Louis C.K. Jokes That Women Are Courageous to Date Men—Sadly, He’s Right

VIDEO: What Is the Worst Threat to Women? Louis CK Preaches

Louis CK tells us in a hilarious, real way about something we unfortunately know quite well to be true. Though one could argue that this same threat is worst for men as well.

In his new HBO special, comedian Louis C.K. articulates how women have been and continue to be alarmingly at risk of violence from men. “The courage it takes for a woman to say yes [to a date with a man] is beyond anything I can imagine. A woman saying yes to a date with a man is literally insane, and ill-advised,” he says (see video at right). “How do women still go out with guys, when you consider the fact that there is no greater threat to women than men? We’re the number one threat! To women! Globally and historically, we’re the number one cause of injury and mayhem to women. We’re the worst thing that ever happens to them!”

He goes on to make an apt analogy: “If you’re a guy, imagine you could only date a half-bear-half-lion. ‘Oh, I hope this one’s nice! I hope he doesn’t do what he’s going to do.’”

The bit is funny, but it’s also tragically on point. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in five U.S. women experiences rape at some point in her life. More than 42 percent of female rape victims were first raped before age 18, and nearly 30 percent of female rape victims were first raped between the ages of 11 and 17. And yet we continue to treat victims with skepticism, shift blame onto them, and publicly shame them because of their victimization. This holds true for woman who have been sexually violated and young girls who have been sexually victimized.

Take, for instance, the recent string of teen girls who were gang raped by fellow students and then taunted and ridiculed as a result of the attacks.

Audrie Pott and Rehtaeh Parsons, both 15 years old, were gang raped by young men who proceeded to take photos of the assaults and circulate them widely through the Internet and at the girls’ schools. Unable to escape the digital trail of their rapes and endless ridicule by their peers, both girls ultimately took their own lives. What added to the sense of hopelessness and shame that eventually became too great for these girls to bear was the lack of attention they received from their schools and the criminal justice system—two systems designed and trusted to protect children.

There was also the young girl in the Steubenville case, whose gang rape was photographed and filmed while her friends and classmates posed with her unconscious body and laughed. Unlike the other two cases, the girl from Steubenville survived, but much like the other two young victims, she was also mercilessly shamed and denigrated for what happened to her by her community, her classmates, and even the media.

What’s devastating is that we know girls are particularly vulnerable to this type of violence, but when it happens, we seek to rationalize and downplay the incident. People are quick to point to underage drinking or argue that “boys will be boys” to dismiss such violence. Other times we look to the victims for ways to shift blame or justify how their behavior may have warranted or contributed to such an attack. We try to minimize the events by likening them to that one story someone told us in college about a girl who slept with a guy and later regretted it, crying rape. This ignores study after study showing that less than half of rapes are reported. For those that are reported, law enforcement may not pursue the matter or deem the case worthy of investigation, often further traumatizing victims. These reactions send the overwhelming message to women and girls that we don’t care what’s happening to them, that we don’t value them or their safety.

No wonder most victims choose not to report their rape or sexual assault. Why would they when recent studies show that among adolescent sexual assault victims who took the steps to bring their assailants to justice—meaning they filed a police report, spoke with investigators, underwent medical forensic exams, and the like—60 percent of cases were never prosecuted. (Among adult victims, some 86 percent of sexual assaults reported to police were never referred to prosecutors.) In other words, a majority of reported sexual assault cases go nowhere, despite evidence and cooperation from the victims.

When schools fail to punish assailants because they are star athletes with bright futures, when law enforcement doesn’t deem a case worthy of their time to investigate, despite ample forensic evidence, and when journalists lament the future of a perpetrator more than the future of a victim, we send the resounding message violence against women and girls is acceptable, that it is inevitable. And the message to rapists is that they can continue to rape with impunity.

Whether we admit it or not, this country has a serious problem with sexual violence, with rates rivaling those of countries we condemn for their dismissive and sexist attitudes toward women and girls’ victimization. But the reality is that no matter who you are or where you are, whether in the United States or India, if you are a woman, you face an increased risk of violence because of your gender alone. And, unfortunately, there’s a really good chance nothing will be done about it.

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Follow Yasmin Vafa on twitter: @rights4girls; @yvafa

  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.m.taylor1 Robert Merrill Taylor

    It should be noted that much of the slut-shaming of the raped women came from their female classmates. Teenage girls do not seem to take rape seriously when it happens to someone else.

    • http://www.facebook.com/Feral.9.Hex Carla Clark

      Um, there’s a reason for that. Because these women WILL be associated with the rape victim if they don’t turn their backs on her. Because they WILL be shamed and marginalized more than their male counterparts ever WOULD be if they don’t take sides. Seriously, just because women are the ones who perform most forms of FGM, doesn’t mean it’s no longer sanctioned by men or a patriarchal culture. No, the REASON for it being performed by women is BECAUSE of the patriarchal culture, and it has been done that way for a LONG time.

      • HeilMary1

        Faux feminists Sarah Palin, Ann Coultergeist and Michelle Malkin come to mind. They love blaming female victims.

        • http://www.facebook.com/Feral.9.Hex Carla Clark

          Yeah, because they’ve been brainwashed by the patriarchy.

  • disqus_VtxRimIGuN

    It’s just one more reason why I don’t like myself. I’m apart of a “demographic” [for lack of a better word] that has done, and apparently will continue to do, violent things to vulnerable people.

  • Fifty Shades Of Erin Gray

    The “heart disease” punchline bothers me, however, for two reasons. The first is that he kind of mocks men for having heart disease, as if it’s nothing to be upset about as well as their own fault.

    The other is that statistically the number one threat to women is… Heart disease.

    What’s worse than 1 in 5 women being sexually assaulted? *1 in 2* women dying of heart disease.

    • cjvg

      -Among all U.S. women who die each year, 1 in 4 dies of heart disease
      -Both men and women have heart attacks, but more women who have heart attacks die from them.
      CDC report from 2004
      So it is NOT I in 2 but I in 4 which is very very close to the number of women raped (and it is commonly known rape is underreported so in actuality the number might be the same or even surpass the 1in 4)
      Besides do you really think it is acceptable to dismiss the huge numbers of women
      willfully and intentionally brutalized by rape by men, by pointing at a disease doing harm too?!
      Don’t look at the intentional and willful damage done to women and girls , instead look at what this indiscriminate disease does, were does that make sense?!

      • Fifty Shades Of Erin Gray

        No. I am not downplaying intentional and willful damage,

        But the simple fact is that the number one killer of women is heart disease, by a large margin. CK both ignores that and minimizes it for men.

        He can tell whatever joke he wants, but it’s not accurate.

        • courteney

          Well done on missing the entire forest for the very nicest tree you could find.

          • Fifty Shades Of Erin Gray

            What forest? Women should know about the dangers of heart disease.
            (If he had said “cancer” you’d understand why it’s wrong)

          • courteney

            i understand the point you’re making, i’m just saying that you’re missing his entirely.

  • dratman

    I agree with Louis C. K. that there is danger in dating any man. It seems to me the only sensible way for a woman to proceed would be to find some way to check out the guy she is considering going out with. Checking up on him may not be easy to do, but surely it is worth a try. If it turns out to be impossible to check the man’s background, something is probably wrong. In that case, don’t go out with him!