The comedian, who presents a new documentary on white privilege for the streaming service, told US talk show host Jimmy Kimmel that she is a “handsy kind of person”, but that it recently got her in trouble.
“I had to take sexual harassment training from Netflix right out of the gate,” Handler explained, recalling an incident in which a woman she embraced at a music event complained about her behaviour.
“When [the woman] got up, I gave her a hug to say great job and kind of smacked her on the butt,” she recalled. “That’s my sign of affection. Like, that’s how I say, ‘Hey, sister, we’re friends, we’re sisters, we’re girls.’ It’s not a sexual affront because I’m straight, or so I thought.”
She continued, “I got a call the next day and [Netflix] said, ‘Okay, this girl was very upset, the woman you touched on the ass.’ And I didn’t even remember it. And immediately, I became defensive. I was like, ‘Oh no.’ I’m like, ‘I’m not hitting on her.’ They’re like, ‘That’s not the issue.’”
“I grab people by their breasts that I’m friendly with, like as a greeting,” Handler told Kimmel. “Friends, mostly friends, but sometimes strangers, and I cannot do that anymore. None of us can, so it’s a wrap on that behaviour.”
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After Kimmel suggested that such behaviour was likely never appropriate, Handler admitted: “It is true that I was never supposed to do it, and that is a hard lesson to learn if you are a handsy kind of person. I’m lucky I don’t have a talk show in this era because I would have lost it.”
Handler hosted the E! talk show Chelsea Lately from 2007 until 2014, before transitioning to Netflix. Her new documentary, Hello, Privilege – It’s Me Chelsea, sees her explore the historical and modern privileges afforded to white Americans, and how it has benefited her own comedy career.