IN NOVEMBER OF last year, The New York Times ran a report which revealed details disclosed to the publication by five women who alleged that Louis CK had sexually harassed them.
The allegations, which dated back to the late 90s, centred on the comedian’s predilection for masturbating both in the presence of women and over the phone – claims he readily admitted in a statement issued the following day.
“These stories are true. At the time, I said to myself that what I did was O.K. because I never showed a woman my dick without asking first, which is also true,” Louis wrote.
But what I learned later in life, too late, is that when you have power over another person, asking them to look at your dick isn’t a question. It’s a predicament for them. The power I had over these women is that they admired me. And I wielded that power irresponsibly.
Over the course of the last 11 months, Louis’ conduct has been dissected by peers within the entertainment industry as well as members of the public who have had a mixed reaction to the comedian’s return to the comedy circuit in recent months.
Sarah Silverman, who was among the comedians to openly condemn Louis’ actions in the aftermath of the revelations last November, was questioned on the subject again while appearing on The Howard Stern Show this week.
In this instance, Sarah revealed that Louis, who she counts as a long-time friend as well as comedy peer, masturbated in front of her, with her consent.
I’ve known Louis forever, I’m not making excuses for him, so please don’t take this that way. We are peers. We are equals. When we were kids, and he asked if he could masturbate in front of me, sometimes I’d go, ‘F*ck yeah, I want to see that.’
While appearing on the SiriusXM radio show, Sarah was quick to say that she drew no parallels between her experience and that of the five women who came forward against the actor late last year.
It’s not analogous to the other women that are talking about what he did to them. He could offer me nothing. We were only just friends. So sometimes, yeah, I wanted to see it, it was amazing. Sometimes I would say, ‘F*cking no, gross,’ and we got pizza.
She argued that there was a distinction between her experience of Louis’ predilection and that endured by other women.
Sarah stressed that her interactions with Louis were not an example of power play, but didn’t believe the same could be said of the other instances.
I’m not saying what he did was okay. I’m just saying at a certain point, when he became influential, not even famous, but influential in the world of comedy, it changes.
“He felt like he was the same person, but the dynamic was different and it was not OK,” she reasoned.
Sarah’s remarks were rooted in the understanding that she and Louis were equals, while he and the other women were not – something which one of his victims, Rebecca Corry, was quick to correct Sarah on following her interview with Stern.
In a Twitter post, Rebecca disputed Sarah’s suggestion that she and Louis hadn’t been peers when he harassed her in 2005, ultimately rendering Sarah’s comparison ineffectual.
To be real clear, CK had “nothing to offer me” as I too was his equal on the set the day he decided to sexually harrass me. (sic)
“He took away a day I worked years for and still has no remorse. He’s a predator who victimized women for decades and lied about it,” Rebecca wrote.
Sarah publicly apologised to Rebecca on Twitter, acknowledging that she was wrong to suggest that Rebecca and Louis were anything but equals on the day Louis sexually harassed her.
“Rebecca I’m sorry. Ugh this is why I don’t like weighing in. I can’t seem to do press for my show w/out being asked about it,” Sarah wrote in reply.
But you’re right – you were equals and he f*cked with you and it’s not ok. I’m sorry, friend. You are so talented and so kind.
The way in which Sarah’s comments were initially framed by the media ultimately diluted the lived experience of the other five woman, and added very little to a narrative which should be focussed on Louis’ misconduct and the impact it had on his victims.
And yet Sarah continues to be questioned on the conduct of a male friend while Rebecca, as she discloses in her response to Sarah, is getting rape and death threats.
I know exactly how you feel. I can’t seem to live my life without getting rape and death threats, harassed & called a c*nt regularly for simply telling the truth. I’m sorry your friend created this situation.
Why is Louis CK currently performing in comedy clubs while a female peer is continually forced to comment on the conduct of a man who has made a very lucrative living talking about himself?
Why is Louis allowed to lament the money he has lost over the last 12 months while his victim receives death threats on a regular basis?
Why is Louis afforded a silent pass while his female peers are forced to weigh in?
How is it fair that two women – one of whom had consensual encounters with a man and one of whom was harassed by him – are resigned to justifying their perception of their respective interactions on a public platform while he is ostensibly allowed to remain tight-lipped?
While Louis is seemingly moving on, the women in his life are forced to deal with the fall-out.
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