It has been a little less than a year since five women alleged that comedian Louis C.K. masturbated in front of them without their consent. C.K. acknowledged his past sexual misconduct in a widely criticized apology, and he has since returned to the stage with a surprise stand-up comedy set. Since the allegations, C.K.’s longtime friend Sarah Silverman has been open about her conflicting feelings regarding his actions, and on the October 22nd episode of Howard Stern’s SiriusXM radio show, Silverman revealed that C.K. used to masturbate in front of her with her consent.
Variety reports that Silverman told Stern she was “not making excuses for him,” instead noting that she does not consider the encounters assault or harassment because he wielded no professional power over her at the time.
But the I Love You, America host clarified she was not apologizing for C.K.; rather, she acknowledged that he failed to change his behavior as he became more powerful in the industry, and that the behavior was ultimately unacceptable.
According to IndieWire, she added that she felt C.K. eventually realized that what he had done was wrong. She also said that she hasn’t spoken to him in more than three months. “I’m not saying everyone should embrace Louis again,” she said. “I believe he has remorse. I just want him to talk about it on stage. He’s going to have to find his way or not find his way.”
Silverman’s comments certainly don’t speak for all women. On October 22nd, comedian Rebecca Corry—one of the women who came forward with allegations against C.K.—tweeted, “To be real clear, CK had “nothing to offer me” as I too was his equal on the set the day he decided to sexually harrass me. He took away a day I worked years for and still has no remorse.”
Silverman promptly responded to the tweet, apologizing and attempting to clarify what she meant.
While it’s not Silverman’s job to defend or explain C.K’s actions (he’s the one who committed the crimes), we’re glad she’s listening to his victims and attempting to grow—even if she occasionally misses the mark (and we thank Corry for adding her voice to this important discussion). Public discourse about the intersection of power, sex, and harassment are critical to moving forward as a society, and we’re glad these conversations are not being pushed to the wayside.
As always, we stand with all victims of sexual assault and harassment and will continue working toward a day when sexual misconduct is a thing of the past.