.

During said situations, I was hopeful the dinner, movies, drinks, heavy petting, and sex would lead to something, well, meaningful. And although Old Boy — insert name of random dude here — may have been interested in slightly more than a hookup, he clearly wasn’t it for the long term.
So after the dinner, the movie, the drinks, the heavy petting, and the sex —  let’s be clear, at no point were any of the aforementioned Old Boys holding a gun to my head — I felt hurt and, yes, icky.

In the ’90s, my girls and I took the brunt of the blame game. How did we make sense of the emotional mess we turned our twentysomething lives into? We slut-shamed ourselves. “If I didn’t just give up the cookies so fast.” “If I expected more from him.” “If I wasn’t a punk.”

Blah, blah, blah.

It has taken me years — and a lot of yoga — to admit this, but I wasn’t entirely to blame. And get this: Neither was Old Boy of the moment. We were simply two people who weren’t whole. I was looking for a relationship to create a sense of togetherness in my life. He wanted sex to create the same feeling in his.

The difference was that back then, American culture, pop culture, hip-hop culture, God-fearing culture, you name it, were all on the man’s side.

Fast-forward to dating in the #MeToo moment and that’s not the case anymore, as evidenced by Hollywood’s latest scandal: the sad story of “Master of None” star and recent Golden Globe-winner Aziz Ansari and his date Grace. Grace’s side of a date gone awry was published on the feminist website Babe, and it has been the talk of social media.

In a nutshell, here’s what happened: Ansari met Grace, whose real name is being withheld, at an Emmys party in California last fall. Some mutual flirting ensued. Cell numbers were exchanged.

Turned out the two millennials both lived in New York. After some texting, they set up a date for Sept. 25. Grace was excited; she was, after all going on a date with a celebrity. She told her girls; she picked out a fancy outfit. Ansari and Grace went to a swank oyster bar. Ansari, Grace said, rushed her through dinner. The couple ended up at Ansari’s Tribeca apartment — a building where, coincidentally, Taylor Swift also has an apartment — and drank more wine. Grace complimented Ansari on his marble countertops, and then the game began.

“He said something along the lines of, ‘How about you hop up and take a seat?’ ” Grace told journalist Kate Way. “In a second, his hand was on my breast.”

Way wrote that Grace was uncomfortable with the way things escalated.

This is where our inner Judgey McJudgey shows up: “Hold up, girlfriend,” she says. “Why didn’t you just get your bag, call an Uber, and go home?”

Instead, this is where what I can only imagine was Ansari’s dogged determination to get some collided with what could have been Grace’s need to be on a great date that ended with the promise of something more. And these two incomplete people proceeded to make a viral mess.

Ansari went on to perform oral sex. (I hear that’s like French kissing in the world of millennial hookups. Deal with it, dear reader, and stop clutching your pearls. I’ve let go of mine.) Grace allegedly tried to slow the party down, but Ansari didn’t read Grace’s “I’m grossed out” body language and continued. But presumably before the deed was done, Grace found her voice and said, “No.” She says she cried all the way home in a cab and the next day, texted Ansari about her dismay.

In an official statement, Ansari, who was understandably surprised, responded.

“In September of last year, I met a woman at a party,” Ansari, 34, said. “We texted back and forth and eventually went on a date. We went out to dinner, and afterwards we ended up engaging in sexual activity, which by all indications was completely consensual.”

This sordid tale rose to a stratospherically high level of he-said-she-said, immediately spawning think pieces in the Atlantic and elsewhere, as well as Facebook soliloquies. That’s because, although untold numbers of women connected with #MeToo, darned near everybody — man, woman, gay, straight, transgender — can recall a time when they’ve been hemmed up or done the hemming.

In no way does the Ansari/Grace situation rise to the same level as the allegations against Harvey Weinstein. But in this truth-standing era when we are forced to rethink how we value women, it makes sense that the conversations are moving beyond the workplace to our most basic interactions.

That can be tough.

In rethinking how men and women live and grow together, both sexes have to be honest about our expectations and change the way we look at dating by acknowledging its power dynamics. Right now, everyone’s at a disadvantage.

We have to stand in our wholeness.

Ladies, it’s OK to want more. It’s OK to go to his apartment and have a glass of wine if you feel comfortable. Who knows — it might be fun. But the moment your gut screams at you that things are whack, don’t hang around waiting for it to get better, hoping he will read your cues and romance will ensue. Trust your gut. Bounce. And if you do stay around and play, you can’t call up a magazine and cry sexual harassment. That’s not fair to him. You’re giving your power away.

And guys, just because she goes back to your apartment, don’t assume she’s down for whatever. Those same cues you read that left you certain she wanted to go out with you are the same ones you need to read when she’s clearly wincing at the feel of your clumsy kiss. Don’t pay attention only when it suits you.

I’m not naive. Ladies, we have to protect our safety. But that can’t mean chaperones and denying ourselves a glass of wine out of fear. It does, however, require common sense, support, and empathy from the men and women in our lives. This is the only way those icky feelings will go away.

Elizabeth Wellington is the fashion columnist for The Philadelphia Inquirer.

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