Amy Schumer finally speaks out on the allegations against her friend Aziz Ansari
Last month, actor and comedian Aziz Ansari became the subject of public debate after it emerged that he had been sexually inappropriate with a 22-year-old woman.
"Grace", a photographer, came forward with her story after seeing Ansari display his support for the Time's Up campaign at the Golden Globes. “It was actually painful to watch him win and accept an award,” she said. “And absolutely cringeworthy that he was wearing the Time’s Up pin."
Ansari then denied any sexual misconduct, saying, "We went out to dinner, and afterwards we ended up engaging in sexual activity, which by all indications was completely consensual."
However, the issue isn't as cut-and-dry as "assault" or "not assault", and has consequentially opened up a discussion about how we understand consent.
Now, in a podcast interview with Katie Couric, Amy Schumer - who considers herself to be a good friend of Ansari's - has given her opinion on the situation.
"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 behaviour’s not acceptable," the 34-year-old actress said. "It’s not a crime, but it’s not cool. And it can still really mess with a woman."
She then went on to say that she doesn't think the allegations have "ruined" Ansari's career - but she doesn't think it should, either.
"[People ask] '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.’"
Schumer also insisted that her closeness to Ansari had no influence on how she judged the situation.
"He’s been my friend and I really feel for the woman," she said. "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?'"
She also discussed sexual assault in general, and made it clear that, in the wake of so much discussion on the importance of consent, there really is no reason why someone should think it is okay to pressure or coerce another person into going along with something purely for their own gratification.
“If you don’t really lay your boundaries out, then you’re leaving it open for the women who come after you," Schumer said. "So I think a lot of women feel really bad that they’ve been complicit with things, but we didn’t know not to be. And I think now there’s kind of no excuse."
Ansari hasn't had any criminal charges leveled against him for his actions, and Grace has no intention of filing any, either.
While it's been pretty much established by now that this is not a case of criminal assault, it is important that we talk about these issues. Sure, Ansari's name has been dragged through the mud somewhat, and he's had to deal with the shame of being branded as someone who just isn't good in the bedroom - but if this is what had to happen in order to get people to realize that consent is a more complex issue than we previously thought, then so be it.