Hello, friends. Are you having a rough week? Feel like the onslaught of heinousness is just overwhelming? Are you mourning the loss of famous men you once liked and respected, because you found out they’re capable of treating other living human beings like props in their epic one-man show? Nervous that there might be other bad things that come out about other men you like, and now you fear that you can’t trust any of the men you believed to be decent dudes? Are you just generally bummed?
Then welcome to being a woman!
I mean, not actually, because there’s a whole lot of other shit that comes with being a woman, and you don’t get to feel like you’re now part of a marginalized or oppressed group just because George Bluth is a major asshole. The fact that Stand Up Guy Al Franken was willing to grope a woman as part of turning her into a walking punchline isn’t the same as spending your life being undermined. You’ve just had your affection for celebrities you don’t actually know called into question. It sucks, but it’s not the end of the world. Having said that, can someone get me the whereabouts of Adam Scott, because I swear on everything holy I cannot lose him this week.
The thing is, the reactions to finding out that Formerly Beloved Stars are assholes keep missing the point. The issue isn’t “We thought Louis C.K. was one of the good ones, but he’s secretly a Bad One.” The horrific, soul-crushing truth, and the part that as a society we are going to have to reckon with real quick is, he probably is one of the good ones. Don’t get me wrong. He repeatedly and continually abused women, he denied their stories, painted them as crazy bitches out to get him, and then offered up what was, in this writer’s opinion, a super bullshit apology once a major newspaper outed him. What he did wasn’t a mistake, it wasn’t an error in judgement, and it wasn’t a compulsion he couldn’t help himself about. He knowingly and intentionally victimized women over the course of years, and continued the victimization by not speaking up when others began attacking them. And he used his platform and voice to call out racist and sexist behavior in society. He attacked the very acts he was committing, but he gave legitimacy to the idea that men mistreating women is a real and valid problem. He did both.
Sarah Silverman maybe expressed it better.
Louis C.K. is a great father. Al Franken is one of the most important figures fighting against the Trump administration. Jeffrey Tambor is passionately leading one of the most important shows on TV right now. They’re the good guys. The ones who love their families, who are socially conscious, who know to use preferred pronouns. The men who have a deep and abiding need to separate recyclables from trash. Men who you trust as friends, and who, most importantly, you think are really decent human beings.
And that’s the fucking shitty part.
I’m not stating that some of the men who’ve committed various forms of sexual misconduct are good guys to defend them. It’s an attack. Because not all men commit sexual assault. But all men, even the really good, kind, liberal ones, the ones who are supposed to get it, have been taught that they and their needs are the most important. And that’s why Al Goddamn Franken felt like grabbing a woman’s boobs for comedy was OK. Because we’re so averse to actually dealing with our rape culture that we’ve taught all men that engaging in a little, light sexual assault and domination isn’t that big of a deal. EVEN. THE. GOOD. ONES.
The sad part isn’t that we don’t know who the “bad guys” are. The sad part is that we all know the “bad guys” way better than we think.