So, Louis CK was on The Daily Show last night, and he talked about Toshgate, and his "misunderstood" tweet, which he says was a totally unrelated tweet he sent just about how he enjoys Tosh's show while watching it on vacation, not even knowing what was going on. So, to be clear: He was ONLY sending rape enforcer Daniel Tosh who features actual acts of sexual violence on his show as comedy a tweet about how great his show is, he was not defending Daniel Tosh's rape jokes and rape incitement.
There's a lot of buzz this morning about how Louis CK said on The Daily Show that he's not going to tell rape jokes anymore, sort of a second act to his promise not to use gay slurs anymore. Except: He never said that.
I watched the segment this morning, and what I heard was:
* Louis CK calling feminists humorless.
* Louis CK saying that feminists and comedians are "natural enemies," thus disappearing all feminist comedians.
* Louis CK calling bloggers and comedians "uneducated" fonts of "hyperbole and garbage."
* Louis CK saying that comedians can't take criticism, which makes them "big pussies."
* Louis CK saying: "For me, any joke about anything bad is great. That's how I feel. Any joke about rape, the Holocaust, the Mets ahhhhhh! whatever. Any joke about something bad is a positive thing."
* Jon Stewart and Louis CK eating cookies about how Louis CK has "evolved" and grown "as an individual."
* Louis CK say some gender essentialist reductive shit about men and women, which included telling women to shut the fuck up: "The women are saying, 'That's how I FEEL about this,' but they're also saying, 'My feelings should be everyone's primary concern.' The men are making this mistake: The men are saying, 'You're feelings don't matter; your feelings are wrong and your feelings are stupid,' and if you've ever lived with a woman, you can't step in shit worse than that, than to tell a woman that her feelings don't matter. So, to the men I say: Listen, listen to what the women are saying about this. To the women I say: Now that we've heard you, you know, shut the fuck up for a minute."
* Jon Stewart joke about how Louis CK would have to get airlifted outta there, because feminists are so scary and violent, of course.
I also heard, which seems to be the piece that is getting construed as a promise to not tell rape jokes anymore:
I've read some blogs during this whole thing that have enlightened me to things I didn't know. This woman said how rape is something that polices women's lives—that they have a narrow corridor. They can't go out late, they can't go to certain neighborhoods, they can't dress a certain way, because they might get— Now that's part of me that wasn't there before, and I can still enjoy a good rape joke.I did not hear any promise to not tell rape jokes. I did, however, hear a promise to keep finding them funny.
Because, shit, nothing could be worse than being humorless about rape jokes.
It appears to me that Louis CK is being given credit for something he didn't actually say, at the expense of ignoring what he did say, which is a heaping fuckload of misogyny punctuated by his continued fondness for rape jokes.
UPDATE: I also want to quickly address the argument I'm seeing a lot that Louis CK should be given "credit," or some variation thereof, for either "evolving" on rape culture and/or speaking about rape culture on a national platform, despite the rest of his objectionable shtick.
First of all, contemplating rape culture for the first time as a 44-year-old man with two daughters, and patting oneself on the back for it instead of framing it as the profoundly regrettable evidence of privilege that is is, isn't something that ought to be praised—and praising it breathes life into the terrible idea that rape culture is difficult for "men" to understand. That is not accurate. It's not difficult for lots of male survivors; it's not difficult for lots of trans* men; it's not difficult for lots of gay men; it's not difficult for lots of men who have been incarcerated; it's not difficult for lots of men who are vulnerable by virtue of physical disability; it's not difficult for lots of highly privileged men who simply have the willingness to listen to women.
Let us not confuse "difficult to understand" for "easy to ignore by virtue of privilege."
Secondly, it is problematic, to put it politely, that the person being given the national platform to talk about rape culture is a guy who's had his first thoughts about it within the last week, after a career of telling and defending rape jokes. And, let's be honest, the platform was mostly offered so he could defend himself. I don't see his using that platform as some great piece of progress; I see his being given that platform as just another example of how the people who are most knowledgeable and sensitive about the gravity of sexual violence are the ones least likely to be given the opportunity to speak about it.
Finally, compartmentalizing Louis CK's "evolution" and misogynist jokes into two separate pieces, in order to praise the former, elides the fact that misogyny underwrites rape culture. He didn't say that he realizes rape culture exists in a void; he said it in a segment in which he used a classic feminist silencing trope, a misogynist slur, gender essentialist humor, and told women to "shut the fuck up for a minute." Extricating his "evolution" from that context is to fail to acknowledge that treating women as less than is a key feature of rape culture.
What he did isn't progress. It's ass-covering.