During a conversation about the recent #MeToo movement, Amy Schumer spoke out about Aziz Ansari and the sexual misconduct allegation against him on an episode of Katie Couric's podcast. The comedian, who is friends with Ansari, discussed how there needs to be an increased focus on issues concerning consent and what properly constitutes it. The conversation naturally touched on the Ansari case (which Couric brought up in her question to Schumer about her thoughts on the movement). And the actor, rightfully, did not hold back on her thoughts just because he's her friend. She said:
"Something like what happened with Aziz. 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?'"
Schumer isn't refusing to wade into this tricky territory because of her friendship. It's necessary, even when someone who may be considered a "friend" is involved, to examine the situation as she has done here. It could be difficult, but only when these issues are tackled head-on and discussed in such an open manner, can actual change occur.
The two women also discussed the Ansari allegation elsewhere in the interview in regards to the issue of consent within relationships, specifically when it concerns coercion. Couric asked Schumer where she came down on the whole issue concerning the actor when she said that she noticed that, "Younger women thought this situation was wrong. And, I think, many older women thought 'Why don't you get up and leave?'"
The actor said that she was "in the middle". She continued and said, "I don’t think anyone wants to see Aziz’s career ruined or his life ruined or anything like that" and that it's more about what society can learn from this situation, specifically. She also said that when it comes to certain cases, like the one regarding Ansari, "I don’t there’s any sort of criminal charge, but I think that it’s good for everybody to learn that that behavior’s not acceptable. It’s not a crime, but it’s not cool."
Schumer and Couric's conversation comes a few weeks after babe.net's original piece came out, in which a woman accused Ansari of sexual misconduct. In the article, a woman called Grace (for the sake of anonymity) alleged that when she went back to the actor's apartment after a date, he pressured her into sexual activities. She claims that she repeatedly expressed in verbal and nonverbal cues that she did not want to engage in the sexual activity that she claims he was pressuring.
In response to the allegations, Ansari released a statement to babe.net:
In September of last year, I met a woman at a party. We exchanged numbers. We texted back and forth and eventually went on a date. We went out to dinner, and afterwards we ended up engaging in sexual activity, which by all indications was completely consensual.
The next day, I got a text from her saying that although "it may have seemed okay," upon further reflection, she felt uncomfortable. It was true that everything did seem okay to me, so when I heard that it was not the case for her, I was surprised and concerned. I took her words to heart and responded privately after taking the time to process what she had said.
He ended his statement by saying, "I continue to support the movement that is happening in our culture. It is necessary and long overdue."
The allegations against the actor led to a mixed reaction amongst readers everywhere, and inspired a slew of think-pieces relating to the article from publications like The Atlantic and The Guardian. Like Couric said in the podcast, it seemed as though there were two factions amongst people who read babe.net's piece: one that said what Ansari allegedly did was wrong and one that thought that "Grace" should have just left his apartment.
Seeing as though the reaction to the allegations was so mixed, it's important for there to be nuanced and important takes, like what Schumer and Couric discussed on the podcast, relating back to these "gray-area" situations within the growing #MeToo movement.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit online.rainn.org.