Aziz Ansari Responds to Complaints That He’s a Mansplainer, Says There’s “Much Worse Shit Going On”
Ready for those MRA Roombas.
In a recent interview with Cosmo, Aziz Ansari addressed the backlash he’s received since discussing feminism on The Late Show, specifically the accusations that he oversimplified and “mansplained” the issue:
It’s a 30-second snippet from a talk show, and I’m talking to David Letterman and an audience of men and women, so that kind of eliminates the mansplaining aspect of it. We just live in this world where people are ready to talk down people on blogs or Twitter or whatever, but to me the test is—let’s say you’re someone who criticizes things that I said on Letterman. 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.
Ansari went on to talk about online harassment (“especially toward women. It’s insane”), saying it’s important to call out misogyny when possible:
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. 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.
Although I disagree with Ansari that his appearance on David Letterman wasn’t deserving of some thoughtful criticism (just because there’s obviously “worse shit going on” in the world doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t be immensely helpful for an influential male celebrity to have a more nuanced understanding of feminism; and caring about one issue never precludes caring about other issues as well), I definitely agree with him when it comes to the word ‘feminism’ itself: “that word has been so weirdly used in the culture… its meaning is warped. Most people are a feminist and yet don’t want to identify with that word.”
What do you think, gang?
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