I’ve been uneasy about the binary nature of much of the dialogue on social media during the recent revelations of sexual misconduct by famous or powerful people.
In the current climate, it seems that the only permitted choice is this: Either you immediately accept any accusation of any type of misconduct as absolute truth, or you are a victim-blaming, pedophile enabler.
Social platforms seem to invariably amplify these polarities, so that dialogue stops, and is replaced only by blaming, shouting, accusing, hiding, and blocking people on the other side.
Let me be clear on one thing: It is an absolute, UNDENIABLE fact that sexual harassment and intense misogyny are deeply systemic throughout our culture and industries. The recent wave of revelations by courageous victims is a painful, and absolutely necessary part of starting the processes of healing, accountability, and justice. I applaud them, and my heart goes out to these people.
And, it is also true that there is a broad spectrum of people, power, and behavior that is included in all of these situations. Making an unwelcome pass at someone is not the equivalent of rape. And equating them does nothing to help the victims, or further the evolution of our damaged culture of privilege.
I was so disappointed to read the revelations about Louis C.K. For me, his irreverence, authenticity, and talent have been an amazing thing to behold. And, although it’s not rape, his actions and attitude toward these women were (and are) unacceptable. Period.
Having said that, his apology and response is worth reading. Given the standard reaction of denial, counter-accusations, silence, or threats, his words are (if nothing else), at least a place from which dialogue about accountability, remorse, and evolution can begin.