Let me take you back to the year 2010. It was a major year for a comedian named Louis C.K. He had been toiling away as a writer on many well-regarded comedy series in the nineties, including Late Night with Conan O’Brien, The Late Show with David Letterman, The Dana Carvey Show, The Chris Rock Show, Dr. Katz and Saturday Night Live. He had even directed a film during his TV writing days, but his greatest creation was the FX series based on his life titled Louie, which was one of my favorite shows. I thought it captured human misery in a beautiful and hilarious way.
2010 was also the year his theatrical stand-up special was released and I thought he was the closest thing we had to a modern-day Richard Pryor because his routines were outrageously honest and unfiltered but also deeply human and vulnerable.
Cut to the year 2019.
If you have been keeping up with the news lately, it should come as no surprise to you that I no longer hold C.K. in high regard. In fact, I downright despise him. Not only for his crimes but for how he’s handling the aftermath.
And yet there is a disturbingly common tendency among a group of his most ardent fans who still defend him because they say he is suffering and he’s learned his lesson, including fellow comedians. I wanted to write this article because I wanted to remind people of something important, and that is the severity of his crimes.
I will not be talking about whether or not C.K. is worthy of forgiveness. That is another discussion. This article is about what he did to those women.
In the aftermath of the fallout involving Harvey Weinstein that resulted in the Me Too movement, many victims have become empowered to call out certain celebrities who have abused them sexually, and among those celebrities was Louis C.K., who was said to have masturbated in front of several female colleagues without their consent.
Rumors of sexual misconduct involving C.K. have been around for years before he was finally found out, but comedian Tig Notaro was one of the few people who called C.K. out in public before his crimes went public widely.
One of the most surprising things about this story when I first heard it was that in the past, C.K. always came off as smart, observant and even truly supportive of women, supporting Hillary Clinton as the next president and calling Trump voters suckers back in 2016. He even portrayed women in his TV series Louie as way smarter than he was while he portrayed himself as a hopeless loser who always did the wrong thing.
But it turns out that this attitude was one of the ways he was able to befriend women before he revealed his sick side. He always had perfectly nice and professional conversations with his female colleagues but they soon led to overtly sexual territory, and asking to masturbate in front of women was often the endgame with these interactions.
Among the incidents reported by The New York Times:
- Comedy duo Dana Min Goodman and Julia Wolov met C.K. in his hotel in 2002 after they performed at the Aspen Comedy Festival and this seemingly innocent invitation led to C.K. taking off his clothes and masturbating in front of the two comedians, who were paralyzed in shock at what was happening. The worst thing was that after it was over, the two women were pressured by C.K.’s powerful lawyer to stay quiet about the incident.
- Abby Schachner called C.K. to invite him to a show and he started describing sexual fantasies to her over the phone and was seemingly masturbating while talking to her.
- Rebecca Cory said that C.K. asked to masturbate in front of her in her dressing room and was turned down before admitting to her that he is indeed aware that he has a problem and leaving, and this incident was confirmed by Courteney Cox and David Arquette.
- A woman who worked on The Chris Rock Show who wanted to remain anonymous said that C.K. asked her to watch him masturbate and she agreed to do so, but she later described the incident as an abuse of power.
Feeling the need to masturbate in front of a woman and acting on that urge is a horrible and sick activity often conducted by people in power. It has less to do with their attraction to the woman and more to do with inserting their power over women, which for some inexplicable reason is itself a turn-on for these men.
Harvey Weinstein similarly used masturbation as a form of sexual assault. This activity is less discussed than rape but it is just as severe. Even though men like C.K. may think that they are better than rapists because they don’t touch their victims, they are still commiting psychological abuse and it shows a severe lack of respect for women.
What makes men do this?
Psychologically it stems from the same urge that makes people abuse others physically or verbally – it’s a form of domination, and it is often connected to the perpetrator’s negative past experiences with women, and also feelings of shame, anger or weakness towards women, including their mothers. The need to dominate women can be connected to these past experiences if you think of it as a form of punishment or revenge against women.
Unless we talk to Louis C.K. personally, there’s likely no way to know what his motivation for doing it was, but there is a term for this kind of mental disease: Exhibitionist Disorder.
The common factor according to sex therapist Quandra Chaffers, who talked about this in an interview with The Huffington Post, is that the perpetrators of sexual assault always lack empathy. It is a mental disorder that often originates from a combo of privelage and arrogance.
This type of behavior won’t make sense to many men reading this blog but to many women, this kind of behavior from men is all too common.
Men have been conditioned into thinking that they can get away with a lot of unforgivable behavior like this because they have been conditioned into thinking that women will not speak up about it.
Now that women have the courage to speak up about it, many people are learning about their anger over these men and they are earning sympathy from the public.
Imagine being the person experiencing this type of behavior that Louie C.K. exhibited for the first time. Based on the interviews with these victims, this form of assault can be disorienting to them, and it can lead to traumitization, anger, confusion, numbness and very often it changes their lives in negative ways.
I can no longer think of Louie C.K. without thinking of the women he abused, and I won’t forgive him until they do.