As the conversation around sexual misconduct in Hollywood continues, more and more celebrities are being asked to comment on the Time’s Up movement and the allegations of sexual misconduct made against everyone from Ryan Seacrest to James Franco.
One such celebrity was actress, writer, and producer Lena Waithe, who was asked about the allegations against Aziz Ansari that were published in a Babe.net article this past January. Waithe and Ansari co-star on Ansari’s Netflix series Master of None, and co-wrote the “Thanksgiving” episode that went on to win the Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series — an award that Waithe was the first black woman to receive. Waithe and Ansari are clearly good friends and colleagues, so she could have defended Ansari’s actions or victim-blamed like many others have been doing. Thankfully, she didn’t.
In an interview for her cover on Vanity Fair, Waithe said, “At the end of the day, what I would hope comes out of this is that we as a society … educate ourselves about what consent is—what it looks like, what it feels like, what it sounds like.” She added, “We need to be more attuned to each other, pay more attention to each other, in every scenario, and really make sure that, whatever it is we’re doing with someone else, they’re comfortable doing whatever that thing is, and that we’re doing it together. That’s just human kindness and decency.”
In case you need a refresher, the initial article about Ansari detailed a date he went on with a photographer in her early 20’s named Grace, in which he allegedly ignored repeated verbal and nonverbal cues to stop his sexual advancements toward her. Grace ultimately left the apartment before they could get any further, and texted Ansari about her unease with what happened.
After the article was published, Ansari made his own sort-of apology and expressed his support for the Time’s Up movement. But what’s really telling was the response to the Babe.net article: many defended Ansari’s actions, and some just called the experience “bad sex” or a bad date, while others pointed out that the commonality of experiences like this is exactly what makes them a necessary topic of conversation and point of change.
The reactions to Ansari’s actions continue to be mixed, but I am glad to see that Waithe, at least, knows what needs to be done.