Dear Louis C.K.
Before I comment on anything I want you to know who I am. I know who you are and before I ever bare my thoughts to someone, I think it important to have a bit of introductory information out of the way.
I am 21. I am an artist and a lover of art, a writer and a lover of words, a sister, and a survivor of sexual harassment and assault.
When I saw that you had issued a statement saying that the rumours were true. You had done what those 5 brave women said that you did. I sighed a breath of relief. I thought “wow, here is a man. Here is someone who understands and can stand against the heinous crimes–even if they were his own.”
So, Louis, you can probably understand my dismay and utter disgust when I read your statement.
“The power I had over these women is that they admired me. And I wielded that power irresponsibly.” No. You did not have that kind of power over them. These women were not your fans but your peers– other comedians. The fact that you are trying to excuse your behaviour by attaching a character trait to these women makes my stomach churn. It is classic victimizer language to believe that you are are only wrong because you “wielded that power irresponsibly” is not up to par with what I expected from an apology.
“I also took advantage of the fact that I was widely admired in their community, which disabled them from sharing their story.” I will say you have it half right here Louis, you did disable them from sharing their story until now… but it wasn’t just you. Society is telling a story about sexual abuse that doesn’t allow for women to share their stories and not suffer the consequences. These women could have, and probably would have, lost their jobs if they had opened up during the time of the abuse and harassment. You, on the other hand, are still profiting and even being commended for your statement. This isn’t because you were widely admired though. This is because you were in a seat of higher power and you manipulated that power to abide to your will.
“The hardest regret to live with is what you’ve done to hurt someone else.” As a survivor of sexual assault and harassment, and for all of those who are in seats like mine, you live with the regret of hurting us too– along with the 5 women you took advantage of in those situations.
This is all unfortunate to me, because I used to sing praises about the comedy that you delivered. It saddens my heart that someone who I enjoyed and was entertained by has let me down. I will no longer be a consumer of your art, Louis. I hope you can understand.
Courtney A. Walters
The fact that Louis C.K. is getting commended by people for the mere fact that he offered up a statement and a lame-attempt at an apology is exactly why we aren’t moving forwards when it comes to the topic of sexual assault. In his statement, Louis doesn’t even come right out and say, “I’m sorry” instead, he warps the language and message to make it seem like he is as much the victim as the 5 women.
Louis is not a victim. He may have asked those 5 women if he could show them his penis but never does it say that they gave consent. Consent is not a whispered yes in fear of losing a job. Consent is not a lack of answer.
Consent is an eager and enthusiastic agreement to move forward into intimacy. It is required for each encounter. It is not an EZ-Pass on the highway, you don’t get to purchase consent and then have it forever.
Between Weinstein, Spacey, C.K. and countless others, we aren’t addressing the safety and protection of the victims, of the ones who are living and surviving and moving through life with the repercussions of those events. When we focus on the victimizer, we continue to silence and discredit the stories of the women and men who come forward with stories of abuse and assault.
Let’s do better, America. Let’s not accept attempts at apologies and statements just because they were given in a time when they are few and far between.
Let’s stand up for those who don’t have a voice. Let’s work towards turning the narrative and making society safe for those who feel cautious in most situations.
Let’s do better, America.