Sarah Silverman is grappling with a lot of the same questions that many of us are dealing with: can we still appreciate art by an outed abuser? What if an abuser is our friend? How do we move on and reckon with the toxicity that has permeated out culture?
Last week, on her Hulu show I Love You, America, Silverman addressed the allegations against her longtime friend Louis C.K. Speaking poignantly, she appeared saddened while talking about C.K. and how hard it is to answer these painful questions. "It's a real mind-fuck, because I love Louis, but Louis did these things. Both of those statements are true, so I just keep asking myself, 'Can you love someone who did bad things? Can you still love them?"
She also spoke on a panel this weekend for the Vulture Festival, reports Deadline, and delved more into trying to understand C.K.'s motives, and the motives of other abusers noting that sometimes, you simply can't.
"It’s OK to have some kind of empathy or compassion about it. Even if it’s something where we say, ‘You’re going to go to jail’ or ‘This is not acceptable,’ but to kind of try to understand what’s behind bad deeds," said Silverman. "Because people aren’t just bad guys and good guys like in the movies. It’s very nuanced and it’s worth understanding."
The pathology of what creates an abuser is still not known, but when it comes to masturbating in front of someone without consent (the kinds of action that C.K. is accused of, and has admitted to), the Cut talked to a sex therapist, who shed some light on this disturbing behavior. "Exhibitionists purposefully look to shock their victims because they are angry. They are not looking to make friends or go on a date — these are acts of revenge against women. These men are imposing the body part that is most threatening to a female and in doing so, they are acting out what is called 'sexualized hostility' or 'eroticized rage' against their prey. That look of fear or humiliation on women is arousing to them," explains Alexandra Katehakis.
Understanding that nuance is vital to, hopefully, treating men who abuse and harass women. It comes from somewhere, and this behavior exists regardless of how nice or feminist the man can appear in public. Silverman appreciates the reckoning we are all dealing with, saying "...that’s why things have to be hard right now, and people should be afraid, and think before they act — that’s a good thing."
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