“A woman saying yes to a date with a man is literally insane and ill-advised, and the whole species’ existence counts on them doing it. I don’t know how women still go out with guys, when you consider the fact that there is no greater threat to women than men? We’re the number one threat to women. Globally and historically, we’re the number one cause of injury and mayhem to women. We’re the worst thing that ever happens to them.” – Louis C.K.
Men are pigs. Or dogs. Use whatever negative animal correlation you prefer. I promise not to be offended. I, like many men, live in a constant state of apology, for the embarrassing behavior of the seemingly never-ending parade of men who just don’t get it.
By “it” I mean that women are people, actual human beings, with thoughts, feelings, goals and dreams. And while I happen to really like both pigs and dogs, and feel that is completely unfair to belittle these amazing creatures by comparing them with the often destructive homosapien male, I completely understand our society’s misanthropy towards the male gender. I often say “I’m a complete sexist, because I believe women are far superior to men.” And, yes, I actually believe this.
One look at crime statistics shows that men, around the globe, and throughout history have committed more than 90% of violent crimes. When asked recently, on a podcast, what I thought would be the single best way to curb violence in America, I replied
“Testosterone causes most of the world’s violence, so regulating testosterone in the male species would be the quickest and easiest way to limit violence.”
This is not to say that all men are bad. I happen to know some very good men, strong, gentle men who try very hard to make the world a better place on their mortal walk through it. Yet still, I find myself often disgusted by the behavior of my gender-mates. When I see monsters like Harvey Weinstein, Roy Moore and Bill Cosby treating women as if they were nothing more than sex-toys put on Earth for their personal amusement, it angers me. The men I know would never treat another human being this way. They would never abuse their power and they flatly condemn these sleazeball predators.
So why are so many of these same good men, feeling triggered by the Louis C.K. scandal?
Let me take this opportunity to say that it is absolutely ludicrous to expose yourself to a non-consenting person. I can’t really believe that it’s almost 2018 and I still have to say this, but sadly I do. Every woman I know, who has an online dating profile, is constantly bombarded by pictures of strange men’s penises.
Guys, no woman wants to see your penis, until she has decided that everything surrounding that penis is worth knowing. I know your body is raging with testosterone and you can’t wait to show off your amazing penis to the world, but try to remember that a dick-pic is no substitute for courtship. Just keep it in your pants until you are absolutely sure that she wants to see it. I know it’s difficult, but really, do us all a favor and stop exposing yourself to random women. Penises, isolated from the male body look like some kind of deformed alien baby, so most women just choose to laugh at your penis, but in reality showing your penis to a stranger is sexual assault.
So just stop it!!
As for Louis C.K., my thoughts on this are slightly more nuanced and I will attempt to explain these thoughts in a way that will not have thousands of women screaming at me about “the patriarchy!!” for I am a firm believer that the patriarchy must die and I have spent my life doing everything I could to expedite its demise.
But before I put away my soapbox let me also remind men not to glare at women’s asses when they wear yoga pants, not to try to use cheesy and/or offensive pickup lines, not to ask a woman at the gym to remove her earbuds, not to follow women to their cars or in their cars and just overall to not fucking bother women in public.
There are dating websites for this.
If you feel like you simply must talk to a woman in public, the only line you will ever need to know is:
“Hi, my name is (name).”
No trickery. No negging. No false pleas for recipe advice at the grocery. No interrupting them while they are busy.
Believe me, women get tired of being stalked everywhere they fucking go. It’s scary. You may be an alright guy, but they have no way of knowing this.
So just fuck off and go home and masturbate.
I normally avoid Hollywood stories, but I became interested in the Louis C.K. scandal when three different men, all of whom I am close friends with, all said something to the effect that the Louis situation felt scary to them and insinuated that they were unable to correlate C.K. as the same type of predator as Bill Cosby or Kevin Spacey and then added some version of “But I would never say that in public.”
This intrigued me, so I began reading about Louis. It seemed that Louis was in the habit of asking women if it was okay if he masturbated in front of them. Apparently this had been going on for a long time and rumors had circulated about his behavior. Finally a group of five women came forward and said that Louis had masturbated in front of them. Four of them said that Louis had asked for consent, and they granted consent, while a fifth woman claimed that Louis had masturbated over the phone without asking. It is important to note that two of the women were actually with Louis, in his hotel room, at the same time, when he asked if they would watch him masturbate, and these women say that they granted consent only because they thought C.K. was joking when he asked. Another detail regarding the two women in Louis’ hotel that has been hotly debated, is that the women say that when they tried to leave that C.K. “blocked the door.” I think it is important that we know if Louis “blocked the door” in an attempt to apologize out of embarrassment or if Louis “blocked the door” as an act of aggression, with intent to incarcerate. We do not have those details at this time.
Before I continue on I want to make it abundantly clear that I feel that ANY act done with consent is fair game for adults. While none of us want to imagine the image of some fat, middle-aged, bald guy masturbating, I wholeheartedly reject the notion that masturbating in front of a consenting partner is somehow perverted. It is not up to me to judge the sexual appetites of others. As long as no one is coerced, then all is fair game when agreed upon by consenting adults.
But therein lies the problem. The rules of our culture are changing. Sexual liberation is still somewhat of a new concept and we are working out the rules as we go. We have fluctuating rules on what it means to give consent and many people feel that due to Louis being such a powerful person in the entertainment realm, that for him to make sexual advances towards any woman in that field, be they fan or colleague, would constitute sexual coercion, due to the fact that the women may have felt like rejecting his advances could have had detrimental effects on their careers or simply because they were in awe of Louis C.K. due to his immense stardom.
I believe that it is only fair to differentiate the severity of Louis’ actions from that of Harvey Weinstein and Fox CEO, Roger Ailes, who used their positions of power to threaten women directly into sleeping with them. None of C.K.’s accusers have made any such claims against Louis.
In response to the Louis C.K. scandal, social media has suddenly become inundated with men who are saying that the women that C.K. exposed himself to are being opportunistic and overly sensitive. These same men share stories about times they have been in the same situation with gay men making advances towards them and how they “didn’t make a big deal out of it.” The more I hear these stories, the more it becomes abundantly clear that the men sharing them completely and totally miss the point of what it is like to be a woman in a society that constantly diminishes them down to their physical attributes, while completely ignoring the very essence of what makes them human beings.
This is not to say that men don’t occasionally have similar problems, but the constant bombardment of unwanted sexual advances that women are forced to endure by a sick society that belittles them from a very young age is vastly more crippling than the occasional threat that some men face at the hands of an overzealous suitor. For a man to compare an isolated incident to the lifetime of sexual harassment that all women suffer, beginning before they even hit puberty, is akin to complaining about the time rain ruined your picnic to a person who just lost their home to a hurricane.
I too, have been propositioned by men who held positions of authority over me. I too, have turned down their sexual advances and wondered if I would be receiving a pink slip with my next week’s paycheck. Once, I turned down advances from a female boss and was promptly fired on the spot. When I told her that I would sue her, she replied that no one would ever believe me, because I was a man and she was an attractive woman.
Sitting in my new apartment later that evening, looking at my life in boxes (I had to relocate to a new city for the job), watching my kids watch Spongebob, trying to think of how I was going to maneuver my way out of this mess, with less than $50 in my bank account and no friends or family in my new city, I picked up the phone and called my boss to save my job. I told her that I found her incredibly attractive (I didn’t!!) and that I had rejected her advances, because I was scared of getting hurt. She said that she understood and sent a car for me. I met her for dinner, laughed at her jokes and slept with her for the next three months, while I saved up money and secured a job back in my home city. Having no extended family, I honestly didn’t see that I had any other options. Had I been alone, I would have chosen to sleep on the street rather than prostitute myself to someone who disgusted me in every way. But I was not alone. I was a single dad with two children. I did what I had to do to take care of them and I never told anyone about it until just now.
Still, an isolated incident does not mean that I have empathy and understanding for what it is like to be a woman, to be objectified on such a consistent basis that I must consider every stitch of clothing that I put on in hopes of finding that unattainable balance between being attractive, but not so attractive that you attract unwanted male attention simply by going to the gym or the grocery.
Men simply cannot know what it is like to endure this constant onslaught. But, in all fairness, women cannot know what it is like to be male, attempting to navigate the ever-changing sexual landscape. And although I know that many women meet every male attempt to explain their feelings with dismissive comments like “Boo-hoo, the poor man has a problem and wants attention.” (an understandable backlash to centuries of male-oppression) I think it may be helpful for women to understand a male perspective on this particular issue, because to understand may result in both genders being able to have more effective communication, which will hopefully result in less unfortunate incidents like the one that Louis C.K. and his victims find themselves in. For the cynical among you, this means, as I was born with a penis, that I will be attempting to man-splain.
I will do so, using experiences from my own life.
Twice in my life I have been accused of sexual assault, yet I can say with an absolutely clear conscience that I have never and would never sexually assault another human being.
The first situation involved a woman who was a friend of a woman I was dating. The friend was always around when I would go to my girlfriend’s house. One day my girlfriend ran to the grocery to get an item that we needed for some cooking we were doing. I was supposed to stay back and continue dinner prep with her friend. As soon as my girlfriend left, her friend began making advances on me. I had no idea what was happening. I told the girl that I was not interested. I told her that I really liked my girlfriend and I promised her that I wouldn’t mention what had happened to her and that we could just forget the whole thing.
The evening continued on in a normal fashion. We ate dinner and had a few drinks. I went home and slept that night and didn’t think too much about the odd situation I had been put in by my girlfriend’s friend.
The following day my life turned to complete and total chaos.
It started with a phone call. My girlfriend was screaming and crying. I could barely make sense of what she was saying. By the time the call was completed I had become aware that the friend had told my girlfriend that I had tried to rape her, while my girlfriend was at the grocery.
I was appalled. I told my girlfriend what really happened, about how I had spurned her friend’s advances, about how her friend had told me that we could keep the whole thing a secret, about how she persisted even though I had resisted several times.
My girlfriend, who had only known me for a few months, told me that the girl had been her best friend since they were little and that “she would never lie about something like that.” Just like that, my new relationship was over.
But things would get much, much worse.
Soon, everywhere I went people would look at me strangely. I had physical confrontations with other males who felt justified in attacking me, because they were defending the honor of my poor, defenseless victim.
I kept the whole thing a secret from my friends and family. The last thing I wanted to do was share my humiliation with those who were close to me. I felt dirty, like I had done something wrong. But I hadn’t! This was the first time that I became aware that false allegations of sexual assault, were just as bad, for the accused, as real allegations of this nature.
My life was completely ruined. After several months of dealing with attacks on my self and my property, I opted to move. To this day, I am afraid that I will see one of those people who believed lies about me. What is to stop one of them from using lethal force against me? That is exactly what I feel like doing to rapists and pedophiles, after all.
Just as the victims of sexual assault will always have to live with their scars, so do those men who are falsely accused. I am not attempting to compare two different types of suffering. I am merely attempting to illustrate why some men might feel triggered by the events of the Louis C.K. scandal.
I believe what scares men about this situation is that Louie asked for, and received consent. Then later, the women said that they felt violated. Conscientious men live in a constant state of fear that perhaps a consensual sex act can be reframed in the mind of their partner, to fit a new narrative that is more in line with how they view themselves at the current time.
For example, I once knew a man who was accused of sexual assault for having a brief sexual relationship with a female coworker. The woman was in an on-again, off-again abusive relationship. When the man met her, she swore that she was done with her abuser, but for whatever reason, within a few weeks she was back with him. The abuser began constantly questioning her about her activities during the time when they were apart. One day, while going through her phone, he found text messages between her and the man. The texts clearly indicated that there had been a sexual relationship between the two of them. The abusive male turned up the heat on the woman, so in order to save herself and her awful relationship, she told her abuser that the sex was not consensual.
As you can imagine this incident completely destroyed the man’s life. The abusive man and his brothers stalked him mercilessly, destroying his house and his car. As the woman was a coworker, rumors spread quickly throughout his place of work and he subsequently lost his job. The man sat on pins and needles for months, wondering if he would face criminal charges for a consensual sex act that was reframed in the mind of his former partner.
So what does this have to do with Louis C.K.? C.K. admitted that he was wrong and apologized.
Perhaps my final example will help bring all of this together.
Not long ago a coworker of mine contacted me and told me that she was recently single and wanted to know if I knew of any eligible men that I could introduce her to. I told her that I was going to a party that weekend and asked her if she wanted to come. I told her that I would be more than happy to introduce her to lots of great people at the party.
I picked her up Friday night and escorted her to the party. In the interest of full disclosure I will add that I always found this woman very attractive, but as she had been in a relationship the entire time that I had known her, I never really gave it much thought. And when she asked me to introduce her to some of my male friends, I took this as her saying that she was not attracted to me.
Apparently, I was wrong.
The entire time we were at the party she hung on my every word. She told me that she was a huge fan of my work and that she had always admired and looked up to me. I had no idea!! I was incredibly flattered!!
As the night waned she ask me if I would take her home, so I did. All the way to her house she told me that she was attracted to me. I admired her for being so forthcoming, but her forthrightness made me question her sobriety. I replayed the evening in my head, monitoring how many drinks she had consumed. She had only had a couple of drinks and had stopped drinking several hours earlier. She was sober, just far braver with her words than I could ever imagine being.
When we got to her house she asked me to come inside. Once inside she started kissing me. I stopped kissing her long enough to say
“Hey, I don’t mean to be weird, but I’m kind of big on consent, so I just need to know that you are absolutely sober.”
She laughed and said
“I am completely and totally sober. I haven’t had a drink in hours.”
And she was sober. I am 100% confident in that. I went to school for addictions counseling and I actually did the math in my head (alcohol content/body weight divided by number of hours since last alcoholic beverage), but the math was just me being overly cautious, due to my immense fear of engaging in anything that could be construed as non-consensual sex. I had spent the entire evening with her. She was completely sober.
I left her house early the next morning, feeling really good. I really liked this girl. She was beautiful and intelligent and we shared the same passions. I was excited, thinking about the next time we would see each other. The night had taken an unexpected twist in my favor. I was floating on a cloud.
The next morning I awoke to a text from the woman, asking me if I had had sex with her while she was blackout drunk.
I was terribly confused.
According to the woman, she could not remember anything from the previous night. As we spoke about the events of the evening she had incredibly selective recall. She was able to remember everything except the fact that we had sex, sex which she initiated.
I was completely traumatized. I know this may sound odd, but I was incredibly hurt and confused. I consulted with a female friend. I told her that this accusation horrified me. My friend told me that everyone who knows me knows that I would never take advantage of someone when they were intoxicated, but she also told me that several men she knew, had had this happen to them and subsequently had literally taken on the habit of pulling out their smartphones and making a short video of the woman they were about to sleep with, where they would ask the woman to say
“My name is (name here) and I am of sound mind and consenting to sex with (name here) on (date here).”
This was just too much for me. I can’t even imagine that there is any sex in the world that would be so enjoyable that it would be worth keeping a log of consent videos on file. I just decided that these kind of things were simply too dangerous and vowed to keep myself to myself.
My friend advised me to apologize to the woman and take full responsibility. I told my friend that to do so would be an admission of guilt and that I had done nothing wrong. My friend reminded me that the woman had changed the events in her mind and had became convinced of her new version of events and that as long as I continued to protest my innocence that the woman would press the issue, each time becoming more convinced that she had been victimized.
So I apologized.
Later on, I would find out from one of the woman’s friends that she had a long history of pulling this trick on men. I feel very foolish, even to this day, for having trusted someone, whom I only knew from working with them. I blame myself, even though I know I did everything the way it’s supposed to be done.
I believe this is why so many men have been triggered by the Louis C.K. scandal. Because many men have stories such as the ones I have shared with you. But they can’t talk about their stories. They aren’t allowed to. No one wants to hear them. And there is the very real danger that if they share their stories they will be ostracized by those whom they care deeply for.
I spend a lot of my time explaining to people how hard it is to be a woman in this disgusting culture. Please don’t think that I am trying to compare my sexual trauma to that of any woman’s sexual trauma. But they do share one key component. Whether you have been the victim of sexual assault or falsely accused of it, this will always hang over you. I am but a lowly columnist now (one of the five women accusing Louis of sexual assault is saying that the assault occurred when Louis was a simple staff-writer), but what will happen if I am so lucky enough to ever become a famous writer? Will my two “victims” come forward to tell the world their version of events? If they do, I know that it would be unwise to try to tell the truth on these matters, because no one would ever believe me in a million years. As a male, I am always a suspect and I will always be considered guilty of any false sexual allegations leveled against me.
I’m not trying to say that Louis C.K. is a saint. I’m merely trying to say that he asked for consent. Consent was given at the time, then later retracted and those who gave consent said that they did so because he was a powerful man and that they were afraid to say no.
Far be it from me to tell a woman how she is to react when a man asks her to engage in sex with her, when it is only the two of them in a closed off space. I understand that these situations can feel coercive, even when the one initiating it doesn’t mean for it to be. I understand that there are scary men in the world, who act like giant abusive toddlers when they do not get their way. But I also understand that good men, who actually care about gaining a woman’s consent, live in constant terror that any consent given will later be retracted, for any number of reasons.
Having undergone tremendous trauma in my own life, I would never tell any victim of trauma that they should have behaved differently in a situation other than how they behaved at the time. I would never say anything that would minimize the trauma that is felt by women every single day, as a result of clueless men, who do not know how to read a woman’s subtle cues.
But consent has to count for something. And I can’t help wondering if Brad Pitt had been caught asking for consensual intercourse with actresses he was on set with, would anyone have even cared. It feels like the image of an unattractive man masturbating is somehow more offensive to people than an attractive man having intercourse and that this is causing people to treat this situation differently than they would the aforementioned hypothetical.
I can’t equate Louis’ selfish cluelessness to the disgusting attacks of predators like Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, Roy Moore or Kevin Spacey. I believe, as men, we have to do more than to just verbally ask for consent. We have to realize that simply asking for consent may make some women feel scared and obligated to comply. I think we have to go a step further and say something like
“Hey, I really like you and I feel like you really like me, but I need you to know that you can walk out of here right now and you and I will still be friends and that our relationship will never be affected, in any way, by what happens or doesn’t happen here tonight and unless I know, with 100% certainty, that you know all these things and are CHOOSING to sleep with me because you want that as much as I do, well than I am not willing to go through with this.”
Maybe if Louis had said something like that we wouldn’t be having this conversation right now.
But I think it’s a conversation that we all need to have and keep having until we build a society where women truly are treated as equals.
Maybe this is a conversation we can all learn from.