To: Women and Girls
From: Louis CK
Dear Women and Girls,
The last year since the exposure of my, er, exposure, has been a period of time in which I have ridden a rollercoaster of thoughts and feelings. And given the brutality shown by this administration via a kaleidoscope of horrors, including Third Reich-level callousness to immigrants and children, I can’t lie… I was hoping this ongoing nightmare might take some heat off me regarding my part in #metoo. Recognizing that makes it even more important that I finally “out” myself.
I’m sure you can imagine the humiliation I experienced. I’ve studied up on so-called women’s issues. I now realize how many of you become masters of transcending daily indignities in order to simply function.
After I admitted that I had asked women who either admired me or were beholden to me to “behold” my man parts, I spent months asking, “What am I missing? What am I missing?” I found that I’d been missing straight talk from women who weren’t afraid of me or who didn’t care what I could do or not do for their careers. I’m also “missing” out on the life experience of women and girls through the ages.
I contacted a professor of women’s studies in cognito and asked her to send a reading list that might provide me with an understanding of why there is such a gender gap regarding power. I have been missing asking deep questions when it comes to the experience of women and girls “as lived.” I unconsciously bought the spin that women are by nature not actors and simply “acted” upon.
I’d be a liar if I didn’t cop to my interest in women being real live humans if it weren’t for my own daughters. I want to prepare my daughters to run into men like me, or God forbid, men worse than I am.
The professor (and I’ll leave her name out of it) recommended that I read the following and in this order:
• “Vindication of the Rights of Women” — Mary Wollstonecraft
• “A Century of Struggle?” — Elinor Flexner
• “The Feminine Mystique” — Betty Friedan
• “Sisterhood is Powerful: An Anthology of Writings from the Women’s Liberation
Movement” — Edited by Robin Morgan
• “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” — Maya Angelou
• “Beyond Power” — Marilyn French
• “This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color”
• “Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions — Gloria Steinem
• “When God Was a Woman” — Merlin Stone
• “Refusing to Be a Man” — John Stoltenberg
• “The Chalice and the Blade” — Riane Eisler
• “The Alphabet vs. the Goddess” — Leonard Schlain
I always thought that I was a progressive. After reading these 12 books, I find that
I’m profoundly grateful to women’s strength, patience and, finally, calling our collective bluffs. #TimesUp couldn’t be more apt.
I am now going to radically alter my relationship with gender. I was not only allowed but encouraged to be dismissive of women both as a group and as individuals. No more.
To the women I stripped in front of:
I am mortified that I hurt your feelings, betrayed your trust and created something in your mind’s eyes that you’ll never “unsee.” If you can possibly find it in your hearts to forgive me, please do so. And if you need something specific from me to heal, please let me know. You have my promise that I will NEVER degrade a woman again as long as I live. I also promise to give $1 million to at least one nonprofit that specifically empowers women and girls every year for the next 10 years.
Even if I didn’t get naked in front of you personally, the way I have related to women up to this point has been “You’re all alike,” and I might as well have stripped in front of all you. I have — despite my persona of equality — behaved toward most of you like you are all interchangeable.
I subscribed unconsciously to the Hollywood white male approach which is essentially: Go through women like tissues since they are flimsy, disposable and replaceable; just blow into them and discard. Again, that ends here and now.
Big reveal: Louis CK didn’t really write this!
Obviously, this is the letter I would like to see him write and doubt I will. Hey, Louis CK! I have a couple of 501c3s you can contribute to. Also, I haven’t cut you out of my movie “Beauty Bites Beast” because I can’t afford to, and I’m holding out some hope that you might break yourself out of the pack and actually do a true and public apology. A bunch of us are rooting for you.
Visit Ellen at snortland.com