In 2014 we have a far different view of the world than we did 50-60 years ago. From what is socially acceptable to how we deal with economics and everything in between. It’s safe to say that we have evolved as a country and a world. So it always seems hard, often times downright impossible, to understand how or why the people who came before us made the decisions that they did.
I think that having discussions about these type of issues lead us to tough realizations, such as that of ultra-famous comedian/actor Bill Cosby. For the last two months, news has resurfaced about Cosby’s sexual assault encounters of the past, some of which date back as far as the 1960’s. In addition to the resurfacing news, recently, he has been publicly accused of sexually assaulting and or raping more than 20 different women, some of which exist in the same Hollywood realm that he did, like Beverly Johnson, who came forward and spoke on it.
While some people argue whether or not Cosby committed these crimes, I think it’s more important to look at the bigger picture. Rape in our culture is a touchy topic that many of us shy away from. We’d rather not talk about it for the most part, and when we do, it is spoken of as if it is a problem for the victim, and victim only; we have a skewed perspective that places the concern on the promiscuity of those women who somehow “put themselves” in the wrong position. This society socializes us into thinking of ways for these women to avoid being raped, rather than thinking of ways to teach men not to rape at all.
So maybe this ridiculous style of thinking is why it has taken some of the women accusing Bill Cosby for nearly 50 years to come out and publicly speak out against him. However, there are other women who have been speaking out about Cosby and his assaults for years, all the while not being taken seriously by law enforcement or society.
Now that the statue of limitation has passed for these specific crimes related to Bill Cosby, it is likely that we won’t ever have the opportunity to truly know what did or did not transpire between him and his alleged victims. But that should not stop us, as a society, from using common sense.
In 2012 rapper Rick Ross was publicly criticized for using these lyrics in a song:
“Put a molly all in her champagne, she ain’t even know it. I took her home and I enjoyed that, she ain’t even know it.”
Not only was Ross publicly criticized, but he also had life-altering changes financially when he was dropped from an endorsement deal that he had with shoe company Reebok.
I bring up the case of Rick Ross to show how far we have or have not come as a culture when it pertains to rape. If it wasn’t okay for Rick Ross to say those things two years ago in his lyrics then what makes a person think it would be okay to actually do those things to a woman, whether it occurred in 2012 or 1962?
The answer to this question, although intentionally posed rhetorically, is really obvious. It’s not okay. It never will be okay. Yet for some reason, many people (especially those in the black community) want to overlook the accusations brought up against Bill Cosby.
Some have trouble accepting these accusations as valid because they refuse to differentiate William Henry “Bill” Cosby Jr. from Heathcliff Huxtable on the hit TV show “The Cosby Show,” while others are torn between incriminating their own kind in the light of the number of injustices relating to people of color, they want to preserve what is good to them.
But there are also others who look at Cosby and ask, does innocent until proven guilty not exist anymore? To those people, you are very right, in this country all people are considered innocent until proven guilty, but while others profess and fight for their innocence, Bill Cosby refuses too.
From him specifically asking the Associated Press not to record his response to a question asked about the alleged rape accusations, to him consistently either not answering or having no comment on these same allegations when asked by anyone else.
I won’t speak for Bill Cosby or any other person accused of rape, because that is not my place, but I can say that if I was ever accused of rape and didn’t commit the crime, I’d vehemently deny it at any chance I could. That is what makes sense. Silence often elicits the assumption that someone is hiding something.
There are also those who will point out that all of this is just he say she say.
In regards to this, a recent Rolling Stone article entitled “A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA” delved into the rape culture at the University and other Universities around the country. However, many inconsistencies in the article led to Rolling Stone putting out a halfhearted retraction in the form of an editor’s note that mainly blamed the victim “Jackie” for not being fully truthful with the magazine.
The credibility of “Jackie” has now been compromised because a magazine didn’t do their due diligence in making sure the story had all the facts. Like the allegations involving Bill Cosby, I was never there to actually say what did or didn’t happen, but common sense tells us something happened. Rape is not something that people just claim happened to them for the sake of shits and giggles and that is not the message that you want to send to women who struggle with being a victim.
So whether we want physical evidence, or need for the accusers not to be our favorite TV father, it must be understood that rape culture is very real in our country and something more than blaming the victim must be done about it.