Sunday morning, I woke up to a barrage of notifications from social media and news outlets, part of my regular news feed. Receiving sobering news stories from around the world may not be the best way to wake up, but it keeps me informed and I get to know about what’s going on in the world. This morning, however, it felt different.
This morning, something new caught my eye. “Aziz Ansari accused of sexual misconduct,” said Vanity Fair, and refinery29, quoting a story from babe.net. Immediately I’m overwhelmed with feelings of nausea, disgust, and disappointment. From watching all episodes of Master of None and Ansari’s stand up comedy, I feel betrayed by the stark contrast between what Ansari usually preaches and what this news story reveals. I mean, it’s one thing for a misogynist and sexist to be exposed for sexual harassment or misconduct, but it’s something else for a figure who is widely known for his progressive views to be exposed for something that goes against his very public nature. Ansari has spent his career appealing to younger, progressive audience members and capitalizing on his views that women and men deserve to be treated equally and with respect. In a modern world full of sexism and demeaning standards for women, today’s youth has found comfort in public figures such as Ansari, who, until now, stood for the idea that 1) men can be feminists, and 2) that both genders deserve equal respect and consideration. But for those very figures to be compromised by accusations such as this one? I personally have almost lost hope that any public figure that claims to stand for these important ideals can be trusted to uphold them with dignity and honor.
Before I continue any further––yes, I am aware that Vanity Fair and refinery29 are far from being widely accepted pillars of neutrality in terms of political bias or standing. And yes, cursory research on snopes.com and on other news outlets has shown that so far, the accusations are limited to somewhat obscure, left-leaning publications. This, along with other evidence has led me to hope that maybe the accusations aren’t true. That maybe there’s been some sort of mistake and this story is only a product of the world’s current issue with fake news and yellow journalism. Part of me doesn’t want to believe it––for me, Master of None was the epitome of progressivism in the media, and Ansari’s stand-up comedy was a source of inspiration for youth who hold liberal views today.
But if it is true? What then? Is my skepticism only contributing to the victim blaming so prevalent in the #MeToo movement? I don’t want to believe that someone so consistently aligned with my beliefs is one of the world’s biggest hypocrites, but to be honest, that’s what makes it even worse. The manipulation that Ansari had to have employed to end up in this position (if the accusations are true) makes me sick to my stomach, knowing that perpetrators of harassment have twisted the slowly progressing system to benefit their own sexist beliefs.
Even if the story isn’t true, situations like this one have been seen before. With Matt Lauer, James Franco, Louis C.K., Ben Affleck, and so many more somewhat respected and admired, liberal public figures, people have been let down constantly by those claiming to treat men and women equally. The accusations against Ansari have only brought to light the ever-growing list of hypocrites and bigots that we unintentionally idolize in society. I can only hope that the list does not continue to grow.
Isha Trivedi is a junior at Notre Dame High School in San Jose, and is an editor for the school newspaper. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading, traveling and listening to music.