As more women open up about their experiences of harassment, the comedian has revealed a disturbing incident at the age of 18.
Since the first revelations about Harvey Weinstein were published in October, several other famous men have faced their own allegations of sexual harassment. One of these men is cult comedian Louis CK, who has admitted to masturbating in front of five women after they accused him of sexual misconduct.
Now, CK’s longtime friend Sarah Silverman has revealed her own first experience of being sexually harassed by a man – and while her story does not involve CK, it has uncanny parallels with his behaviour.
Speaking to The Guardian, Silverman said that her boss masturbated in front of her when she was 18 years old and working as a waitress.
The restaurant manager asked her to come into his office, said Silverman. “And I was literally shaking, thinking I was in trouble, but he was just asking me benign questions – until I saw that he was fully jerking off in front of me.”
The comedian and actress, who is currently appearing alongside Emma Stone and Steve Carrell in film Battle of the Sexes, said that she was too taken aback to challenge the man on his actions.
“I just said, ‘I have to clean the popcorn machine,’ and I left and I never told anyone. For years,” she said.
Silverman recently addressed CK’s admission of sexual harassment in an emotional monologue delivered on her TV show, I Love You, America. The pair have been friends for decades, and Silverman said she was struggling to reconcile her affection for CK with her disgust and anger at his treatment of other female comedians.
“He wielded his power with women in f***ed up ways, sometimes to the point where they left comedy entirely,” she said.
“I could couch this with heart-warming stories of our friendship and what a great dad he is, but that’s totally irrelevant, isn’t it? Yes, it is.”
She continued: “It’s a real mind f*** because I love Louis, but Louis did these things. Both of those statements are true, so I just keep asking myself, can you love someone who did bad things? Can you still love them?”
In conversation with The Guardian, Silverman said that while she had no sympathy for men like Weinstein, she was interested in trying to understand what makes people behave in such abusive and predatory ways.
“I’m not trying to have empathy for Harvey Weinstein, he’s clearly a monster, but monsters are made,” she said. “Listen, we spent the past 60 years, especially Jews, trying to figure out the pathology of a Hitler. So to understand someone’s pathology is not a waste of time.”
Silverman added that she feels optimistic about the future, despite the number of depressing revelations about famous men.
“It’s probably been the best two weeks for women in Hollywood ever,” she said. “It’s a better two weeks than the silence of the past. I mean it’s finally exposing it.
“The enabled f***ing monsters are gonna think twice now,” she continued. “And that’s what it’s all about.”
Images: Rex Features