Sarah Silverman: We Need To “Try To Understand” What’s Behind Sexual Harassment

Sarah Silverman
Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images

Earlier this week, Sarah Silverman gave a speech on her Hulu show I Love You, America, addressing the sexual harassment scandal surrounding her longtime friend Louis C.K. – a situation that clearly devastated her.

But speaking on a panel at the Vulture Festival in Los Angeles on Sunday, she said in some cases, it’s important that we understand what drives people to behave like that, if we are to move forward and make improvements.

“It’s OK to have some kind of empathy or compassion about it,” she said, “even if it’s something where we say, ‘You’re going to go to jail’ or ‘This is not acceptable,’ but to kind of try to understand what’s behind bad deeds, because people aren’t just bad guys and good guys like in the movies. It’s very nuanced and it’s worth understanding.”

On I Love You, America, Silverman had said, “One of my best friends of over 25 years, Louis C.K., masturbated in front of women. He wielded his power with women in f**ked-up ways. Sometimes to the point where they left comedy entirely…I can couch this with heartwarming stories of our friendship and what a great dad he is, but that’s totally irrelevant isn’t it?”

Silverman’s comments at Vulture Festival were part of a discussion about varying degrees of inappropriate behavior, as she also addressed what Dancing With the Stars host Tom Bergeron said earlier this month about dancer Witney Carson. He had said Carson’s dance partner was likely “not the first guy whose lost control of Witney,” bringing shocked gasps from the studio audience.

Silverman pointed out that a polarized response to such events isn’t always an effective approach, and that obviously there are degrees of culpability. “It’s kind of interesting to think about,” she said, “because Tom Bergeron — I have no ill will towards him — he’s a lovely man, he meant no harm by it, but it’s a great example of someone who comes from another time where we just don’t know better.”

She continues, “All these microaggressions, little ways that we’re taught what our role is, and to men, what they think a woman’s role is….with him that’s just something that’s been ingrained in the culture so much that he’s a product of that…the more we are just black and white, and have no compassion or empathy toward someone who said the wrong thing, what this teaches us is we need to raise our daughter and sons to know what is unacceptable behavior.”

Silverman added that the recent slew of harassment revelations were, “putting a healthy fear in men. She recognizes how great the #metoo campaign was, but says that the odd thing is that there isn’t a woman who doesn’t have a “#metoo.”

“That’s the culture we live in, and it has to change,” said Silverman. “So that’s why things have to be hard right now, and people should be afraid, and think before they act–that’s a good thing.”

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