Once again Hollywood has provided us with another example of men behaving badly. This time it’s someone we all were stunned by, except of course by those in the know. Many things set this scandal apart from the others one of which is it involves one of America’s favorite dads, who not only on screen espoused morality and family life, but off screen as well.
This is an important fact because it is embedded in our collective memory buried deep in our psyche. Even back in the good ‘ol days when I grew up with rampant racism, everyone still loved Bill Cosby from the get go. I can’t remember anyone of any color who had a bad thing to say about him back in the ’70’s or ’80’s. We all laughed at his safe, funny jokes and retelling of hilarious family situations we could connect to in our own lives.
Then he placed himself on an even higher pedestal we put him on by taking to task the young rappers of the day, chastising their choice of words and subjects in their rhymes. Many rappers called him out of touch with reality of the young black male experience, He tried to show another way, that the immorality of the words and actions of these suddenly wealthy young hip hop artists were only going to lead to a destruction of black culture and ultimately themselves.
There was wisdom in his words. Like a father lecturing his children imparting knowledge in hopes of us learning a lesson without having to experience pain of our mistakes. TV interviews cemented his opinions and his war on what he saw was ignorance and set backs of youth. Many took the high ground with him and loved him even more for it.
When his only son was killed we grieved and cried with him and rightly so. Through the pain we admired him for his strength and courage and his unfailing commitment to his wife Camille and his family. It’s no wonder we loved him.
There are two sides to every coin and even more so with celebrities, who by necessity in order to sell themselves, have to have a very public persona of either their own or a publicists making. The outward image is just as important as the product of their art. It’s a delicate recipe that is destined to eventually fail if you are hiding something and Cosby was.
The allegations against him now are decades olds, or at least the ones we know about after these brave women finally had the courage to come forth. When I say finally, I hear a loud groan from the masses who believe that a woman after 50 yrs of living with this pain of rape from a very famous and powerful man, is only after money.
Let’s get real here. Decades have gone by and they have moved forward in their lives. If this were truly about money then the time would have been back then before the statutes of limitations ran out. If this were just hurt him then the time would have been back when the idea of a black man having sex with a white woman was very frowned upon, and racial hatred was even more a norm than it is today.
It’s about the truth. One thing that hasn’t changed in decades is still blaming the victim. It’s her fault she was raped. She must have wanted it. We forget that the birth of women’s equality was just beginning. Our mothers fighting valiantly to be taken seriously as one half of the human race that too had rights. To be more than a wife, mother and a whore in bed. Where women who did work outside the home were subjected to gropey bosses. Sexual harassment wasn’t even in our vernacular and women were supposed to just put up with it and be flattered even if it made you feel uncomfortable and unsafe. He could make or break your career and because he was so powerful who would believe you anyway? So you kept silent.
The women who are coming forward against Cosby now do so at personal risk of ridicule and threats to expose the man for what he is, a hypocrite and a rapist with the hidden morals of a pervert.
Why should any women who has been abused or raped come forward and endure the long ago memory and pain talk now? Why not just leave it in the past? The simple answer is for a catharsis in their own lives. To be finally free of something that tormented them all these years while they watched their attacker continue to reap the rewards of celebrity and adoration knowing there is a monster underneath the façade. To claim their life back from someone who’s one immoral action took it away.
The pedestal is high. The fall is hard, not just for him, but for all of us who believed in him.
This post is under Raven Newcastle, but the events talked about only happened to one half of the writing team, Von Morley, and in no way imply any such situations happened to my co-author Joi.
My Labrador has a habit when playing, He brings me his ball and wants me to throw it. Well sort of. What he does is play a game where he acts like he’s going to put it in your hand but then pulls it away. I tell him if you want me to throw it then you have to let it go. Sometimes he gets the message and does so. I say give and he drops it in my hand. Other times he pulls it away not ready to give it up.
I read a post today from one of my new favorite authors Lani Wendt Young on sexual abuse at Don’t Shame Us. Don’t Shut us Up. (How to better support and empower… It’s a must read for everyone that is affected in some way by sexual, physical and mental abuse. That is to say every human being on the planet. Statistically 1 in every 3 women will experience some form of abuse at least once in their lives. I say in reality it’s every girl and woman, some more obvious than others. Domestic violence and spousal rape are at epidemic levels everywhere even in the so called developed countries where we out to know better.
I bring up my Labrador’s game playing habit to emphasize a point many women do when faced with their own reality of abuse. We play a game with ourselves where we want to tell someone but find ourselves pulling away. Everything mentioned in Lani Wendt Young’s blogpost about how our friends and family, even the authorities react make us keep quiet or offer ill advice on how the victim should handle it is true. The reactions can make us pull away even though we want to give.
I’ve also played this game with God who knew my abuses I suffered through and wanted desperately for me to hand him the ball and let it go so he could help heal me. I spent years pulling the ball away afraid of what others might think and dealing with the self imposed prison of feeling shame on my own. I went through many years of anger and hurt mostly at myself for at first believing I had allowed it to happen then as I grew older went from realizing it wasn’t my fault to chastising myself for not having the courage to deal with the emotions sooner. I mean it was ALL those years ago and I’m no longer a spring chicken, move on already I would say to myself.
Moving on for me meant ignoring it ever happened. when the memory came up I pushed it back down into a file cabinet in my brain called cold cases. Then last year a very close and dear friend of mine called me to tell me she had her husband arrested because he, after coming home very late and very drunk, had demanded a meal and sex. when that didn’t happen he shoved her to the floor hurting her and daring her to call the police. This time she finally did. With cellphone in hand she did the most courageous thing she could have ever done and dialed 911.
She called me the next day and informed me of what happened and that the spousal abuse had gone on and off for over the 30 yrs. of their marriage. She told me in detail how even when going through her chemotherapy for breast cancer this man who swore to love her, demanded sex as her ‘wifely’ duty even though she was desperately sick from the side effects of the drugs that were supposed to make her better. She told me if she said no then he would laugh her off and pin her down making her suffer through it.
My response? I chastised her for not telling me sooner and for not knowing that spousal rape in this country is illegal married or not. My next question? Why didn’t you leave this fool earlier, why? why? why?
Why was I not a better friend?
Lani Wendt Young’s post is informative and insightful and made me desperately wish I could take back some of what I said in my feeble attempt at being supportive. I wonder now if I had confronted my own abuses earlier instead of shoving them into the cold case file would I have better reacted to my friends situation.
Abuse is abuse and it stays with you for a lifetime. It’s how society and ourselves handle it that make the differences. I have been blessed to be married for 20 yrs. to a man who is gentle and kind. My abuses had happened long before I met him in my youth and young adult years of both sexual and physical abuse. The latter was at the hands of a step mother who didn’t like me talking about the sexual abuse and made me deny it ever happened by a family friend among other real or imagined reasons to beat me consistently thru out my childhood.
I am encouraging all of my readers and some that are usually not to please read Lani’s post and take to heart the lessons involved. Male or female, if their is someone in your life that is going through any type of abuse, listen to them and validate what they are going through. Help them in everyway possible without intentionally or unintentionally being critical of their choices in how they handled it in the past. Remember they are talking to you now and love and support is a beautiful thing.
My friend? She is a courageous cancer survivor and currently going through a nasty divorce. The light is bright at the end of the tunnel though and I intend to be there to greet her.
Thank you Lani Wendt Young and thank you to all who read and spread the message and lessons she shared.