Bill Cosby: No more doubts about him

Thirty-five women who accuse Bill Cosby of sexual assault were featured in a stunning and poignant cover of New York Magazine last week, and with their collective stories and cover image, they have changed forever the dynamic of the story.

No more is there room for reasonable doubt about whether Cosby acted inappropriately towards women — the sheer number of women over a span of more than 30 years telling similar horrific tales silence reasonable doubt. Any misconception about whether the allegations were just a few women’s stories being confusingly recounted has been irrevocably laid to rest. That he serially assaulted women seems incontrovertible, supported by his own deposition admission that he used Quaaludes to obtain “consent” for sex.

With this cover, the story is no longer about Bill Cosby.

The black and white photograph of all thirty five women, looking at the camera with stoicism, is captioned simply: “Cosby: The Women. An unwelcome sisterhood.” Now, the story is about these women and the thousands of women like them who have suffered sexual assault and all it incumbent pain.

New York Magazine
New York Magazine

Thirty-five women have given voice and power to the thousands of women who have hidden their sexual assault due to fear shame, fear, confusion, a desire to put it behind them, or misguided loyalty; it empowers even those who came forward with their rape allegations.

Draped in black, the color of loss, the picture powerfully illustrates that sexual assault victims are from all walks of life. These women allege that their assaults took place when they were young, and middle aged, while they were in college, while they were working; while they were mothers, when they were childless. They were students, and athletes; models, actresses, and Playboy bunnies. They are white, black and brown. In short, they could be any woman.

They communally bereave what they have lost: their power, an ability to trust, their comfort with their sexuality, their innocence. And in their collective sorrow and remembrance, they regain control of what was taken from them years ago by a man by repudiating together Cosby’s claim of innocence.

As New York magazine writes:

The group of women Cosby allegedly assaulted functions almost as a longitudinal study — both for how an individual woman, on her own, deals with such trauma over the decades and for how the culture at large has grappled with rape over the same time period,”… In the ’60s, when the first alleged assault by Cosby occurred, rape was considered to be something violent committed by a stranger … But among younger women, and particularly online, there is a strong sense now that speaking up is the only thing to do, that a woman claiming her own victimhood is more powerful than any other weapon in the fight against rape.”

Then there is the empty chair.

Powerfully symbolic, it represents not only the women who have yet to come forward to tell their story of assault by Bill Cosby, but all the women who have a similar story of rape, sexual assault and abuse.

The lone chair also invites others to come take a seat. It summons us all to think about sexual assault: our willingness to question the veracity of assault when the accused is popular, famous or beloved; our looking away from the claims that accompany sexual abuse, because they are uncomfortable; our failure to talk to our sons and daughters about their sexuality, and what a balance of power looks like in a sexual relationship.

The empty chair insists that we think about sexual assault in a whole new way, and demands that we empower and support those, who like these 35 women, felt alone, until they realized they weren’t. They are unfortunately a part of an unwelcome sisterhood.


2 thoughts on “Bill Cosby: No more doubts about him

  • August 7, 2015 at 11:30 AM

    I hope Bill is asked about the new verb created about him: “Bill Cosby’d, to Bill Cosby” – to take sexual advantage of the opposite sex’s inebriation. As “Bill Cosby’d, to Bill Cosby” is becoming popular, what is its proper usage? Would it be something like this:

    To go to the doctor and fabricate an ailment in order to obtain a drug proven to be successful with the opposite sex: “Preping Cosby RX.” To use the Quaaludes prescription obtained by those false pretenses along with your insurance card to get it filled: insurance fraud, and the stature limitations for that begins when the fraud is discovered (I. E. Now). To go through all that preparatory procedure, until the time you drug the opposite sex: “Attempted Cosby.” To enter into an agreement with your doctor to knowingly provide you with a prescription for Quaaludes without having the requisite ailment: “Conspiracy to Cosby.” To Cosby a married person knowing that their murderous spouse will find out: “Suicide by Cosby.”

  • August 5, 2015 at 10:45 AM

    COSBY BILL now accused of drugging and raping 49 women in various countries.
    AMERICA IS ON TRIAL and the entire world is watching to see what will happen!

    STOP VICTIM BLAMING! This is not a race issue. It never was. This is about all accused serial rapists, not just Cosby. This is also about power and corrupt government officials enacting indefensible and unjust laws that throw tens of thousands of innocent rape victims under the bus to intentionally protect accused serial rapists and their accomplices from facing prosecution and justice. All serial rapists and their accomplices must face prosecution and justice. The accused will be confirmed innocent or be convicted as serial rapists. Those convicted will no longer be “Innocent until proven guilty”. END OF STORY!

    THE LEGAL SYSTEM and government officials who enacted these indefensible and unjust laws must be investigated for possible corruption and felony charges. No civilized country would ever intentionally protect serial rapists and their accomplices from prosecution and justice at the expense of innocent victims. The legal system and their representatives say there is nothing we can do, they are wrong, they created this injustice, make them fix it or replace them. At the very least their incompetence is rampant and at worst, many of them are corrupt felons. This is America; we can set new retroactive precedents which will never protect serial rapists and their accomplices from prosecution and justice. Give the accused and their victims their day in court. It is that simple, all we need is the will to do so.

    IF WE CHOOSE to do nothing we are giving all serial rapists and their accomplices permission to rape our daughters and a promise that they will not be prosecuted. TOUGH DECISION!!! ARE WE CLEAR!!!

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