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Friend or enabler?
“Funniest shit ever,” she wrote in the caption on Friday evening, with the picture of a ticket stub from his show, “Road to Nowhere.”
It marked a key moment in a debate where, despite the momentum of the #MeToo movement, people remain split over Ansari’s alleged past behavior. Ansari came under fire last January, after Babe.net ran an article about a young woman’s account of a date with the comedian, alleging that he sexually assaulted her. It was one of the #MeToo stories about which public opinion was most divided, with many split between considering it merely a “bad date” while others considered the account as very clearly one of sexual assault.
Some of Kaling‘s fans were dismayed to see a feminist and someone as outspoken as Kaling supporting Ansari on Instagram. Many supported her for standing up for her friend.
“I also think we shouldn’t chastise Mindy for supporting her friend,” wrote one user. “I’m sure she’s privy to more information on his personal growth than the rest of us. I want we as women to support each other – now more than ever. If she wants to post a pic of a ticket stub. Good for her. This is not her story. We shouldn’t make her have to defend him.”
Others didn’t really understand what the fuss was about, saying they didn’t see Ansari’s actions as sexual assault, or feeling Ansari had apologized and redeemed himself.
“@mindykaling after reading all these comments i had to go and see what the hoohaa was about Aziz(hasn’t really reached London ),” wrote another. “And based on what i read, i dont see why are people calling you out?! He might have been a dick on that date but he’s acknowledged it, apologised to her straight away and you’re being a good friend-im sure you gave him THE talk !”
But many others shared their disapproval on Kaling’s post.
@jes___ko: wrote in the comments, “@mindykaling I’m a feminist except when it plays into supporting my abusive friends’ girl this is not the look.”
@rashaver1 added, “Gross, Mindy. Super disappointing to see you’re supporting someone who simply wont take responsibility for his actions. That’s all he has to do. 👀”
@cassandramh schooled her on “progress”: “@mindykaling i realize I am probably going to get blocked buuuut I am so proud that so many people r speaking out against you promoting and defending him. Society is no longer going to accept jerky BS from men. I don’t think people would have called u out about this 10 years ago. This is progress. People want and expect higher standards of conduct. It’s a good thing. Progress. Get on board.”
Others had similar thoughts:
@jackiejitterbug said, “Oh, yay! Because that’s exactly what a rapist deserves – a ‘feminist in his corner. Byeeeeeee 👋🏻👋🏻👋🏻”
@mrtreads commented, “Disappointed that you’re supporting a sexual predator, mindy.”
Kaling responded to some of those comments defending her choice, according to screenshots shared by BuzzFeed.
“I definitely don’t separate the art from the artist,” she wrote in one of the comments. “His experience shaped his art and he talked about to [sic] eloquently. I hope you check it out.”
Kaling’s comments weren’t available when the Daily Dot searched the post, and Buzzfeed reported that one of the commenters said Kaling kept deleting her comments.
Ansari, who reportedly apologized after the day after the incident, also addressed it recently and said he hopes it has made him “a better person.”
Samira Sadeque is a New York-based journalist reporting on immigration, sexual violence, and mental health, and will sometimes write about memes and dinosaurs too. Her work also appears in Reuters, NPR, and NBC among other publications. She graduated from Columbia Journalism School, and her work has been nominated for SAJA awards. Follow: @Samideque