In this November 2014 clip from “The Late Show with David Letterman,” standup comedian Aziz Ansari discusses how his relationship with his girlfriend, a “huge feminist,” has prompted him to assess his own views on gender equality and feminism. In the clip, Ansari asks audience members to clap or cheer if they consider themselves to be feminists. When the applause is what he believes to be slightly subpar, Ansari reminds the audience that the textbook definition of “feminist” is someone who believes that men and women should have equal rights, and goes on to say he feels like everyone here supports that notion. However, Ansari qualifies his previous statement, adding that he thinks many people don’t identify as feminists because of intense or negative connotations associated with the word, such as being “crazy.” Ansari goes on to prompt viewers who believe men and women should have equal rights to label themselves as feminists, much as a doctor that treats diseases of the skin would label him or herself a dermatologist. In the next portion of the clip, Ansari uses contemporary pop culture to make a point about feminism: “You don’t go to a Jay-Z and Beyonce concert and think Beyonce should get 23 percent less money than Jay-Z,” drawing a reference to gender pay inequality. Ansari goes on to say that we wouldn’t criticize Beyonce for having the right to vote, or think that she should be at home making Jay-Z dinner, addressing both women’s suffrage and stereotypical domestic roles.
How does Ansari discuss feminism? Does he see himself as a feminist? How does he make a case for feminism?
Ansari acknowledges the negative connotations often associated with feminists. Why do you think it’s important that he did this?
Ansari is well known for his humorous approach to addressing pressing social topics and issues. Do you believe his technique is more effective than a more serious speech or presentation? If yes, in which ways? If not, why?
In 2018, Ansari was accused of sexual misconduct in a controversial article written on the site, Babe.net. Does this accusation change the way we should interpret the Letterman appearance? Why or why not?