Bill Cosby, Rape and Victim-Shaming

VICTIM SHAMING

By now everyone has heard the allegations of over 19 women alleging that they were raped by Bill Cosby. While most have been debating whether or not the allegations or true and if this will ruin Cosby’s legacy, there is this growing trend within this scandal has become too prominent to ignore: victim shaming. For each news account that posts an article on this story you’re bound to find plenty of comments slut shaming the women who have come forward, with people accusing them of being part of a conspiracy to undermine Cosby and of course being after the usual – money. What’s even more disturbing is that women are taking part in this victim-shaming, and I can no longer read these vile comments and stay silent.


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.

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Valerie Charles is a writer based in Brooklyn, NY. She blogs at GirlAboutBk.wordpress.com. You can follow her on twitter @Vivaciously_Val

9 Comments

  1. I agree with this article.

    Not saying that Bill is guilty, as I have no proof he is. I have no proof he is not guilty either. The point is that I sense more sympathy for him, than for the women he hurt.

    When are we going to start lending our ears and shoulders to victims?

    I am not saying that Bill should be negatively targeted (because we don’t know if he is guilty or not), what I am saying and what the article is trying to say is that:

    We (society) need to show compassion to the victims and not attack them, just because they say negative things about people we hold in high esteem.

    For decades women and children have been victims of abuse and due to the ‘hush culture’, nothing was brought to the light. It is only now that we begin to hear the stories of these poor people.

    In the UK there is a huge problem with public figures who have carried out systematic abuse for decades and gotten away with it. Now, the tides are slowly turning.

    Society needs to adopt victim support!

  2. Although no solid proof has come to surface…yet, I do believe there is some truth to what “SOME” NOT ALL of theses women are saying. I believe some of these chicks were simply jump offs, side ho’s and struggling actresses hoping that humping Bill would get there foot in the door of Hollywood. I think Bill may have used his celebrity to take advantage of some of these ladies, he probably made a few promises of fame and bright lights in exchange for sexual favors.

    I find it funny the same man who went on a tour a few years back throwing Black America under the bus, telling us how to get our S**t together is a low life, cheater and a w**re. Just goes to show what hyporcrits do in the dark will all come to light.

  3. I think what we are looking at is a smear campaign. White folks want something from Cosby and this won’t stop until they get it. The Cosby Show being yanked off the air is the first strike. That right there makes no sense to me. Why take the entire show off the air because of accusations against Cosby? Hundreds of people worked on that show and continue to get residuals. That show helps pay a lot of people’s bills. Remember how Roots used to come on TV every year and they stopped it? I think some very powerful ppl want to get the image of black people as they are portrayed on the Cosby Show off the air so future generations will never see it. Just as they didn’t want future generation, black or white to learn the horrors of slavery via Roots airing yearly on network TV. Just like YT wanted the Beatles catalog back from Michael Jackson, they probably also want to own the rights to the Cosby Show or god knows what else Cosby probably holds the rights to.

  4. A black actress from csi, has said that bill tried it on with her and drugged another woman. Still a smear campaign? You shouldn’t stick up for him just cause he is black, makes you sound ignorant and racially biased.

  5. @Valerie stated the statement below and I definitely agree, stop making these celebrities bigger than life, and, hold them accountable for their behaviors!

    “Look, it’s about time we let go of the fairytale Camelot that is Cosby’s franchise. There is something bigger at work here.”

    I also agree with Steffaney…

    “Although no solid proof has come to surface…yet, I do believe there is some truth to what “SOME” NOT ALL of theses women are saying. I believe some of these chicks were simply jump offs, side ho’s and struggling actresses hoping that humping Bill would get there foot in the door of Hollywood. I think Bill may have used his celebrity to take advantage of some of these ladies, he probably made a few promises of fame and bright lights in exchange for sexual favors.”

    I agree with SMA because something is definitely brewing beyond these allegations that had been suppressed until now…

    “Why take the entire show off the air because of accusations against Cosby? Hundreds of people worked on that show and continue to get residuals. That show helps pay a lot of people’s bills. Remember how Roots used to come on TV every year and they stopped it? I think some very powerful ppl want to get the image of black people as they are portrayed on the Cosby Show off the air so future generations will never see it.”

    And, this will leave us with pop-culture, that sucks!

    I hope Oprah makes sure her confidentiality clauses are iron clad, Quincy Jones, Magic Johnson and other iconic figures weren’t anywhere near as reckless as Cosby because he was, indeed. I have no sympathy for him whatsoever, I feel for his wife and children, but they knew about some of this at least. I’m not surprised, I read biographies and most of the most successful and powerful have a dark side, especially comics. Cosby is receiving his karma for whatever he has done over the years, his good reputation is gone, he’ll be forever remembered as a womanizing scandal and perpetrator, whether innocent or guilty. People need to get over believing they know these entertainers because they love their work, or what they say in interviews, this is what will lessen their power, ultimately (not believing a media image)!

  6. I do agree that we shouldn’t be shaming the alleged victims, but the same exact thing should apply to the alleged perpetrator. I have to say I have to give the accused the benefit of the doubt, only because I’ve actually been in almost a similar situation where I actually was innocent and was found innocent and my name got slandered. But usually with these types of crimes all it takes is an accusation and in most people’s eyes your guilty.

  7. His words were not wrong. Black America need to get it together. Our communities are breeding grounds for pervs and pimps because we don’t want to take repsonsibility for our children. To many of us want to throw our children to society and make society take control and parent and that is why so many land in jail.

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