Savage Love Letter of the Day: What Did Louis C.K. Do "Wrong"?

Comments

1
“He asked for consent in each witnessed story.”

From the perspective of a comedian, making a joke. Not behind the performance.

Also, other comedians he did NOT ask for consent, even as a joke before doing this. Tig Notaro is an example.
2
He should have blamed the booze and declared that he now lives his life as an openly exhibitionist man.

But seriously, it's going to be hard to watch him rant about the stupidity of men from now on. Too hard to even bother trying, really.
3
F*#+in’ spot on answer, Dan!
4
@2: Unfortunately, this is not anything really new....

It also happened to poor Shirley Temple. When Shirley was being considered for The Wizard of Oz, producer Arthur Freed took her into a private interview on the MGM lot, unzipped his trousers and exposed his penis to her: Wikipedia
5
As rampant as sexual assault/battery and harassment are, is it any wonder that so many people opted to ignore or laugh off pussy-grabber-in-chief's declarations RE: pussy grabbing?
6
He asked consent. Women agreed to "Come"to his hotel room and they were drinking together. Should someone loose career over this?
7
His statement is lots better than "I'm gonna deny all that, plus I'm gonna spend insane amounts of money on lawyers and ex-spies and whatnot to make sure no one ever talks, plus you can't blame me 'cause that's just how things were and there's no possible way I could have known better, plus I'm really the victim here." So...congrats on clearing a really low bar I guess.

You know what other low bar would have been really cool to clear? Not masturbating in front of people while salving your conscience by obtaining some pallid parody of consent. I clear that bar every day. Lots and lots of people do.

I used to think he was pretty funny. I don't think I'll be watching his stuff any more.
8
A good barometer for people who, seriously, just don't get it (looking at you, LW) is to ask yourself this question: If the same act/words were performed/spoken to my mom, sister, wife, g/f, or daughter, would I be fine with it? Would I say these women consented, so it was all hunky dory?

Imagine the scenarios in a more detailed manner. If your wife came home from work, or daughter from college, and said, "My boss/prof asked if I wanted to see him jerk off, stripped off his clothes, and masturbated in front of me. I felt terrified, humiliated and disgusted", would you say, "Why? You kind of agreed to it. Nothing really 'wrong' here"? I'm guessing you'd instead be fit to be tied, and understand everything about what was wrong with the audacity to do that at all, much less to someone with whom there is a power imbalance.
9
@ 6 - Yes: you, over your stupid comment.

Comedians often work on the road and spend a lot of time in hotel rooms. That's a logical place for them to meet and work. Drinking together is not a legally binding agreement for sexual activity. And as the post made really clear (if it even needed to be clarified), consent under duress is not actual consent.

You remind me of the married guy who gave me a ride when I was a 19 year old hitchiker, and quickly put out his dick. When I told him to pull over and let me get out, his reaction was "What's the matter, you no longer want to?" As if getting into his car meant that I consented to have sex with him. A clueless moron. Just like you.
10
Three additional problems with his statement: 1) His attempts to excuse it near the beginning are bad. 2) Especially awful is him trying to let Dave Becky (his manager) off the hook for enabling his behavior and threatening his accusers if they went public. 3) Worst of all, he didn't APOLOGIZE to his victims for any of it.
11
Another sleazy creep who only comes clean when it's all over the papers. What fool of a man thinks women casually sitting chatting, having a drink, means they want to see him rub himself. Ask first? What a fucking tool.
12
"(and your willing participant rules)"
Ah yes, Dan's willing participant rules, barely worth a parenthetical
13
I find it hard to see Louis CK as a genuine exhibitionist, rather than as someone who gets off on asserting his privilege.

The contexts in which an exhibitionist gets his wanger out without implicit violation of consent are those in which there are expectations of nudity, eroticized or not, or where viewers, with minimal or no discomfort, and with no feeling they are being recruited to a private scene, can turn away from the 'exhibition'. A plunging neckline at a public supper or a visible bra in an office (supposing now a female exhibitionist) are not obtrusive or unreasonable because they're generally within the bounds of normative attire at those gatherings; someone who looks more wants to look more, and participates, rather than being ambushed or compelled.

This absolutely does not capture Louis CK's self-exposure, or the thoroughly bogus chance he gave the people he exhibited himself to to turn him down.
14
Very well said, Dan.

Another thing I'd like to point out is, sometimes women believe they've said no when they really haven't. It took a very honest therapist to point this out to me; that I often thought I'd said no to something (this applies to more than sexual situations) but I really hadn't said no directly. "Can I have your phone number?" might have been answered with "Well, I'm kinda busy right now so I don't have much time for talking on the phone." To me, this meant no, but to someone else it meant I was playing some game and if he was persistent, I'd eventually give in - which I usually did, just to get rid of him. I felt like a bitch if I said no directly, and it took me a while to get over this. Honestly, it still makes me uncomfortable.

While I believe it's important for women to learn to say no directly, it's also important - maybe more important - for men to understand when no is implied or a woman is expressing discomfort. Men are in the position of power here, so they need to be aware of the subtext and how difficult it is for some women to do anything other than what they've been socialized to do.
15
Thank you Dan.
The fact that anyone could think it was IN ANY WAY appropriate or okay to ask random women - whom they are NOT dating, nor have arranged to hook-up with - whether they could pull their dick out and masturbate and ejaculate in front of such women, shows how fucked-up our society's sexual mores are!!
16
Thank you for post Kate Harden's tweets. Something was off about the non-apology but I couldn't quite articulate what. Everything Ms. Harden wrote in those tweets was very good.
17
I wonder at what point the “I learned later in life” came about. The written response is relatively ok- I’m not saying it exonerates him, I’m saying it is not as bad as most other such responses are- and also a bit twelve steppy.
Is this something he was truly sorry about over the years and took the necessary action to stop such behavior?
Did he ever try and contact any of his forced audience members and offer to make amends?
So far there’s no such indication.
18
Thank you for reposting Kate Harden's tweets ...
19
@15: “shows how fucked-up our society's sexual mores are!!”

Eh, if he was in a sex club this might be appropriate. Still not something likely to find a lot of interested parties...
20
What I find really fascinating is that Louis apparently made reference to masturbating in front of people in his sitcom, his stand-up, AND his movie. Was his kink not only jacking off in front of people, but being so public about it (albeit while denying the actual allegations)? I'm kind of obsessed with reading about this story because there's something in his psychological make-up that I can't quite grasp. It's almost like he WANTED to be caught... like he was admitting who he was over and over again.
21
I don’t get what is so hard to understand.

These women weren’t sexual partners. The context wasn’t some casual gathering of close friends where this is some pervy in-joke.

These were fellow professionals in the context of work.

It’s no fucking different if you walked up to a female co-worker you managed at Amazon or Google or anywhere else and asked if you could pull out your dick.

What the fuck on earth gave you the right to even consider asking?

“Hey, everybody here in the office, wanna watch me jack off?”

If your job isn’t “porn actor” the answer is ALWAYS “NO!”
22
He should have used Grindr, not Tinder
23
I object to whatever shred of a benefit of the doubt Louis C.K. is still being given. Savage says he "either didn't realize it was wrong at the time or--"

Let me stop you right there.

OK, let's say a guy's kink is just being watched masturbating. That's it. All he wants is for a woman to sit and see him rub one out. Is that even *on* the kink scale? It's like a single scoop of plain vanilla with maybe a teen tiny bit of wasabi on the side. If a guy in a small town 100 years before the invention of the Internet wanted to find an enthusiastic partner who would indulge this, he wouldn't even have to move to a *slightly* less small town. He could marry the minister's daughter and spring this "kink" on her on their wedding night and her shock would be enough to make her say, "oh", pause, and say, "well, okay." She was imagining it could have been so much worse. Her friend had once hinted her butt might be called upon in some way she couldn't imagine.

How hard is it to find a sex worker to watch? No contact, no penetration, no nothing. You just sit there. It's like literally the cheapest item on the menu. Well, OK, I've never seen the menu and have no idea what the cheapest item is. Phone sex is more work than just sitting there watching. Phone sex at least requires speech, the ability to form English sentences, construct a plausible narrative. I don't know the menu, but seriously, how hard could it be to find somebody to simply watch? For a multi-millionaire?

Louis C.K. had no use for anyone consensually watching him jerk off. He wanted so much more than just a woman who would watch him wank. He wanted something much more specific, and he knew exactly what that thing was.

He specifically chose only a certain set of women to do this to: those who had aspirations in comedy. The one -- the ONE -- kind of power this man has is that he can help your career in comedy. And like a laser he pinpoints EXACTLY the women whom are most subject to this one thing, the only power he has. Women who were in no way going into it with their eyes open, not expecting it, who are worried what it could cost them.

You can bet your ass he god damn well knew he was putting them in a predicament. That's the POINT. That's why he picked them. A sex worker play acting shock and horror, no matter if it's an Oscar winning performance, is not going to get him off. He needs to KNOW the predicament is real. That's what he wanted. He wanted to cause real pain, and he wanted to leave scars.

So yeah, thanks for not hiring goons to strongarm your victims into silence. But these Louis C.K. surprise jerk off stories have been around for years. He denied them because he knew god damn well it was not OK. And where are the stories of Louis C.K. whipping it out for women who were not working their asses off for a break in comedy? He knew not to pick anyone like that. He *consciously* knew. He knew he had no power over them, and the predicament he pretends he only just learned about wouldn't have existed. He consciously knew he wanted the shame and horror and humiliation that an aspiring comic would feel when an admired and influential mentor suddenly turned into a monster before their eyes.

Fuck Louis C.K. and the bullshit train he rode in on. Don't give him any credit for fucking anything. He's just as much a fucker as Weinstein.
24
I love CK's comedy, and I want to give him some credit here for his apology, but it's still pretty weak. His power over these women was just that they admired him so much they were rendered speechless? How about admitting you had power over their careers and also physical power over them inside of a closed room? You're a big guy, Louie. And one of the accounts said you physically blocked the door to prevent women from leaving the room until you were done. If that's true, it's a whole other level of assault. You get no credit for politely asking a woman if you can take your penis out of your pants while you are PHYSICALLY BLOCKING her egress from the situation. Try a little more.
25
Dan wrote
Women are socialized to defer to men
and men are socialized to aggressively pursue women and are socialized to not take no for an answer.

What LCK did was wrong, what Trump did (pussy grabber) was wrong.

Maybe we as a society should stop taking little girls to fucking Disney movies where they learn to wait for their Prince Charming to come kiss them. Maybe we as a society should stop telling little boys to "man up."

Whatever LCK did... Whatever Trump did... all of us, all of society, trains and encourages that shit. WE teach girls to be submissive. WE teach boys to be aggressive.

Maybe we as a society should stop pretending we're evolved. Humans are no more evolved than the fucking apes.

LCK did what we all trained and encouraged little boys to do... be aggressive in your sexual desires towards women, whether they want it or not. Be aggressive! Take control!

You miss all the shots you don't take!
Second place is first loser!
Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing!
BE A MAN!

And then when he does it? He's pilloried.

Is LCK a monster? Maybe. Are all humans monsters? Definitely.
26
I have been in the exact situation the CK put those women in, on three separate occasions - physically trapped in a room with a man larger than me who took out his penis. I promise you I wasn't helpless because of my overwhelming admiration for the man. In my case, two out of three times anyway, a loud "WTF, dude, put it away!" was sufficient to get me out of there. Once it wasn't. I'm not impressed with this apology, although I do acknowledge that his public admission of guilt probably has great value for his victims, who have surely been accused of lying.
27
@25 UF, you excusing this man's behaviour then, because Patriarchy made him do it? Bull Shit.
28
Wait, one thing, you say even if he got a YES from those two women in his hotel room, it was a yes under duress so doesn't count?!? Please explain!

So if a moderately successful actor (and this was before his FX show or he was a household name at all) gets drinks with a newbie actress, invites her to his hotel room, she joins him, then he says "Can I kiss you?" and she says yes, that a yes under duress?? What's the duress there? They're not actually working together, he's not her boss, etc. And is it that different from that "Can I kiss you" to "Can I masturbate?"

(Not saying he DID receive a Yes in that case, it's not 100% clear. But Dan you said even a yes wouldn't be consensual which I can't track.)
29
Why aren't we attacking Disney (for the same reasons we're attacking LCK)?
30
@27,

Yes, let's demonize a single person for the utter and complete failings of all of us.

Let the Salem Witch Trials commence once again.
31
The most amazing thing is that this revelation by LCK has actually made me re-examine Donald Trump's repulsive behavior and I can't shy from the revelation that both LCK and Trump did what men are encouraged... no... what men are ORDERED from birth to do to women.

I was ordered to do it too. I remember it very explicitly. Be a man. Don't take no for an answer. No means yes. She's just "playing hard to get".

We're all just a bunch of fucking apes.
32
@30, yeah well I've never pulled my pants down and started rubbing my clit in front of strangers.. so you can join this sorry loser if you like.
33
Who taught you that UF@31? I sure as hell have never encouraged my sons to have that attitude to women. Excuses. Excuses.
34
I'm not really a LCK supporter. I mean, I think he's funny and all but there's lots of stand ups who are funny.

However.... is he really that different from all other guys-with-power?

Come at me with your holier-than-thou attitude if you want. In my opinion, we're all complicit in this. Yeah Lavagirl, you too. You never taught your sons this? Did you tell them how evil Disney is? Did you tell them that watching a disney movie and liking it is the same thing as rape. RAPE. Because it is. And if you didn't tell them Disney = Rape than you're just as complicit in this lie as the rest of us are.

See how this works yet?
35
UF, I'm 60 years old. Back when I was a little girl, yes, you could possibly say that we taught boys that this was how to act. We also taught them that if she didn't like it, she would slap him - remember that part? So even back then, the notion that he should be looking for unspoken signs of consent if he knew what was good for him was built into the message.

But I started working in childcare more than twenty years ago, and by that time "Boys will be boys" "he's just throwing rocks at you because he likes you" "boys don't cry" messages were definitely NOT what you'd be getting from any professional. Or from any but the most neanderthal parents.

By now, in 2017, it's more than forty years that we've been having this conversation. Nobody can pretend they haven't heard the message. Society as a whole hasn't been teaching little boys to be entitled jerks for a long time. If someone taught you that, and you are younger than I am, that's not anyone's fault but theirs.

Social change is hard, and it takes a long time. But we have been working hard, and we have been taking a long time. The change is here.
36
@35,
I hate to tell you this, but yes, I was raised to believe that you aggressively pursued girls and if they said no, they were just playing hard to get. I'm in my early 40's. Perhaps (I hope) today's children aren't taught that. LCK is in his 50's, yes? I would imagine that LCK was taught that women are worthless shit. I don't know. But I do know that most of society thinks women are shit. They tell boys that women are shit. They tell girls that women are shit. And you grow up being told constantly, by everyone, that women are worthless, useless, shit. It's hard to break free from childhood conditioning. I guess LCK didn't manage it. I pity him. And I blame society... all of us... for his failure.

We are all shit for training men to treat women as shit. I haven't seen anything anywhere that contradicts that. Humans are shit.

Prove me wrong.
37
@14 - I like that the world is moving away from "no means no" and instead we've started talking about "enthusiastic consent". "No means no" means it's on the woman to try to stop the guy and if she's scared or intimidated or freezes up or gives up when he just won't stop it's somehow her fault. "Enthusiastic consent" is much better - both people need to clearly be into the situation. If you can't tell if she's into it, or she gave up and stopped asking you to stop, or she passed out and couldn't say "no" - that doesn't mean "ok, go ahead".
38
@36, as a 48 year old man I can 2nd most of what you are saying. My wife of the last 20+ years was once a co-worker on mine, and it took nearly 2 years to get her to go on a date with me. I was never physically aggressive, but I was persistent in a way that would likely be considered sexual harassment these days.

Not making excuses, but from my life experience women responded to Alpha males, and the associated aggressive behaviours, thereby reinforcing them. Maybe with the Internet its a completely different game, I'm just glad I don't have to navigate those waters anymore.
39
"Aggressively pursuing girls" is a long way from pulling your dick out and masturbating in front of women who look up to you, who are frozen by incredulity that you're doing such a thing, and whose career you have some influence over. These are women you haven't tried to date or kiss; they are socializing with you in a semi-professional capacity; they are younger and less experienced than you are, while you are more powerful than they are, older than they are, and in your own room. One of the women said she tried to leave the room and C.K. blocked the door with his naked body.

He didn't want sex; he wanted to make these women uncomfortable. He wanted to humiliate them and to show them who was in control--that is the turn on. In just the same way, the man who pulled his car over and opened the door and showed me his dick when I was eleven and walking home from school, had no realistic expectation or probably desire that I, an eleven-year-old child, was going to be driven so wild by lust at the sight of his penis that I'd fling myself into his arms. No: the goal is to discomfit. And it works. The men should be the ones to feel shame and embarrassment, but they know that it's the women they have forced themselves on that will feel that way.

NO ONE WANTS TO SEE YOUR PENIS unless they're already having sex with you. They certainly don't want to see your penis if the relationship is in any way professional or work-related. Why is that so hard for so many men to understand?
40
Urgutha Forks, it sounds like you've got some stuff you're struggling with with all this going on. Have you talked to a counselor or therapist about this? I'm sincerely concerned. This is not an attempt to troll or snark at you. This is the social/mental equivalent of telling someone maybe they should see a doctor about that cough. But your reaction really makes me wonder if you need to have a session or two with a professional, and I recommend that perhaps you seek that out.
42
@28. Danderton. The huge power asymmetry (Louis CK can thwart these female comedians' careers), the asymmetry due to his greater physical heft, the bank of professional respect he's built up, the context of socialising in a hotel bedroom and the out-of-the-blue nature of the request (to get his dick out) all make genuine on-the-spot consent impossible.

He could only conceivably do this at the end of a date with some verbal introduction like: 'I have a kink where I do first what most people don't do first'. Pause. 'It involves me getting my dick out'. Pause. But of course this isn't his kink. His thing is subjecting women to jerk-off-themed harassment, all the while savoring how there's no comeback for them.
43
@25, 29, 30,31,36: Fuck that. We're all raised with all kinds of messages and we choose how to behave. If Louis C.K. decides to pull out his dick in front of non-consenting women, his dick should be hit hard and repeatedly with a cattle prod. Not society's dick. Not Walt Disney's dick. Just Louis C.K.'s dick. He's an adult choosing to be an asshole predator for his own satisfaction, and he should take the full punishment for it.
44
Here's the elephant in the room: all of these allegations coming out tell me that simple consent is a horribly insufficient standard for what constitutes acceptable sexual activity.

Power imbalances pervade every sexual relationship. Maybe it's just the brute force of a muscular 6'4" man. Maybe it's wealth. Maybe it's celebrity or its everyday cousin, popularity. Maybe it's attractiveness or connections or street smarts. Maybe it's because you have drugs. Maybe its because you can exploit someone smitten with you.

I'd wager large sums of money that most people reading this have at one point or another exploited some kind of power advantage over another person in order to get some kind of sexual gratification. And yes, that includes women too.

When Anna Nicole Smith ended up marrying an 80 year old wealthy oil tycoon, there were all kinds of power dynamics on full display. And yet that relationship perfectly met the standard of consent.

Prostitution inherently places women in dangerous positions where they lack power over their clients. And yet that, too, perfectly meets the standard of consent.

Sexual desire is powerful stuff. I think we have been deceiving ourselves that we can happily fence it off neatly as "play" between "consenting adults." A massive proportion of the entire corpus of human cultural output from the dawn of time to the present day speaks against that proposition.

We need better rules for sex.
45
There are women who actively encourage "bad boy" behavior who mock nice guys as being pussys. Don't tell me that these women in LCK's hotel room, being aspiring comedians, couldn't express their disapproval, crack a "small dick" joke and then leave. They weren't 14 year old innocents, they were grown women.
What gets me is women complaining about being treated as "sex objects" and not realizing or understanding that most women's clothing is designed to enhance their sex appeal- i.e. their status as sex objects. But most women want to naïvely claim that they are only being "stylish", which is bullshit when you're wearing a push up bra and your blouse is unbuttoned down to your naval.
My advice to women who don't want to be sexually harassed: Don't be afraid to use the word NO and carry pepper spray for those men who don't listen!
46
Wait, what @JuanMas?!

It's not up to women to change.

Men have to change.
47
@45, JuanMas.. and those built guys wearing tshirts and tight jeans. You know it takes all my strength not to go up to them and grab their tight little package and feel those muscles. Seriously, those boys are just asking for it, dressing and looking like that.
48
Anyone who ever had an experience where they thought they were in an friendly environment suddenly turn into a fight or flight situation understands how shitty this is. All the "he asked, what's a dude to do?" Bullshit is missing the point. He was not dating these women or pursing them as potential sex partners. The question itself is a shock in that situation, it was meant to be. I like watching porn videos of men jerking off. I think it's sexy. If this happened to me in this context, I would be terrified. Similar situations in my youth resulted in me capitulating in order to get away with the least trouble, and I still carry some self loathing for that. If your manager has to threaten someone to shut them up, you know you done wrong. Don't go telling stories on me girl, you got that?
49

The other great shame about the reality of who this guy has been revealed to be, or what his proclivities are, or whatever you want to call what he did, on multiple occasions, is that Louis CK was the only male comedian that I'm aware of, certainly the only one at his level, who openly spoke about the risk of violence that men pose to women, and the astonishment that women date men at all, given this. He in other words came off as one of those "liberal" guys who was not a Neanderthal. Somebody smart, who was on our side, unlike the hugely high percentage of male comics, who it seems always women bash in their acts. The guys who thought and still think that rape jokes were defensible, appropriate and hilarious.

And then you find this out about him. I mean, is there no hope? That's how this leaves me feeling. If even a guy who broke the bro-code in admitting to how insanely toxic and literally lethal men have been to women - somebody who sure as hell didn't need to have done this given the extraordinary privilege his fame, money and straight white male American-ness provides - it turns out is secretly a creeper blocking women from leaving as he stands there naked, wacking off ... how can women be expected to trust supposedly liberal, intellegent guys, if this is what they do, 5 minutes after telling us that they are not like Donald Trump? How can we ever trust that these guys actually believe the words and views that they espouse?
Can someone answer these questions for me?

I give him credit for doing the thing that I don't think any famous man has done to date - admitting he is/was a fucking asshole, deserves criticism, expressing remorse, apologizing, vs denying and attacking, which all but guarantees a troll storm by the guy's fans, on the "lying, gold digging bitches".

It will be interesting to see what impact, if any, this ultimately has on his career.



.
50

Also have to say I wonder if some of these guys should opt to be chemically castrated. For their own good. Not even kidding. Thinks about it. If they are THIS out of control - so unable to think and act with anything other than their penises that they ruin other peoples lives and careers - male, female, 14 yr olds - which ultimately leads to their own names, lives, families, and careers being ruined - all because their dicks are in charge - I mean, was it really worth it for those orgasms? Is the release of your ejaculate worth the utter shame and humiliation you forever bring down on your own parents and your kids? On your own name?

51
@VelvetBabeAgain Chemically castrated? You are insane. I'm gonna be the woman here in the comments who supports Louis CK. Yes it was kinda shitty to masturbate in front of women who weren't feeling it but come on people! He doesn't deserve to be lumped in with Weinstein and Cosby. His career is not over. He is still extremely talented and I still adore his comedy. I have personally been in situations with men that felt uncomfortable, had them take out there dick or even get aggressive and guess what? I walked out. I left. Just like these women could have done. Give me a break. Yes our society needs to change. But the witch Hunt mentality online right now is disturbing. Taking your dick out and jacking off is VERY different than forcible rape. Love you Louis
52
Agree with 51!
People (eg Dan) are saying that the Louis story is primarily about abuse of power.
I disagree. I think this story is primarily fueled by disgust. People think that he personally is gross, and that what he asked to do was gross. They feel this emotion on a core level, and then they try to rationalize why their disgust is justified.
Suppose that the accused is Brad Pitt. Suppose that when he was working on Thelma and Louise, he asked a member of the crew if she wanted to go to his trailer and make out. She said no, and he was embarrassed.
Suppose that on another occasion, he asked a pair of struggling actresses back to his hotel room for drinks. They agreed, and while they were hanging out, he asked them if they wanted to make out. They laughed, and he went ahead and kissed them. Then they left.
The imaginary Brad Pitt is not blameless. In this scenario, he initiated non-consensual sexual contact. But would the world care?
Louis is obviously not blameless either. I can't even think of a non-creepy analogy for the one-sided phone sex. But his offenses are not in the same universe as Weinstein's, and I am sick of people covering their sexual disgust with moral outrage.
53
Danderton @28: Seriously?
Most women like kissing. Most women do not like watching guys they're not even sexually involved with masturbate. EVERYBODY KNOWS THIS.
54
@23: I disagree that the reason is necessarily that Louis C.K. sadistically wanted to "put them in a predicament". That's certainly possible, but it's just as possible that he wanted to sexualize his relationship with them simply because they're "in his circle", in the same way that many teenage boys find themselves preferentially wanting sex with the girls in their circle of friends (or their best mates' girls), or that people lust after their co-workers because they're co-workers. I think most human beings have a hardwired impulse to sexualize close relationships, through a combination of propinquity and whatever else.

@25: I don't necessarily agree with how you're saying it, but it frustrates me to no end that Savage Love readers -- and women in general -- don't acknowledge the ways in which they're complicit in The Patriarchy. There are a hell of a lot of women out there who are really, REALLY turned on by power, and who are especially turned on by powerful men who impose their will on the world without regard to the feelings of others, and so reward those behaviors in every possible way, from sex to church.

Why is it shocking that these same men we elevate to power don't, as it turns out, really give a shit about anyone's feelings, but simply (like Louis C.K.) know how to tell us what we want to hear? Why are we so surprised to discover that so much of what we euphemistically call "confidence" is actually antithetical to empathy -- and that the unpleasant truth is that, sadly, a lot of women (though #NotAllWomen) are actually, ACTIVELY repulsed by male displays of empathy because they perceive it as weakness? That they WANT a man who, as one woman said to me, "scares the shit out of everyone and always gets what he wants"?

@39: It's not that they don't understand, but that they don't care -- and that, in every other part of their lives, we reward them for not caring.

This is why I get so frustrated by all the rhetoric about "teaching" men this or that; what people fail to understand is that many men (and not a few women) will simply never, ever care about the well-being or free will of other human beings, and that uncaring quality is EXACTLY what's incredibly magnetic to a large number of people (though, granted, it's not Louis C.K.'s outward schtick). Sociopaths and sadists turn a lot of us on; look to Washington if you doubt me.

@44: You've hit an important nail on the head: men's collective physical advantage over women. @14 doesn't say "no" for a variety of reasons she articulates, but another reason is that, put bluntly, she can't take the guy in a fight. Of course, that's also the same reason I've given large men money when they accosted me in the street with a "request", or why I've consented to any number of things I didn't want to do, or said things I didn't believe in order to survive: my life, too, has been governed by other people's power. We all are. A society or a life without power imbalances will never exist, and whether it "should" is irrelevant -- just as all "shoulds" are basically irrelevant, since a huge proportion of the world is totally unmoved by "should" and nothing anyone can say will change that.
55
@51. Constructoftime. Your liking Louis CK's comedy should in conscience make you condemn his abusive behavior more!
56
@51: constructoftime, I ike Louis C.K.'s humor, too. I agree he is talented. But you know what? There are other talented comedians out in the world, some that don't sexually harass and intimidate women. I'd rather watch their acts now.

Do you know whose movies I have loved? Harvey Weinstein's, both from the Weinstein Company and Miramax. If he was still at his own company, I wouldn't be able to watch any more of those movies. I don't want to be complicit, even if only at the level of spending my $10-12 so abusers can add to their wealth and consequently their power. But it would be asking a lot of me, as I dislike action and special-effects-dependent movies, or fantasy, or "family"films. I don't know that I could do it. It would put me into a conundrum.

From time to time, when someone whose talent (athletic, artistic, political vision, spiritual enlightenment, whatever) we admire is revealed to be less than admirable (he's a grifter, he's a molester, he's a rapist, he's a Nazi, he's a cheater, whatever), we, who like this person's art or talent, have to struggle with the question, how much can/should you separate the artist from the art? What I think this ultimately comes down to, for many of us, I suspect, is how much we really like the art that the wrong-doer makes, and therefore, how much of a sacrifice it makes on us to give up the art for the sake of not supporting the artist. So we justify when we like the art a lot.

We all do this. I have never been a fan of Bill Cosby; or not since I was 10 years old, listening to his comedy records. I don't find him funny, and I hardly saw more than 2 or 3 episodes of the Cosby Show, so it was very, very easy for me to condemn him when the news of his drugging and sexually assaulting women came out. I don't care about boxing, so when Mike Tyson's rape-y-ness was revealed, it didn't affect how I spent my leisure time at all. For that matter, while I like Louis C.K., I haven't seen his tv series, only his specials, and while I liked them, there was more masturbation-based jokes than I think are funny. So it's not hard for me to give him up. I don't particularly care for Ezra Pound, so his Nazi sympathies give me a convenient excuse to not read or teach him.

On the other hand, I have been raised to see Eli Wiesel as the most honorable of men, as an eloquent reminder of the horrors of the Holocaust and it fucking broke my heart to read that he had groped a teenager in an elevator against her will. I still think what he did with his life is admirable, but he is forever tarnished now. I like Roman Polanski's movies, and so I find it easy to justify his raping a 13-year-old (he thought she was 18, her mother intentionally put her in that situation and encouraged her to let adult men make advances towards her, everyone was on quaaludes and the overall mood was one of debauchery, the girl herself, years later, has forgiven him, so why should I hold it against him. I mean, Rosemary's Baby is genius, amirite?!) But I also know that those are justifications, because Rosemary's Baby is genius and I don't want to have to give up liking it or watching it or wanting to see other movies of his (Venus in Furs was excellent).

But I know that I'm downplaying the severity of Polanski's actions because I want to keep seeing his art and I don't want to feel guilty for doing so (I don't really care if he can't come back to America; he seems to be doing just fine over in Europe, and it doesn't stop him from making movies). I know that we all justify the actions of someone when we don't want to have to change our own in response.
57
@54: one person, esq, responding to me @39: "It's not that they don't understand, but that they don't care -- and that, in every other part of their lives, we reward them for not caring." Bingo. Spot on. In the cases of powerful men, for sure! But I disagree with you about the level to which most women want men to harass them.

Being assertive, even aggressive, confident, take-chargelike, whatever, is not the same as forcing a subordinate to watch you masturbate.

But I still think a lot of men simply don't understand, as opposed to not caring about women's desire to see their dicks. There are some men who most decidedly want to make women uncomfortable--think public masturbators.
There are the men on this comment thread or the lw who want to know why it's such a big deal, even though most (though not all) women say that to them it is.

And then there are all the men who send unsolicited dick pics to women whom they are hoping to date or have sex with or entice into phone sex, or at the very least, entice into sending reciprocal nudes. It's as if they think that since they would want to see a woman's pussy, she should want to see their dicks. It's backwards thinking, and 96 out of 100 times it doesn't work like that. Yet they persist. You may be right that they just don't care, but since these are not necessarily powerful men and since they are presumably hoping for something back, it seems to me to signal a lack of basic understanding.
58
@45: JuanMas, please read this: http://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles…

@47: Wrong tactic to take, LavaGirl. Men like JuanMas see street harassment as giving compliments, or as flirting. They only wish that women would grab their butts. See my point about dick pics above. They think that since they would like something, women should like it, too. It's a lack of empathy or ability to understand something from someone else's perspective fostered by a patriarchal, misogynistic culture that prioritizes men and what they want and shuts down women when they try to say that they don't like it.
59
LavaGirl @11
"Another sleazy creep who only comes clean when it's all over the papers."

Yep. I'm waiting for the powerful man who calls up a reporter to reveal that he has been sexually harassing women for decades, without needing them to force him out.
60
As someone who likes show and tell I assume that if I can find willing viewers every now and then so can a younger, more famous person.

Motives for rape/forced sex acts are not so much about the act itself as it is the transgression and the power play, forcing you on others.
I suspect CLK was exposing himself for years, telling himself this is a non-rape situation due to no contact and him voluntarily nude. Yet I have no doubt he sensed the power dynamic and bet that this part got him off more than anything else.

I also assume he knew all along that his justifying rationale is bullshit, hence his relatively ok admission.
But I still wonder when this remorse came about. From what I can tell it is only a recent one, probably sensing that in the current social climate and the fall of other celebrities he is likely to be outed sooner or later.
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"Meaningful consent"??? This is complete bullshit Dan. Words already have meanings. If you're suggesting people are going to need an interpreter to gain consent because yes means no...Then maybe it's time to take a break. I love your column and have been reading it for ages and this is the the weakest argument I've heard from you EVER. Totally out of line with what you normally advise. Assertiveness, asking for what you want, accepting ones limitations and the limitations of a relationship realistically. This "meaningful consent" BS is just a CYA response in a moment where lines are shifting.

They are shifting for the better, no doubt, but if there's a complete abandonment of logic then any gains we might make from insight and exposure to these issues are going to be lost and labeled "hysteria".

Get your shit together.
62
Your post repeatedly indicates that the claims against Louis CK involve criminal conduct, or perhaps could form the basis of an actionable civil sexual harassment claim. Could you explain your position a bit more? After reviewing the accounts from the times article, I am not understanding your reasoning on these issues. And before you go there, I am not blaming the victims, and I am not condoning his conduct, which was clearly offensive and made the women in these five incidents uncomfortable, which is not ok. However, labeling someone a criminal (or a sexual harasser) is a very serious accusation, and has the potential to destroy someones life forever. So it seems that attaching the criminal label to conduct should only be done where there is actually evidence that a crime was committed. Do you agree with that?

After reviewing the times article, it seems that at best, only one of these incidents could potentially be a crime (or civilly actionable).

Two of the women were asked to participate in a sex act, and said no. It is not a crime to ask someone for sex and be turned down unless you persist or punish them or otherwise act negatively in some way. In this context, what he did in those cases (where he asked and then got turned down) was offensive, but not illegal.

So really we are not talking about five cases, we are maybe talking about three. But then, one of the women admit she consented. I understand that perhaps he never should have approached her about it in the first place, but people have sex in the workplace all the time, so it's not that uncommon. And she claims she said yes, and I assume you would agree that an affirmative "yes" from someone who is overage and not intoxicated, who is asked to participate in sexual conduct is effective consent. I understand that she felt she couldn't say no, and perhaps the law should be changed to accommodate those circumstances where the person asking, while not a direct superior, is of such a statute that meaningful consent becomes impossible, but right now (and certainly not in the late 90's, when this happened, this was not a crime). Remember, this happened about the same time that Bill Clinton, the most powerful man in the world at the time, had "consent" from his intern for her to repeatedly suck him off in the oval office. So, that incident (the Louis CK incident from The Chris Rock Show), while clearly unwise and creepy, was not illegal, and was not actionable sexual harassment, for which consent is generally an effective defense.

So now we are down to two incidents (the phone and the hotel room thing). I have never seen a case where someone was convicted of a crime for saying something that didn't constitute a threat of violence over the phone. At best, you could accuse him of non-consensual phone sex, but I don't think that's really a crime anywhere, and it's not civil sexual harassment because they weren't co-workers, and he wasn't her boss. Can you sexually assault someone over the phone? There would be huge first amendment problems with that, and generally an assault charge requires physical contact, which (except in the matrix) can't happen over the phone. Offensive? Yep. Weird? Definitely. Criminal or civilly actionable? No.

So really the only potentially illegal or actionable conduct was the hotel room incident. Do you agree? I admit that I have my doubts about the criminality of that incident as well (which I can explain if you want) but it seems helpful to at least narrow down the accusations that I think you may (or may not) agree do not constitute criminal or civilly actionable behavior. If you don't agree with me, I would appreciate hearing your reasoning. Again, I don't disagree that they were offensive and in some ways, morally wrong (though I admit I am having trouble seeing how merely asking for sex and getting turned down is morally reprehensible, but perhaps I am just wrong, behind the times, or a horrible person. I certainly have misjudged an issue or two before, so perhaps I am wrong here). At any rate, if you could explain your reasoning for accusing Louis CK of criminal or civilly actionable conduct related to the four incidents mentioned above (again, excluding the hotel room incident), that would help me better understand your post.
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@54

Lots of people want to fuck all their friends, and their friends' friends. It's a thing. It happens all the time. They ask nicely, and take no for an answer. After all, we're talking about a lot of people -- why worry if one says no? There's plenty of others. They don't ambush, they don't block exits. They don't ask for meetings to "talk about your career" because they want to fuck their brother's friend. They just hit them up, like a normal person does.

And Louis C.K. knew a hell of a lot more people than just a handful aspiring comedians. Why wasn't he ambushing them? Why only the ones he had this power over? Because he is shy? Have you seen him talk about himself? Does he seem shy? He is not shy. He is not interested in a fully consensual, eyes wide open, and respectful fuck friendship with his wife's friends, his golfing buddy's sister, or anybody else in his "circle". Only the ones who will feel trapped because they really wanted to work in comedy and that so happened to be the one thing Louis C.K. had over them.

All the evidence points to him consciously knowing exactly what he was doing, knowing it was abusive, knowing it was harmful, and knowing his victims wanted to say no but felt they were in a dilemma. He consciously chose them because that is what he wanted to do to them.
64
@62

"Your post repeatedly indicates that the claims against Louis CK involve criminal conduct, or perhaps could form the basis of an actionable civil sexual harassment claim."

What? Whose post? Dan Savage does not repeatedly say any such thing. He hints at criminal or cvil claims zero times. Not one single time. Who said that? Do you even read?
65
25/Urgutha Forka: LCK did what we all trained and encouraged little boys to do... be aggressive in your sexual desires towards women, whether they want it or not. Be aggressive! Take control!

UF, a couple comments.

First, you need to pull back the reigns on that galloping assertion that all little boys are trained that way. I'm sure I'm far from alone is how my parents raised me and my two brothers in how to treat women. Both were conservative religious people. My father was about as far from be aggressive in your sexual desires towards women as you could find. And I never felt that "society" trained me to be that way.

Second, it's not as if the only options open to a man are being aggressive or passive. A man can be assertive: not passive, but also not aggressive. There's a huge difference between asking a woman out on a date a second time even though she said 'no' the first time, and grabbing a woman's ass or masturbating in front of her.

Unfortunately, a lot of our fellow men are assholes (or can be assholes.). I learned that at an early age, being bullied by asshole boys in school (I also learned that having fast feet, a quick wit and a tough-as-nails black friend named Larry Glass "Larry Glass will kick yo' ass") were valuable.) For a number of years, I played in a band (for fun) with five other guys. One of the guys ended up fucking around with my then-girlfriend. Guys can have a real sense of entitlement, whether it's feeling entitled to take your school lunch, entitled to fuck your girlfriend, or entitled to jack off in front of women.

It's not as if I've never looked at woman,say, standing in line for coffee and thought to myself "Man, I'd really love to fuck her." Sure I've done that. Countless times. But that doesn't mean I'm going to up and grab her ass (or even leer at her.) I have a sense of decency and empathy that would never allow that (and I'm there are many other men like me in that regard,) The Weinsteins and Cosbys and C.K.s and assorted assholes of the male world don't.
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@58 nocute, men like JuanMas might like a young woman grabbing their butt, not sure they'd be keen for a woman in her sixties doing it. And I didn't say anything about butts.
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58/nocutename: It's a lack of empathy or ability to understand something from someone else's perspective fostered by a patriarchal, misogynistic culture that prioritizes men and what they want and shuts down women when they try to say that they don't like it.

I certainly don't disagree with the "lack of empathy" part. And you're probably right that this is "fostered by" a "patriarchal, misogynistic culture". But -- see my previous post @ 65) -- I think that the way a boy is raised by his parents trumps (sorry to use that hideous word) the influence of culture. In most cases anyway. I wouldn't say in all cases. In my case our "patriarchal, misogynistic culture" didn't mean jack when it came to how I've viewed and treated women throughout my life.
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@66: Lava, my point was that if what you were trying to do was to get JuanMas to see why or that women don't want to be subject to street harassment, the argument that will be effective will probably not be the one that says, "and those built guys wearing tshirts and tight jeans. You know it takes all my strength not to go up to them and grab their tight little package and feel those muscles. Seriously, those boys are just asking for it, dressing and looking like that."

I mean, I get what I thought you were trying to do there (or I thought I did. I thought you were using satire but apparently you were serious and you think that it would be your age that would make this offensive to the men you're saying you want to grope). The problem is that guys like JuanMas don't see being catcalled or groped as anything but a compliment and they claim they'd be thrilled if they got that response from women. At the very least, they'd be flattered.

That's all. I was't actually jumping down your throat; I was using my comment to you to make a point to JuanMas.
69
Perhaps I read it wrong. looking over his post again, he seems to imply that Louis CK's conduct was illegal or constitute sexual harassment by using terms commonly associated with those accusations, but you are correct. He didn't actually say that. I suspect he deliberately avoided actually using those terms because they clearly don't apply (as did the times article, which dances around the legality issue deftly without ever addressing it directly) in order to avoid having to admit that, at the very least, the vast majority of Louis CK's conduct was creepy, but not illegal. By not actually saying those words, journalists can get away with implying things they can't actually prove. However, my mistake for suggesting he actually used those words.

However, that raises another issue. If someone does something that is not illegal, and is not civilly actionable (i.e. couldn't form the basis of a lawsuit by the women involved), then is that conduct serious enough to warrant ending a person's career? We establish laws and clear rules in society so that people will clearly know what is ok to do, and what is not ok to do. If what Louis CK's conduct was not (for lack of a better way of saying it) "wrong enough" to be illegal or even civilly actionable, is it "wrong enough" to justify ending his career over?

This especially true given that this an industry with much, much bigger fish to fry? This story about Louis CK is pulling a lot of focus off of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and other actual rapists that operated with impunity in the entertainment industry for years. Because of his statute in the comedy community, people are even putting him in the same category with those two. That doesn't seem right. And this is an industry that still reveres a convicted child rapist living on the lam (Roman Polanski) and a guy who is accused of raping his biological daughter and then married his adopted daughter, who was underage while they dated (Woody Allen). Shouldn't we start with the most serious accusers and work our way down to the guy who at least claims he tried to get consent from women he exposed himself in front of? Why are we ready to hang the repentant masturbator while we joyfully watch dozens of movies made by a convicted child rapist who roams free?
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39/nocutename: NO ONE WANTS TO SEE YOUR PENIS unless they're already having sex with you. They certainly don't want to see your penis if the relationship is in any way professional or work-related. Why is that so hard for so many men to understand?

My guess is that these men are the type that assume women think like they do. They would love to see a woman's breasts or ass or pussy so they think it's only natural that a woman would love to see their cock.

Also, you really can't state that "no woman" wants to see a strange man's penis. Something like sending a dick pick may, in fact, work for some guys and having it work once may be all it takes for them to continue doing it.
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@nocutename

"NO ONE WANTS TO SEE YOUR PENIS unless they're already having sex with you. They certainly don't want to see your penis if the relationship is in any way professional or work-related. Why is that so hard for so many men to understand?"

I was sexually harassed by my boss when I was a teenager.
Believe me when I tell you, he definitely wanted to see my penis.

I realize that women are far more likely to be sexually assaulted or harassed then men are, but it does happen.

I know you didn't mean it in any sort of victim shaming way, but it felt that way when I read it.

It's hard for me to speak about abuse for many reasons.
The two biggest reasons I was silent about it for so long was the feeling of humiliation (when I refused his advances he sexually berated me in front of our coworkers) and the fear that people wouldn't believe me.

All the recent stories of sexual harassment and sexual assault have forced me to think about the abuse that I've suffered in my past, and I've spent a long time trying not to deal with those memories.

This is a difficult time for a lot of survivors, and I just wanted to point out that sometimes the things we say can have unintended consequences.
I would like to thank you, because one of those unintended consequences gave me the courage to speak out in this small way.

Thank you.
#MeToo
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@25 UF. Not only are you spot on and basically just reiterating what Dan says, it's ridiculous that these feminist men responding to you are acting like they "don't know what you're talking about". They know. They absolutely know. And to all the moralists here, GFY. You have no idea what you would do in a situation where you have power over other humans because you don't have power over other humans and therefore have no point of reference. You're basically saying "If I won ten million dollars in the lottery I'd give it all to charity.". Shut up.

Since the beginning of time man has accumulated power, wealth, and prestige with the purpose of leveraging those things into more sexual partners and more progeny. Does that make it ok? Not in these times. Is it hard wired into us to be aggressive sexually? We wouldn't be here as a species if it wasn't. Can we evolve out of this behavior? Probably not in 1000 lifetimes.Should we try anyways? Yes. Should we raise our sons to be more respectful? Fuck yes. Should we raise our daughters to be more assertive and less deferential? Absolutely. Can we pretend that men can just flush the testosterone out of their bodies and crush their biological urges at will? It looks like we're gonna try.
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@57: I don't think any woman wants to be harassed (more or less by definition), but I think a lot of women are attracted to personality traits that strongly correlate with a man who harasses. The fantasy of a man who's all-powerful and ruthless to everyone except little old moi is, I'm afraid, pretty common. Louis C.K.'s kink is being watched while masturbating, but that's basically incidental; history is full of women allied to powerful men who, when faced with an accusation that their husband had raped a servant, intern, or the like, basically shrugged and saw it as the price of doing business.

I don't know that I think the dick pic guys expect a positive response. Maybe some do, and some say they do when interviewed because that's the right thing to say, but I think it's usually more like "Look at me!" or, more sinister, "You will bear witness to my sexuality (whether you want to or not)". The 55-year-old schlub (with a 25-year-old's Tinder profile) who sends a dick pic to a 22-year-old desires her, but knows she'll never give the actual him the time of day -- not even if he behaves in the most perfect manner imaginable -- so instead he forces her to see him.

I can't relate to that impulse, but I also can't see the practical incentive for him not to do so: if what he wants is to have (unpaid) sex with attractive twentysomethings, and no realistic course of action will lead to that outcome, how does sending the pic undermine him in any way? It's not as if the woman cares about his welfare or well-being -- plenty of people in their 20s think everyone over 50 shouldn't exist, and plenty of people in general think unattractive people shouldn't exist, and most people are too wrapped up in their self-interest to care about anyone else in anything but a fairly abstract way -- so why should he care about hers? What's in it for him?

I say this knowing that, ideally, feminism and progressive ideals would lead to a world where we all -- men, women, young adults and old -- fucking a lot more and more freely. But that's a hypothetical ideal, and not one shared by everyone, and certainly not one our hypothetical schlub would ever live to see. So, again, what's in it for him? He "shouldn't" do it, but how does caring about "should" improve his life in any way?
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I know you weren't jumping down my throat, nocute. And I was being sarcastic. I'd never go touch a random guy, at any age, no matter how tight his clothes.
JuanMas was suggesting women's dress somehow invites abuse, that by showing cleavage ect, that they are asking to be treated as objects, and one can't expect some men to control themselves under such a visual presentation. Just turning it around.
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@57: Roma, I was actually on the verge of writing a thank you for your comment @65 (and Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn's @63), for being the only men on this comment thread (I assume Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn is male; apologies if you're not) who seem to get it.

As for my comment @58 (It's a lack of empathy or ability to understand something from someone else's perspective fostered by a patriarchal, misogynistic culture that prioritizes men and what they want and shuts down women when they try to say that they don't like it., I wasn't talking about individual men like you; I was talking about the fact that our society is built to privilege men.

Laurie Penny says it far better than I can, so I'm going to quote her:

"It turns out that this isn’t about individual monsters. It never was. This is about structural violence, about a culture that decided long ago that women’s agency and dignity were worth sacrificing to protect the reputation of powerful men and the institutions that enabled their entitlement. Everyone, including the “good guys,” knew it was happening. We just didn’t think it was all that wrong. At least, not wrong enough to make a fuss about, because the people groping their callous, violent way through life knew they’d get away with it, and most of the men around them were permitted the luxury of ignorance."

If you want to read the rest of her brilliant, scorching essay, it's here
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@72, muffy. Are you implying men can't control their impulses? So when some of them murder or rape or whip out their dick and start rubbing it... it's just out of their power as an intelligent human being with free will to resist this dastardly hormone pulsating thru their veins? Then why the hell do we let men have any power at all. Shouldn't they be contained and controlled by the female population, now.
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@71: Adam Kadmon, I'm so sorry about your harassment. I am glad you finally feel safe enough to talk about it.
I wouldn't equate your boss' wanting to see your penis to men who want to show their penises to someone under the sometimes stated, but usually not, assumption that that person wants to see it. I was not referring to male victims of sexual harassment, molestation, or assault. You didn't want your penis to be seen, and if you did end up showing it, it was clearly unwillingly.

You say, "The two biggest reasons I was silent about it for so long was the feeling of humiliation (when I refused his advances he sexually berated me in front of our coworkers) and the fear that people wouldn't believe me." and I want to tell you that I understand completely. Those are exactly the same reasons most women and probably other men don't tend to report their harassment or assaults.
I'm sorry that my comments triggered you; the very last thing I was trying to do was to victim-blame.
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54/one person: This is why I get so frustrated by all the rhetoric about "teaching" men this or that; what people fail to understand is that many men (and not a few women) will simply never, ever care about the well-being or free will of other human beings, and that uncaring quality is EXACTLY what's incredibly magnetic to a large number of people..

I don't disagree with you that the uncaring quality you mention can be magnetic to a number of people. But why do you think it is that "many men (and not a few women) will simply never, ever care about the well-being or free will of other human beings"?

Do think it's something inherent that no amount of "teaching" can change? Or do you think it's due to a lack of socialization? Both? Something else?

I happen to think we're all inherently selfish. We're born only caring about ourselves. That's natural; a newborn has no comprehension there are others in the world (besides, that is, his/her mother,) I still vividly remember one of my young nieces screaming like a banshee at Christmas - "No! No! Mine! Mine! MINE!!" -- when her younger sister briefly started playing with one of her Beanie Babies. I think that's our raw nature on display: Me Me Me! Mine Mine Mine!

How do we move beyond that? How do we begin to care about the well-being of others? How do we acquire empathy? I believe it happens primarily through out parents. Parental teaching (and example) is certainly no guarantee that a child will become a caring adult -- just like playing a game is no guarantee you'll win -- but poor (or no) teaching makes it much more likely that a child won't.
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@73: one person, esq., Again, I don't disagree with you. Your analysis of the unsolicited dick pic is probably more accurate than mine; I hadn't thought of it in those terms quite so starkly before.
I can't argue against your logic. But dang, are you cynical and pessimistic.

I can't be. I have to believe that when people know the consequences of their actions, and see that they are negative, that many or most of those people slowly, over the course of time, change their actions. I know some individuals never will, but I have to believe in the power of education and knowledge to change individual behavior and social/cultural systems as well. I hope that as all these stories saturate the news, as men begin to (maybe) see and acknowledge what so many women have always known but have not found a receptive audience for hearing about, that our society will start to make some changes and move forward in a way that's more equitable for everyone.

You say, "I say this knowing that, ideally, feminism and progressive ideals would lead to a world where we all -- men, women, young adults and old -- fucking a lot more and more freely. But that's a hypothetical ideal, and not one shared by everyone, and certainly not one our hypothetical schlub would ever live to see. So, again, what's in it for him? He "shouldn't" do it, but how does caring about "should" improve his life in any way?"
Why should a man care about how he "should" behave? Maybe because he's been raised to have a conscience. Maybe because he sees other people, including women, as being humans, too? Maybe because some people are not such utterly selfish beings.
80
@lava girl. Yeah......that's exactly my point. I like what you took from what I wrote, an easy straw man for you to knock over.

Men can control their impulses, obviously. But they HAVE impulses and to expect them not to struggle with them is unrealistic. To expect all men to behave in a way that quells their biological impulses is the same as expecting a junkie to quell their thirst for opioids. It's a fact of life that men are dirtbags. They shouldn't be allowed to act like dirtbags, but if they can, they will because that's their nature.

I'm not excusing it. I condemn it and I want this current discussion to yield something akin to a solid set of rules for what defines harassment because "meaningful consent" isn't helpful.
81
@73: " I don't think any woman wants to be harassed (more or less by definition), but I think a lot of women are attracted to personality traits that strongly correlate with a man who harasses. The fantasy of a man who's all-powerful and ruthless to everyone except little old moi is, I'm afraid, pretty common. Louis C.K.'s kink is being watched while masturbating, but that's basically incidental; history is full of women allied to powerful men who, when faced with an accusation that their husband had raped a servant, intern, or the like, basically shrugged and saw it as the price of doing business."

I think you're misreading a lot here. Assertiveness isn't aggressiveness, and
(a) many men who are confident and assertive are not harassers
(b) many of the wives who basically shrugged off the accusations that their rich and powerful husbands are rapists are not attracted to that personality trait, but the lifestyle she's living, the money, prestige, and power. Those things might be due in part to the personality, but I doubt that many of the rich and pampered complicit wives of harassers or rapists are turning a blind eye because they find those personality traits sexually attractive.
82
@Lavagirl. If you believe in free will and intelligence as enough basis for people to make meaningful decisions about how they act, then what about poverty? Drug addiction? Unhealthy or abusive relationships? Education? Do you think everybody get exactly what they deserve by the merit of their actions in all of these catagories as well?

You can't have this shit both ways. Either you live in the real world, or an ideological one. Hint. One of them leaves you waaaaay less resentful about life.
83
72/muffy: And to all the moralists here, GFY. You have no idea what you would do in a situation where you have power over other humans because you don't have power over other humans and therefore have no point of reference.

I've never had the kind of financial/career power a guy like Harvey Weinstein had over women -- and I'll concede your point that I'll never know with absolute certainty that having that kind of power wouldn't turn me into an entitled asshole -- but that does not mean I've never had power over women, no point of reference whatsoever. I've been significantly bigger and stronger than most women I've been with. I've had physical power. And I know exactly what I would do those situations because I know exactly what I did do. I never used that physical power to harass or abuse a woman I was with. Not once.
84
80/muffy: It's a fact of life that men are dirtbags. They shouldn't be allowed to act like dirtbags, but if they can, they will because that's their nature.

Numerous experiments have been done where a wallet (or purse) with cash is left in public to see what people do when they find it. Here's just one of them, done in Manchester, England.

As in this particular experiment, I believe that in most of them, most people have turned the wallet/purse in, with the cash intact. According to your assertion, people (or, specifically men) will act like dirtbags "if they can." Certainly in these experiments the men can simply take the wallet. And some, of course, do, But many don't. What do you think accounts for the ones who don't?
85
@82, muffy. Wtf are you talking about? You brought up testosterone, now you're bringing in poverty. So we don't have free will, that what you suggesting. Or those overwhelmed by their hormones, they have lost their free will. Confusing line of arguing. When you sorted it out, get back to me.
86
@80, muffy. Men are not dirtbags, is His Holiness the Dalai Lama, a dirt bag? If one man can transform his impulses as that man does, then all men can. Cultures let men get away with being dirtbags, it's not some inherent predisposition.
87
Parents have power over people muffy, for yrs. Some abuse that power, most work hard to assist their children to grow strong.
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nocute @ 75 “I was actually on the verge of writing a thank you… for being the only men on this comment thread… who seem to get it.”
Please elaborate.
89
@83. You don't have the power to rape or coerce women with impunity. Physically you might, but you couldn't get away with it because you're a nobody. It's apples and oranges.

@lavagirl. My point is that if men can be expected to control their actions, (and they should be expected to) why isn't EVERYONE expected to control their actions? Why do we make excuses for and defend poor people for being poor? Isn't their poorness just a consequence of their actions? Or are there other factors to take into consideration? Allowances made for their position and plight?

You don't understand men if you think the Dalai Lama is an accurate portrayal of what men are like or capable of. Men ARE scumbags inherently. And by scumbags I mean highly sexually motivated to fuck as much and as often as possible by whatever means they have. The false narrative that men are intrinsically moral is bullshit. Men are as moral as their options and for the large majority of men they can only get one woman (or man) to fuck them at a time and with strict conditions (if they're lucky).
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@72: “And to all the moralists here, GFY. You have no idea what you would do in a situation where you have power over other humans because you don't have power over other humans and therefore have no point of reference.“

You’re bragging that you’d do it if you had the chance, got it. Please don’t lecture anyone on “morals”.
91
"The power I had over these women is that they admired me." And I thought it was wrong to do sexual acts with people that DON'T admire you. Seems there's no way to win.

@39 "NO ONE WANTS TO SEE YOUR PENIS unless they're already having sex with you."

Speak for yourself, I like seeing penises.
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Muffy @89 , do we need to get into an anysis of capitalism here, you bringing up poverty.
No. No. No. men are not inherently scumbags. I have reared five sons, one of whom is deceased, and not one of them has ever given me the impression they are like dogs, always in search of a female to mount. My youngest who has just turned twenty, had his heart broken by his first gf and he didn't date anyone for two yrs until recently, that's how long it took him to recover his heart.
Of course very few men or women or other are as developed spiritually as HHDL, that wasn't the point I was making. If men were inherently scumbags, then none of them could get beyond that.
93
*analysis
94
@lavagirl. Congrats on your sons.

What about the holocaust? Suicide bombings? The Rhawandan genocide? The forty plus million starved and murdered in communist Russia?

Men have the track record to back up what I'm saying.

How many Dalai lamas are there again?
95
nocutename you, like many women can't separate the theoretical from practical reality. Let me give you an example you'll be able to understand. A man with a wad of $100 bills in his hand theoretically has the right to walk down the street of a crime infested neighborhood and not get robbed. However, most people can see that from a practical perspective, doing so is asking to be robbed and is in fact a naive, stupid thing to do.
Likewise a woman has the right to dress (or not dress) any way she wants and not be accosted by a man. However in the real world, doing so and not expecting any negative consequences can be both naive and stupid!
And yes, I'm proud and unshamed to call myself a male, chauvinist pig!
96
I'm sure German women colluded with mass murders of Jews, muffy.
No child is born as a murderer. No child is born with a moral code.
One by one men can unlearn assuming others are there for their sexual gratification. And maybe how to change an empty toilet roll as well.
97
Can we think of a culture either currently in existence or historically that we would NOT characterize as a rape culture? Is there one where women truly feel safe from sexual attack over the long haul, not just in individual instances? Are there cultures where women are free from harassment or the threat of harassment in the workplace? Again, not just individual jobs but a whole culture where women aren't thinking along the lines of "well, this job doesn't pay as well and doesn't have too much chance for advancement, but at least my boss isn't hitting on me here the way they do in the places my friends work."
98
Yes Fichu, Bhutan.
99
When most women start being openly attracted to--and trying to sleep with--guys because they are kind, and humble, and considerate, I will join in the general outrage. But not before then.

You get the behaviour you reward. Guys who are successful, assertive, charismatic, interesting, iconoclastic, accomplished, driven, creative...those are the guys being rewarded. But those behaviours almost by definition come with a strong streak of self-interest, and a willingness to put your own needs first. It's part of the package. Throw in the power that comes with success, and here we are.

So seeking out a successful (accomplished/rebellious/interesting/well-travelled/assertive/self-confident) partner, but expecting them to never say an unkind word or act thoughtlessly, is like saying you want water to live beside, and swim in, and sail on, but you don't want it to be wet.

Also, I second Corydon @44 about the unacknowledged ubiquity of power imbalance, and how that power imbalance is not always in favor of men, and how little we like to talk about those things.
100
Hey LateBloomer. So how would you know what sort of men women find attractive, and kindness and consideration can go hand in hand with other attributes which render a man Not Boring.
A woman can be those things, assertive and creative and intelligent and still be considerate and kind. Not men , you suggest? Pity, because intelligence well used can cover the range, if the effort is put in.
You want to talk about power imbalance, then talk about it. Muffy wants some clear idea about harassment, yet didn't say what they think it means.
Outrage is not how I feel about poor Louis, it's more pity. Such pathetic behaviour from some guy in his fifties. Where has he been. Did he not notice many women have become strong and independent in his life time, not just the poor saps who would sit at his feet and feel blessed by his sad behaviour.