Aziz Ansari Says Feminism Made Him More Aware Of Harassment Toward Women

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If you haven’t yet seen comedian and actor Aziz Ansari’s new Netflix comedy special ‘Live at Madison Square Garden’, RUN don’t walk! It is the latest in his string of stand-up specials featuring his brand of intelligent, observant, and hilarious comedy covering topics such as his Indian parents, various 90s hip hop artists (if you know Aziz’s stuff you’ll know this is expected subject matter) dating, and feminism.

Yep, he went there, he talked about feminism, something which he is unashamed of being a part of, ever since his admission on the David Letterman show in Oct 2014. The way he explained it (using Jay Z and Beyonce, obviously) seems to simple, it is a wonder why many feminists today are still wasting time trying to convince haters that it is not a bad thing and that it is not a movement about trampling on or hating men.

And while it is very important to have more and more men talk about being feminists, Aziz admits that the type of hatred he gets for being one isn’t close to what women experience. He talks about this in the middle of his Madison Square Garden show where he touches on the issue of cat-calling and street harassment.

He expertly points out that there are no men anywhere (his words) who have ever walked in a park or down a street at night and been worried that a woman was going to pop out of the bushes wielding a knife, or baring her genitals.

It was a great moment for laughs but also made us think: he is so right. The 10 hour street harassment video which went viral last year copped so much flack from men and naysayers who claim that it was an isolated incident and is not indicative of what all women go through.

Aziz begs to differ, and he spoke about this in an interview with Cosmopolitan.com.

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“That bit in the special is a great example. When I asked, ‘Raise your hand if you’re a woman and you’ve been followed,’ and all those women raised their hand, there were a lot of dudes who were like, ‘What?! That’s happening?’ A lot of this stuff dudes are not aware of, and when they do hear about it they’re like, ‘Holy shit, that sounds bad.’ There’s a bit that I cut out of the special where I said, ‘Clap if you’re a dude and you’re surprised that that many women raised their hand when I asked that question.’ And a lot of dudes clapped. Personally, I didn’t realize it; I only just now started to become aware of how big a problem a lot of this stuff is.”

He decided to include the part about street harassment and stalking in his show after hearing from a female friend who said she got followed to the grocery store one day.

“I was like, ‘What do you mean you got followed?’ She got followed from one store to the next and to the next, and I was like, ‘That’s insane!’ And then this other woman was like, ‘Oh, yeah, I got followed last week too. I got followed to my apartment.’ I was like, ‘WHAT?’ And then I just started asking more people about it and realized it’s a pretty crazy, widespread thing, and it’s insane that that many women have to go through that and have to worry about that,” he said.

He starting talking about it more on stage and asking even more people about their experiences, which his how he learned about the seriousness of the issues. He is now glad that there are more conversations happening about harassment.

“Friends of mine told me they left the show and would ask their girlfriends or friends, ‘Have you ever had anything happen like that to you?’ And they would tell them stories and they were like, ‘Holy shit, I never knew that.’ So the fact that people are discussing it is pretty cool to hear.”

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His comments on the David Letterman did garner a fair amount of negativity from people who said feminism isn’t just about its basic definition, it’s about putting it into action. His defense is that we shouldn’t be judging his actions on a .30 second clip from a nightly talk show. Here here!

“I would just want to sit down and say, ‘OK, did you really think that I had ill intentions in my heart? Don’t you think that what I was trying to say was a positive thing? Did it really seem like I was trying to talk down to women? Did it really seem like that was my intention? Don’t you think that, deep down in my heart, I was trying to say something interesting and positive — and funny? Do you really have to write some mean thing? Isn’t there much worse shit going on? Am I really the target? Is that really where you want to aim?’ I don’t know, that’s just where I’m at with that.”

Part of his “taking action” is speaking up in situations where something negative is being said toward a woman which would normally just be accepted in society. He says speaking up will play a role in changing the culture of how we view gender.

“I was in a situation where someone made a [misogynistic] remark and people kind of politely laughed and I had a moment where I was like, ‘What? Fuck this.’ I didn’t like that that person said that, and I’m going to say something. So I said something and kind of shit on the person for saying that, and as soon as I did other people were like, ‘Yeah.’ I think it’s a good thing to say something. Maybe the next time that person is in a situation where they’re going to make a remark like that, they’ll think twice,” he said.

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“If someone says something racist, you wouldn’t let it slide. You’d probably say something, depending on the context of the situation. Sexist stuff doesn’t get that same gasp that racist stuff gets sometimes, and maybe that’s something to keep in mind. I do think that sometimes those small things [like misogynistic comments] are things that lead to bigger problems, because that’s what breeds that culture, if you will. So I do speak up.”

And when he was asked by Cosmo whether it is time for a female president, he said yes, because it’s time to balance out the many white dudes we’ve had for too long. But he thinks it will be important to bring light to issues that may have been previously overlooked. Although we have to say President Obama has done a pretty damn good job at highlighting the wage gap, rape on college campuses and domestic violence.

“Overall, they will obviously have a totally different perspective on many issues, obviously for things like reproductive rights. Any time you can get a different perspective on any issue is great. And if so much of the [current] perspective is coming from dudes and white dudes, ultimately a new perspective will be the biggest benefit that would happen.”

Like we said, RUN don’t walk and watch Aziz Ansari ‘Live from Madison Square Garden’ on Netflix. Here’s a snippet of what to expect:


 

 

One Comment

  1. Pingback: Sherlock Actress Louise Brealey On Feminism: "It's Not About Thinking Men Are Pricks"

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