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BANSAL: Men who abuse power must be stripped of it

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Bill Cosby, Woody Allen, Hugh Hefner, Harvey Weinstein, Louis C.K. This list of famous, well-respected men who wildly abused their power and privilege goes on and on. Our most recent offender, Louis C.K., charged for sexual misconduct, is one of the most surprising finds. After rumors and several different women accusing him of harassment, it finally became known that C.K. was not the figure that he made himself out to be. 

People like C.K. get away with acts of crime against women because of their fame and reputation. These men hide their vicious personalities behind a facade of loving, liberal, progressive characters. C.K. was no different. He masked his grotesque personality behind comedy bits that pointed toward him being a progressive character. He is a producer of the feminist-leaning show, "Better Things," and has been a constant advocate for women and their success, such as Tig Notaro. C.K. has comedy bits that highlight the realities for women in a patriarchal world and strongly support their advancement. The reality is he used these women to cover up his genuine nature as someone who makes women severely uncomfortable himself.

C.K. released a statement of “apology” after being accused, an apology that I do not accept. It brings up the question of motive. Is he truly remorseful for his cases of sexual misconduct or is he sorry that his successful career came to a sudden stop with his television shows, money and reputation going down the drain? If C.K. was truly sorry, he would not have done it or he would have handled the situation before getting caught. 

We all know that C.K. is a smart enough man to know that women are constantly targeted in the industry of fame, and now we know that he was a perpetuator of this. He attempted to spread awareness of the struggle for women in a comedy bit saying, “We’re the No. 1 threat to women! Globally and historically, we’re the No. 1 cause of injury and mayhem to women. We’re the worst thing that ever happens to them. You know what our No. 1 threat is? Heart disease. That’s it.” This joke was seemingly innocent, and it portrayed the words of an advocate. Now, it is just disturbing. It portrays the words of a hypocritical sexual predator. 

In an article for Cosmopolitan, Laura Beck writes, “It can be a hostile world for the women who love comedy — performers and consumers alike — and that's what makes C.K.'s alleged acts all the more upsetting. Here's a dude who many women believed 'got it' and was on our team. I never loved C.K. as a comedian, but I admittedly spent years respecting the ways he positioned himself as an advocate of women — his willingness to engage was inspiring, and at the very least, he seemed like a great role model to other male comics. Except he wasn’t.”

According to The New York Times, many references made in “I Love You, Daddy,” his latest production, were seen to be symbolic of the struggles women go through. He told a story that emphasized the horrific value of youth and sexuality given to women. C.K. wore his fame for being liberal and a symbolic genius to disguise his true colors. His jokes and symbolic advocacy now bring a sense of discomfort, as he was one of those sexual predators that he so famously harped on in his career. This hypocrisy is what makes his apology harder to accept. He knew what he was doing and did very little to attempt to redeem himself or openly feel any remorse until his wealth and fame were taken from him. 

As a society, we need to stop the constant tolerance and respect for powerful men who abuse their privilege. President Donald J. Trump has been accused of sexually inappropriate behavior by 16 women and counting. If our current president can get away with having sexually predatory behavior and still be respected by thousands, something needs to change. We need to recognize that men in power, such as Trump, Hefner and C.K. deserve no respect, even after an obligatory apology. Moreover, we need to work to strip them of this power that they handle so abusively. We need to imagine a world where our favorite characteristic family-man or progressive male in fame and power is not discovered to be a rapist or a predator. We need a world where the man executing change in our legislation is not a known sexual predator.

Priyanka Bansal is a Rutgers Business School first-year double majoring in business and journalism and media studies. Her column, “Call for Change,” runs on alternate Tuesdays.

*Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

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