As a women’s sexuality and empowerment coach, when I read the account detailed in “I went on a date with Aziz Ansari. It turned into the worse night of my life,” my main concern was the lack of agency “Grace” had over her body and sexuality.
“Agency” is defined as the capacity, condition, state of acting, or of exerting power.
Why did Grace, like so many young women, not immediately walk away from an uncomfortable/unwanted sexual situation? Why did she allow this encounter to last for so long? Why did she allow Ansari to undress her when that’s not what she wanted? Why did she give him oral sex when that’s not what she wanted?
I ask these questions not from a place of blaming or shaming Grace, I ask them because they are incredibly important questions for us to investigate as a society if we are ever going empower women sexually.
The truth is, I know many of the reasons why Grace did not stop this encounter right away. I know these reasons because I’ve been in similar situations, and behaved just as she did—until I did the inner work to step into my agency.
I’ve also coached hundreds of women with similar stories to Grace.
What I have discovered is there are three common reasons why we don’t immediately stop uncomfortable/unwanted sexual situations.
>> We feel a sense of obligation.
>> We have no training or experience in saying our clear “yes and “no,” or asking for what we want, and can’t seem to access our voice.
>> We feel desperate for love and attention.
Once these reasons are established, the work then becomes helping us access self-love, find our voice, take responsibility for our actions, and step into our agency.
If a woman does this work, this is a life-changing process for her. This is her initiation into becoming the powerful woman she is meant to be. The woman who would walk out of that apartment in two minutes flat.
Here are some suggestions to help you step into your sexual agency:
>> Find an older woman who has already owned her sexual agency and talk to her. Turn to her when you need advice, instead of turning to friends who have not already owned theirs.
>> Work with a sex therapist or coach to help you work through any issues like trauma, difficulty saying a clear no, or a lack of self-love.
>> Look back on your sexual experiences with honesty. When did you not say a clear no? When did you do something sexually you didn’t want? Can you see that you could have made different choices? Make a commitment to yourself to make those different choices next time.
>> Consider a somatic sexual practice, like orgasmic meditation, where you get to practice saying “yes” and “no” and practice asking for what you want.
>> Watch movies that portray powerful women; study and channel them. Do you think Wonder Woman, for example, would have given Aziz Ansari oral sex if she didn’t want to?
Let me be clear. I am not excusing or defending Ansari’s behavior. He needs help, and a lot of sexual education—as do many men, period. I’m 100 percent on board for holding men accountable for actual sexual assaults (which this was not) and for getting sexual education. And, I’m 100 percent on board for holding myself and other women accountable for stepping into our sexual agency.
I do believe if we empower women in this way, many of these types of incidents will cease to exist.
Since most of us women do not receive any mentoring or education on how to do this, we have to learn it through hard-knock experiences, like Grace’s date. It was through getting so fed up with my own experiences that I committed myself to finding my sexual agency.
This is why I say this could be the best night of Grace’s life. If she would be willing to do the inner work, this could be the night that leads her into her own sense of sexual agency and helps her become the powerful woman she is capable of being.
And that experience is priceless.
Author: Sarah Kennedy
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Copy Editor: Nicole Cameron
Social Editor: Nicole Cameron