There’s something that’s been really getting to me about Louis C.K.’s specific actions. And in the face of his “apology” (is it really an apology if they never say “sorry” or “apologize?”) there’s something we need to discuss: the male weaponization of making women feel sorry for them.
The act itself of masturbating in front of women is about power not sex, as all abuse is, but it’s a power derived from getting these women to feel sorry for him, too. Julia Wolov and Dana Min Goodman describe themselves as “screaming and laughing in shock.” Rebecca Corry said after she declined and brought up the fact C.K. was a father and husband, “His face got red and he told me he had issues.” Perhaps the humiliation itself was C.K.’s preferred kink, and he used that humiliation to make himself the sadsack of his own predatory behavior—to himself and to his victims. And it worked—several admit they didn’t know until years later what this all meant.
There’s this weird implication that by humiliating himself it’s not predatory. And that brings us to the rape episode of Louie, which includes the now eye-opening bit of dialogue wherein C.K. asks, “Why are you so mean to me?” and Pamela Adlon responds, “Why do you like it?” Later, he grabs her and drags her around the apartment, to her comment “You can’t even rape well.” This episode is designed the way C.K.’s entire real-life predatory behavior is: He’s ultimately the pathetic loser. And, as such, he is the victim.
Most women have experienced some kind of male aggression. But male sadness and guilt-tripping, that we need to feel sorry for these humiliated dolts, somehow rendered harmless by this patheticness, is just as common. It’s the friend zone, it’s nice guy syndrome, it’s all of it. Female reactions to male embarrassment, the social drive to make men feel better, to excuse behaviors because we feel sorry for them, that can be weaponized against us and is. That’s what Louis C.K. did for years, only admitting it when he was caught and couldn’t get out of it.