Why Men Like Louis C.K. Use Masturbation to Assault Women

It's hard to believe it's been just over a month since the New York Times published its original piece on Harvey Weinstein, considering how many new reports have surfaced about sexual harassment in Hollywood since then.

The psychology behind men exposing themselves. Credit: Rich Fury/Getty Images Entertainment/GettyImages

The #MeToo campaign took off on social media, forcing many to confront the rampant issue. Plus, countless men and women have come forward to publicly accuse both Weinstein and other powerful men — there are just too many to list here — of sexual harassment. The allegations have ranged from inappropriate, vulgar language to full-on assault.

But as CNN points out, "One form of harassment has become a recurring theme," especially with the latest stories surrounding comedian Louis C.K. There's isn't a word for this act. You might describe it as something like unwanted masturbatory display, or when a powerful man pleasures himself in front of a woman, forcing her to be an observer.

CNN reporters dug deeper, trying to understand the psychology behind the behavior.

They spoke to James Cantor, director of the Toronto Sexuality Centre, who explained, "This is exhibitionism, an extreme form of it." Of the men who engage in this kind of behavior, Cantor explained, "They rarely escalate. The exhibition, the actual displaying of the genitals, is the goal."

Still, that doesn't mean the victims — those forced to watch — are any less traumatized than if there had been physical contact. "The rules have gone out of the window, and [the victim] doesn't know if this will escalate into violence or rape," Cantor said.

Unfortunately, Cantor said that it's hard to know what causes the behavior in men: They can spend years in therapy trying to figure it out. Dr. Prudence Gourguechon, former president of the American Psychoanalytic Association, told CNN that she thinks it comes from a "wish to be looked at and admired."

Gourguechon also has a theory that the behavior allows for "a kind of strange plausible deniability." As she explained to CNN, "He could think to himself, 'Well, I didn't rape anyone,' which is true in the broader sense, but it is a twisted defense."

Indeed, in a statement released this morning by Louis C.K., in which he admits that the accusations against him are true, he writes: "At the time, I said to myself that what I did was OK because I never showed a woman my dick without asking first. But what I learned later in life, too late, is that when you have power over another person, asking them to look at your dick isn't a question. It's a predicament for them."

Whatever the reason behind this behavior, it is — obviously — completely unacceptable. We can only hope that with more of this horrific behavior coming to light, women will feel empowered to always speak up when dealing with harassment and abuse.

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What Do YOU Think?

Are you surprised to learn that masturbating in front of someone is a disorder? Do you have any sympathy for Louis C.K. or give him credit for at least admitting what he's done? Tell us in the comments below.

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