Watch US news anchor slam Aziz Ansari accuser on live TV

Wednesday, 17 Jan, 2018

HLN host Ashleigh Banfield is defending actor Aziz Ansari against his sexual assault accuser and says that the young woman was instead just a victim of a bad date.

Banfield' statement follows a story published by Babe.net where a 23-year-old woman identified only as "Grace" came forward with her account accusing Ansari of sexually assaulting her at his Tribeca apartment.

This happened all the time: I'd be in some sexual encounter, her kisses would feel like a slug had taken up residency in my mouth, and because I felt too awkward and uncomfortable to say anything, I'd just go along with it. Grace's account does not necessarily mean that Ansari is no longer the woke bae we thought he was, or that he's no longer qualified to be a dating expert.

Ansari, a two-time Emmy victor for his Netflix show, won best actor in a TV musical or comedy series last Sunday at the Golden Globes. After exchanging flirtatious messages, they arranged to go on a dinner date. Or you might think he's in the clear, guilty only of a failure to read Grace's mind.

Actor Aziz Ansari arrives at the 73rd Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, California, U.S. on January 10, 2016.

"Dear Grace (not your real name)", Banfield began, using the woman's pseudonym from the story. When she says she told him that she wasn't comfortable, he backed off but then she says he tried again, so she left in tears.

Ansari and Grace's date is important to talk about precisely because it is so relatable for nearly every non-celibate person in the country. "They're angry and temporarily powerful and last night they destroyed a man who didn't deserve it". The next day, I got a text from her saying that although it may have seemed okay she felt uncomfortable. A man will never fully understand the sexism, racism or sexual misconduct a woman experiences, even if he's experienced his own versions of being marginalized, minimized or taken advantage of. Later, after some halting, awkward sex stuff, she leaves in a vehicle and cries on the way home.

The next day, Grace texted Ansari letting him know that she was upset with his behaviour that night. She wrote back, "Last night might've been fun for you, but it wasn't for me". Implying that this is in anyway Grace's fault for not speaking up - instead of Aziz's fault for ignoring the fact that she did (a luxury that many other women aren't afforded in similar situations), completely takes the responsibility off of Aziz.

Ansari moves Grace's hand to his penis multiple times, moving it right back every time she moves it away. "By your own clear description, this was not a rape, nor was it a sexual assault - by your description", Banfield, 50, snapped on Monday.

In the pro-Ansari camp, arguments are made that Grace did not leave soon enough, was not vocal enough about her discomfort, and was not forced into participating in the sexual contact she engaged in. "And all the gains that have been achieved on your behalf and mine are now being compromised by the allegations that you threw out there, and I'm gonna call them reckless and hollow". The reason this conversation has been so heated is the same reason The New Yorker's "Cat Person" story was so popular: many of us recognize ourselves in this scenario. Grace alleged that the two went on a date in September 2017, after meeting at the Emmy's afterparty. To judge from social media reaction to Grace's story, they also see a flagrant abuse of power in this sexual encounter.