Me Too: Louis C.K. Joins Hollywood’s List of Outed Sexual Predators

Yesterday afternoon, hours after the cancellation of his film, I Love You, Daddy, Louis C.K. publicly admitted that yep, he’s been a creepy wanker. I’d tell you what the shelved movie is about, but I can’t bring myself to type the words. So I invite you to read New Yorker writer Alexandra Schwartz’s account of needing a “barf bag” to endure the disgust. And oh by the way, C.K. – which is apparently an acronym for “cock” – also uses the “N” word in the movie. We really missed out, America. There’s just not enough self-involved, middle aged, white male stories of privilege being told (see: Election 2016).

C.K.’s fans have always found him edgy and – in a cruel irony – honest. The man traded on this reputation to create sometimes artistic, often funny content that also, from any angle, included plenty to make one wince. It was part of the brand. But hey, he was all in on Hillary Clinton, even if he felt the need to use the word “bitch” to describe her toughness. He has two young daughters. American audiences validated him. Unconventional feminist for sure, but we’ll take allies anywhere we can find them. Cool, I guess.

Except no. Louis C.K. and the guerilla-style perversions with which he attacked up and coming female comics were no secret to the industry. The power players – who are overwhelmingly male – enabled and uplifted a sick man who made them rich and famous by association. Let the shame hang on you now, Hollywood industrial media complex. You’ve also given us Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Mark Halperin, Brett Ratner, Charlie Sheen, Woody Allen, Billy Cosby, Roman Polanski, R. Kelly and Casey Affleck. None of these men committed their wide range of predatory acts in the shadows. Some of them, like Charlie Sheen, made TV millions after allegedly assaulting a young Corey Haim, and knowingly exposing female partners to HIV. That’s #Winning in the anything goes patriarchy.

And of course, Louis C.K., a writer on The Dana Carvey Show in 1996, has been running around with his dick in hand for over 20 years. His own work made no attempt to camouflage it, and still he kept rising (pun acknowledged, if not intended). In March 2012, now-defunct website Gawker, published a blind item entitled, Which Beloved Comedian Likes to Force Female Comics to Watch Him Jerk Off?

I’ll give you three guesses, but you only need one.

Five and a half years ago, the author wrote, “this shameless funnyman whips it out at the most inopportune moments, often at times when his female companions have expressed no interest in watching him go at it.” Yes, this checks out with what we now know. But appallingly, no one but the victims – two of whom who were intimidated by C.K.’s manager Dave Becky after one particular Aspen incident – would publicly say the emperor of American comedy was wearing no pants.

Well there were a few folks who decried the star’s penchant for pud pulling, but they’re women, lesbians or both. Why listen to them? Funny lady Tig Nataro, the deadpanned creator and star of Amazon’s One Mississippi, publicly distanced herself from her former collaborator long before the story broke this week. Jen Kirkman, Roseanne Barr and others have talked about Louie C.K.’s reputation as a glorified subway creep in an expensive trench coat. Nataro wisely advised the comedian to “handle that.”

As we know, after the quick flight of C.K.’s many entertainment partners this week, his weird, traumatizing business has been handled for him. No longer will the wildly successful comedian have access to talented, ambitious women he degrades by pleasuring himself. Louis C.K. belongs in intensive therapy, not on our screens. The victims deserve to be heard, if they wish. They must be believed regardless. And if the timing were not so totally cynical, while still lacking in honesty, the comedian’s Friday afternoon admission of guilt might have offered a chance to begin healing. The too little, too late, empathy is almost touching, nearly enlightened:

“I want to address the stories told to The New York Times by five women named Abby, Rebecca, Dana, Julia who felt able to name themselves and one who did not…. 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.”

We know there are more than five brave women who’ve endured the full Louis. C.K. experience. And we know that there are more predators hiding in Hollywood’s sunshine-filled plain sight. And that should make us all angry, mad enough to finally start calling these pigs back to the trough (I’m looking especially hard at you, male allies). There’s no excuse for Louis C.K.’s behavior. But the celebration and inner-circle secrecy that allows powerful men to illiberally victimize women and young boys is what’s truly inexcusable.

Handle that.

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Tindering My Dating Resignation (December 24, 2014)

For most of 2014, I’ve lived in self-imposed romantic exile. What began as a logical recovery period from an early December 2013 breakup, became a determination to reroute the dark serial monogamy patterns that left me lurching from one co-dependent mistake to the next.

Once I grew comfortable saying “No, thank you” or “Not now,” I was mortified to discover that while the decline ratio was up, my natural tendencies hadn’t changed a whit. Left to my own devices I was still drawn to the alcoholic, the emotional cripple or the one who could never understand or appreciate me. Without fail. Apparently some psychologically diseased part of me still loved to be hated, but I made the choice to stop indulging it.

As the year progressed, I recognized that my own company, or the community of friends and family, was infinitely preferable to awkward small talk with another strange man who would surely lead to some form of ruin (based on a near perfectly disastrous 35-year record). As the painfully funny comic, writer and actor Louis C.K. once observed: “How do women still go out with guys, when you consider that there is no greater threat to women than men? We’re the number one threat to women! Globally and historically, we’re the number one cause of injury and mayhem to women.”

It’s not that I’ve been a nun. There was a short fling with an informed Libertarian who inflamed my passions with a staunch belief in marriage equality. There was a brief interlude with a co-worker’s brother. But mostly, there was just me and the merry band of misfits I call my nearest and dearest. For the first time ever, that was enough.

In November, a relatively new friend of mine in her mid-20s asked me to give online dating one final shot. I had barely processed the offer, “Let me set you up with a Tinder profile,” before I found myself numbly agreeing. After all, 2014 has been the unofficial “Year of Yes.” What’s new and scary must be sampled, especially if it means cutting another tie with a repetitively agonizing past.

But Tinder? The notorious hookup app that bills itself as “How people meet. It’s like real life, but better.” Doesn’t that just sound like bullshit? Aisha did her best to reassure me. She vouched that the extra level of vetting provided by the application’s mutual “swipe” requirements would distill a better brand of suitor. In hindsight, I think the sweet girl was so invested in seeing me coupled, she would have said anything. She has a future in marketing – and a long tenure ahead as another one of my partners-in-crime.

I lasted 24 hours on Tinder, halfheartedly ignoring the New York Times and my treasured books to “play” the game. As I’m 36 years old, I didn’t need to be told to avoid the profiles featuring shirtless douchebags, inspirational quotes from Don Draper and other obvious rif-raff. Yet those offensive maneuvers were not nearly enough. My inbox became crammed with ingenious conversation starters such as:

“Hey sexy.”

“You’re hot. You don’t have kids, do you?”

“Oh I see. You’re into hot chocolate.”

The following morning, my Tinder experiment concluded, as did any lingering idea of meeting someone this calendar year. I was hardly pining for it, busy with holiday plans, work, theater, weight loss and the unfailingly satisfying time spent with loved ones. I preferred evenings in front of the Christmas tree with a glass of champagne and Frank Sinatra carols to the chase. I was done. See you in 2015 dating world – maybe.

It’s strange how important, game changing people can walk into our lives when least expected, or even desired. I was in the middle of a loud happy hour conversation (as though I’m capable of any other kind) with my colleague Duane when I felt the tap on my shoulder in a crowded bar. I wheeled around and found myself staring into the earnest, nervous face of an adorable young man with a soft looking beard. Wearily skeptical and more than a little intoxicated, I accepted Kurt’s offer to buy me a drink, figuring I could check momentary courtship from a recent college grad off my bucket list.

Instead the last few weeks have been one surprise after another. But this time, the amazements are pleasant and welcome: a synthesis between words and actions, physical chemistry and a growing mutual disregard for the generation that separates us in age. There is nothing recognizable about the unself-conscious honesty that has recently permeated my world, and as Martha Stewart famously said, “That’s a good thing.”

Maybe I was a bit hasty concluding there’s no one kind and interesting for me. Perhaps I haven’t let all the good ones slip my notice through a firm, lifelong commitment to self-defeat. Kurt recently gifted me with a book, The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. It’s the memoir of a woman who survived a complicated and tough childhood. The inscription on the inside of the jacket read:

“Becky,

I know this is a little different than your normal literature, but the book reminded me of you. Let it be an inspiration to writing your own story.”

I’d come to believe that the romantic section of my autobiography had been figuratively copy edited and typeset. But maybe it’s just getting started, because I’ve finally fixed my compass so it points toward promise and away from learned helplessness. I think I’ll hold onto that resignation a little while longer.