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Wow, Louis C.K. Did the Bare Minimum in Admitting Allegations Are True, Let’s Throw Him a Freaking Parade

louis ck assault admits guilty accusations apology

Earlier today, Louis C.K. released a statement addressing the allegations published by the New York Times yesterday. There had long been off-the-record reports and rumors of C.K.’s sexual misconduct with young female comics, specifically that he had a proclivity for masturbating in front of women without their consent.

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His statement (which you can read in full here or by expanding the tweet below) stands out from others released by similarly accused men because he doesn’t deny the claims or deflect them like Kevin Spacey did when he came out as gay instead of addressing charges of pedophilia. Instead, he admits “these stories are true.”

In that way, he stands apart from nearly all other men in his situation. And that’s the closest thing to praise I’m willing to offer.

I’m seeing a lot of “kudos” and “well done” responses to this “apology” and I simply don’t understand. To start with, it’s not an apology.

He does not apologize to the women. The closest he comes is to say he “can hardly wrap my head around the scope of hurt I brought on them.” (He also says “The hardest regret to live with is what you’ve done to hurt someone else” because this has all been really hard on him.) He offers more of an apology to the casts and crews of his various projects “who’s [sic] professional and personal lives have been impacted by all of this.” He also regrets the “negative attention” brought to his manager.

But when it comes to the women, his worst crime is that they admired him and he took advantage of that. Their admiration, that is. Because they admired him so much.

Let’s not forget that Louis C.K. has spent years denying these stories and many others.

So maybe what he actually meant was more along the lines of …

In his statement, C.K. writes, “At the time, I said to myself that what I did was okay because I never showed a woman my dick without asking first, which is also true. 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.”

First of all:

The scenario he’s painting here is one in which he thought he was asking for a consensual sex act and simply didn’t know what was or wasn’t appropriate. We’ve heard this before, from men like Andy Dick and Roy Moore, who equate sexual harassment and assault with an attempt at “dating.” But C.K.’s own actions prove that’s bullshit.

In the New York Times story, which C.K. has confirmed as true, some of the women recall receiving calls and emails from him, apologizing for what he’d done. The Guardian similarly reported that he sent a Facebook message to one woman three days before FX announced Louie, saying he knew he was being a “repulsive person.” This is an actual quote:

In at least one of these instances, he apologized for the wrong act. He did this with such frequency that he couldn’t keep straight whom he had locked in a bathroom and whom he had asked for permission first. Does anyone actually believe he didn’t know these acts weren’t consensual? Do we believe that he not only didn’t thing he was abusing his power, but that that wasn’t the entire point?

He has been doing this for years, and for years he’s felt comfortable enough with his actions that he hasn’t even been hiding them. Sure, he denies “rumors” in interviews, but he felt confident enough to make I Love You, Daddy, a Wody Allen homage with a scene of mimed masturbation  during a workplace call that mirrors some of the exact allegations against C.K. himself.

He also felt comfortable enough to put this tag on himself in an episode of Louie:

Knowing what we know now, is that joke really at his own expense? Or is it a mocking sort of dare to out him for the nonconsensual “masturbator” he is? Can you imagine what that joke must have felt like to any of his victims?

We’re glad Louis C.K. is done denying he’s a serial abuser. But that’s it. This isn’t a great apology, and it does nothing to undo all the damage he’s done to women over the years. Hell, he explicitly states in his opening sentence that he is only owning up to the five women who spoke to the NYT, when the “whisper network” where these accusations have been confined until recently has plenty more stories.

So good job, Louis C.K., for doing the exact bare minimum we hope for when a man is outed as a serial workplace abuser.

(image: Shutterstock)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.

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