I’m frequently reminded of the September 2016 Reductress article, “10 Men We Can Still Admire, As Far As We Know,” in which the brilliant satire website lists ten* male celebrities who, as far as we know, haven’t committed any heinous acts against women. It’s just one of many times where their brilliant writing team manage to blur the lines between reality and fiction because, on the whole, cis men are trash and I’m tired of the overwhelming majority being varying degrees of awful, yet riding on the coattails of a noble few who aren’t. It’s like they’re back in college, having to complete a group assignment, but instead of having a group full of people who don’t pull their weight, it’s just a bunch of cis dudes showing their dicks to unsuspecting women, while one dude is just there, treating women with dignity. By no means is this a recent phenomenon, either, it just seems like maybe possibly there might be something resembling consequences for deplorable acts committed by beloved people.**
I looked this post up again after Thursday’s brilliantly written New York Times piece about the five women who bravely brought forth sexual misconduct allegations against comedian Louis C.K., which was then followed up by his pseudo apology on Friday. These allegations, now confirmed by the comedian himself, aren’t particularly new–other outlets, including the now defunct Gawker, picked the story up a few years back. I do and did find this particularly galling because Louis C.K.’s comedy was a useful tool for helping powerful people better understand their privilege. His bits on White privilege and, both tragically and ironically, how men are single handedly the most dangerous threat to women made me want to believe that he was one of the good ones, fighting the good fight for the oppressed. Unfortunately this, combined with his talent and the half apology, will be what will allow otherwise decent allies to turn a blind eye once again.
I know that it’s psychologically satisfying to separate the artist from the artform. For fuck’s sake Woody Allen manages to keep having his projects greenlit year after year, despite allegations of sexual abuse from his adopted daughter, actually marrying his stepdaughter, and generally writing different variations on the same, tired ass stories again and again. If that’s what helps you sleep at night, that’s on you. But at what point do we start listening to victims? At what point do their lived experiences take precedence over a film, a joke, a book, a song? Why does the merit of their contributions outweigh the safety and security of their victims? I’m over the apologists and the Devil’s advocates out there, crying well actually, and not all men. I have a better idea: stop abusing people. Stop showing people your dicks. Stop groping. Stop harassing. Stop excusing bad behavior. Stop silencing anyone who speaks up. Start holding each other accountable. If you don’t, kindly get the fuck out of my way because I’m done with you.
*This list includes acclaimed astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson about whom sexual assault allegations resurfaced last month. To date, Dr. Tyson hasn’t made any sort of statement confirming, denying, or even acknowledging these claims.
**I shan’t hold my breath for anything resembling consequences for acts committed against marginalized communities–women of color, the LGBT community, poor people, anyone experiencing mental illness or substance issues, etc. With exception of a precious few, this is receiving attention because predominantly White women have come forward with these allegations. This doesn’t invalidate their accusations or make their experiences any less heinous, but it does require us to have a deeper conversation about why every marginalized voice isn’t being heard.