5 Things You Need to Know Before You Indict Bill Cosby
Posted in: OPINION
The beloved Bill Cosby – TV family patriarch, comedian, author and educator – has found himself in a bit of a pickle. Over the past few months, multiple women have come forward alleging that Cosby had raped them. This is not the first time that a public figure has been charged with sexual assault. The infamous DJ Jimmy Saville and former US president Bill Clinton also come to mind in this respect.
Many are divided on the issue. Due to his public persona, some believe that the media is trying to slaughter his legacy, while others believe that the victims of these abusive acts are telling the complete truth.
Cosby has not been charged with rape, but he, like others before him, such as Bill Clinton and Jimmy Saville, is being indicted in the court of public opinion. His philanthropy and legacy are well known, I have decided to focus on other information that the public has been made aware of lately. Before you draw your conclusion, here are some salient facts:
The number of women who have come forward
More than 15 women have alleged that Bill Cosby sexually assaulted them whereas over 100 women accused Jimmy Saville of sexual assault. Whether the total is fifteen women or one hundred, these numbers are not to be judged. In Bill Cosby’s case, he settled one account with a woman and paid a tabloid to cover up another. In the case of Jimmy I find it hard to believe that every single case is only looking for their own 15 minutes of fame, especially as some are already famous in their own right. If anything, some of these victims put themselves and their careers at risk by coming forward.
Rape Culture and the Underreporting of Rape
In the words of Mark Lamont Hill: “By ‘rape culture,’ I refer to the ways that our society and its institutions normalize, promote, excuse and enable sexual violence against men and women. While I cannot definitively say that Cosby is guilty of the crimes of which he is accused, the conversation about him epitomizes some of the most pernicious aspects of rape culture.” Rape culture includes victim blaming not unlike the comments I have seen posted online: “Why did they take so long?” “What was she wearing at the time?” “She could have just bit his dick” “Why and how are you in a hotel room with a married man?” “These people just want their 15 minutes of fame.”
Rape culture entails disallowing survivors the benefit of the doubt, to criticize them is to call their credibility into question. Rape culture also means that it may take weeks or years for a survivor to realize, believe and affirm that what happened to them was indeed rape. They must also come to terms with the fact that it wasn’t their fault, and then garner the courage to tell family, friends, or even authorities, all the while risking re-victimization. Our current reaction to the rape allegations is clear evidence why so many survivors hesitate or simply do not come forward, they are afraid that people won’t believe them. It was only until a male comedian, Hannibal Buress, mentioned the many rape allegations lodged at Cosby that people finally started to take notice. Hill continued to comment that: “Of course, part of this is about the unique position that Cosby holds in the public’s imagination. After all, who wants to believe that America's most beloved father and black America's socio-moral steward could be a depraved serial rapist?”
If Bill Cosby is innocent, it is my genuine wish that he would get his named cleared quickly. If guilty, the victims of these rapes deserve full justice.
Image via Washington Post | MYC Writer Simone M. SamuelsSubscribe to UpdatesRelated Articles