Louis CK on Why Men Are Awful to Women

Louis CK: you know who he is, you know he’s often hilarious and that he’s at his best when he’s talking about privilege in a way that can hit home even for clueless dipshits. He hosted Saturday Night Live this past weekend, and his opening monologue was packed full of awesome commentary about the poor, women, and religion. Those of you in the US can check it out on Hulu:

Here are some choice quotes for those of you who can’t watch the video:

“I don’t think women are better than men but I do think men are worse than women.”

“Our father who art in heaven. What happened to our mom? What did he do to our mom?”

“It was so okay to beat your wife until so recently that today we have a kind of shirt named after it. There is a piece of clothing in our culture affectionately nicknamed after beating the crap out of your wife. And somehow this is offensive to nobody.”

“I was just wearing a wife-beater and child murder shorts…”

I swear sometimes I love that man.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor. Twitter @rebeccawatson Mastodon mstdn.social/@rebeccawatson Instagram @actuallyrebeccawatson TikTok @actuallyrebeccawatson YouTube @rebeccawatson BlueSky @rebeccawatson.bsky.social

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  1. “I don’t think women are better than men but I do think men are worse than women.”

    I understand that it’s a joke, but that doesn’t make any sense. If men are worse than women, then women are necessarily better than men. That’s what “better” and “worse” mean. I mean, I agree that women are better than men, but why be wishy-washy about it?

    1. It’s the perspective shift that makes it work. “Are women better than men?” means man is the baseline and women are bring judged on how she compares to man (even if she’s superior). “Men are worse than women” takes man out of the privileged spot in the comparison. Now woman is the baseline. We’re just not used to thinking in those terms, and so the line is playing on that unfamiliarity.

      1. Aside from, as jtradke noting, that being part of the joke… There also is a subtlety of the usage there. It’s true that they denotatively mean exactly the same thing. However, connotatively, “women are better than men” implies there is a baseline, which men are at and women are above. “Men are worse than women” implies women are at the baseline and men are below it.

        That is, it’s a funny way of saying ‘this is just basic decency. I’m not going to award anyone for meeting it, but I’m going to poke at those who don’t.’

      2. Aaand, somehow not only did somebody scoop my comment, it somehow misdirected my post as replying to the scooper instead of the original post so I look doubly dense. >.>

      3. That was a really good explanation. I was trying to figure out why I did a double-take when he said that, and that’s spot on.

      4. I thought it was more that, pardon my profanity, but not being a misogynist asshole shouldn’t be considered “good”, but being a misogynist asshole should definitely be considered “bad”.

      5. Interesting. I took it to mean that women aren’t saints but men are terrible, so he’s not praising women so much as bashing men…but I think your reading is the better one.

  2. Because it seems it was just a fun play on words to say men and women are inherently equal in an individual biological sense, but in a cultural sense men act like shitheads on the whole.

      1. I generally agree, Rebecca, I love discussions about how humor works, and why certain jokes work but others don’t. But applying strict logic to a joke that is based on the connotations of the English language just seems like over-nit-picky to me. I was being more flip about it than Nentuaby, who explained exactly why the joke works.

  3. I think the point is doubly shameful. Men and women are the same, point one. Men behave below their position (of sameness) and that is the bad thing. He, as a man, knows that the genders are the same. Men are BEHAVING badly. Men are not different in some way which makes them behave this way. They choose to. Which makes the point all the more forceful. We have volition and act like assholes.

  4. Well, it’s not that nobody complains about the phrase “wife beater” in reference to a sleeveless t-shirt, it’s just that anybody who does reaps a shitstorm of abuse.

  5. 93 years old? That’s optimistic. I’m sure the man is rarely accused of such, but I think Louis CK is being a bit too glass-half-full about this one. When you incorporate the history of disenfranchisement; completely ignoring recent, more subtle moves in favor of older, more egregious ones, US democracy isn’t even old enough to apply for medicare.

  6. This should’ve gotten more of a laugh: “It’s a machine that helps white people sleep… because… we shouldn’t be able to.”

  7. The only thing that seemed wishy-washy was his position on god. I’m sure he’s an atheist for all intent and purpose but doubt the uninitiated could tell from this. The material was great but I think he could have been just as funny without waffling.

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