Why Am I Defending Louis C.K.'s Victims AND Him?
It "started" with Harvey Weinstein, but we all know it sure as hell did not start with Harvey Weinstein. And it doesn't end with Harvey Weinstein. But hopefully this is the end of Weinstein's career. He abused his power, harassed and assaulted countless women, made women feel uncomfortable and traumatized, and for years his career flourished with no repercussions. Not anymore, and hell yeah for that. I'm so proud to see my fellow women (and men) standing up and making their voices heard, even if their voices shake. I stand beside them, and my heart breaks with every single story I hear about a woman being left to feel scared and less than and taken advantage of. We've all been there, to varying degrees. The truth is coming out, and perpetrators are finally facing consequences, but the pain and trauma they've caused is forever.
That fucking sucks, plain and simple.
Harvey Weinstein makes me sick. Kevin Spacey makes me sick. Brett Ratner makes me sick. The list goes on and on and on.
So, why is it so hard for me feel the same sickness and fury with Louis C.K. that I feel for so many other perpetrators of wrongful behavior against women?
Right after the news broke of women coming forward with their personal stories about Louis C.K.'s inexcusable behavior, my mom called me. She wanted to know what I was feeling, because I've been a huge fan of his for years. My high school boyfriend and I went to see Louis C.K. in Staten Island, NY, and I took my last boyfriend, a comedian, to see Louis C.K. in Los Angeles as a birthday gift. That was my big gift to him, and I was just as excited as he was. Louis C.K. made me laugh, like he always did.
But, I'm not laughing right now. I can't. I do have thoughts, though. Lots and lots of them.
I didn't know what to say to my mom. Well, I did, but I didn't. How do I fiercely defend Louis C.K.'s victims AND defend him at the same time?
You may be thinking, "You don't. His victims are the only ones you should be standing up for." I know this is controversial, but I don't think I agree.
In no way whatsoever am I trying to undermine Dana Min Goodman, Julia Wolov, Abby Schachner, Rebecca Corry, and every other courageous woman who has been directly affected by Louis C.K.'s sick mind. I have so much love for these women without even knowing them. We're in the same sisterhood.
I know for a fact that they deserve better than they've gotten, and I will stand up with and for them again and again and again. That's why this post is more about Louis C.K. than them. It is 100% clear that these women did nothing wrong and should be able to freely pursue happiness and their career goals without a black cloud hovering over them.
But as the daughter of a parent with a mental illness--a parent who has unwantingly caused me pain, yet is my number one confidant and the answer behind every great quality I have-- I can't help but feel torn about the fate of Louis C.K. and his career.
How do we fight for mental illness awareness and rights for people living with mental illnesses but also say someone's life and career is over before they even get the help they need? Difficult questions like this need to be examined and discussed, and I hope we're discussing them.
Every time any tragic event or news story comes out (which is far too often these days), I can't help but think the same thought every time about the suspect(s): "How did this person, who was once an innocent little baby, get from point A to point B?" And this question to myself drives my empathy and my desire to dig deeper to understand people's motives. Sometimes the answer is as simple as, "This person has a screw loose, they're dangerous, and they need to be locked up forever for the safety of everyone." But, I think that more often than not, the answer is so much more grey than black and white like that, which almost makes everything harder. People decide it's too hard to tackle such a complex issue, so they say, "Let's just lock this person up and not think too hard." Or, "This person's career is over." My heart breaks for victims in one way that makes total sense, but it also breaks for perpetrators in another, entirely different, way that doesn't always make sense. And that's where I find myself right now.
My heart feels the need to stand up for Louis C.K.'s victims while also acknowledging that he clearly needs help. I just don't see him as "another Harvey Weinstein." I don't. The reason I even decided to write about this heavy topic on my blog is because, as I was going through the Notes section of my phone for writing inspiration, I came across a Louis C.K. quote I copied and pasted in 2015. It reads, "The person you really are is the worst version of yourself." This is just another reminder of Louis C.K.'s demons. We all have demons. Not all of us sexually harass others as a result of our demons, but we all act out in different ways because of past trauma that lives inside of us. Louis C.K. has been very vocal about his demons and the harshness of life throughout his entire career. That's why people love(d) him so much. That's why this news is so devastating and disappointing. It's also why this news kind of makes sense if you really think about it. Louis C.K. is a sick man who needs help, like so many others. And I think he knows that. I think he's known that for a long time. We've watched him talk on stage about his demons and concerns--i.e. depression and raising daughters in a fucked up world. But as long as he was making us laugh we didn't need to zero in on his shortcomings. Now we do. Now it's too hard to laugh, because we know too much.
Do we just throw Louis C.K. away and decide his life and career are basically over?
At what point do we stop accepting apologies and statements of regret from people who really seem to want to be and do better?
These are some of the questions I have.
I know a lot of people have made the very fair point that Louis C.K.'s statement was just that-- a statement, not an apology. And I agree. I hope he apologizes directly, and with sincerity, to the women he hurt (the word "hurt" being an absolute understatement). I hope he does what he needs to do to get better and be better. And I hope that if and when he does, we give him the second chance that not all people necessarily deserve.
If Louis C.K. is a shitty person deep down it'll come to light, just like his perverse actions have. But maybe he's just another human with demons who doesn't want to be shitty anymore.