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Actress and writer Lena Waithe spoke about the controversial sexual misconduct claim made against her Master of None colleague, Aziz Ansari, in an interview with radio station KPCC’s The Frame, published Thursday, in which she also talked about the importance of the Time’s Up initiative.
Early last month, Ansari was accused attempting to coerce a date into sex without her consent while at his home. After the woman shared her encounter with the Master of None star, Ansari publicly addressed the allegation, explaining that he “took her words” to heart and responded with the accuser privately.
Ansari’s allegation, made in an article on Babe.net, has become controversial with many women, including journalist Ashleigh Banfield, questioning whether what happened could indeed be considered sexual misconduct.
“Here’s the truth — in every situation, it’s not always black and white. And 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,” Waithe said of the claim made against Ansari. “I’m not on Harvey Weinstein’s side, I’m not on Kevin Spacey’s side. But I think you have 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.”
Apart from starring in Master of None as one of Ansari’s character’s best friends, Waithe penned last season’s Emmy-winning coming-out episode, “Thanksgiving.”
The actress and writer, who also created Showtime’s The Chi, has been an outspoken advocate for the Time’s Up initiative, serving as one of the speakers at the Sundance Film Festival’s Respect Rally.
“I think a big thing is, we have to have a dialogue. And 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 reeducating ourselves about what consent is, what’s appropriate behavior at the workplace,” Waithe said.
Waithe emphasized the importance of establishing “codes of conduct” to distinguish between what behavior abides by appropriate rules and which strays from the regulations. “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?” Waithe explained. “Or how do you know what appropriate behavior is if no one’s ever communicated to you what appropriate behavior is? Even though some people may assume, ‘Well, of course we all know what appropriate behavior is,’ but some people may not know.”
Waithe also explained that women must be able to educate themselves on what consent truly is.
“It’s about really educating ourselves and not stepping in it and just [saying], ‘Oh, I’m sorry. My bad,’ and sort of keep going. But it’s about really sitting with yourself and educating yourself in terms of what consent is, what it looks like, what it feels like, what it sounds like. And all of us starting to really act accordingly based on this new information that I think we have now. We all gotta start talking to each other, start educating each other.”
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