THE ATLANTIC – DAVID SIMS/ PHOTO CREDIT: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
The behavior described by various comedians in The New York Times’s story on Louis C.K.’s alleged history of sexual misconduct is largely consistent: C.K. would find a way to get women alone in a room, and then masturbate in front of them. Just as disturbing, however, is the pattern of what the comedians said came next: Male comedians would ignore or avoid the story when they heard it, and the reactions from people within the industry seemed to reinforce a single message—that women who went public would jeopardize any chance of career advancement.
“Guys were backing away from us,” said Julia Wolov, a comedian who charged that C.K. masturbated in front of her and her comedy partner Dana Min Goodman after a stand-up show in 2002. “[After 24 hours] we could already feel the backlash.” The women who spoke to the Times said that C.K.’s manager, Dave Becky—one of the most powerful men in the comedy business, who also works with other famous performers like Aziz Ansari, Kevin Hart, and Amy Poehler—was upset that they were openly talking about the incident (Becky denied making any threats). The alleged encounter was scarring: two young women watching, paralyzed, as an older man stripped naked in front of them and masturbated. And yet, Wolov and Goodman said, they were the ones who saw their careers harmed, while C.K. continued his rise to global fame. When they later moved to Los Angeles, they “were coming [there] with a bunch of enemies,” Goodman said.