The Sorority Nobody Wanted to Join.

Cosby victims

(photo: New York magazine)

“I walk her out. She does not look angry. She does not say to me, don’t ever do that again. She doesn’t walk out with an attitude of a huff, because I think I’m a pretty decent reader of people and their emotions in these romantic sexual things, whatever you want to call them.”

~ Bill Cosby speaking about Andrea Constand in his 2005 deposition.
The most powerful image on the Internet today is a simple one. 35 women sitting on a chair. The youngest is and the oldest. 35 women with somber, serious and at points nearly blank looks on their faces who stare into the camera and say they were sexually assaulted by Bill Cosby.

No two people will view the 35 exactly the same way. That’s what makes it one hell of a picture. There’s a photographic beauty in the ugly circumstances that binds 35 strangers together in a  sorority none of them want to be part of.

New York magazine published the story which took months to do, but unfortunately it is was accessible for hours because a hacker crashed the website. Fortunately, someone found a working link and passed it on to me and I passed it on to someone else. The site is now back up.

How one responds to the cover varies by what the Cosby scandal means to you. I’ve  encountered reactions from “I’m going to call Barnes & Noble and have them hold a copy for me” to it doesn’t change anything about how they already felt that many of these women were out for fame and publicity since they are revealing their names and showing their faces.

Someone said it was a dog pile “We already know Cosby is a scumbag. This is just unnecessary.” I got one “I don’t care” followed by “It’s not that I don’t care, but I’ve heard enough about this.”

I understand that. I reached my saturation point in talking, reading and writing about Cosby a while ago and I’d like to take an extended break from the subject.   Until and unless an even bigger shoe drops, I will and not because I don’t care but because endlessly living in this story will make me stop caring.

Being as I’m one of those dinosaurs who still subscribes to magazines and New York being one of them, I can sit somewhere comfortable and quietly look at the pictures and read all the stories and lose myself in the process of reading instead of swiping, scrolling and clicking.

It won’t be a pleasurable read.  It is a necessary one.

 

A Tarnished Star

Four words.
Bill Cosby is over.
Most likely he will never spend a night in jail. Most likely he will spend the sunset years of his life dragging his ass from civil courtroom to courtroom. Most likely he will spend a great deal of time looking out a window and asking himself, “How did this happen to me?”


You did it to yourself, Bill.

I can no longer defend Bill Cosby any more.   To defending his darkened and tarnished soul imperils my own. It imperils every Black man who defends Cosby and denigrates the women whom have called him out for his trespasses against them.

I wanted to believe Cosby.  I desperately wanted to believe. I wanted to tell myself this was all a horrible, horrible mistake and there was a reasonable, plausible explanation.

But a lie cannot live forever and there have been too many women, too many awfully similar accounts, too many who were intimidated and ridiculed and humiliated into silence, who repressed their pain and have only now found their voice and are speaking up loudly and clearly: A beloved and powerful man drugged me and raped me and nobody believed me.

How can I cry for Michael Brown and Eric Garner and Trayvon Martin and not cry for Tamara Green, Barbara Bowman and yes, Janice Dickinson too? How can I righteously decry violence against Black men by White cops and not decry violence against White women by a Black man? Just how much of a hypocrite am I willing to become to protect a sacred cow?

All out of alibis.

All out of alibis.

I don’t want to be a fool and only a fool could believe all these women are making shit up merely to trash Bill Cosby. The conspiracy theories behind JFK’s assassination would pale into insignificance in comparison to what degrees of delusion one must submit to believe Cosby is an innocent being pursed by spurned starlets.

That is a level of deliberate blindness I can’t deal with. While I will always cherish Cosby for the man he was, I must turn my back on the man he has turned out to be.  The Cosby I thought I knew, the Cosby I watched on I Spy and The  Electric Company and Uptown Saturday Night and The Cosby Show was a mirage, a fake, a fraud, a public image that masked a deeply sick man and serial sexual offender.
Bill Cosby is a rapist.

What changed my mind? Beverly Johnson did.    As America’s first Black supermodel, it is not easy to dismiss Johnson when she in writes in Vanity Fair how Cosby assaulted her and how she overcame her initial reluctance to tell  her story.

…I struggled with how to reveal my big secret, and more importantly, what would people think when and if I did? Would they dismiss me as an angry black woman intent on ruining the image of one of the most revered men in the African American community over the last 40 years? Or would they see my open and honest account of being betrayed by one of the country’s most powerful, influential, and beloved entertainers?

As I wrestled with the idea of telling my story of the day Bill Cosby drugged me with the intention of doing God knows what, the faces of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and countless other brown and black men took residence in my mind.

Beverly Johnson: It takes an icon to take down an icon.

As if I needed to be reminded. The current plight of the black male was behind my silence when Barbara Bowman came out to tell the horrific details of being drugged and raped by Cosby to the Washington Post in November. And I watched in horror as my longtime friend and fellow model Janice Dickinson was raked over the coals for telling her account of rape at Cosby’s hands. Over the years I’ve met other women who also claim to have been violated by Cosby. Many are still afraid to speak up. I couldn’t sit back and watch the other women be vilified and shamed for something I knew was true.

When I sat down to write my memoir in 2013, I pondered if I should include my Cosby experience. I didn’t want to get involved in a he-said/she-said situation. Now that other women have come forward with their nightmare stories, I join them.

Finally, I reached the conclusion that the current attack on African American men has absolutely nothing to do at all with Bill Cosby. He brought this on himself when he decided he had the right to have his way with who knows how many women over the last four decades. If anything, Cosby is distinguished from the majority of black men in this country because he could depend on the powers that be for support and protection.

First, the pennies fell from my eyes. Second, I felt nauseous over what I could now clearly see.

I apologize for doubting. I apologize for being a Cosby apologist. I apologize to Janice Dickinson and all the women I’ve been so flippant and dismissive and callous and cruel toward. I’m sorry for my appalling ignorant insensitivity.

Mostly though I’m sorry for aiding and abetting a sexual predator.

I wanted to believe in the myth of Bill Cosby. Letting go of what I thought I respected and admired for even longer was harder than I thought it would and it hurts. This is something very hard for me as a Black man to say to White people. It hurts to lose a Black success story. There are so many Black failures and fuck-ups rubbed under your nose in that you yearn for and look long and hard for a brother who seems to be doing it right.

Cosby wasn’t just the first leading man on television.  He was one of the funniest comedians ever.  He proved it for decades on television, on film and onstage.   He championed jazz music, a genre near and dear to my heart.  Cosby didn’t forget his roots as he gave back to Black colleges with endowments and financial support.   Education was a cause he and his wife Camille championed.   What was there not to like about the man?

As it turns out, plenty.   But it was all whispers and shadows.   Easily ignored and easily dismissed as spurned women or calculating starlets trying to shake some dollars out of a Black hero with deep pockets.    Even as the numbers of women coming forward grew and changed, what stayed the same was their stories.   A young woman meets, an older and powerful man who seems to have an interest in their career or just a good time and he’s glad to help, but first drink this.

He kept us all in the dark.

Until  Johnson came forward it was possible to rationalize why Cosby was remaining stolidly silent.   Until Beverly Johnson came forward it was conceivable to invent scenarios to explain away the allegations.   Until Beverly Johnson came forward it was possible to keep up, however dim, some small hope Cosby might not have been guilty of the terrible things the women were saying he had done.

Beverly Johnson cancelled all that.  No more lies or alibis.  No more illusions.   This is not a conspiracy.  This is not mass hysteria.   This is it.   It’s over for Bill Cosby.

It hurts to lose a man you’ve admired. It hurts to lose someone who was a father figure. It hurts like hell.  But my father wasn’t a rapist. My father was not Bill Cosby.

It hurts me to say I’m sorry to anyone I offended, outraged or disappointed. It hurts, but it would hurt more not to say five little words: Bill Cosby is a rapist.

It hurts to type those words.   It would hurt more not to.

Deconstructing Cosby

No more excuses for The Cos.

I didn’t plan of writing about Bill Cosby today. I really didn’t. I had another post almost done, but I need to get this out first and then maybe I’ll be finished with it. Somebody compared Cosby’s swift fall from grace to that of another beloved icon: Michael Jackson. That’s a pretty apt comparison with one huge difference, I accepted early on Jackson probably was a serial pedophile. I didn’t want to believe it but I could not not believe it.

I’m having a bit more difficulty with Bill Cosby: Serial Rapist.

I watched a few old Cosby routines on You Tube with my wife today. We laughed at the same jokes we had laughed at before. I wasn’t the biggest fan of The Cosby Show. Too many precocious kids and ugly ass sweaters for me, but in my parents home Thursday nights at 8:00 were set aside for the latest in life with The Huxtables and don’t you dare call for the next 30 minutes.

I’ve lost a lot of respect for Bill Cosby over the past few days. But I’m not gonna act new like I never laughed at any of his jokes, enjoyed any of his films or thought highly of him. Doing that would make me a big of a liar as he is. I never stopped liking Michael Jackson’s music. What I stopped liking was Michael Jackson.

I will not try to purge myself and seek absolution for committing the sin of having enjoyed Bill Cosby. And I’m not quite there where I can say I no longer like Bill Cosby.

While I have my doubts–serious doubts –all the accusations against Cosby are legitimate, it goes beyond the realm of possibility to believe all the accusations are not.

Ex-model and reality TV star Janice Dickinson became the first celebrity to accuse Cosby.

Which leaves only one logical conclusion: Bill Cosby is a rapist. Equally logical, it also follows that in the sorry spectacle that is shaming of the beloved and respected comic, he is getting exactly what he deserves. While it is true in a court of law, Cosby likely has little to fear, the court of public opinion can dispense its own harsh justice against him.

As of yet, the jury is still out. Most Americans, especially African-Americans still hold Cosby in high esteem. But as the slow drip-drip-drip of rumors, allegations, and graphic horror stories continues that could gradually change.

Unless and not until Cosby sits down and gives straightforward, candid and tough answers to straightforward, candid and tough questions, the only result that can come from a manipulative and patently fake attempt to play on the public’s sympathy for a grizzled old comedian is more smoke and more mirrors.

Don’t hold your breath waiting for the première of The Confessions of Cliff Huxtable.  Bill Cosby only played Cliff Huxtable.  He wasn’t Cliff Huxtable.  Maybe he played everybody else too.
The flood of accusers coming forward only confuses the credibility of the true victims of Bill Cosby with the publicity seekers. I keep hearing, “These women aren’t asking for money, so why would they lie about it?”

One does not have to have to ask for money to receive money for telling the world their version of the story. One can receive a great deal of attention they might not otherwise receive if they didn’t tell their story when its hot news. How many of us were talking about Janice Dickinson last week? Not many I would guess.

Cosby is running out of friends.

I want due process and equal justice for Bill Cosby. An accusation is not evidence, but enough accusations is evidence that SOMETHING is happening. Cosby is an American icon and watching an icon slowly crumbling is an ugly and unpleasant spectacle. But rape is uglier and whatever hell Cosby is going through is nothing compared to what the women he may have victimized went through for years.

I’m trying REAL HARD to be what Fox News only says they are: “fair and balanced.”   But its never been a secret that Cosby had a taste for women he wasn’t married to.  Cosby hung around the Playboy Mansion for years and it wasn’t just for the shrimp at the buffet.

What we have so far are suspicions, allegations, rumors and thoughts of what may have happened. A few verifiable facts would be nice before we hang Bill Cosby from a tree.   In a courtroom accusations aren’t enough to convict, but in social media they certainly are enough to kill.

People can be more forgiving than you can imagine. But you have to forgive yourself. Let go of what’s bitter and move on.
~ Bill Cosby

Yeah.   You have fun with that.

Cosby: “Hey, Hugh! Check out the tail on that bunny!” Hefner: “Bill, isn’t this how you got in trouble in the first place?”

 

Women Are Raped. Men Rape Them. (Simple, huh?)

What's wrong with this picture? Everything.

The visual is as stunning as it is disturbing.  A woman lies prone on a bathroom floor, her underwear pulled down around her ankles.  The implication is she is the victim of a sex assault.

Even worse is the finger-wagging tone of the ad:   “She didn’t want to do it, but she couldn’t say no.”

The ad was commissioned by the Pennsylvania Liquor Board to dramatically illustrate the dangers to women of drinking alcohol to excess to the point they can be taken advantage of.  Following a slew of criticism for the ad as victim-blaming, the board has pulled the ad.

Haven’t we learned yet it’s not a woman’s fault if she is raped?

The ad was absolutely asinine, tasteless, lurid, but its biggest problem is the advice is useless.

A woman can drink until she’s down on all fours and not be raped.

A woman can sip ginger ale all night long and be raped.

It does not matter if a woman is drunk on her ass or sober as a judge. She can do everything wrong and get home safe and sound. She can do everything right and become a victim.

Drinking to excess is not a good idea for anyone. If it’s not a valid excuse for a man to say, “I drank too much. That’s why I raped her” why would it be a valid reason to blame a woman by saying, “You drank too much. That’s why you got raped.”

What should be done now is to burn all those posters and come up with a new one and this one should hold the proper parties accountable. REAL MEN DON’T RAPE.

Women don't ask to be raped. Men choose to rape women.

The penis is not a separate, sentient organism.  Men control the penis, not the other way around and they alone, are responsible where it goes.  Don’t put it where it hasn’t been invited and there’s no risk of ever becoming a rapist.

Women should take reasonable and prudent precautions to avoid being a victim of sexual assault.  Of course it’s not a good idea to go home with strange men or to drink to excess and lose control of your facilities, but  being cautious and aware is not the same thing as living in fear of the inevitability of rape.

Men are not hardwired to rape.  They learn how to become a rapist.  They can unlearn too.  I’ve never raped a woman.  That’s not bragging. It didn’t require superhuman restraint not to.  All it took was higher brain functions firing on all synapses and cleaned out ears so when she said, “No” it  was not confused as meaning “maybe” or “yes” instead.

You can’t take credit for not doing something you’re not supposed to do.   It isn’t her fault she got raped.  It’s his fault for raping her.

Men rape.  Because they chose to.  Not because they have to.   Women can’t end rape.  Only men can do that.   Men will end rape when they stop raping.   It really is that simple.