Amy Schumer has weighed in on the recent—and ongoing– Aziz Ansari debate, and has managed to find the right note in a murky situation. Appearing on Katie Couric’s podcast this week, the topic of Ansari came up. Calling Ansari a friend, Schumer said that their relationship didn’t mean she had to accept his recent actions. “He’s been my friend and I really feel for the woman. I identify with all the women in these situations,” said Schumer. “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?’”
In case you’ve been living off-grid for the last month (lucky you), here’s a refresher: In January, an interview posted on Babe.net with a 22-year-old photographer named Grace (not her real name) sparked a huge debate on consent. In the article, Grace alleges that during a date with Aziz Ansari, the comedian ignored Grace’s verbal and physical cues that she was not interested in sexual activity. After reportedly coercing her into a sexual situation, Grace sent Ansari a text the following day saying that she was not comfortable with what happened, with Ansari replying that he had misread the situation.
The reactions to the story have been mixed, with some simply labelling the event as a bad date, while others point to Ansari’s behaviour as sexual assault. Ansari responded to the article, saying he “took her words to heart and responded privately after taking the time to process what she had said. I continue to support the movement that is happening in our culture. It is necessary and long overdue.”
Noting that Ansari’s actions weren’t illegal but were ‘uncool’, Schumer encourages women to listen to their gut and if possible, leave situations that make them uncomfortable. “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,” says Schumer. “It’s not a crime, but it’s not cool. And it can still really mess with a woman.”
The comedian also discussed her own sexual assault, a tragic event that she describes in detail in her book, The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo. “I’ve been flat-out raped. But 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,’” said Schumer. “A lot of the men in my life are open to self-reflection and evolving and I am.”
Schumer also discussed the ramifications of the Babe.net interview on the future of Ansari’s career, with the actor fresh off a Golden Globe win for the second season of his show Master of None. “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.”