In a new interview for The Katie Couric Podcast, the actress addresses the #MeToo movement, and opines specifically on the allegation made against the Master of None creator and star, who she calls a “friend.”
“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,” Schumer tells Couric. “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.”
She later adds of Ansari, “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?’ ”
Earlier this year, Ansari responded after an unidentified 23-year-old woman alleged to Babe.net that, during a date with the actor, several sexual acts occurred even though she was “physically giving off cues that I wasn’t interested.”
The woman — referred to only as Grace — said that she told Ansari she didn’t want to feel forced into sex, and claimed that though he expressed understanding, he later again allegedly kept trying to kiss her and undo her pants.
Grace also said that “It took a really long time for me to validate this as sexual assault,” telling Babe.net, “I was debating if this was an awkward sexual experience or sexual assault. And that’s why I confronted so many of my friends and listened to what they had to say, because I wanted validation that it was actually bad.”
In a statement given to PEOPLE, Ansari said that he and the woman engaged “in sexual activity, which by all indications was completely consensual.”
He continued, “The next day, 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.”
In her interview with Couric — which is part of a series of conversations the former news anchor and her co-host, Brian Goldsmith, are doing with “wonder women” — Schumer says women should make “no” excuses when it comes to behavior that makes them uncomfortable.
“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,” says the star. “It’s not a crime, but it’s not cool. And it can still really mess with a woman.”
Schumer adds that though asserting to others what behavior is unacceptable can be a “hard” conversation, “we just can’t let things continue the way they’ve continued, because there are so many different levels of it.”
The 36-year-old has previously opened up about her own harrowing experience, writing in her memoir, The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, that her first sexual experience at age 17 was not consensual.
She tells Couric in the new interview, “I’ve been flat-out raped.”
“But there are so many other kinds of sexual misconduct,” she adds. “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.’ ”
She adds that the current movement can serve as a teachable moment for men. “A lot of the men in my life are open to self-reflection and evolving and I am.”
The lengthy interview covers an array of topics, including the fight for equal pay and her 2017 Netflix comedy special. Last year, Schumer made headlines when it was revealed she renegotiated her salary once she learned what Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle were paid for their respective stand-up specials.
“I asked by myself,” she says. “I didn’t pay anybody any commission on the extra money I received.”
The Katie Couric Podcast’s “wonder women” series has also included Maggie Haberman of the New York Times, Rep. Maxine Waters, and will soon feature Orange Is the New Black’s Laverne Cox.