Comedian Aziz Ansari is not giving in to accusations of misrepresenting or “mansplaining” feminism.
In his sold-out stand-up show “Aziz Ansari Live at Madison Square Garden,” now streaming on Netflix, the funnyman takes aim at mysoginy and looks at a range of issues women deal with on a regular basis. But in October 2014, Ansari took some heat for what some called an oversimplification of feminism. During an appearance on the “Late Show with David Letterman,” Ansari defined feminism as the belief that “men and women have equal rights.” He also quipped that, “You’re a feminist if you go to a Jay Z and Beyoncé concert, and you’re not like, hmm, I feel like Beyoncé should get 23% less money than Jay Z.”
Now, Ansari is defending his position while also attempting to clarify it. “Did it really seem like I was trying to talk down to women?” he said in a recent interview with Cosmopolitan. “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?”
Ansari said he has been learning about the potentially dangerous realities women face, such as being followed in the street by strangers. The comedian has made a point to address these issues in his stand-up routines to raise awareness.
“I was like, ‘What?’ Ansari said in the Cosmo interview. “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.”
Ansari, who is the child of Indian immigrants, grew up in South Carolina, an experience that he described to Letterman last year as a mix of “racism and horrible public schools.”
He told Cosmo that people are quicker to call out racism than sexism, which is why he’s being more vocal both on stage and in his personal life. ”Sexist stuff doesn’t get that same gasp that racist stuff gets sometimes, and maybe that’s something to keep in mind,” Ansari told the magazine.
And when asked if it’s important to see a woman president, Anzari responded: “Of course it’s important. We’ve had a bunch of white dudes.”
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Aziz Ansari doubles down on feminism