Coming out as a feminist if you're a man just got a whole lot easier thanks to Aziz Ansari.
During his appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman on Monday night, the comedian made it very clear where he stands on the issue of gender equality: He supports it and thinks you should, too.
Just like Beyoncé and Taylor Swift, Ansari also took the opportunity to define the term for his fans. "If you look up feminism in the dictionary, it just means that men and women have equal rights," the comedian said. "And I feel like everyone here believes men and women have equal rights. But I think the reason people don’t clap is that word is so weirdly used in our culture."
With his trademark humor, Ansari noted that the negative connotations of the term have survived for far too long. "People think feminist means like, 'some woman is gonna start yelling at them,'" he told the talk show host, arguing that feminism is ultimately about equal rights.
Although feminists have every right to be angry, it's certainly not all we do. But Ansari didn't stop there. He went one step further, mocking those who believe in the equality of the sexes but insist they are not feminists. "If you believe that men and women have equal rights, if someone asks if you’re feminist, you have to say yes because that is how words work,” he said. "You can’t be like, 'Oh yeah, I’m a doctor that primarily does diseases of the skin.' Oh, so you’re a dermatologist? 'Oh no, that’s way too aggressive of a word! No no not at all not at all.'"
The comedian used Beyoncé and Jay Z to illustrate just how inevitable supporting gender equality has become. Explaining that unless you are of the opinion that Beyoncé "should be making 23% less than Jay-Z," "shouldn't vote" and that she should stop "singing and dancing" to make Jay Z "a steak," Ansari noted that any remaining hold outs should realize the error of their ways and embrace the feminism moniker.
The announcement should be no surprise to Ansari's fans, of course. The South Carolina native is no stranger to mixing comedy with social justice. He's known for weaving progressive topics like gay marriage and immigration rights into his work.
Coming out as a feminist may be a trend many celebrities are trying out these days, but it's one worth celebrating. Indeed, while it's become somewhat trendy to critique celebrity feminism endorsements — especially when they come from men — the comments of Ansari and others ultimately serve to put a positive spin on the term, making it more inclusive.
Given how much influence stars have, especially when it comes to shaping youth, shouldn't we welcome any attempt to use their power to spread positive messages about equality? Ansari isn't just breaking down stereotypes about what a feminist looks like, he's empowering every single person is his audience to follow his lead and identify as a feminist too. Now that's a kind of star power everyone should get on board with.