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.
Enjoy this short story!
The leggy blond sauntered down the long staircase one carefully measured step at a time. Angelique Leone the iconic bombshell with the curvaceous silhouette and come hither pout that adorned many soldiers walls, was in her third day of shooting. She was headlining in her second motion picture for Sandstone pictures of a four movie deal contract. The studio had pumped a ton of money into the flick and even more money into her glamorization makeover. Angelique Leone’s name on her birth certificate which was stashed discreetly away in her father’s safe in Texas, was Jane Lenny; not exactly a top billing box office name.
She arrived in Hollywood at twenty years of age with ten dollars in her pocket and a prayer to land any kind of studio contract until a friend in the business revealed to her the real game. It was a hard lesson and one Jane wasn’t happy to learn. Crying alone in her small rundown apartment after losing her virginity to a fat balding casting director on the proverbial casting couch, she contemplated suicide. Returning home would only garner her shame for her actions.
The call came that evening just moments before she was ready to swallow a handful of pills with the joyous news of a studio contract. Apparently the casting director liked her ‘audition’ and recommended her for a small role in a new movie. If the camera agreed with her she would be considered for a larger role in the next one. The meeting she had with the movie’s director the next morning would change her life forever, 1940 was going to be her year. The first thing he did was give her a new name, a name that would soon be synonymous with sultry sensuality and unbridled sex, a name that went before a team of studio execs to be decided upon and a name she was not allowed to have a choice in deciding.
“Cut!” the grumpy red faced director Ronald Sizemore yelled. “Damn it! Who’s to dumb fuck that put this stupid plant at the bottom of the stairs? Get it out of here.” He kicked the fake potted plants over. “Everybody take five!”
Angelique threw her hands up in the air and marched down the stairs. “How many times are we going to do this? My feet are tired!” She flipped her long platinum blond hair from her shoulders.
The 6’2” stoutly director glared at her. “You’ll do it as many times as I want you to. Don’t forget your place!”
Her place was becoming one of more influence thanks to her overnight meteoric rise in celebrity and he knew it. He hated the idea that this shy little Texan girl was learning how to wrestle control in a male dominated industry.
“I’m going to lie down. I’ll be in my dressing room alone.” She emphasized loudly.
“Lay off the pills today.” He barked back. His brown eyes angrily dared her to disobey.
She turned on her heel sashaying off the set and into the early afternoon sun. Donning her sunglasses she made her way across the studio lot and hopped on a golf cart heading to her private oasis, the dressing room she demanded without hesitation as her star power started to shine. It was a dangerous game of wills and she knew it. The studio machine had the power to make or break her if she didn’t play her cards right, a heady position for a twenty two year old who gained a lifetime of wisdom in the eighteen months since that fateful audition.
Her dressing room was decorated in all pinks, every shade available was represented. From the deep pink special ordered carpeting to the bubblegum lampshades. She hated pink. Angelique was simply sticking it to the studio for what she considered rape by the fat, nasty smelling casting director. The temporary dressing room cost about as much as a new car to redecorate. Ironically the more she misbehaved the more her star power grew.
The public loved her. Young ladies longed to be her. Men self fulfilled their sexual fantasies against the backdrop of her half naked pinups. The attention her small role in that first movie garnered her was a Hollywood dream. A well placed one liner catch phrase with fantastic lighting of her pouty full lips and she became America’s new sweetheart. It had even taken the studio execs by surprise. No one was more surprised than the demanding narcissistic director Ronald Sizemore who had hoped she would be another young girl in his stable of bevy beauties he could call upon for licentious scenery and behind the scenes sex. He assumed she was an innocent kitten he could use and abuse till she was washed up.
Angelique proved to be tougher than she looked given in part to her hard scrabble upbringing in the vast expanse of her father’s Texas ranch. Not to mention his liberal use of a belt for discipline. Her brothers fared worse under his tutelage of hard farm work and beatings, both boys leaving his tyranny as soon as they came of age. She was the only one left at home when his second wife also made an escape. Frightened to stay knowing she would be an easy target for his drunken anger, she boarded a bus and headed to L.A. with a promise of fame and easy fortune.
Frantic knocking on her dressing room door woke her from her slumber. Wrapping her silk dressing gown around her she opened the door to reveal two LAPD officers.
“Sorry to disturb you ma’am. We need you to come with us.” The tall uniformed officer said.
“What is the meaning of this?” She demanded.
Officer Brady responded. “Ronald Sizemore is dead. Please get dressed and come with us or we will be forced to take you like this.” The officer looked her up and down lecherously grinning.
She stumbled back and fell into her lounge chair. “Dead? But how?”
“That’s what we want you to tell us.”
The squad car pulled up in front of the station with its siren blaring, someone had already tipped off the newspapers and fan rags as light bulbs flashed incessantly blinding her even with her sunglasses on. Officer Brady roughly grabbed her arm from the back of the black and white dragging her away from the throng of cameras and reporters calling out her name.
She was seated in a hard wooden chair in a lonely room, her silk scarf still wrapped around her head and neck. She pulled a cigarette and holder from her purse. “Can I please get a light?” She yelled, aware that they were watching her from behind the two way mirror. Detective Jarden entered with his lighter in hand. Sitting himself across from her he lit her cigarette as she crossed her legs allowing her skirt to rise up enough to tantalize him. It didn’t go unnoticed.
“Am I under arrest?” she asked.
“No.” he replied.
“Do I need a lawyer?”
“Depends, did you shoot him?” He licked his lips as she adjusted the hem on her knee.
She raised a perfectly plucked eyebrow at him. “Up until now I didn’t even know how he died, how could have I shot him?”
Detective Jarden snickered pushing an ashtray her way. “You were seen having words with Mr. Sizemore before he died and it’s been rumored you had a beef with him. Do you own a gun Ms. Leone?”
“Of course, a single girl has to protect herself in this big bad city, but that doesn’t make me a killer.”
“You’re right, but what about the argument? You had words with him and then disappeared.” He lit his own cigarette and placed his fedora on the table next to his notebook.
“Ronald was a hard man to work for detective. He made many questionable demands and berated the staff constantly, doesn’t mean I wanted him dead. He had enough enemies for that.”
“But he is dead. Can you account for your whereabouts after one o’clock?”
Angelique sighed. She knew where this was headed. She had verbally threatened to shoot Ronald if he ever touched her again several weeks before. He didn’t like to be told no so he had punched her in the face daring her to complain, promising to ruin her if she didn’t comply with his demands. The bruises took days to disappear putting the movie shoot seriously behind schedule. The studio attributed it to the press as Ms. Leone’s ongoing bought with the flu.
“I was in my dressing room napping.” She advised curtly.
Sitting back in his chair unbuttoning his suit coat, Detective Jarden gave her a sly smile. “Napping? Was there anyone with you?”
She glowered in contempt. “No, I was alone the whole time.”
“Too bad, no one to corroborate your story.” He said tapping his ash in the tray.
“You also have no proof it was me. I know my rights detective, I demand you let me leave.”
Detective Jarden snapped his fingers and the two officers who brought her in appeared. “Take Ms. Leone home please.” He told them. “I’ll be in touch.” He said as she walked away.
Angelique took her constantly ringing phone off the hook, dressed herself in a silk floral nightgown and poured herself a drink. It had gone as planned. That jackass would never force himself on her again. The back alley abortion he had forced her to have that nearly killed her was listed as another bout of illness by the studio. Her son had laid in pieces on a crude table next to the coat hanger used to destroy him and she vowed then to kill the man who did this to her. She held the evening’s paper in her hands reading the headline. ANGELIQUE LEONE QUESTIONED IN DIRECTORS DEATH! Even bad publicity was good publicity.
She closed her eyes reliving her day. He had appeared in her dressing room ready for another romp. The whole scene on the set of overturned flowers and anger at the staff to call a break was planned by him so he could get her alone. They had done this dance before and she knew her steps well, he had seen to that with his repeated threats and punishments. He showed up to her dressing room fifteen minutes after her departure as to not arouse suspicion. Three knocks on the door was his signal it was him. She opened the door holding a handkerchief as a sign to the unseen men hovering around the corner hallway. George and John Lenny, her older brothers, gagged and bound Ronald dragging him to a waiting car behind her dressing room taking him back to the empty set. The always punctual catering truck took care of any set crew that lingered behind. The studio paid free food was always a sure fire guarantee to draw a crowd.
Her brothers had slipped him in the back entrance unnoticed amid the props and various scenery’s. Unbinding their victim and removing his gag, she gave him only one command.“Run.” She said as she raised her hand pulling the trigger. No one would have paid attention to the shot thanks to the noisy western they were filming in the next sound stage. Her aim was as good as any man’s her father had made sure of that. It was after all a necessary skill if you lived on a Texas ranch.
The bullet landed squarely in the back of Ronald’s head and exited out the front taking half his skull with it. Her brothers stealthily slipped her back to her dressing room and in mere minutes were driving out of town with the fired pistol.
“Ms. Leone, Ms. Leone, how does it feel to be cleared of all murder charges?” the hapless reporter pestered her on her way to the red carpet premiere of her new movie ‘Femme Fatale’.
She stopped and turned in her red dress designed just for her movie premiere placing her hand on her ample hip with a big toothy smile. “Darlings, was there ever any doubt!”