What we're learning from this terrible Bill Cosby situation
We recently learned that, in the wake of the mounting sexual assault allegations against Bill Cosby, both Netflix and NBC have shelved comedy projects involving the comedian. This comes in the wake of more alleged victims going public with allegations this past week. On Tuesday, model Janice Dickinson became at least the fifth woman to go on record accusing Cosby of sexual assault, according to the New York Times.
All of the claims bear eerie similarities: young, vulnerable women trying to break into the entertainment industry whom Cosby took under his wing in a mentor-like fashion, being drugged and either waking up in the middle of a sexual assault, or only discovering that they had been violated after regaining consciousness. Cosby has repeatedly denied all allegations.
There is so much that is so deeply upsetting about this whole situation. That said, as complicated and confusing as it is, there’s a lot to be learned about our culture and ourselves.
Outrage on the Internet is often referred to dismissively as “hacktivism.” How can you change the world by TWEETING about it?” detractors ask. “Are you really going to make a difference with a MEME?” The thing is, we’re seeing now that by mobilizing online through a variety of different outlets (including, yes, memes), journalists and civilians can turn up the heat and make things happen and bring issues that need attention to the forefront of conversations.
Unfortunately, It Took A Man To Get All These Allegations Taken Seriously
Over the years, multiple women have charged Cosby with rape and these allegations didn’t make so much as a dent in the comedian’s reputation. It took male comedian Hannibal Burress calling Bill Cosby a rapist in his comedy set (“. . . when you leave here, Google ‘Bill Cosby rape.’ That sh** has more results than ‘Hannibal Buress.'”) for the public opinion to pivot on Cosby. So many women had been speaking out against Bill Cosby for decades, and it took a man to get the public to take all those women seriously, and that, sadly, is the world we live in.
This Is Why We Have To Take Rape Jokes Seriously
Bill Cosby has been joking about drugging and raping women for decades. We can’t just shrug off these bits as “just a joke.” There is a connection between endorsing rape comedy and endorsing rape culture and that needs to stop now.
Don Lemon Should Not Be Trusted To Comment On Anything Ever
Don Lemon, cohost of CNN Tonight, has made unfortunate comments in the past. He seriously botched his coverage of Ferguson, laughed at a gay joke on-air (and a joke about someone who was not publicly out, no less), compared raising a child to raising a dog. Most recently, while conducting an interview with Joan Tarshis (whom, along with Janice Dickinson, has recently stepped forward to accuse Bill Cosby of rape), Lemon suggested that Tarshis, who was drugged during the incident, could have “used her teeth” to avoid performing oral sex on Cosby. Lemon’s insensitivity and ignorance seem to have no bounds, and it is high time CNN stepped in and handled this situation.
Janice Dickinson’s Memoir Deserves a Closer Read
Janice Dickinson claims she tried to write about her rape in her 2009 memoir No Lifeguard On Duty, but according to Dickinson, Cosby’s legal team forced her into silence. But, as Vice pointed out on Tuesday, there are passages about Cosby in the book that suggest a creepy side to the comic.
The Ladies Of The View Need A Lesson In Victim-Shaming
The day that Rosie Perez, Whoopi Goldberg, Rosie O’Donnell, and Nicole Wallace talked about the Bill Cosby controversy on The View was an embarrassing day for all these women. Perez blamed social media, Wallace entertained the idea that these women were teaming up to falsely accuse Cosby, Goldberg shamed the victims for not taking every legal step immediately following the assault, O’Donnell basically said she didn’t want to believe the allegations because Bill Cosby is her famous friend, all in all, NOBODY said the right thing. This is a show in which ALL THE HOSTS ARE WOMEN, a discussion about sexual violence can NOT go as badly as this one did.
We Have a Long Way to Go When it Comes to Understanding Victims of Sexual Assault
What we’ve learned, most of all, is that when people come forward to report allegations of a sex crime, their voices aren’t always heard, or are silenced by disbelief. We can’t and must not live in that kind of world.