What: An opinion from a fellow comic on the controversial allegation against Aziz Ansari.
Who: Amy Schumer.
Why we care: Last week, Saturday Night Live aired a sketch that perfectly captured how difficult it is to have a conversation about Aziz Ansari’s place in the broader #MeToo discussion. Amy Schumer, however, proved up to the task, providing a nuanced take on the topic that’s respectful of all involved.
To recap, Ansari is under fire for a piece that ran on the website babe dot net, describing a woman’s date with the comedian that left her shaken. In excruciating detail, the article recounts Ansari’s persistence and refusal to take no for an answer–albeit without using force. Where discussions about the event begin to break down is when people start pulling at the thread of how shoddily the website reported and wrote the article, the woman in question’s perceived culpability, and how common Ansari’s behavior is considered.
Schumer, who has incited controversy of her own before, weighed in on the Ansari allegation on Thursday’s episode of the Katie Couric podcast, and she neither condemns nor spares her fellow comedian, while supporting the woman in the situation.
As HuffPo reports, Schumer said the following:
“I don’t think anyone wants to see Aziz’s career ruined or his life ruined or anything like that, but that’s where people’s minds go. They go, ‘Does he deserve this?’ And it’s really not about that. I think it’s about expressing and showing women that that behavior is not okay and not only can you leave, but you need to leave. Because then the women who come after you, you’re leaving a mark for them too.”
“He’s been my friend and I really feel for the woman. I identify with all the women in these situations. Even if it’s my friend, I don’t go, ‘Oh, but he’s a good guy.’ I think, ‘What would it feel like to have been her?'”
“There are so many other kinds of sexual misconduct. We’ve all—every woman I know, every woman in this room—we’ve all had these experiences. And in this current climate, it brings these things up and you go, ‘God, none of that was okay.’ If you have a doctor that makes you uncomfortable, or you get a massage, or you have a date with someone and they coerce you in a situation like the Aziz one, I don’t think there’s any sort of criminal charge, but I think that it’s good for everybody to learn that that behavior’s not acceptable.”
While many commentators–including several women–have put the blame on the woman involved for not extracting herself from the situation sooner, Schumer frames the situation in the broader context of how what’s been considered common male behavior appears under the looking glass of the #MeToo era, and how women’s responses to it must evolve. You can listen to the rest of what Schumer had to say on Couric’s podcast here.