On Monday night, comedian, actor and writer Aziz Ansari responded to the allegations of sexual misconduct that were made against him in 2018 at a new ‘pop-up’ comedy show in New York.
In January 2018, Ansari was accused of sexual misconduct by a woman using the moniker Grace in a piece published by online publication Babe.net. In the article, Grace* accused Ansari of unwanted touching and of pressuring her to engage in sexual activity with him after a date in 2017. The allegations sparked international controversy over Grace’s story as part of the #MeToo movement — many disagreed that the story warranted a backlash against Ansari, while others said that Grace’s story was part of a wider conversation about consent and relationships.
Ansari has been largely silent on the matter since the story was published, only issuing one statement in the weeks following, where he said:
“We ended up engaging in sexual activity, which by all indications was completely consensual. 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… I continue to support the movement that is happening in our culture. It is necessary and long overdue.”
This week’s comments are the first time in a year that Ansari has addressed the allegations against him. He began by saying that the story had been “a terrifying thing to talk about, and that “there were times I felt really upset and humiliated and embarrassed, and ultimately I just felt terrible this person felt this way.”
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Ansari added: “But you know, after a year, how I feel about it is, I hope it was a step forward. It made me think about a lot, and I hope I’ve become a better person.” He said that he hoped his story would be an example to other men, saying: “If that has made not just me but other guys think about this, and just be more thoughtful and aware and willing to go that extra mile, and make sure someone else is comfortable in that moment, that’s a good thing.”
The New York show was billed as a warm-up space for Ansari’s act, before he embarks on an international tour in spring of this year.