I need for women to understand that joining patriarchal men in their quest to force these alleged rape victims into the role of the aggressor and as second-class citizens will not save them. If a man is willing to call women he doesn’t know, he’s never spoken to a “bitch” or a “whore” for coming forward about their abuse, what is supposed to stop him from verbally assaulting you the same way when you decide to speak out on your own hurts? The patriarchal, victim-shaming jails such women build for sexual abuse survivors who dare to speak out may very well end up housing them, unfortunately, in the future. As women, we are all we have, and it’s about time we face this ugly truth. Aligning ourselves with the men who aim to bully their way through lives will not garner us any saved seats. Rape is a despicable act that does not discriminate based on personality, looks, race, creed or dogma. The fact is it can happen to any of us. We do ourselves a grave disservice when we choose to victimize survivors further by joining voices with those who seek to destroy them.
“Shame.” Shame is a word being thrown around (granted, I’ve just used it countless times above) yet I feel the gravitas of it is being ignored. Shame can be debilitating, especially if you are a woman of limited means compared to your attacker. All of Bill Cosby’s alleged victims have disturbingly similar stories. They were all women with dreams doing the best they could, ready to welcome help from a larger than life power player like Bill Cosby. The shaming I’ve seen assigned to these women in large part falls under the argument of “why did they wait so long?” First off, many of these women have been speaking out for years, but one woman’s voice going against a giant’s publicity machine and his fans is guaranteed to be drowned out. Also, it is these very remarks saying these women were and still are opportunists that may have caused many of them to feel ashamed, to feel as if there would be no hope for their stories to be heard, understood and respected that has caused to stay quiet for so long.
And of course, there is the race factor. “They are only doing this to damage a successful Black man’s legacy.” Look, it’s about time we let go of the fairytale Camelot that is Cosby’s franchise. There is something bigger at work here. There is a very strong possibility that a man who has been preaching family values, sense of community, sense and respect of self has been violating women for over thirty years in such a way that may void them of ever experiencing facets of life. If anything needs to be critiqued and examined, it is how one man’s silence and determination to silence women who have dared to speak up for decades has succeeded. How is it that an army of women can rise up, each soldier not knowing the other, with the same tale about a shared foe yet it is the foe who receives pity, compassion and doubt of no wrong doing?
We’re uncivilized. As long as any victim is forced to defend themselves against hateful comments we will remain an uncivilized people. It says a lot about us that members of the very population who may face being victims of such a heinous crime are some of the loudest voices screaming profanities against these women. The old saying is true – a nation cannot rise any higher than it’s women, and what this scandal is teaching us, one comment at a time is that, we have barely risen off the ground beneath us.
Valerie Charles is a writer based in Brooklyn, NY. She blogs at GirlAboutBk.wordpress.com. You can follow her on twitter @Vivaciously_Val