13 November 2017

In Defense of Louie CK Part 3 - responding to responses to part one.

Comments on my initial post on the topic are below, in purple italics.  My response to the response follows each paragraph.

IMHO, your very best and essential point is: if Louis CK asked permission, why isn't that just unfortunate/awkward instead of nonconsenual? I think this is a great point, and I think that your argument that assuming women can't say no to these situations is really important, and points to misogyny that assumes women can't speak for themselves.

Well, your humble opinion was exactly what I was looking for!

But, as far as the accounts I read, he didn't receive explicit "yesses". One woman says she laughed it off - that isn't a yes - and then he appeared naked and masturbating. Others don't detail it clearly.
I think it's fair to say that consent comes when someone says "yes", not when they don't say no. In this case, I don't think he received explicit "yesses".

So then anything short of the word "yes" should be understood to mean "no" by default?  What about "ok" or "uh-huh" or "sure"?
Is there that same expectation when the situation has nothing to do with sex?
For example "mind if I smoke in your yard", answered with a "meh", or "may I try some of that?" answered with a shrug of the shoulders.  Or "can I cut in front of you, I'll be quick" answered with "I guess".
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think nearly everyone would consider those all forms of consent.  There has to be some point at which the person being asked the question has the responsibility to be clear if they mean "no".

The other question is can it be considered consent with a power differential given how much professional influence he has over these women's career (whether official or unofficial). I think it's very possible he took advantage of his position, knowing he wouldn't likely get a strong clear "no" or even any repercussions.

He was not a supervisor to any of them, nor even the big name star of a joint project.  He simply was relatively better known.  By that standard no one in Hollywood could ever date anyone, unless both people can somehow be determined to have exactly equal amounts of star power.  For that matter, no two people could date, unless they had exactly equal, levels of education, income, physical strength, and any other potential measure of power.  
 If a cop sits down at a diner and buys a meal, and then the waiter gives him a discount, is that cop guilty of an abuse of power because he could hypothetically have done a shake down?
The reported case in which he made a request and the person said no, there is absolutely no claim of reprisal what-so-ever.  Is it really reasonable to hold it against them that he hypothetically could have retaliated against her, even though he in fact didn't?  On what grounds can we assume that he was deliberately "abusing power" via an awareness of a power deferential, especially considering that he apparently readily accepted "no" for an answer and neither was persistent in asking nor retaliated in any way? 

You didn't address his manager telling them to keep quiet, which to me implies that they both knew he had crossed lines and didn't want it exposed. If it was just "hey want to see my dick," in an appropriate setting, the manager wouldn't care if they told, because there'd be nothing to hide.

That's a bit like saying "the suspect ran from the police, that proves he is guilty of the murder."  Its a line of reasoning that only works if guilt has been predetermined.  Maybe he asked them to keep quiet because of the repressive culture we live in, or to avoid embarrassment.  Maybe its because Louie's wife would have been upset to learn about it - which would be problematic for it's own reasons, but would be a strictly personal issue.

Also from what I understand, he did some of this at his office, which I think is definitely inappropriate. Part of the workplace agreement is that sexual acts stay out of the workplace, to support a working environment where people feel comfortable so they can keep their jobs.

If a particular workplace has that standard, then it might be grounds for a reprisal from the manager, or perhaps even firing.  Not grounds for public shaming.  If a person were discovered to have been masturbating during a break inside a closed and locked personal office, that might violate the work contract too, but there is no victim, so its not really a moral issue.  If the fact of being at work was the issue, than there incidents which weren't shouldn't be included in the scandal.  If power or consent were the real issue, then the case where he asked, she said no, and that was the end of it shouldn't be relevant.  There is only one common denominator across all of the examples, and I think that tells us what it is really about.  Everything else is the media and the public looking for ways to justify it.  At least, that's my own (not always so) humble opinion.


Following is a second set of comments, from a different person, who also read the first set of comments. Same pattern of text.

The way you address the power differential is incorrect. He did have informal power over these women's careers. 

He was more famous than them and was in a higher position on the shows they were working on together.

In the first case they were both stand up comedians at the same club. The second, she was a producer and performer and a show where he was a guest star. In the third, she was a producer, while he was a writer.
None of those is a particularly higher position, and one of them is certainly lower.  There is no particular career control in any of those relations.  As I said, if the mere fact of being more famous makes a power deffirintial, than no one in Hollywood should ever be allowed to date anyone else in Hollywood.

Also agreeing with [the first comments] on the sex at work part. I think you should be free to go to work without a supervisor or a co-worker propositioning you to join with them in a sexual act.

The first incident described was at a private hotel room, with people who had shared a "workplace" for a single event.  Another was to have taken place in a dressing room.  I don't know all the details of how Hollywood works, but I believe people tend to spend far more than a normal 40 hour work week on sets, and dressing rooms are considered private spaces.  Not convinced that the normal cubical type rules can always be applied.
Also, haven't you had romantic and/or sexual relationships with people you met at workplaces or internships?  

We disagree about the harm in someone masturbating in front of you and using you as the person to help them achieve sexual satisfaction when you don't want them too. When someone does that, they are using your body in a way you might not want them too. We should be able to have control over our bodies and persons and the way they are used.

If you are ever in a public place, anyone can look at you, remember what you look like, and later fantasize about you.  You might not like that that person is remembering your image, and thinking of you in that way, but I find that to be an unreasonable definition of "use" and "body".  You really don't have control over the photons that bounce off of your body, which is why it is not a crime to photograph or video people in public places.  
Of course one should have control over their actual bodies, but no one was physically held or touched or prevented from leaving or had their actual bodies used in any other way.

Women's bodies are not just for male sexual satisfaction. I think that's what people mean by asking men not to "objectify" women.

He didn't ask them to strip, nor to touch them.  He was clearly less interested in their bodies' than their minds, their consciousness.  
And nothing about being interested in a person for sexual satisfaction implies the word "just".  
The idea that valuing someone for their sexuality and valuing them for anything else is mutually exclusive is misogynistic.

I think it is telling that his manager got upset at the two women he masturbated in front of because they were telling other people. They said that they did believe them telling other people had an effect on their careers. That's not right. And that shows why he shouldn't have asked people if he didn't want people to tell other people about it 

They "heard" that the manager was "upset".  They made no claim that the manager actually asked them not to, or even spoke to them at all.  The manager explicitly said he never threatened anyone in anyway.
They may have said they "believed" it had some effect on their careers, but they didn't say what that effect was, or who caused it or how. 
Nearly everyone has some things they have done, sexual or not, that they would prefer wasn't told to everyone around them.  All of us do.  Like, us, the people in these emails.  The fact that we would be upset if someone started telling our co-workers our personal business is not evidence that what ever it is we did was wrong.  

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