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.
My friend Cindy is what I refer to as a hot mess. In a good, funny, loving way. It was her birthday and she arrived at my work desk with a couple of pictures to show me. Now Cindy works in another department and made the trip special just to share these pictures. It also happened to be Throwback Thursday and if you spend anytime in twittersphere you know what I’m talking about. Her pictures spoke a thousand words of a young, vivacious, svelte, beautiful woman wearing a daring outfit. The other was her baby picture.
The baby picture was cute, but the young hot Cindy in 1984 is what caught your attention. Cindy is now 61 wonderful years and full of stories about her anything but dull life. Even heading into year so called golden years this woman is living a drama filled, but fun life and she loves to tell you about it. Great fodder for a writer! in fact we even based a character on her in our third book The Body Hunters: Dirty Secrets, Naked Truths . To put it simply Cindy is awesome. I could in no way have handled her life or begin to even imagine being as daring as she was and still is.
To the outsider Cindy can be a mental handful. As I stated she loves to talk and if you don’t love to listen to people then she is not the person for you. Her stories make it all worth it. The celebrity encounters she’s had in questionable situations to even current boyfriends make you drop your jaw and shake your head all the while smiling and laughing with her.
The whole picture exchange took less than 3 or 4 minutes and soon we were all back at our respective jobs and I didn’t think anything more of it. That is till the woman who sits on the other side of my cubicle said something to me over the cubicle wall.
“Why do you attract the weirdest people?” she asked.
“Huh?” was my intelligent response.
“These weird people always flock to you, you need to get some normal people in your life.”
Now this woman, let’s call her Mary to protect her not so innocence, is a 40-ish beautiful black woman, single mom with a teenage son. I have been to 1 outing with her and a couple of other friends to of all movies, a midnight showing of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. You know the one where people dress up and yell comments through out the whole movie? yeah that one. One of my friends that went with me that night is my age and a lifelong friend named Barb who is a musical wonder and a talented artist in paints and any other type of medium she gets her hands on. She’s high strung and like all artists of a high caliber, very brilliant and unfortunately lives in her own world. She is also an alcoholic, severely broke after having made an ungodly amount of money and is having trouble facing her new reality and frail physical and psychological health. She is a real hot mess and not in a good Cindy kind of way.
I will not lie, I prayed Barb would behave on our outing and just for once enjoy herself getting lost in this ridiculous movie. She did for all of 30 minutes and then her addiction and depression struck. She eventually left and found a bar to shoot back a few tequila’s down only coming back at the end of the movie. I was embarrassed for her and for me. Though I am not responsible for her actions, she had begged me take her along wanting the girls night out and I could have said no.
Mary is a former alcoholic. Mary lived a little of Barb’s life and should understand the addiction and what it does to a person. Mary is now sober and a church going upstanding citizen in her own eyes. Mary made several comments about that night and how she could relate to what Barb was going through, felt bad for her ect….which is why it was a shock to me that she made the comments she made.
Back to Cindy. Cindy is not Barb, Cindy holds a job, takes care of her aging mother and tries to make herself fun to be around. Mary’s comment to me about how I attract the weirdest people struck me as odd. Why was she being so critical? and what is she saying about herself? She after all did hang out with me too. She then said to me she thought Cindy was lying about having any current boyfriends. Cindy being 61 is not the skinny woman she used to be and her body no longer lends itself to dressing like a woman of much younger years. Cindy dresses for work in age appropriate clothes for a person on our meager salary.
I asked Mary why did she think Cindy was lying? What reason does she have to lie? Mary told me it was because she needed to compensate to me for lacking in something that I have that she doesn’t. In other words she told me Cindy was jealous of me.
Jealous of me? I am a living large and in charge kind of gal, in other words fat. My manner of dress is relevant to my size and financial situation. For Christ’s sakes I cut my own hair to save money since my husbands medical bills are so high. Why the hell would anyone be jealous of me?
“Ain’t no woman dresses like her and has a man. You have a long term marriage and she’s jealous of that.” she reiterated again I need normal people in my life.
Ok, who’s jealous of my having a husband? Um….her or you?
I mean how critical can you get? Mary as I have learned is very self critical calling herself things like ugly and fat, even complaining about her dark skin color calling her self Aunt Jemima after the pancake syrup character. Wow! How self loathing can you get? I wanted to cry for her and remember, I’m the living large and in charge gal who cuts her own hair.
I have no time for self loathing, self hatred and internal or outwardly name calling. People will do that for me and to me on a regular basis. I told Mary the reason the off center, kooky, crazy, troubled, weirdo’s (who are just normal human beings getting through life the best way they know how) are attracted to me is because I try not to judge and I listen. In them there are several life lessons to be learned and shared. Everyone has value even if you can’t or refuse to value yourself. For a woman who overcame her own addiction just to constantly put herself and other women down is sad. She is not an Aunt Jemima, Mrs. Butterworth or any other sticky syrupy commercially racist character. She is a beautiful black woman who turns men’s heads wherever she goes. I’m guessing the reason she can’t keep a love interest is beyond her beauty. If you can’t respect and love yourself how are you going to love someone else? Cindy is not lying about her life or the men in her life. I believe she still attracts men not because she is still the raving beauty of her youth, but because she is still a fun loving, quirky light hearted individual that loves life and has no problem in sharing it.
So here’s to all my weird, wacky, troubled, artistic, fun loving friends. Keep on keeping on. and to Mary, lighten up your heart already, it ain’t that serious!
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.
My sister, who is in her late twenties just had a three day weekend off of work. Now it’s not because it’s something she planned or she had vacation days, it’s not even because she was sick. She just felt like it. She took off Friday, okay, one day is not a big deal. But since her job gives you one paid sick day for every two you take, she decided to make a ‘Buy One Get Two Free’ thing out of it. The bad thing about it is that she’s a member of management and her shift is basically a skeleton crew, so they really depend on her to be there. She hates her job with a passion, but is too lazy to do anything about it, so she just complains. You would think that having your car in the shop with a repair bill of $800 would be incentive to take your butt to work, but it isn’t. She just doesn’t care.
Heaven forbid the try to reprimand her for taking off three days. How dare they! She’d better get the schedule that she wants otherwise she’s calling corporate because they’re not treating her fairly. She fails to think about the people who had to scramble and cover for her when she decided to slack off. It ain’t her problem.
On the other hand, whenever I take a day off, I feel guilty, like I’ve committed a federal offense. Even when I have to take FMLA time for my mother, I feel like I should really be at work. I can’t help it, it’s just the way I am.
She’s not the only in her age group I’ve noticed with these type of issues. I work with twenty somethings who share the same trifling streak. They take days off just because the sun is shining or because it’s paycheck Friday. When the company finally decides to fire them they’re dumbfounded. There’s no sense of responsibility and I don’t understand it. They’re selfish and overly entitled.
My job site bought new furniture for our new break room and it’s a struggle because they want to lounge, put their dusty feet up and lie across the sofa like they’re at home. The break room that our company created for us is slowly becoming a den for nastiness because they’re too lazy to clean up after themselves. They don’t respect themselves, therefore they don’t respect anyone else.
One day I hope my sister comes to her senses and grows up. When you know better, you’re supposed to do better. In the meantime I can rub in my mother’s face that I’m the oldest, therefore the original, perfect copy. : )
Von and I have made it no secret that we work in a call center. Only the name and location have been changed to protect the not so innocent. The company we work for also has a call center in the Philippines to handle things such as billing and tech issues. It’s not an unusual thing for American companies to outsource some call center operations to other parts of the world.
On several occasions, I’ve had customers erroneously call me with complaints about the advisors overseas.
‘Thank God, I reached someone who speaks English!’
‘Where are you located? I’m tired of talking to foreigners!’
‘I hung up on the last person because I didn’t want to talk to anyone in China.’
‘I want you to get somebody from America on the phone!’
Those are just some of the ugly, nasty things I’ve heard over the years about the call center employees in the Philippines. It’s not that they’re incompetent or can’t do the job, people are offended because they’re not American. They use the excuse of a language barrier, when in truth they speak fluent English, some of them with or without an accent.
Sometimes they try to reel me in to their nastiness chuckling at their own derogatory humor, but I purposely let them hang themselves with awkward silence. If you feel this way about someone who’s different from you, what would you think about me, a black woman? You’re just letting me know what you’re all about.
Call center employees take their share of abuse and I’m pretty sure those from foreign call centers get it worse. That just adds to the widespread belief overseas that Americans are selfish, arrogant, and rude. How many of those call center employees go home with horror stories about the intolerant Americans they’ve talked to all day?
If you’re not happy with outsourcing, that’s fine, but it’s not the call center advisor’s fault. They’re trying to earn a living just like you. Write to the company you get your services through. If they refuse to change, take your business elsewhere. Just don’t make your grievances a personal attack on someone who’s just trying to do their job.
I grew up in Detroit, my diet of music a combination of hip hop and R&B. The rise and fall of Tupac and Biggie was the era of music I belonged to. While the two rappers were great story tellers of their time, like most rappers tend to do, some of their songs took on a negative slant concerning women. Tupac was good at that: uplifting women with one song and degrading us with another. I’d hear the misogynistic lyrics and just give it a pass, using the excuse that I’m not one of the hoochie mamas they’re talking about in the songs. I’d focus more on the beat and the music, as opposed to what was being said. For years I listened to rap music, without really listening, until recently. When you know better you do better I guess.
This new rap music doesn’t hold the same sway for me. Whether it was that way all along and I just ignored it, I don’t know, but some of the new stuff is atrocious. The other night I heard a song with some troll who probably looks like something found on the bottom of my shoe calling a woman ugly. Or the song where a rapper boasts about some woman who doesn’t like women “but a stack will make her kiss her”. Even Usher went that route with a song about some weak minded woman in the club seeking another woman so the three of them can have ‘fun’. Most of what I hear from rappers is how they plan to use and abuse women for their enjoyment. They think that having money and fame gives them the right to treat women like objects to be discarded the next morning. Even Blurred Lines sounded a bit on the rapey side.
Maybe it’s because I know and work with women who are fools for men and get heartbroken and played all the time, but the music isn’t working for me. For the past few years, my taste in music has been evolving. If it sounds good, I’m there. Occasionally I’ve even strayed to the country channel. I absolutely love Billy Currington by the way. I may not give up rap entirely, I’m not perfect and there are some good artists out there, but I’m more picky about what I actually take in.