When Andrea Constand filed a civil suit in March 2005 her “lawyers said they found 13 Jane Doe witnesses with similar stories.” Because Constand’s suit was settled in November 2006 the Jane Does didn’t have a chance to speak in court. That is more than a dozen women who said Bill Cosby raped them, too.
In spite of this America turned a deaf ear and blind eye to the idea of Bill Cosby as a serial sexual predator. Perhaps Gawker explained it best:
“Four women said publicly, in major media outlets, that Bill Cosby had drugged and sexually assaulted them … And? Basically nobody wanted to live in a world where Bill Cosby was a sexual predator. It was too much to handle … The usually unflinching Ta-Nehisi Coates, in an otherwise comprehensive 2008 Atlantic essay on the context and politics of Cosby’s performance as a public moral scold, dropped a sentence about the lawsuit settlement and its accompanying accusations into parentheses near the end. Conceptually, it was the sensible way to deal with it. No one was talking about it anymore. The whole thing had been, and it remained, something walled off from our collective understanding of Bill Cosby.”
This past October comedian Hannibal Buress brought it up again in his act, declaring “Bill Cosby has the fuckin’ smuggest old black man persona that I hate … He gets on TV, ‘Pull your pants up black people, I was on TV in the 80s! I can talk down to you because I had a successful sitcom!’ Yeah, but you rape women, Bill Cosby, so turn the crazy down a couple notches.”
Some of the survivors took advantage of this media storm to remind people what Cosby had done to them. Barbara Bowman was a teenager when Bill Cosby raped her in 1985. No one would believe her – even though her agent made her take a pregnancy test — because she was an aspiring actress and Bill Cosby was a star. He was Cliff Huxtable; American’s Favorite Dad. Now another woman, Joan Tarshis, has come forward to say that Cosby raped her twice in 1969 when she was just 19 years old.
People seem a little more willing to listen now. Maybe the fight against rape culture is shifting? Hopefully, but not enough because there are STILL people commenting on the internet that it is a witch hunt against the elderly actor, claiming the women are after his money, dragging out the old saw that Cosby is “innocent until proven guilty”, and moaning that he is being tried in the court of public opinion.
First, it cannot be a witch hunt because rape is not a supernatural event with no evidence. Rape is a very common and provable occurrence. Secondly, only one of these victims has ever – or CAN ever – get any money from him in a civil suit, so suggesting they are accusing him in hopes of fiscal gain is spurious and wrong. Thirdly, he is not being tried in a court of law and we do not have to assume he is innocent in the face of so much evidence. Finally, considering that the statue of limitations has passed so that he will never be answerable for his crimes in any other way, let him face trial SOMEWHERE at least. The fact that more than a dozen women (with the numbers going up) have come forward to say he has drugged and raped them makes condemning Cosby seem to be justice rather than injustice.
Rush Limbaugh, of course, has come forward to defend Cosby. Limbaugh implied that there was only one accuser and if he had raped her it was a long time again and that the fact it was becoming a scandal was simply the result of a personal vendetta on behalf of the liberal media:
“It looks like they’re trying to destroy Bill Cosby. Apparently a woman has come forward, or came forward some time ago, claiming he raped her, numerous times. And she has been on CNN today repeating the story … And I asked myself, what did Bill Cosby ever do to tick off some producer at CNN? … And then I had to stop and remember, Bill Cosby has numerous times in the recent past given public lectures in which he has said to one degree or another that black families and communities had better step up and get hold of themselves and not fall prey to the forces of destruction that rip them apart. And basically he started demanding that people start accepting responsibility. And the next thing you know he is the nation’s biggest rapist as far as CNN is concerned … It’s not like he did it yesterday. It’s age old stuff, right? Twenty years ago…thirty years ago. That’s right. The stuff that being alleged was back when he was the lovable Mr. Huxtable and had the deal, perfect TV family, on the ideal perfect TV show.”
Oddly enough, Bill Cosby was already blaming the black community for its systemic problem is 2004 … before the first rape allegation hit the news. He’s been publically and repeatedly doing it for more than a decade now, without anyone bringing up that he is a serial rapist. This is not a left/right political issue. This is a gender issue.
This is about fighting back against rape culture.