Bad men are like roaches—there’s never just one. There’s always a whole freaking hive, just behind the walls, and the moment one gets caught out in the light, just wait for it because more will soon be exposed. Case in point: On June 16 comedian Chris D’Elia gets named as a creeper, on June 17 charges are (finally) filed against Danny Masterson, and then on June 19, a Twitter user with the handle @ItsGabby posted about Ansel Elgort sexually assaulting her when she was 17 (Elgort was 20). Her tweets have since been deleted, but Gabby recounted that it was her first time and she was “sobbing in pain” and “didn’t want to do it” and Elgort responded to her that “we need to break you in”. She adds that she was 5 ft 2 and less than a 100 lbs, physically no match for the 6 ft 3 Elgort. She concludes that he “made me think this is how sex is supposed to be”.
For many women—and let’s be honest, a lot of men, too—a painful introduction to sex is not uncommon. It’s weird, it’s awkward, you don’t quite know what to do with any part of your body, and if you don’t spend enough time on the warmup then, yes, it can be painful. Sobbing SHOULD be a universal sign to stop, but the attitude allegedly espoused by Elgort, that it is “breaking in” and a necessary part of sex, is entirely too common. Many nights of my college years were spent mopping up tears of various friends returning from a less than pleasant first time, and I had my own bad first time, too. There is enormous pressure on young people to get rid of their virginity as quickly as possible—movies like American Pie did not help 90s kids out in any way—which leads to a lot of bad first times. I do not say this to write off Gabby’s story as just another bad first time, but to point out social conditioning that leads to men ignoring the obvious distress of women during sex.
This reminds me a lot of the allegations made against Aziz Ansari. I said it then and I will say it now, this is a conversation about consent. A “yes” at the beginning of the night is not a blanket “yes” for everything that comes after, consent is an ongoing and conditional state. You might be way into a guy and super into getting down, but then, you know, things don’t quite click and you’re not really feeling it and you want to stop. And that’s okay! Sex isn’t supposed to be painful unless, you know, that’s your thing and you’re doing it in a safe, sane, and consensual environment. I found out later in life that it took some people two or three tries to complete their “first time” because they had respectful partners who stopped when asked and then tried again later. But I know for many people, Gabby’s experience is not unusual, that a lot of women in obvious distress are ignored because it’s just “breaking in” or “just relax, you’ll like it”.
Elgort, of course, denies the allegation. He posted on Instagram that he “cannot claim to understand Gabby’s feelings” and “would never assault anyone”. He describes their relationship as “brief, legal, and entirely consensual” (and I have questions about “legal” and if you’re in the position of defending your relationship because technically she was the age of consent, then, you know, it’s not a good look), and then he admits to ghosting her and insinuates she made this allegation because she’s mad he dumped her.
That’s really sh-tty, but I want to go back to the part where he describes their relationship as “consensual”. This is what dudes repeatedly get stuck on. It DOES NOT MATTER if your RELATIONSHIP is consensual, because it is fully possible to have non-consensual sex within a consensual relationship. It doesn’t matter if she agrees to a date, agrees to come upstairs, agrees to make out. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been dating for months or years, or even if you’re married. Consent can be withdrawn at any point, and it is on good and caring partners to be checking in an ensuring everyone is having a good time (and asking for consent IS sexy and partners who are invested in your good time are the best kind). The only permanent state of being is death, consent, like everything else, is conditional. That Elgort and Gabby’s relationship was consensual is irrelevant, because the sex that night, according to Gabby, wasn’t, and I believe her.