Amy Schumer on her ‘friend’ Aziz Ansari: ‘It’s not a crime, but it’s not cool’

Amy Schumer films 'I Feel Pretty'

Who is more self-aware about their white feminism issues, Lena Dunham or Amy Schumer? I would argue Amy Schumer is slightly more “aware” but let’s not call her woke just yet. Amy has been quiet for months now, or maybe I’ve just been ignoring her? But doesn’t it feel like we haven’t talked about her in like six months or so? So, she got quiet, she reassessed, maybe she’s grown as a person a little bit. We can only hope. Amy sat down with Katie Couric’s podcast and they ended up talking about the Aziz Ansari situation, where a young woman told her story to Babe.net about a terrible date with Ansari, in which he repeatedly and aggressively tried to coerce her into sex even though she was physically and verbally telling him she wasn’t into it. The Ansari situation became a hot-potato discussion about #MeToo, sex-positivity, enthusiastic consent, consent culture, race and, of course, internet journalism. Anyway, Amy Schumer has some thoughts. She still considers Aziz a friend, but she has a lot of thoughts about all of it.

Amy Schumer is sharing her take on the continued debate over one woman’s account of a sexual encounter with actor Aziz Ansari which the accuser called “the worst night of my life.” In a new interview for The Katie Couric Podcast, the actress addresses the #MeToo movement, and opines specifically on the allegation made against the Master of None creator and star, who she calls a “friend.”

“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,” Schumer tells Couric. “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.”

She later adds of Ansari, “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?’ ”

In her interview with Couric — which is part of a series of conversations the former news anchor and her co-host, Brian Goldsmith, are doing with “wonder women” — Schumer says women should make “no” excuses when it comes to behavior that makes 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 the star. “It’s not a crime, but it’s not cool. And it can still really mess with a woman.”

Schumer adds that though asserting to others what behavior is unacceptable can be a “hard” conversation, “we just can’t let things continue the way they’ve continued, because there are so many different levels of it.”

The 36-year-old has previously opened up about her own harrowing experience, writing in her memoir, The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, that her first sexual experience at age 17 was not consensual. She tells Couric in the new interview, “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.’ ”

She adds that the current movement can serve as a teachable moment for men. “A lot of the men in my life are open to self reflection and evolving and I am.”

[From People]

Call me crazy, but Amy strikes the right tone here, right? The only thing I would nitpick is that she’s focused on what women should do in those situations, as opposed to telling men to stop acting like coercive a–holes who couldn’t care less if their partner is into the experience at all. Yes, women – especially younger, inexperienced women – need to learn how to ask for what they want and vocalize what they don’t want. Women need to learn to trust their instincts and get out when something seems “off.” But men need to learn to stop acting like f–king creeps too. Educate men on all of this sh-t too.

75th Annual Golden Globe Awards - Press Room

Photos courtesy of WENN.

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59 Responses to “Amy Schumer on her ‘friend’ Aziz Ansari: ‘It’s not a crime, but it’s not cool’”

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  1. tracking says:

    Yeah, I think she did (mostly) okay here.

    • smcollins says:

      Agreed. Unless someone wanted to nitpick or parse her words there really isn’t anything wrong with what she’s saying. I know she has a history of saying pretty dumb and tone deaf things, but not this time. I found myself nodding in agreement as I read her statements.

    • LizLemonGotMarried (aka The Hufflepuff Liz Lemon) says:

      I agree-and I think there’s two components. Teaching men not to be coercive douchebags who cause consequences (from violence/rape/murder to job penalties to withholding affection in a relationship) for women who don’t want to have a sexual relationship with them (at that moment or ever) and teaching women that walking away is your right, and you can do so safely and without fear for your life or job or relationship. However, women have to have the safety and lack of fear before they can communicate their needs. Once they don’t fear being murdered, raped, fired, demoted, or losing their relationship, then we have a much more level playing field.
      My Slytherhubby declined marital relations last night because he was exhausted. I shrugged and watched One Day at a Time instead. Like a human being.

      • LizLemonGotMarried (aka The Hufflepuff Liz Lemon) says:

        One other note-it’s a cycle. When women are able to walk away safely, then men understand that their coercion doesn’t work. And the next woman, or the next, may not experience those techniques. But safety has to come before anything.

    • Nicole says:

      Lord it pains me to agree with anything she says but i think her tone is the right one

    • India Rose says:

      I respectfully disagree. I have PTSD and here’s what several years of work with a trauma specialist has taught me. Forgive the boring medical language, but I think it’s important to understand how our minds and bodies work.

      The oldest part of our brains (the amygdala) still kicks in when it senses danger, even though we’re far less likely to need it than back in “cave man” days. The amygdala scans our environment for danger, especially if it’s encountered significant trauma in the past.

      Researchers have added “freeze” to the fight or flight response. When you are in freeze mode, it’s hard to use language or physically move. The fight/flight/freeze response overrides our ability to reason. We all have this response naturally, but if you’ve experienced prior trauma, it’s more likely to kick in harder and faster. Therapy can teach you tools to recognize when it’s happening and how to calm back down again. (You can do internet searches on calming the parasympathetic nervous system and the vagus nerve if you deal with this, too.)

      My therapist recommended the books “The Body Keeps the Score” by Bessel Van Der Kolk, “The Chemistry of Calm” by Henry Emmons and anything by Peter Levine, who coined the term Somatic Experiencing, which is a form of therapy to help release stored physical responses (or body memories) related to trauma. Fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, chronic pain, headaches and neck/shoulder muscular pain can sometimes be physical manifestations of traumatic experiences. (Women tend to have these diagnoses far more than men.) And if you’re into podcasts, On Being with Krista Tippet has episodes with most of these researchers.

      Bottom line: sometimes we don’t leave because we physically freeze up and literally can’t. Sometimes we don’t trust the signals our bodies are giving us because we’ve been taught not to listen. There is help for overcoming the freeze response, but the highest priority should be teaching guys how to determine whether they have full consent.

  2. Léna says:

    I appreciate that she did not defend what he did or try to minimize his actions. Like so many others when defending their friends in the industry. I like what she says.

  3. Tiffany says:

    Someone got PR training after watching Lena be stupid.

  4. Jeezelouisie says:

    I think what she said sums it up perfectly! Good for her!

  5. littlemissnaughty says:

    I can’t believe I agree with Amy Schumer but it seems like she’s taken her time before addressing any of this.

    It IS okay to tell women – especially young women – that they need to learn to say (out loud) that a situation makes them uncomfortable. We do need to learn that because until now, we’ve been taught the opposite. Don’t make a scene, don’t be so sensitive, you probably caused this by breathing. So yeah, we absolutely do need to learn to say it. I know I do. That doesn’t just go for situations involving sex. And at the same time, of course, men need to learn to take that at face value. It can’t be a code for “Try harder” or some sh*t like that. It can’t be taken as an insult or an attack. “I’m not comfortable with this.” – “Oh I’m sorry, I didn’t realize.” I still don’t know how hard it can be to recognize whether someone is into what you’re doing with them but until men figure out that a reluctant woman is probably NOT into it, it comes down to us saying it out loud.

    And men just need to check themselves. And they need to stop watching so much hardcore p0rn. Because the entire time I was reading that article I was thinking “This dude is re-enacting some cheap p0rn.”

    • Wren says:

      I think another thing that plays into it is that, as a young woman, you were very, very recently a child. Children do not have the luxury of walking away. The whole theme of childhood is that you have to more or less go along with what others have decided you are going to do. Girls especially get this messaged hammered into them, plus all that “be nice” and “don’t make a scene” and “don’t hurt people’s feelings”. It really does create the mentality that even if you don’t like something and aren’t comfortable, you tough it out anyway.

      You are good at the things you practice, and many young women don’t have any practice at vocalizing their needs or walking away. I think this is where some of the “freezing up” response comes from. There’s a reason the military and law enforcement trains so much. Training matters. If you’ve been trained to essentially “sit quietly and take it”, that’s what you’re automatically going to do. Our society trains girls to be docile, and, well, incidents like this are the result. Men need a lot of work too, but I wanted to address something that’s been running through my mind lately on just *why* so many of us react to men being boors with learned helplessness.

      • littlemissnaughty says:

        So many women have talked about freezing up and literally not being physically able to react. I think what you say is absolutely right. We’re taught to actually do something that corresponds to our natural physical response so it’s a double whammy. Because if your natural response is to freeze (I don’t know why so many assume it’s only fight or flight), you need a HELL of a lot of training and practice to counter that. And yeah, the military et al. know this. I don’t believe it’s *only* the knowledge that most of the time men are stronger and we might be safer if we just don’t fight back. That is also something that’s drilled into us. “If you fight back it could be a lot worse.”

      • Wren says:

        Agreed. There is definitely the message that fighting back will turn out worse for you in the end. But then if you didn’t fight, you must have wanted it, right? Yay more double standards!

      • PPP says:

        Oh, totally. It’s not a mistake the young woman was in her early 20′s. We all had to go through an experience or two like that before we figured out how to say no or whatever (my response has become to put all my clothes back on, grab my bag, and leave, without any words, because ensuring I get out safely trumps hurting the guy’s feelings by my abrupt and silent departure). I think in your 20′s when you’re sheltered and had a few boyfriends that never did anything crazy, it just doesn’t cross your mind that a guy is going to start finger-raping your mouth and humping you like some unstoppable puppy. I mean it’s wtf enough that it’s hard for a grown woman to know how to react in the moment.

    • Betsy says:

      I’m gonna go ahead and say that the broad availability of any and all manner of porn has been a net societal negative. To be clear before people pick up their whacking sticks to beat at me, while I don’t choose to consume pr0n, I don’t mind the existence of it per se, just that even the mainstream stuff seems, from what I have heard, to depict just the basest sort. I get that there’s a flavor for every palate, but if teens are watching and forming their sexuality after this stuff that bears only a tenuous tie to actual adult human sexuality…. it’s sad.

      • PPP says:

        I, on the other hand, wish there were a porn company that realized they’re uniquely positioned to dispense sex education. Imagine a site that had porn centered on making the woman feel good, on techniques that work for woman, where the storyline is figuring out what a woman’s erogenous zones are. I remember a reddit thread I was reading on techniques that work, and several people linked to porn stars demonstrating techniques that I have since discovered work pretty dang well!

      • Betsy says:

        See, if it approached something like that, it’d be great, wouldn’t it?

        I just don’t think that’s a thing that is garden variety (strangely).

  6. Shambles says:

    She does do okay, but I’m also not comfortable with the emphasis she puts on women leaving, because in the end it’s up to men as a collective to change their culture around sex and not be creepy coercive assholes. I also don’t need someone to sit here and say “it’s not a crime.“ That tells me you’re more focused on the black and white legality of the situation than the emotional and cultural effects it has on women, which is the stance most men take when they don’t want to hear any of this. “Show me how what he did was illegal. Oh it’s not? Okay. That means it’s fine.” I know that’s not what she’s saying here, but that’s why I don’t think “it’s not a crime” was necessary.

    • deets says:

      You’ve summed up my feelings, as well, Shambles. The whole, it’s not a crime thing, im not even sure about that. It’s like bragging you only sleep with 18 year olds, ala Baio, so it’s not a crime. Barely skirting legality is not a positive.

      And the change of tune from ‘no means no’ to ‘just leave’ or ‘speak up’ is no change at all.

    • Censored says:

      You are correct , men are the primary perpetrators of rape and sexual assault and thus these things will only end when men change , however until that day arrives we are the ones who are continually left with the scars hence the emphasis on us leaving ( where possible as it is not always possible )
      The person who abused me went on their merry way to live their life with nary a concern for the damage left in mine . Even here , Grace said she felt traumatized yet Aziz apparently wasn’t traumatized in fact he seemed clueless as he texted her the next day to say ” nice meeting you”
      Yes we live in a rape culture , with victim blaming and shaming but suggesting that women use their agency where possible to advocate and protect themselves is none of those things

      PS. IF you read Graces account by the end she defined thier encounter as sexual assault which last I heard was a crime so Amy saying the events in her opinion as described by Grace though not cool wasn’t a crime isn’t unnecessary

    • perplexed says:

      I think she mentioned that because there are some acts that you know are unethical or immoral but are not easily or necessarily defined by the law. I think she was pointing out the immorality and unethical qualities of those actions.

      She also mentioned that “it can still really mess with a woman” so I do think she emphasized the emotional impact these acts can have on women even if the law doesn’t address the kind of act (i.e coercion) Aziz Ansari did.

    • Miles says:

      I think she added the “it’s not a crime” part to emphasize that just because it’s not a crime doesn’t make it okay. And I personally think that’s very important because a lot of times when women are put in these types of situations the go to response is “well what happened isn’t illegal or a crime so..”

    • Wren says:

      There is often a gap between legality and ethics. Sometimes a wide one. I think it’s important to acknowledge that gap when it comes up. Just because something is not a crime doesn’t mean it’s okay. We can’t legislate for everything, and just because something isn’t illegal doesn’t mean there’s no repercussions for it. It’s okay that what Ansari did isn’t a crime. It’s important to recognize and acknowledge that. It’s also important to understand that it doesn’t stop there.

      Take free speech for example. Say you post something deeply racist online. That’s not illegal. You cannot be arrested for that. But what you can be is ostracized by your peers, fired from your job, and your life can be made harder in so many ways that don’t include going to jail or standing trial. What Ansari did is in that category. Not illegal, but wrong nonetheless, and he is already facing consequences. It may not feel like enough in the moment, but these things build over time, especially if we keep talking about it and reiterating how wrong it is.

  7. Marty says:

    Good for her. I’m definitely no Amy fan, but she does pretty good in this interview and comes off as thoughtful for those involved.

  8. Jay says:

    I don’t like her and even I appreciate what she said here. I’m glad I read it.

  9. SM says:

    For once I have no problem with Amy. I know. Surprise. She is given the plqtform and she uses it to inject young women with strenght and awarness about how they can control cetrain situations. A lot of women find themselves in the Aziz sort of situation because they do not want to appear offensive or push a guy away. But women need to realoze that none of this is ok and just make it vocal. As for men, yep, they need to be educated but I think that educating women on what is ok and what is not and not feeling guilty for identifying the line that should and can not be crossed will have a more instant effect.

  10. Jess says:

    I agree, I like what she said except for what you pointed out, Kaiser – her failure to hold men accountable in these situations too.

  11. ThenThereIsThat says:

    I agree he was not cool and a bad date, but I don’t agree that this girl was giving him nonverbal messages she didn’t want to be there. She was naked at his house, giving and receiving oral sex, on a first date. No wonder guys get confused!

    Women, use your voice and keep your big girl panties on if you don’t want to have sex!!! We do have responsibility to act smart!

  12. Sitka says:

    Sure it should be on men to realise that behaviour isn’t ok; but I actually have no problem with her point that women need to know it’s ok to leave an uncomfortable situation. I know I’ve stayed in situations where I should have left earlier, or ignored the behaviours of certain guys even laughing it off rather than saying “do not talk to me like that” etc. The future generation needs to know that a guy being mean to you does not mean he likes you; you don’t have to stay anywhere that makes you feel uncomfortable for fear of hurting someones feelings; your opinion does count. If what she said encourages even one girl / woman / boy or man to leave a situation they don’t feel safe in it’s worth it.

    • Wren says:

      I’ve done it too, and those aren’t memories I enjoy. Speaking up for yourself is an acquired skill like anything else, and so many women don’t get any training or practice on how to do so. It’s not as simple as “just do it”. It’s knowing when, how, and learning to trust yourself. These are important lessons we are failing to teach girls, just as we are failing to teach boys to take no for an answer and take it gracefully.

      • Jeannie says:

        I agree w this so much. Yes, the onus is on men to not assault women, but my mom made me take a women’s self defense course before i left for college, because it never hurts to learn to protect yourself. Yes, the men shouldn’t be doing this, and we should teach women they have the power to leave and stop maligning women for not being nice when not being nice really just means “stop making me deeply uncomfortable.” But it really never hurts to learn to defend and empower yourself.

  13. @BitingPanda says:

    Wow. I did not expect such an articulate and well thought out response from her.
    I have to put myself in the same camp of agreement with her.

  14. QueenB says:

    And rape was also not considered a crime not too long ago. Specifically marital rape. So thats really a dumb thing to say.

    Also its not the womans fault.

    I dont have a problem with Aziz disappearing, give a woman his spot. His career will be damaged anyway, he was mostly famous for trying hard to be the comedians male feminist and like all male feminists he showed his ass.

    Also lets not forget Amys racism. Its not a crime but its not cool.

  15. Jker says:

    God, I completely agree with Schumer here, do I have to cancel myself?

    Aziz was wrong but not criminal and in the interest of being fair to each side . . . I think the expectations for men to lead (tho they don’t have to and this is slowly changing) is pretty ingrained.

    I remember being told how to respond to romantic maneuvers but never how to initiate them. Traditionally men were taught how to initiate (successfully) not how to respond.

    Bc men often have higher libido I think physical intimacy/sex is what they prioritize whereas a woman may put a higher priority on mental/emotional intimacy. Both people need all if it, but they prioritize their needs differently.

    So a guy being pushy and insistent veering into scary, rude, and/or inappropriate isn’t ok – at all – but it does seem hypocritical (culturally) for me to stand here and condemn the men that I’ve had similar experiences with while knowing full well that I both want AND expect them to be assertive, confident and take the lead bc that’s what turns me on. Consequently that puts the onus on me to use my voice when necessary bc they aren’t mind readers and we all want different things in our romantic endeavors.

    TL:DR. Ask for what you want, voice firmly and loudly the things you don’t want, and be prepared to walk in an instant. Men need to listen and learn how to be assertive and confident w/o being simultaneously assaultive (is that word? Is now) and disrespectful.

    • Kali says:

      And I agree with you jker. Is there a cancelling corner?

    • deets says:

      More and more research is showing that ‘men have a higher libido’ is a fallacy.
      Most bed death (sexless marriage) is due to female sexual boredom. Women get bored faster of having the same type of sex with the same partner.

      Now, if you want a dominant partner, one that doesn’t listen to your body language or words, completely your prerogative. But that’s a dom/sub dynamic that needs to be explored, with large amounts of communication before anything begins, and shouldn’t be considered the benchmark for make behaviour. It amazes me how we teach so many kids and teens that it is, and that teaching is so pervasive.

      • Otaku Fairy says:

        This. People sometimes just say that men are more sexual than women without remembering that straight men as a group have been, and still are, allowed more liberty than any other group to fully indulge their libidos without it leading to them being painted as degraded, unworthy of basic respect, not ‘good enough’ to marry, devoid of self-respect, traumatized/psychologically ‘damaged’, to blame for suffering or mistreatment faced by other members of their sex, inviting disrespect and mistreatment on themselves, or deserving of some of the worst violence for it.

    • jayem says:

      Well then cancel me too! I absolutely love what you wrote, because it’s so true and I struggle with it as well. I like a man to be aggressive, but that’s really subjective and no one knows where the line is but me, unless I specifically draw it. So, I am very verbal about what I do and don’t want, and I can honestly say I have never regretted it.

  16. Una says:

    This Anzari deal has struck a nerve for many people. It is tricky for the exact reason Amy says. I guess not being able to watch Master of None ( his voice is like nails to the chalkboard and acting is trash) made it easier for me to judge it more objectively. I hope he learns from this and I hope we raise next generation of women to be more assertive. Female assertiveness is undeniably a big part of the struggle for social, economic and political equality of women.

  17. Hydrangea says:

    Her fifteen minutes has dragged on far too long. Can she give Issa Rae the mic now?

  18. deets says:

    Until we rectify the power imbalance in our culture, and worldwide, it is ridiculous and ineffective to just teach women ‘to leave’. It’s exactly like the flawed ‘just say no’.

    It is still putting the onus of responsiblity on the person with the least power.

    Enthusiastic consent, or you shall not pass.

  19. Jaded1 says:

    I completely agree with her. Yes, men need to learn to be better. But in the absence of decency, we also need for women to realize that they don’t have to be polite and smile. It’s ok to cut the night short and walk out. It’s sounds like Aziz wanted to get some and the woman wanted romance. If he couldn’t read her admitted non-verbal cues (which sound fuzzy, per her description), then she should have walked out. There is a learning need for both of them.

  20. Renee2 says:

    I think that she is stressing what women need to do because she is a woman and we do need to be comfortable with asserting ourselves, speaking up, and removing ourselves from uncomfortable situations. All of the above could literally save our lives!!! Also, she stated that everybody needs to be aware that this behavior is not okay. I don’t think that she is letting men off of the hook at all.

  21. Samantha says:

    This was a surprisingly good take. Also, I wish the Aziz Ansari story had been picked by a more reputable outlet. All this “nothing happened” reaction was partly due to the fact that people didn’t take the soutce seriously. Regardless of what the woman could have theoretically done, Aziz was CLEARLY corecive. I found this incident more clear-cut to be honest than the Franco story. But Franco didn’t get as much “uproar” partly because it came from LA times (who did a rushed job on the story).

  22. lucy2 says:

    I think she answered this pretty well, the only thing I’d disagree with is the idea that a doctor doing something inappropriate is not a crime – especially in the wake of the gymnastics story.

  23. Miles says:

    I have no issue with anything she said and I think she handled herself really well. Whether it’s PR training or not is irrelevant to me because I’ve seen so many people just butcher their responses when asked about allegations. This is a good response to me. Maybe she can tell Lena that it doesn’t matter if the guy is a friend or if he’s a great guy.

  24. Turtle says:

    She’s been on Broadway the past six months or so in the new Steve Martin play “Meteor Shower” (with Keegan-Michael Key and Laura Benanti, among others, a great cast). It was a hit, albeit a limited run, and she got good reviews. It closed last week (I think). Eight shows a week did her some good.

  25. Ozogirl says:

    I actually agree with her. It was a bad date, which many of us have had, but it wasn’t a crime.