In a podcast interview with Katie Couric for The Katie Couric Podcast, Amy Schumer addressed the controversy surrounding the allegations of sexual misconduct against comedian Aziz Ansari. Schumer gave a nuanced answer to what is a nuanced issue, explaining that she doesn't want to see Ansari's career ruined, but this conversation isn't about his career at all.
"It’s about expressing and showing women that that behaviour is not okay and not only can you leave, but you need to leave," explained Schumer. "Because then the women who come after you, you’re leaving a mark for them too.”
The allegations against Ansari, published on the website Babe.net, involve the anonymous account of a woman who went on a date with the comedian in September of 2016. The date ended horrifically, with the woman grappling with a coerced and unwanted sexual encounter. The conversations following the publication of this account have been heated and uncomfortable. Both the New York Times and The Atlantic published essays condemning the anonymous claims. These pieces in turn generated an online uproar. Saturday Night Live parodied this conflict with a sketch just this weekend. (Ironically, the sketch was still very uncomfortable.)
Now that the dust has (somewhat) settled, women have been able to give clearer and more nuanced explanations of the situation. Monologuing on her show Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, Bee had a similar reaction to the Ansari stories.
"People like me had to wade through a sea of prehensile dicks to build the world we now enjoy," Bee explained. "And part of enjoying that world is setting a higher sex than just 'not rape.' And women get to talk about it if men don't live up to those standards!" Bee added that this conversation isn't really about Ansari or men at all. This is about women, and how they have to use their limited social currency in sexual situations.
In the podcast interview, Schumer adds that she herself has been "flat-out raped," but that rape is not the only form of sexual experience.
"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,'" Schumer explained. In the words of Bee, women are allowed to have higher standards for sexual experiences than just "not rape."
As #MeToo evolves from just a hashtag to an entire movement, the conversation must remain focused on the original goal: To raise awareness for the complicated compromises women have made to be sexual beings. Sharing stories of sexual misconduct — in this era – isn't the equivalent of brandishing a pitchfork. Instead, each story is like lighting a match in a darkened room, only to discover you have a lot of company. This isn't about Ansari, as both Bee and Schumer said, and, most likely, Ansari's career is going to be fine. This is about female rage, and how we can harness it for a better future.
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