Et tu, Louis?
I silently lamented news of the impending New York Times article breaking down the allegations of comedian Louis C.K.’s "sexual misconduct."
Multiple women. Also old news. Multiple articles that gained far less traction in Gawker and elsewhere several years ago had already addressed much of this. And even I was guilty of not giving it as much weight as it should have. Yet I was on the brink of outright denial.
“But I like him,” was my thought.
Now, Al Franken is accused of sexual harassment. Another person I admire. Another person who’s work I laud. And the list of those facing accusations gets steadily longer.
“But I like him,” is no longer a lone, watered-down thought of disbelief. It’s becoming a refrain. And I need to check myself. Now.
I don’t like being a hypocrite.
Years ago, I didn’t speak up about an ex who turned our relationship into a free pass to repeatedly abuse and assault me. And why didn’t I say anything at the time? General fear was certainly a factor.
Worse, however, was that I was convinced people would not believe me. Between the two of us, my ex was far more charismatic. He was goofy and affable. I was shy, and could put on a hard front. I couldn’t believe anyone would take my word.
“But they like him.”
YouTube commentator Philip DeFranco very quickly echoed my thoughts in one of his recent news round-ups. “If you’ve looked at all the accusations that have come out recently, it does very much feel that, in the public, how much you are liked is how much of the benefit of the doubt you get,” he said.
My mentality used to be that the last thing I wanted to do is jump to conclusions regarding allegations in this realm. I don’t know why my desire not to invalidate anyone who drums up the courage to speak of something as painful as being sexually assaulted wasn’t at least as equally as dominate. Now that I’m calling myself out, I honestly don’t know how to adequately rectify “innocent until proven guilty” with “I believe you.”
False accusers are the exception, not the rule. Few are likely to endure the scrutiny and disbelief that comes with accusations of sexual assault or harassment.
The floodgates have opened up, as there clearly is a need for safety in numbers. Women the world over (and many non-women, too) have chosen to say #MeToo over and over again, and often had to choke down bitter laughter when people expressed astonishment that the problem was so widespread.
I want to believe we are past the age where we treat every person who speaks up about sexual assault or predatory behavior as someone who clearly must be lying. I want to say #IHearYou.
That’s not enough. It’s not enough to simply acknowledge there’s some noise. So anyone who needs to come forward about their own experience: #ImListening.
Top photo: FX/Louie
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Lillibet Gilbert is an actor, playwright, and freelance writer hailing from Portland, Maine. Her feature film projects include "How to Make Movies at Home” (nominee - Jack Nance Breakthrough Performance Award) and “Tangled 8.” Her first full-length play, "Temporary Living Arrangements," received its professional world premiere in 2013. Lillibet earned a bachelor's degree in theater from the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, and currently resides in Colorado. She has shamelessly rollerskated down a mountain on a dare.