According to an article in the New York Times on Thursday, several women have come forward saying that you masturbated in front of them against their will — or, in at least one case, that you asked if you could and were refused. The rumors have been circulating for years, but now it’s official: the whole world knows that you took your dick out when it wasn’t wanted.
It goes without saying that I believe these women, as I do every woman (and man) who has stepped forward to point the finger at a creepy sexual abuser in the last few weeks. It has been extremely gratifying to see women finally being heard by the media and to see powerful men being held accountable for the way they wield their power. To women, this spate of accusations has been no surprise; we live with the threat of sexual violence and misconduct every day. The only surprise is that people are listening.
I am also a huge fan of your work. Though I’m not at all torn about where my sympathies lie with these stories (I don’t feel bad for you; I feel bad for your victims), I would love to see you address these allegations in a way that is worthy of you. For many of your fans, what we love about your comedy is that — no matter how vulgar or boundary-pushing it gets — it is guided by a core of human decency, by an ethical compass that always ends up pointing in the right direction. You are not afraid to shock people, but you often do so for the sake of pointing out their own hypocrisies, their moral relativism, the lies they tell themselves. And you always seem — underneath all your sexual obsessions and weird fantasies — like a good person.
Now, rather than hiding behind your publicist and your manager, who keep repeating that you’re not commenting on the accusations like it’s some kind of mantra, why don’t you come out of hiding and talk about it? Why don’t you admit that you did these things and tell us what you think it says about how men and women and power intersect, about how it complicates your basic goodness, about how people are flawed and human even when they strive for decency, which has always been your basic message anyway?
Write an op-ed in the Times. Talk about it in your next comedy show or your next guest appearance on Colbert. (It’s not that much of a stretch: you’ve been talking about masturbation in your routines for years.) You can give viewers a window into what makes men like you do the things they do. You can admit you have a problem and that you’re in therapy (which I hope you are) and that you’re entering a time of deep self-examination — which, again, has always been one of your calling cards on the comedy stage.
You also have an opportunity here to be an advocate for women, something you’ve presumed to be in the past. First of all, you could apologize to the women on whom you forced the sight of your erect penis. You could apologize for the psychic damage you’ve caused, for having frightened them and put them in horribly uncomfortable positions, for having compromised your professional and personal relationships with them, for having taken advantage of being a man and being more famous than them to corner them and impose your compulsions on them.
Second, and perhaps even more important, you can take this opportunity to publicly acknowledge that they are telling the truth, thereby validating not only these women but all the women who have come out recently to tell their stories. Be the first man in this unprecedented media moment to simply say, “Yes, this happened.”
Your fans respect you, Louie. We not only think you’re brilliant and hilarious — we think you’re good. So, please, don’t hide in the shadows along with the Weinsteins and Tobacks and O’Reillys. Don’t crouch down in the monster’s den with those other creeps, insisting that you did nothing wrong and waiting for it to go away. Step out into the light. Talk to us. Honor your female friends and colleagues in the industry — amazing women like Pamela Adlon and Tig Notaro — and your female fans, who are waiting to hear from you, so that we can incorporate this disturbing new information into our understanding of who you are. The other option is that we abandon you all together, and nobody wants that.