The Problem With Louis C.K.’s Apology

It’s not admiration, Louis C.K.; it’s self-preservation in a world that rewards men for mediocrity while always, always eying women with suspicion.

Comedian Louis C.K. issued a statement Friday admitting that allegations of sexual misconduct made against him by five women were true. But Louis C.K. didn’t devote a lot of time in his statement apologizing to the women he harassed. In fact, he failed to use the words “I’m sorry” even once in his apology.

Instead, he focused on a surprising idea: Admiration. To hear Louis C.K. tell it, these five women admired him so much that it gave him power over them. He explained, at great length, that the problem with his behavior wasn’t so much that he pulled out his penis and began masturbating in front of these women — repeatedly. The real problem was that he took advantage of how much the women admired him.


I’m sure that, at some point in their careers, these women did admire Louis C.K. After all, that’s how he got them into the hotel room to begin with — by using his position as a well-known comedian. They were likely confused and dismayed when he began masturbating in front of them, and were afraid of burning bridges in their industry by reacting harshly.

But the power he had over these women wasn’t their admiration or his social standing: It was his gender.

Louis C.K. never recognizes the role his gender played in his harassment of these women. Even in defeat, Louis C.K. needs to imagine himself admired and respected. He needs to believe he’s extraordinary and special. His statement is nothing but a pathetic attempt to recapture the admiration he clearly feeds upon.

Well, I’ve got news for you, Louis C.K. No one admires you. Not anymore.

It takes a lot more than acknowledging the truth of the harm you’ve done to gain admiration. It requires you to dig deeper and do better. It requires you to be honest about how the simple fact that you’re a man made it easier for you to be successful as a comedian — and to get away with openly harassing your female colleagues. It requires you to admit that the power you wield isn’t earned but an accident of birth and genetics.

I’ve been sexually harassed at work. I don’t know many women who haven’t. And in each case, it’s a culture that tells women to be good sports — don’t make waves, don’t make a big deal out of it — that forces us to trade our silence for our careers. It’s not admiration, Louis C.K.; it’s self-preservation in a world that rewards men for mediocrity while always, always eying women with suspicion.

So make a fool out of yourselves, men. Pull out your dicks and think we’re impressed. Make lewd jokes and congratulate yourself for being players. Just remember that we see you for what you are: Pathetic losers whose self-image relies on our perceived admiration. We see you, we dismiss you, and we aren’t going to put up with it anymore. No matter who you are.

Unlike Louis C.K, the women comedians he harassed earned their places. They worked twice as hard — and put up with twice as much shit — to get where they are. They may not be household names but their careers are honest.

And today, they’re the ones we admire.

Jody Allard is a former techie-turned-freelance-writer living in Seattle. She can be reached through her website, on Twitter or via her Facebook page.

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