Amy Schumer has long been a modern-day feminist icon, having opened our eyes to the quotidian sexism women face, in a humorous and accessible manner. The writer, actor and comedian really knows how to highlight the absurdities of sexual inequality.
Now, she’s decided to use her platform to speak out about the more grave consequences of gender discrimination: sexual assault – and her own harrowing experience of it, which she has described in an interview with radio and TV host, Howard Stern.
In her new book, The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, Schumer opens up about being raped, and later having experienced an abusive relationship at the hands of another former partner.
Schumer describes the harrowing experience of losing her virginity when her then boyfriend raped her whilst she was asleep on the sofa. She only realised what was happening when it woke her up because, "it began to hurt".
Speaking to Stern, Schumer said that after the assault she stayed with her boyfriend, comforting him when he said he felt guilty for his actions.
The 35-year-old explained to Stern why she decided to go public with her experience, saying:
“I think it’s important to talk about because it’s made me feel less alone when other women have come forward about being sexually assaulted.”
Schumer also explained how society views rape in black and white terms, dictating how they expect victims of the crime to behave and – as a result- this prevents women from speaking out or reporting the crimes.
“People want you to have been raped perfectly,” she explains “and they want you to be a perfect victim.
"People hear me say that and they go, ‘no, she’s like a slut’ and ‘I bet she knew’ — like, right away, you start doubting.
"We’re so critical and it makes victims really not wanna speak up, and so I think it’s me saying, look, I didn’t have a perfect rape but my virginity was taken from me, and it was not in a cool way.’”
The comedian also discussed an abusive relationship she had suffered, explaining to Stern that she hoped her experience would help raise awareness about domestic abuse.
“I thought, this is my guy. We are supposed to take care of each other,” she said.
“It’s messed up, and it’s not fair. And that shouldn’t have happened to me. And I hope [speaking out] stops it from happening to even one person.”
Schumer’s comments come a week after the comedian found herself at the centre of a Twitter furore on the subject of sexual assault.
Kurt Metzger, a writer for her show, Inside Amy Schumer, posted a series of offensive tweets surrounding his views on the injustices of rape convictions.
Death penalty - what if we execute an innocent man?— Kurt Metzger (@kurtmetzger) August 15, 2016
Vague UCB rape allegation - fuck it, if he's innocent it's just a man.
Hey how about just actually telling me your experience before demanding I believe it? Or is that too much?— Kurt Metzger (@kurtmetzger) August 16, 2016
Feeling a need to distance herself from the insensitive comments, Schumer tweeted at Metzger to clarify that, although he is her “friend and a great writer,” she “couldn't be more against his recent actions.”
The comedian also clarified that Kurt no longer worked for her and though he continues to be a friend, “his words are not [hers]”.
I am so saddened and disappointed in Kurt Metzger. He is my friend and a great writer and I couldn't be more against his recent actions.— Amy Schumer (@amyschumer) August 17, 2016
Speaking in a TV interview with Charlie Rose, Schumer explained that she has been connected to the comments as a result of Metzger’s role in Inside Amy Schumer, but that the comments do not reflect her views, saying:
“Because he writes for the show, it's a bigger story because of our connection, and so whatever tangent he's gone off on, I have not agreed with and it's been really upsetting to me seeing someone I care about hurt themselves like this.”
Images: Rex Features