Trigger Warning: discussion of rape and sexual assault
In 2005 Andrea Constand brought a lawsuit against comedian Bill Cosby alleging that he drugged and sexually assaulted her. 12 other women with similar stories of sexual assault agreed to testify if that case made it to trial. Cosby settled out of court for an undisclosed amount, ensuring that none of those 13 women had a chance to testify against him. He probably thought that was the end of the allegations of rape.
He was wrong.
In October, comedian Hannibal Buress referred to Cosby as a rapist during one of his stand-up acts.
“It’s even worse because Bill Cosby has the fuckin’ smuggest old black man persona that I hate,” Buress said. “He gets on TV, ‘Pull your pants up black people, I was on TV in the 80s! I can talk down to you because I had a successful sitcom!’ Yeah, but you rape women, Bill Cosby, so turn the crazy down a couple notches.”
“I guess I want to just at least make it weird for you to watch Cosby Show reruns,” Buress says later. “I’ve done this bit on stage and people think I’m making it up…. when you leave here, google ‘Bill Cosby rape.’ That shit has more results than ‘Hannibal Buress.'”
In the wake of Buress’s comments, there has been a public outcry against the 77-year old comedian. His appearance on The Queen Latifah show was cancelled (according to TMZ; although a spokesman for the show said that Cosby simply postponed the appearance). In addition, a PR move by Cosby’s social media team completely backfired. “Go ahead. Meme me.” said Cosby’s Twitter account. Ok, said the world. The results were not what they expected:
Thanks in part to Buress speaking up, Barbara Bowman chose to talk publicly about how Bill Cosby sexually assaulted her. In an interview with the Mail Online, she says:
‘I was drugged and raped by that man,’ she tells MailOnline. ‘He is a monster. He came at me like a monster. My hope is that others who have experienced sexual abuse will not be intimidated into silence by the famous, rich and powerful. If I can help one victim, then I’ve done my job.’
‘I’m finally revealing all of my full story in hopes that others will learn to read the tell-tale signs of abuse and not wait as long as I did. No one believed me for years. They said Bill would never do that. That it was preposterous. But I’m putting my name out there and standing behind these words, just like Burress. No more code of silence.’
Now, 25 years after the multiple incidents of drugging, sexual assault, and even rape at the hands of the now 77-year-old Cosby, Barbara said: ‘I’ve been silent too long. It’s time to raise a fuss. I’m a real person that this happened to. And it’s taken decades to get over what he did to me.
‘I thank Hannibal Burress for speaking out over and over again, despite the threats from the Industry that it could ruin his career. He is standing up for me and the other women who are too afraid to speak out.
I appreciate the fact that Buress spoke up about the rape allegations surrounding Bill Cosby. Not enough men speak up about sexual assault, and all too often people dismiss women when they raise rape or sexual assault allegations. Bowman goes on to say:
‘And the timing couldn’t be better. It sickens me to think he’ll be on TV again, playing a father, no less.’
Barbara’s fear is that her perpetrator will actually hit the NBC airwaves again, as soon as next summer in a new sitcom, playing a patriarchal father figure, just like he played the quintessential family man Dr Cliff Huxtable on The Bill Cosby Show in the 1980s.
‘Maybe he should also teach his fictitious TV family how to escape the talons of sexual predators. Bill used to tell me that he was my father figure and that I needed to trust him as a father, 100 percent. Then he’d drug me and attack me. I was to afraid to talk back.
‘He told me over and over again, “Trust me like I was your father.” He zeroed in on that like a laser beam.’
While other victims were allegedly given hush money to prevent them from going public with their accusations, and another settled after filing a court case against Cosby, Barbara is free to speak out.
‘I never took shut up money. My motivation to speak now is to expose Bill Cosby as the animal that he is. He went after me in that hotel room like an animal with such sexual prowess and force that he couldn’t control himself. And at 19-years-old, I knew it would be the last time he would ever get the chance to hurt me this way again.’
Note her motives here. Not to gain notoriety. Not to get rich. Not to take him to court (she couldn’t even if she wanted to, as the statute of limitations has long since expired). She’s speaking up to warn people. Not that Cosby supporters, MRAs, and Rape Culture enablers will pay heed to her stated motives. I recommend reading the rest of Bowman’s story. Also worth reading is her column at The Washington Post, where she expresses frustration at the lack of public outcry over her allegations, or those of the other women who have come forward, all of whom have told their stories over the last decade. She notes that it took Buress’s comments to make the media and public begin to question Bill Cosby (apparently more than a dozen allegations from different women are meaningless in the eyes of the public; bitches be lying, amirite?)
Following Bowman’s interview and Buress’s comments, another woman has come forward with allegations of sexual assault. On Monday, Joan Tarshis gave an interview to CNN’s Don Lemon. In the interview, Tarshis tells Lemon that she was raped by Bill Cosby twice when she was 19 (she also gives further details about why she stayed silent for so long in an interview with the Philadelphia Magazine):
She described her initial meetings with Cosby and what led up to the first time she claims he drugged and raped her:
“We went up to his bungalow. He made me a drink and very shortly after that I just passed out. I woke up or came t very groggily, with him removing my underwear.”
She told Lemon how she tried to lie to Cosby about having an STD to try and get him to stop.
“I said if you have sex with me, your wife is going to know it because you probably will infect her. I thought I was very clever in saying that but he was more clever. And instead he made me have oral sex with him, which was really just horrible.”
Lemon asked her why she never went to the police with her accusations. Tarshis said she was hesitant because no one else had come forward with a similar story and feared no one would believe her story of being sexually assaulted by such a famous man.
“I didn’t know his history. I assumed I was not the only girl that he was doing this with. But who’s going to believe me…who would believe me? They’d probably think I was out to get something.”
She said, in the end, her emotions won out, and she kept silent for 20 years.
“I felt a lot of shame, I felt a lot of guilt. I felt a lot of ‘shoulds.’ I should have known there was something wrong with this man. I should have felt something was off with him. And I was angry at myself that I didn’t and blamed myself.”
I’m sorry she had to go through that. Being raped is horrible enough. Then sitting on that for decades, afraid to share such a traumatic experience just compounds the awfulness of the situation. Fuck you Bill Cosby. Fuck you for raping all these women. Fuck you even more for refusing to even comment on the allegations. In a recent interview with Scott Simon at NPR, Cosby simply shook his head when asked about the sexual assault allegations surrounding him:
SCOTT SIMON: “This question gives me no pleasure, Mr. Cosby, but there have been serious allegations raised about you in recent days.”
BILL COSBY: [SILENCE]
SIMON: “You’re shaking your head no. I’m in the news business. I have to ask the question. Do you have any response to those charges?”
SIMON: “Shaking your head no. There are people who love you who might like to hear from you about this. I want to give you the chance.”
Crickets chirping. I don’t know what’s going through the man’s mind, but somehow I don’t think he’s feeling guilty for what he’s done. He won’t even acknowledge the allegations. He won’t dignify his victims with a response. To compound this, his lawyer recently released this steaming pile of crap:
Over the last several weeks, decade-old, discredited allegations against Mr. Cosby have resurfaced. The fact that they are being repeated does not make them true. Mr. Cosby does not intend to dignify these allegations with any comment. He would like to thank all his fans for the outpouring of support and assure them that, at age 77, he is doing his best work. There will be no further statement from Mr. Cosby or any of his representatives.
– John P. Schmitt, lawyer for Bill Cosby
No further statement?!
Yeah, just crawl back into the celebrity world Mr. Cosby, with all the comfort and security that world offers and don’t pay any attention to the women who’s bodily autonomy you violated. They clearly still don’t matter to you. That you won’t even respond to your victims shows you still don’t view them as human beings with rights. It shows a complete disregard for the harm you caused them. And it really fucking sucks that you’ve gotten away with it. You still have your fame and success, while these women have to live the rest of their lives traumatized by what you did to them. I hope your career tanks and you fade into obscurity. I know it’s not likely, but that would be the closest thing to punishment that you’re likely to ever face.