Who: Amy Schumer.
Why we care: Last week, Saturday Night Live aired a sketch that perfectly captured how difficult it is to have a conversation about Aziz Ansari’s place in the broader #MeToo discussion. Amy Schumer, however, proved up to the task, providing a nuanced take on the topic that’s respectful of all involved.
To recap, Ansari is under fire for a piece that ran on the website babe dot net, describing a woman’s date with the comedian that left her shaken. In excruciating detail, the article recounts Ansari’s persistence and refusal to take no for an answer–albeit without using force. Where discussions about the event begin to break down is when people start pulling at the thread of how shoddily the website reported and wrote the article, the woman in question’s perceived culpability, and how common Ansari’s behavior is considered.
Schumer, who has incited controversy of her own before, weighed in on the Ansari allegation on Thursday’s episode of the Katie Couric podcast, and she neither condemns nor spares her fellow comedian, while supporting the woman in the situation.
As HuffPo reports, Schumer said the following:
“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.”
“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?'”
“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.’ 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.”
While many commentators–including several women–have put the blame on the woman involved for not extracting herself from the situation sooner, Schumer frames the situation in the broader context of how what’s been considered common male behavior appears under the looking glass of the #MeToo era, and how women’s responses to it must evolve. You can listen to the rest of what Schumer had to say on Couric’s podcast here.
Following last week’s electoral outcome, the DNC is flush with victory. Democrats won gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey, Maine voted to expand Medicaid, and there were many more wins across the country. After a few close calls like Jon Ossoff’s narrow loss in the special election for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District back in June, the Dems are celebrating their first real electoral wins of the Trump era. Before the DNC breaks any arms patting itself on the back, however, it’s important they keep a couple things in mind: a) there’s only so much goodwill in simply not being the party of Trump, and b) if they had offered more inspiring messages and policies in the first place, Trump may have never risen to power.
Many factors help explain these election results. Trump’s abysmal favorability polls may be dragging down the GOP wholesale. Grassroots organizations like Indivisible and Swing Left have been working overtime all year to drive voter turnout. What absolutely hasn’t been helping win elections, though, is Democratic infighting over whether the 2016 primaries were rigged, and a continuation of the ham-fisted memes that failed to ignite the popular imagination during the general election.
It is imperative that the Democratic National Committee not leave these election victories thinking everything is hunky dory now, and thanks to them. The party needs to unite, throw out the old playbook on messaging and policy, make room for new voices, and listen to what voters are saying about healthcare and gun control. Lest the marquee DNC leaders decide to do none of these things, the team at Saturday Night Live has just given them an ungentle goosing. Over the weekend, the show ran a fake post-election ad from the Dems, and it is justifiably brutal.
“We haven’t felt this confident since the day before Trump won,” Senator Chuck Schumer (played by Alex Moffat) says stiffly near the start of the ad. Is there any doubt of this line’s 100% accuracy? The rest of the ad gives a sense of how Schumer, Nancy Pelosi (Kate McKinnon), Joe Biden (Jason Sudeikis), and the other usual suspects may have already begun quietly forgetting any of the introspection they might have done this year on how Trump’s victory could have happened. Not so fast, Democrats.
“Together, we’re gonna end the spirit of divisiveness in this country,” Cecily Strong’s Senator Diane Feinstein says. “By focusing on how we won the governors race in two of the 10 states we care about.”
It’s a solid burn, fueled by the fact that there are, indeed, more explanations than “economic anxiety,” “racism,” and “Russia” for why Hillary Clinton failed to reach voters in coal miner country. Overall, the message is that simply being better than the other guys is nowhere near enough.
As much as the DNC has earned a rebuke at this moment, though, there is indeed much to celebrate about last week’s election results. SNL made sure to give these victories their due later in the episode, during Weekend Update.
Michael Che gives a fair, impartial overview of the election results before spotlighting one Virginia race in particular. Last week, Danica Roem became the first openly transgender candidate elected to Virginia’s House of Delegates. Moreover, Roem did so by defeating Bob Marshall, the blatantly homo- and transphobic incumbent. As Che acerbically put it, “In fact, [Marshall] is so homophobic, he refused to get within 8 points of her.”
By giving Democratic establishment leaders a much-needed chastening and celebrating some worthy victories, SNL broke free of its Baldwin-based politically coverage. Hopefully, the real-life leaders will prove how unlike Trump they are by actually listening to the critique.