I really didn’t want to write about Bill Cosby again.
And, honestly, who does? Who wants to beat a dead horse? There must be a million think pieces floating around about how society as a whole is choosing the preservation of “legacy” over believing these women, or how this is why most sexual assault goes largely unreported, or how…
It feels like beating a dead horse to say that no one believes women. It feels like beating a dead horse to have to reiterate that the women around us keep quiet because of the way we handle and defend our favorite celebrity rapists. It’s exhausting to see that folks won’t spend 5 minutes googling to see that Bill Cosby wanted to buy NBC in 1992– that these rape allegations are not a plot or ploy strategically carried out to take this Black man down. Bill Cosby’s “legacy” is falling because he’s a serial rapist. He joked about date rape drugs. He laughed with Larry King about it.
In just under four minutes, Bill Cosby managed to blast an entire generation of parents, the use of AAVE as a legitimate language, and then insisted we “try to make Jesus smile” by being better parents. Based on his respectability talks in the past, he would not protest for these men and women caping for him if they were killed, unarmed, by police. Bill Cosby would probably bring up Black on Black crime, if you were killed, or how we don’t love ourselves so we can’t expect them to, either. Cosby created an entire side hustle out of preaching respectability and blaming Black people for things that happen to Black people, with no thought to the systemic oppression that keeps us out of good schools, good neighborhoods, and good jobs. He is embarrassed by what is really our ingenuity and resilience.
These are all points that have been made on several different occasions by several different people, especially over the last year or so.
So if all of this information exists and if all of this information is open to the public, why are we still defending Bill Cosby?
You cannot argue the disparities in police brutality that favor the deaths of Black and Brown people and not acknowledge the fact that the very same victim blaming happens with victims of sexual assault. Furthermore, you cannot truly be for the liberation of Black and Brown people if you cannot see that the same line of victim-blaming questioning and matter-of-fact commenting is used in both instances: “What was she wearing?” “He shouldn’t have been dressed like that.” “She shouldn’t have been so drunk.” “He shouldn’t have run.”
In Cosby’s defense, we bring up the victims we’ve lost to police brutality, vigilante killers and non-indictments. We bring up the countless white men in Hollywood who are abusers, rapists and pedophiles who go unpunished, blacklisted at most. And I get it. We’re falsely accused and killed daily. Black people as a whole don’t get away with anything. But we’re not talking petty crimes or victimless crimes. We’re talking crimes against women: rape, sexual assault, molestation, harassment, abuse, etc. We’re talking women: a group that has struggled for just the concept of equality, without even getting into whether or not we believe them when they’re hurting. Rape is not something you should be able to get away with because unarmed Black people are being murdered in the streets. These two issues are not comparable at all, and it further speaks to how we treat women to make such careless comparisons.
It would seem that these things are easy to understand and agree with, if we would just give our Twitter fingers a rest and look at the facts. But, I would venture to say that it’s nearly impossible to explain women’s worth and the worth of their word to people who are committed to disproving them. A proper think piece or blog post, as thorough and heartfelt and factual as it may be, probably won’t change the minds of folks who are committed to ignoring actual facts.
The work of proving a woman’s worth in this world is endless. It’s exhausting, unforgiving and does not often yield favorable results. So this not me writing about Bill Cosby. This is me standing with the unfathomable number of women who don’t have anyone around to believe them when they’re hurting. This is me standing with the women whose names mark the 11,000 untested rape kits found in Detroit, and what I’m sure are countless others in countless cities across the globe, where victims can even obtain access to rape kits. This is me standing with all sexual assault victims across the spectrum of gender identity who don’t tell and/or never get the meager justice of having their attackers convicted. The way we think and talk about sexual assault victims is what keeps them silent and what perpetuates the idea that it’s okay.
And right now, victims everywhere need support more than Cosby needs defending.