THIS year has taken a turn, hasn’t it? Shouts of hysteria are growing hoarse against the number of men outed as a predatory perp. Each day, another serial creep bubbles up to the surface of the shit soup that is 2017. It seems that the penny is starting to drop: women don’t just make this stuff up.

The mood has changed for sure – whether temporary or permanent – the unearthing of past misdeeds is having real, material consequences for powerful men. For pretty much the first time. And now that the residue of their behaviour has started to tarnish the previously untarnishable, one has decided to offer himself upon the altar of public sacrifice, in the hope of salvaging something of his shiny pre-Weinstein reality.

Pushed by growing whispers, whispers he actively denied for years, Louis CK has outed himself as a predator. Surprised has become such a tired word lately, so I won’t use it. Especially now when a) stand-up comedy is an almost impenetrable boys club and b) feminism is the in-vogue cover for shitty-but-self-aware men.

The irony is that when men support – or seem to support – the women’s movement, it gives them a certain cachet. Purporting to care about women gives men a certain credibility, an edge even, that women never have the luxury of. CK has been wearing it expertly for a long time, flaunting his behaviour in edgy jokes, and making a killing while he’s at it. So of course he was going to attempt an apology. It’s so in keeping with the self-deprecating good-guy stage persona. It’s a logical extension of the woke-but-flawed Louis that fills theatres and secures ratings.

The apology itself was a piece of art – a detailed portrait of how not to do it. The 500-strong word salad expressed some vague nebulous remorse of his sexual misconduct towards six women. It also referred to himself as “powerful” or “admired” at least five times. Oh, and a marked absence of the words “sorry” or “apologise”. This, like Spacey running for cover in the LGBT community, was a notpology – a mea culpa that isn’t really a mea culpa. The sort of engineered statement that you could have put out years ago when the rumours started, but you only reach for when your career bursts into flames. True to slimy form, it was little more than an act of public masturbation.

But, it did look sort of like an apology. Convincing enough if you don’t look too closely – especially when you set it against Kevin Spacey’s trash fire of a statement. Pre-Weinstein, this risky little manoeuvre might have left CK something to salvage. But we’ve had a five-week crash course on the serial abuser’s playbook. That means we can all spot a flimsy, self-indulgent apology played as damage-limitation.

It seems we’re collectively coming to some sort of long overdue consensus about what’s acceptable and what’s not, so the future’s looking a little less rosy. CK’s manager has ditched him, as has his publicist, the FX Network and his new movie’s been shelved (a movie about a 68-year-old’s relationship with a minor, by the way). It’s about time that powerful men felt the consequences of their actions, in their reputations and their bank balances. Especially when their behaviour has actively pushed women out of the industries they’re king of.

CAN I put my anger aside for a moment and talk instead about disappointment? For all the guys genuinely reflecting and listening right now, there are still plenty who don’t care at all. Guys that mainstream feminism is nowhere near reaching. What’s infinitely worse, though, are the chameleons. Guys like CK, who know just what to say to convince people they care. To gain proximity to women, to mark themselves as safe. To tune their jokes to the popular resonant frequency.

We’ve been here before, though, haven’t we?

What stings about the CK revelations is how it echoes situations women experience closer to home. So many of us have a story of a similarly “woke” guy hiding behind the right words. Guys we’ve let ourselves get close to because they can give such a glittering, cogent analysis of destructive behaviours and attitudes. Guys we later find out give a Shakespearean performance of a decent ally.

CK said it himself: “I have a lot of beliefs, and I live by none of them.” There will always be those who just want something to point to because it gives them credibility when they write their edgy jokes, their introspective op-eds, or their feminist films. There are those who want genuine change, who want something better for women and for men, but there are opportunists who know they can use the zeitgeist as cover. When they can turn a punchline from it.

Clapping our hands for Louis CK’s confession makes it easier for guys to hide behind faux-decency. And it does a huge disservice to those men actively trying to better themselves right now. The men who are making peace with the discomfort of now and using it to grow. The men who don’t wear feminism as a disguise, and who manage to get through their days without serially abusing women.

The Weinstein train has blown in, delivering men to a place many have never been before. And while they familiarise themselves with the geography and the natives, they’ll brush against the fakers. Wokeville’s serial daytrippers, who come, take their selfies and leave. The tourists who come to stroll around in liberation politics to give them conversation starters or material for their acts.

This is your PSA: we’ve no more room for tourists in the women’s movement. We need compassionate residents who will help us shape this post-Weinstein space.

There will always be a warm welcome waiting for the men who genuinely want to help us build something better, for everyone’s sake. So let’s not diminish their efforts by applauding the fraudsters who got caught.