The conversation regarding sexual harassment, consent, and gender equality that arrived alongside the much-needed #MeToo movement has been a long time coming. Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey, among many others, abused their positions of power and it's clear these men need to banished from their respective fields. But the alleged account of sexual misconduct by Master of None star Aziz Ansari complicated things a bit.
Actress and writer Lena Waithe, who starred in Master of None and won the Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series Emmy alongside Ansari in 2017, has given her thoughts on the situation. Speaking with radio station KPCC's The Frame, she expressed her support for the Time's Up initiative once again, while also addressing the allegations made against Ansari in the Babe.net article.
"Here's the truth — in every situation, it's not always black-and-white," she explained. "I know that's simple for people, and it's easy for people to [ask], Whose side are you on? There are no sides, really, in some of these scenarios. I'm not on Harvey Weinstein's side; I'm not on Kevin Spacey's side. But I think you have to take each situation [individually]. You can't just say, 'Well, I'm on this person's team,' or 'I'm on that person's team.' It doesn't work that way."
She stresses that this moment should be used as an opportunity to really talk about consent, adding, "I think if we're unwilling to have a dialogue we're gonna continue to keep hitting our heads against the wall. We have to start re-educating ourselves about what consent is, what's appropriate behavior at the workplace. We have to create codes of conduct. Those are things that we need. 'Cause also I think there's an element of — how do you know if you're breaking a rule if you aren't aware of the rules? Or how do you know what appropriate behavior is if no one's ever communicated to you what appropriate behavior is? [...] We all gotta start talking to each other, start educating each other."
The woman who made the allegation against Ansari, who simply went by Grace to remain anonymous, alleged that Ansari "ignored clear non-verbal cues" and "kept going with advances," despite expressing her discomfort. "I believe that I was taken advantage of by Aziz," she explained. He also allegedly put his fingers down her throat and forced her hand towards his penis, among other unwanted sexual advancements.
Ansari responded to the allegation, saying, "I got a text from her saying that although 'it may have seemed okay,' upon further reflection, she felt uncomfortable. It was true that everything did seem okay to me, so when I heard that it was not the case for her, I was surprised and concerned. I took her words to heart and responded privately after taking the time to process what she had said. I continue to support the movement that is happening in our culture. It is necessary and long overdue."