Brett Kavanaugh is neither a good man nor a man of great integrity

I believe Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. I believe her account of what happened to her and I believe that she was sexually assaulted and would have been raped if accomplice Mark Judge had not jumped on the bed. Thankfully, the asshole did, which enabled her to escape and hide in a bathroom. Of course, the man who would be the next justice on the Supreme Court denies this happened, which effectively means he is calling her a liar (as are many people, some of whom don’t seem to understand that victim testimony IS evidence while others don’t understand that the government is bound by the presumption of innocence, not civilians).

In the wake of the sexual assault claims against Brett Kavanaugh, the nation’s eyes have been upon him. After all, no reasonable person should want the perpetrator of sexual assault (and attempted rape) to serve on the highest court in the land. So of course rape apologists (who are not reasonable people) have been coming out of the woodwork to smear, shame, and victim blame Dr. Ford. Others have chosen a rather curious tactic of attempting to speak to the ::ahem:: “good name” of Brett Kavanaugh. There of course were the 65 women who wrote a frankly bizarre letter affirming the character of Kavanaugh. Aside from being a public relations stunt, the letter was meaningless. I’m sure there are plenty of people that Kavanaugh has never sexually assaulted. Which has no bearing on those whom he has sexually assaulted.  Then there’s former President and First Lady, George W Bush and Laura Bush, who continue to stand by their longtime friend, even after listening to Dr. Ford’s passionate speech. They think of Kavanaugh not only as a “fine friend, husband, and father”, but as a man of the highest integrity.

I suggest the 65 women as well as Laura Bush and her war criminal husband go spend some quality time reading about the true moral character of Brett Kavanaugh. They can start with the multiple lies Brett Kavanaugh has told, many of which were spoken during his hearing last week:

Word cloud containing terms that I feel apply to Brett Kavanaugh

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Brett Kavanaugh is neither a good man nor a man of great integrity
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I believe you

Content Note:

Discussion of sexual harassment and sexual assault, mention of victim blaming

Having a good sense of hearing is, generally speaking, a useful tool for people working in the service industry. It certainly is for me as a bartender. In my 17 years pouring drinks, I can’t recall how many times it has come in handy. Often, I’ll be in the process of helping one group of people decide what they want to drink when another group sits down at the bar. While making the drinks for group one, it is not unusual for me to overhear what group two is deciding to drink and, if they settle upon something, for me to make their drinks and greet them with their cocktails (or beer/wine as the case may be). Many a guest has remarked at how impressed they are that I can hear conversations in a bar with loud patrons and/or music.  Sometimes that hearing can lead to awkward moments, like the times I’ve happened to hear people discussing sexual activities. Other times, it can lead to commiserations, such as a recent chat three people were having about the challenges they faced with caring for an elderly family member and the additional difficulties of that family member having dementia.

(Before I go any further, I want to make one thing clear: I am not in any way trying to eavesdrop on guests. Between my hearing and the relatively small size of my bar, (comfortably seats 12 people) it’s hard NOT to hear what people are saying, unless they are speaking softly (which isn’t something most patrons at a bar tend to do; certainly not these two guys) ).

Then there are the decidedly unfun, so-frustrating-I-want-to-pull-my hair-out conversations that I’d be happy to never hear again.

Like the one I heard yesterday between two guys. They were complaining about the #MeToo hashtag and the ever growing list of men who have been publicly accused of sexual harassment and/or sexual assault. Sadly, like many men (and more than a handful of women and non-men), these guys had doubts about the allegations. One of them brought up the fact that many of the victims waited decades before speaking up about their assault. I was supposed to be ringing in the food order for another guest, but as I stood at the computer, all I could do was shake my head in frustration. Frustration bc those two guys sounded like countless other men online or in meatspace who leap to defend the accused (that frustration was made worse bc I wanted to speak up, but A: I was also tending to other guests, B: the two guys did not seem reasonable on this subject, C: I would have had to spend time I didn’t have engaging the two louts to effectively counter their bullshit, and D: even if I did have time, I would have to figure out–on the fly–the most polite way to express myself so as to ensure I still got tipped, since I do go to work to get paid). They sounded like many Rape Culture apologists. The ones who say  things like:

“They’re in it for the money.”
“They’re doing it for the attention.”
“It wasn’t sexual assault. It was regret sex.”
“it’s a conspiracy to bring down powerful men.”
“whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty?”
“If they really were assaulted or harassed, they would have gone to the police right after it happened.”

Check out the comments on any article about sexual harassment or sexual assault. Whether it’s a local newspaper or a nationally renowned publication, you are almost guaranteed to find comments of a similar nature. They betray a great deal of ignorance (and demonstrate a lack of compassion) on the part of the speaker and they send a message to victims and assailants alike:  sexual harassment and sexual assault should be treated with immediate skepticism and doubt. The thing is, these are the only crimes in which the default position is one of doubt. For other crimes, victims are believed and their claims treated as truthful (until and unless evidence is discovered that disputes their claims). That is fucked up and absolutely should not be the case. In my opinion,

believing victims should be the default

Continue reading “I believe you”

I believe you

Another day, another example of Rape Culture

Last year, it was revealed that actor/director Nate Parker would be starring in and directing The Birth of a Nation, a biopic about Nat Turner’s 1831 rebellion. The film, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival this past January, was such a hit that Fox Searchlight picked it up for $17.5 million, a price no one has ever paid for a film in the history of the festival. That’s a testament to the quality of the film, which is something that Parker had a huge effect on. I’ve seen many a commenter remark about how excited they are to see the movie, which debuts in theaters on 10/7/16. For my part, while I recognize that the film is probably an amazing one, there are three reasons I’m not going to see it.

First, to be honest, I’m sick of the narrow range of movies about black people Hollywood sees fit to create: those like The Birth of a Nation involving the enslavement of black bodies, those involving black people being a source of laughs (think any of the comedic movies by Martin Lawrence), and those involving black people being “the help” (think of the movie of the same name). I want to see black actors offered the same type of diverse roles as white actors. Where are the horror movies with black characters in the leading role? Suspense thrillers? Fantasy movies like Lord of the RIngs (yes, I look forward to Idris Elba in Dark Tower)? Science fiction? Where is Inception with a black character as the main protagonist? No, black characters-by and large-get to be slaves, the help, and the entertainment. For all that it might be a great movie, The Birth of a Nation is one more the long line of “black suffering movies” (which ought to be its own subgenre if it isn’t already) that Hollywood executives are enamored with, and that I am *over*.

Secondly, on the off chance that I *do* want to see black people suffering, all I need to do is turn on the news, or fire up my computer. It happens every day. Whether its police brutality or racism from our fellow citizens, we black people experience a great deal of suffering on a regular basis. That’s not really something I want to go out of my way to watch (and have to pay for). It’s certainly not something I find entertaining.

As for the third, well, if someone had asked me today why I wasn’t going to see the movie, I would only have had two reasons. After today, I have a third (though it’s not about the movie). It’s about the director, Nate Parker. From all indications, he’s a rapist:

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Another day, another example of Rape Culture

Monday’s Maddening Meme 1.10.16

Ok, there’s no reason to spend a lot of time on this ridiculous meme, bc as with most of the shit tumbling forth from the “men’s rights activists” at AVfM, this isn’t based in reality. Here’s  quick rundown of just what is wrong with the image:

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Monday’s Maddening Meme 1.10.16

The Holtzclaw trial: it’s intersectional feminism or bust

In the United States, more than 800,000 people serve as local and state law enforcement officials. These police officers are charged with upholding and enforcing the law, maintaining order, and providing general services. To carry out these duties, police officers possess certain powers, granted by the state. If the situation calls for it, police officers can frisk, detain, and arrest civilians, as well as seize property. In addition, depending upon the situation, police officers are empowered to use force to defend themselves or civilians (the amount of force extends along a spectrum from police presence through deadly force). Given the powers that police officers have, it is incumbent upon them to maintain a level of professionalism in the course of their duties and to wield their powers responsibly and ethically. Unfortunately, there are countless examples of cops engaging in a range of irresponsible, unethical, immoral, and/or illegal activities from bribery and unjustified arrests to illegal search and seizure and the use of excessive force. And then there’s one common form of police misconduct that is second only to accusations of excessive force: sex misconduct.

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The Holtzclaw trial: it’s intersectional feminism or bust

When someone is raped, who is responsible?

Content Note: discussion of rape and sexual assault

If you’re a feminist or a socially progressive individual who has spent any time reading comment threads following articles on rape or sexual assault, you can predict with a high degree of certainty that any such article will have someone (several of them, in fact) who will comment about how a rape victim (usually-though not always-a girl or woman) should have dressed differently or drank less alcohol or not been in a bad part of town. Many times a commenter will try to soften such a remark with a disclaimer like “I’m not trying to blame the victim here, but…”. Other times, a true asshole will come along and skip the disclaimer and put all the responsibility of the rape on the woman, leaving the perpetrator (usually-though not always-a man) free of most, if not all, the blame…as if the woman somehow made the perpetrator have non-consensual sex with her. No, it doesn’t make sense, but then rape apologetics only seem to make sense to those who either deliberately or unintentionally misunderstand what constitutes rape. If you’re someone who doesn’t get it, let me help you-RAPE IS NON-CONSENSUAL SEX. That should clear up any difficulties in the future (and if you think consent is difficult, consider what you need from someone to make use of something that does not belong to you-permission).  For those who still don’t understand, well I don’t have much patience left for such fools, so here’s a chart that should be easy to understand for such individuals:

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When someone is raped, who is responsible?

Yes, feminism is still necessary

Are you having a good day?

Are you smiling, happy, or content?

Are you fed-up with feeling this good and need a good old-fashioned headache?

You can eliminate your good feelz by taking the plunge into the Women Against Feminism Tumblr. There, you’ll find stories of women who don’t need feminism because they think feminists are man-hating ideologues, god created men and women separately, the gender wage gap doesn’t exist, and much, much more utter tripe. It’s sad and frustrating to read the entries, bc it’s clear these women have a fundamental misunderstanding of feminism. They haven’t taken the time to learn about feminism, and rely upon a distorted caricature of what feminists fight for. Feminism isn’t about disparaging men, playing the victim, or rationalizing the choice of women to be sexual beings. If they took the time to research feminism (or talk to actual feminists), they’d quickly learn they’ve been criticizing a strawman:

Feminism is a range of movements and ideologies that share a common goal: to define, establish, and achieve equal political, economic, cultural, personal, and social rights for women.

Contrary to the bleatings of anti-feminist women and MRAs, women across the world still need feminism. Whether its pay inequality, domestic violence, sexual harassment, or rape, women and girls continue to experience staggering amounts of discrimination, oppression, and bigotry based on their gender. Here are five examples demonstrating why feminism is still necessary (Trigger Warning: sexual assault, rape):

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Yes, feminism is still necessary

The streets belong to everyone

As a man, I haven’t been labeled a slut for having or enjoying sex.

As a man, I don’t have to worry about being viewed as sexually available based on my attire.

As a man, I’ve never had my masculinity called into question because I’m child-free.

As a man, I’ve never had to worry that I wouldn’t be promoted at a job due to my sex.

I haven’t had to deal with any of the above because I was born into a group for whom society has granted unearned benefits. To put it bluntly, there is a lot that I and other male-identified* people don’t have to deal with because we identify as men. That is the essence of Male Privilege. Many people-usually men, but sometimes women-have a difficult time understanding what Male Privilege is. Some folks think the term means that men haven’t faced difficulties in life. Others think the phrase is an insult meant to shame men for being men.

Neither is true.

Telling someone they have Male Privilege is not an insult and the use of the term does not mean that men live luxurious lives free from difficulties and obstacles**. It is an observation. An observation about the overall imbalance of power along sex or gender lines in society. That imbalance of power heavily favors men and disadvantages women, as the social phenomenon of street harassment illustrates.

The non-profit organization Stop Street Harassment (SSH) notes that at present, there is no standardized definition of street harassment. As of March 2015, their working definition is:

Gender-based street harassment is unwanted comments, gestures, and actions forced on a stranger in a public place without their consent and is directed at them because of their actual or perceived sex, gender, gender expression, or sexual orientation.

Street harassment includes unwanted whistling, leering, sexist, homophobic or transphobic slurs, persistent requests for someone’s name, number or destination after they’ve said no, sexual names, comments and demands, following, flashing, public masturbation, groping, sexual assault, and rape.

Street harassment directed at people who identify as women perfectly illustrates how men benefit from Male Privilege***. Street harassment is not something men have to deal with because they are men, whereas it is something people who identify as women have to deal with. On an everyday basis. Many people dismiss street harassment, claiming it’s not a big problem. These people are wrong. It’s a problem because women have spoken up and said it’s a problem-one they are tired of having to endure. Those who identify as women have shared their stories. They’ve expressed their disgust, revulsion, and horror at the harassment they face simply for having the audacity to exist in public.

Street harassment is a display of power by men. It is one way that men attempt to maintain their social dominance over women. At the core of street harassment is the idea that men are deserving of the time and attention of women. Male entitlement, in other words. This entitlement leads men to think that they deserve a response from women when they comment on their appearance in public, or that women are obligated to stop and chat with them, or that they [men] have the right to sexually assault women.

Unfortunately, for all that women do not owe men their time, attention, or affection, street harassment is an ongoing problem-one not limited by geographic boundaries. In Mexico, for instance, street harassment is a massive problem. Last year, the online multi-media company Fusion partnered with artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh on a project to amplify the voices of women in Mexico City fighting against street harassment.

Fazlalizadeh is the creator of the street art project Stop Telling Women To Smile, which addresses gender based street harassment. Her street art project consists of a series of portraits of women whom the artist has spoken with about their experiences with street harassment.

Together with Fusion editor Anna Holmes, Fazlalizadeh interviewed many of the women who are fighting against a culture that turns a blind eye to harassment and violence against women:

Fazlalizadeh and Fusion editor Anna Holmes settled on Mexico City because they wanted to amplify the voices of Mexican women who are challenging the ways in which their communities turn a blind eye to harassment and violence against women. “I wanted to find out, what do women in Mexico City go through?” says the NYC-based Fazlalizadeh. “What are their experiences? What are their stories? How’s what they experience different from what I experience? How can I reflect those differences in these pieces?”

Street harassment, also known as “acoso en las calles,” is an enormous problem in Mexico City and the country as a whole, where rates of sexual violence against women are some of the highest in the world. In Mexico, as elsewhere, says Laura Martinez, director of the Association for the Integral Development of Raped Persons, female bodies are seen as objects, as “something a man can have access to, even if the woman doesn’t want”; a United Nations report in 2010 ranked Mexico number one globally in sexual violence against women, estimating that 44% of females have suffered some sort of sexual violence, from groping to rape. The situation is so bad that Mexico City offers female-only cars on the city’s subways and, in 2008, introduced female-only buses, painted the color pink.

The title of this interactive comes from commentary by Gabriela Duhart Herrera, Director of Atrévete DF, the Mexico City chapter of Hollaback!, an organization founded in 2005 to protest the verbal and sexual abuse of women in public spaces. The interactive tells both the story of Tatyana’s trip and the experiences of the dozens of Mexico City women – students, mothers, politicians, even a police officer – who shared their stories with her. There are also a number of male perspectives on display. (“Here, all the men do it,” said one young man about street harassment.)

Projects like this aim to raise public awareness about the problem of street harassment. No one who identifies as a woman should be forced to endure taunts, leering, stalking, harassment, whistles, slurs, or any other form of street harassment. Male-identified individuals must come to recognize that they do not own public spaces and are not entitled to attention from women, nor their time or affections. Those who identify as girls or women have the same right to participate in public life as men–without being made to endure street harassment. Sadly, many otherwise empathetic and compassionate men are ignorant of street harassment. I know I used to be. Like other men, I was blinded-by my privilege. Yes, thanks to Male Privilege, I’ve never had to worry about being harassed on the street because of my sex. Since I never had to worry about street harassment, I never had to acknowledge it was a problem. Out-of-sight, out-of-mind, so to speak. But once I had the wool pulled away from my eyes-once I acknowledged that I do have Male Privilege-I saw the crap women put up with. I realized I could no longer close my eyes to injustices like street harassment (nor would I even if I could). All people who identify as women are human beings, deserving of the same rights and freedoms as male-identified people. Hopefully more men will come to realize their privilege and work with social justice advocates to help build a better-a world with no male privilege, no street harassment, and no male entitlement. I’m not naive enough to think that’s going to happen in my lifetime or, really, anytime in the next few hundred years, but that’s not going to stop me from trying. What kind of Humanist would I be if I didn’t do my part in the fight to make the world a better place?  A better world-I think that’s a goal well worth fighting for, no matter how long it takes. Don’t you?


*My use of phrases like ‘male-identified’ or ‘people who identify as women’ (and the various permutations throughout this post) stems from a desire to ensure my language is inclusive of trans people.

**Indeed, men can and do face obstacles in life. For instance, bisexual men, atheist men, or African-American men are socially disadvantaged. This is where an understanding of the concept of intersectionality is helpful. Bisexual men are underprivileged because the balance of power in society favors heterosexual men. Similarly, atheist men or African-American men lack the unearned benefits society grants men who are religious or part of the dominant racial/ethnic group of a given country (in the U.S. white people are the dominant racial group). The disadvantages faced by men as a result of being bisexual, atheist, or African-American is due to their membership in those groups. It is not a result of them being men.

***It is important to remember that discussions of Male Privilege are not about individuals, but male-identified persons as a group. While some individuals who identify as men may experience street harassment because of their actual or perceived sex or gender, on the whole men are not the victims of gender-based street harassment.

The streets belong to everyone

I’m sad too, but not for Bill Cosby

As part of his October 2014 stand-up act, comedian Hannibal Buress reminded the country of the sexual assault allegations surrounding fellow comedian Bill Cosby. Referring to him as “the f–king smuggest old black man public persona that I hate”, Buress went on to say:

“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,'” Buress mocked. “Yeah, but you raped women, Bill Cosby, so turn the crazy down a couple notches.”

Buress couldn’t have known, but his comments served as the catalyst for many of Cosby’s victims to speak up publicly about their assault at his hands.  While a handful of his victims had already publicly accused Cosby of raping them (Andrea Constand, Beth Ferrier, and Tamara Green), it turns out there were many, many more.  As the number of accusations increased, more victims chose to speak up publicly, some for the first time.  Barbara Bowman was among the first women to allege that Cosby sexually assaulted her. Days later, Joan Tarshis came forward with her own allegations. Then there was Janice Dickinson, followed by Therese Serignese and Carla FerrignoLouisa MoritzAngela Leslie, and Linda Joy TraitzMichelle Hurd, Renita Chaney Hill, Victoria Valentino, Joyce Emmons, Kristina Ruehli, Jewel AllisonJena T, Judy Huth, Chelan, Helen Hayes, P.J. Masten, Beverly Johnson, Chloe Goins, Lisa, Lachelle Covington, Shawn Brown, Donna Motsinger, Katherine McGee, Linda Kirkpatrick, Lynn Neal, Kasey, and Cindra Ladd.

Recently, three more women have spoken up, raising the total number of allegations against Bill Cosby to three dozen. Heidi Thomas decided to speak up and her story mirrors the stories of so many of Cosby’s victims. 30 years ago, she was questioning her career choices when she was given the opportunity to meet Bill Cosby. Seeing this as a way to further her career, Thomas journeyed to Reno, Nevada, in the hopes that Cosby would coach her and help her develop her acting skills.

Thomas says she was picked up by limousine at the airport in Reno. She questioned the driver because she remembered seeing the city lights behind her as they drove away. Thomas says she was confused because the postcard she bought at the airport showed Harrah’s as being in the middle of town.

The driver told her that a friend let Cosby use their house outside Reno so “he doesn’t have to deal with all of the paparazzi,” Thomas says.

Thomas says Cosby greeted her at the door of the sprawling house, and later, the coaching began.

She says she performed a monologue, and when she finished, Cosby asked her to do a cold read of a person who was intoxicated.

According to Thomas, Cosby wasn’t impressed. Thomas wasn’t much of a drinker.

“How are you ever going play an intoxicated person … if you’ve never been drunk?” she says he told her.

She says Cosby wanted her to relax, and he gave her a glass of Chablis.

Thomas admits that her memory of the next few hours is “foggy,” but she says that at one point, he may have asked her something like, (Are you) “feeling the part now?” or “Feeling the lines now?”

Thomas says that when she woke up, Cosby was next to her in bed, naked and “forcing himself in my mouth.” She says she remembers feeling like she wanted to throw up.

Soon after, Thomas says, Cosby was getting on top of her again and referring to himself in the third person.

“I’m your friend … your friend is gonna (ejaculate) again,” Thomas remembers him saying.

Rather than get angry with Cosby, Thomas says, she made excuses and asked herself, “What’s happened? Why am I here? Why is he naked? What did I say? What did I do?”

Thomas says she remembers eventually storming out of the room and slamming the door, and then apologizing for being “rude.” The next thing she can remember is riding with Cosby to his show. She says the rest of her memory is spotty: She recalls a cook offering her strawberries and having wine with Cosby before his show. But, she says, she doesn’t remember much more from the four-day trip.

Thomas says that months after the incident in Reno, she learned Cosby was going to be in St. Louis. She says she traveled there and was able see him backstage after one of his shows, but never talked to him about what happened in Reno. She was never alone with him, she says.

“There’s another thing I wish I could explain,” she says of the trip. “[The] closest thing I can say here is I just wanted to make this right … I’m still not thinking I’ve been abused. I’m thinking this is all my fault.” Thomas says she wanted to see if Cosby really thought she had talent.

That was 1984 — and Thomas says that she’s been haunted in the years since, thinking that maybe she’d brought it on herself. She chose not to confide in anyone, including her agent or the talent agency.

But Thomas says everything changed a few weeks ago when she learned that her mother knew something had happened in Reno. Thomas says she learned this from a friend; her mother had never mentioned a word of it to her in all these years.

Indeed, Johnson says Thomas called her from Reno back in 1984 after her first full day there and after the alleged incident. Thomas says she doesn’t remember making that call, but her mother has little trouble recollecting the confusion and anguish she felt hundreds of miles away.

“I remember standing in the kitchen thrilled to hear from my daughter. She was excited.” Johnson remembers making some small talk when she said Thomas said something very disturbing.

“I did something wrong and … I got away and slammed the door,” Johnson remembers her daughter telling her.

Johnson says she continued trying to get more information from her daughter on the phone.

“‘Did he rape you?’ She said, ‘No, I got away.'”

Johnson says she wanted to comfort her but didn’t know how. “I couldn’t reach her. I couldn’t touch her. I didn’t know anyone in Reno to send her to. She was on the other side of the earth.”

Thomas says she returned to Denver with no memory of the flight or the ride home with her parents.

“I don’t remember seeing them. What did we say to each other? How did she look? I-I-I have nothing.”

Johnson says she decided not to mention the phone call — or let on that she knew in any way — because she just wanted “things get back to normal” for her daughter.

Thomas has never spoken publicly about this incident, until now. She says finding out that her mother knew all along was what freed her to speak.

“I finally find out that she knows, that Dad knows, that they are supporting me if I want to go public…Then it became full steam ahead, I want to empower people.”

“I was beginning to think though…that whole keeping-your-silence is a form of acceptance. It’s not supporting the women who are coming forward. It’s not helping … and if enough people make enough of a fuss, maybe we can get a culture that starts to listen,” Thomas says.

Reading her story brings tears to my eyes and enrages me. She remained silent because she felt no one would support her. And that’s what happens in our culture. People don’t support victims of sexual assault and rape. They blame them for their assault. They tell victims what not to wear, where not to go, who not to hang out with. They give all sorts of “advice” to sexual assault victims. But support? There’s far too little of that to go around. This is one of the reasons that many victims of sexual assault and rape stay silent. If no one is going to support you…if no one is going to believe you, why speak up? And this is something that flies over the head of Cosby’s attorney:

Cosby’s attorney has called the spate of sexual assault accusations against the comedian “ridiculous.”

Martin D. Singer said in a statement it defies common sense that “so many people would have said nothing, done nothing, and made no reports to law enforcement or asserted civil claims if they thought they had been assaulted over a span of so many years.”

Here’s the thing Mr. Singer-if you pay attention to what the victims are saying, you will learn exactly why they remained silent. But no, you don’t even have the decency to listen to them and actually pay attention to their words. You dismiss them out of hand. I’ve been trying to cut back on insulting others a little bit, but your callousness and indifference to the sexual assault of one woman, let alone three dozen, enrages me. You and your serial rapist client are morally contemptuous assholes who most likely have no compassion to spare for former models Linda Brown and Lise-Lotte Lublin, who recently spoke about their horrible encounters with Bill Cosby:

Brown said she was 21 when she met Cosby in 1969 at a restaurant in Toronto. She went to his hotel room, because he wanted to give her a gift, and when she got there he gave her a soft drink. She took a sip, blacked out, and woke up naked in bed with him, where she says she was raped.

“I felt like a rad doll and like a real-life blow-up doll for him” she said. “I felt dirty, ashamed and embarrassed,” and fooled into believing that Cosby was “nice, trustworthy and honorable.”

“I want people to know who Mr. Cosby really is: He has a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personality and if you trust him then he has fooled you as well,” she said.

Lublin was 23 when she met Cosby in 1989 in a Las Vegas hotel where he sought to evaluate her acting skills. He insisted she have a drink to relax.

“I trusted him because of who he was, and how well he was respected around the world,” she said. “The taste was horrible and unfamiliar to me because I was not a drinker.”

She fell into a stupor, remembers Cosby wrapping himself around her and stroking her hair and then she passed out. She woke up at home with no memory of how she got there although her car was in the driveway.

“Bill Cosby appears to think that rape is a joke,” she said. “Let me tell you something, Bill, I’m not laughing.”

She vowed to lead a campaign to press Nevada legislators to throw out the statute of limitations for sexual assault. Such a change would not help in her case or in the cases of most of the women who have accused Cosby.

“I will do everything in my power to change the law that protects criminals and re-victimizes the innocent,” she said.

For his part, Cosby continues to deny the dozens of allegations against him. On Wednesday, he released a statement saying:

Dear Fans: For 53 years you have given me your love, support, respect and trust. Thank you! I can’t wait to see your smiling faces and warm your hearts with a wonderful gift — LAUGHTER. I’m ready!

I thank you, the theatre staff (Heymann Performing Arts Center), the event organizers and the Lafayette Community for your continued support and coming to experience family, fun entertainment. Hey, Hey, Hey — I’m far from finished. Sincerely, Bill Cosby.

Yes, we know you’re not finished (you are at NBC though). You continue to press on with your North American tour (which you laughably tout as “family, fun entertainment”). You do so because you still have supporters. You still have people who refuse to believe you’re a serial rapist. You still have people who think your carefully crafted media image represents the type of person you are. I know that there are many people, especially African-Americans, who are having difficulty reconciling the idea of a much-loved, well-respected icon being a rapist. The doors you’ve opened for others, the paths you’ve helped pave, the barriers you’ve helped shatter…these are things that people rightly appreciate. Hell, I appreciate the work you’ve done.

However.

In spite of your accomplishments, you are still a human being. You are not a peerless paragon of perfection untainted by human foibles. You are a complex, flawed, human being. Your flaws exist alongside your accomplishments. You are the first African-American to star in a weekly prime-time television series. You are also a serial rapist. You brought Cliff Huxtable to life and in the process, presented an image of African-American families that helped shatter racial stereotypes. You are also a peddler of the bullshit that is respectability politics. I recognize that it’s difficult for many out there to view you in this nuanced manner. You’re an icon. You’re an inspiration. You’re a hero. But there’s a problem with that.

Elevating humans to hero status often results in flaws being ignored. Commendable attributes are praised while flaws are rationalized, downplayed, or ignored. Biologist and atheist Richard Dawkins is admired and well-respected in the atheist community for (among other things) helping to lead people away from religion. And yet, he’s a Rape Culture apologist–a fact that many of his supporters deny. The late Mother Teresa is lauded the world over as a saint and a hero who did much to help poor people and those in need. In response to the question “Do you teach the poor to endure their lot?“, Mother Teresa once said “I think it is very beautiful for the poor to accept their lot, to share it with the passion of Christ. I think the world is being much helped by the suffering of the poor people“. Despite Mother Teresa’s endorsement of human suffering as a good thing (or any of the other criticisms against her), there are many people who still view her as a saint whose shit smelled like roses. Even after allegations of doping arose, fans across the world continued to idolize Lance Armstrong, refusing to entertain the idea that the seven-time Tour de France winner used drugs to enhance his performance. I suspect that even after his admission of drug use, he still has supporters. Elevating humans to iconic or heroic status brings with it the danger of their follies being ignored, rationalized, or even outright ignored. What’s worse, when that icon or hero is discovered to have done something decidedly unheroic-like say, sexually assaulting 36 women-it can be difficult for some to accept that the person they admired and held up as virtuous is actually a flawed human being. That’s a problem currently facing Lee Daniels, co-creator of the television series ‘Empire‘. Daniels recently sat down for an interview with CNNs very own peddler of respectability politics, Don Lemon:

“It is very, very hard, and what bothers me most is if there is an iota of truth to this … the one person of color that means the most to me is pulled down,” Daniels told CNN’s Don Lemon on Wednesday. “If he is guilty, it says that we are human, which is what I like to examine with every character that I breathe life to. We are not black, it is not white — it’s grey. We are all complicated, and we all like to point fingers and drag people down and drag people through the mud when stuff ain’t right. What’s fascinating is it’s not going to change. I pray for him. I pray for him. I’m sad. I am wrecked by it, I am gutted by it. He’s a man. And the victims, you know?”

Oh dear Isis, where to start? Oh yeah, with his doubt over the accusations. “If there is an iota of truth to this” indicates that Daniels is uncertain whether or not Cosby is a rapist. Unfortunately, that means he still has doubts about whether 36 women are being truthful. Remember upthread when I discussed believing rape victims? This is what Daniels needs to do. No one is asking him to place Bill Cosby in the mental file marked rapist for all time and never adjust his opinion of the guy. We’re saying “believe the women”. If it turns out that all 36 of them are lying, then he can adjust his opinion. If we’re ever going to see a reduction in incidents of rape and sexual assault, it is vital that we support victims.

Then there’s the confusing comment “if he’s guilty, it says that we are human…”. Whether he’s guilty or innocent doesn’t change the biological fact that Bill Cosby is a human being. He’s not some highly advanced human who no longer has flaws. He’s not an evolutionary offshoot of humanity. He’s not some non-human species of animal. This is exactly why it’s problematic to have heroes. No matter what he’s done, Cosby is still a human being. Understand that Mr. Daniels, and you might begin to understand how Bill Cosby can be both an inspiration and a sexual predator.

As for the rest, I’ll simply restate what I said elsewhere:

I’m sad too.
I’m sad for the 36 women who were sexually assaulted or raped by Bill Cosby.
I’m sad that according to Jennifer Lee Pryor (widow of the late Richard Pryor) Cosby’s actions were a well-kept secret in Hollywood.
I’m sad that people around the world are leaping to the defense of a man they know precious little about, and are taking his word over the word of 3 dozen women (implying in the process that they are lying and he is being truthful). Given the rape statistics which are readily available to anyone reading this, it makes far more sense to believe victims when they allege that they were attacked (and if it turns out that a victim is lying-which doesn’t happen anywhere near as often as too many people believe–you amend your opinion).
I’m sad that so many people still think of rapists as “men who jump out of the bushes and attack random women”, rather than people whom the victims know.
I’m sad that Bill Cosby likely won’t face the inside of a prison cell.
I’m sad that people think Bill Cosby is just like the warm, affable, fictional characters he’s played on television shows.
So yeah, I’m with you on the sadness. Not the prayer thing though. That’s a complete waste of time.

I’ll add one more thing: I’m not sad for Bill Cosby. He’s a scumbag.

I’m sad too, but not for Bill Cosby

I'm sad too, but not for Bill Cosby

As part of his October 2014 stand-up act, comedian Hannibal Buress reminded the country of the sexual assault allegations surrounding fellow comedian Bill Cosby. Referring to him as “the f–king smuggest old black man public persona that I hate”, Buress went on to say:

“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,'” Buress mocked. “Yeah, but you raped women, Bill Cosby, so turn the crazy down a couple notches.”

Buress couldn’t have known, but his comments served as the catalyst for many of Cosby’s victims to speak up publicly about their assault at his hands.  While a handful of his victims had already publicly accused Cosby of raping them (Andrea Constand, Beth Ferrier, and Tamara Green), it turns out there were many, many more.  As the number of accusations increased, more victims chose to speak up publicly, some for the first time.  Barbara Bowman was among the first women to allege that Cosby sexually assaulted her. Days later, Joan Tarshis came forward with her own allegations. Then there was Janice Dickinson, followed by Therese Serignese and Carla FerrignoLouisa MoritzAngela Leslie, and Linda Joy TraitzMichelle Hurd, Renita Chaney Hill, Victoria Valentino, Joyce Emmons, Kristina Ruehli, Jewel AllisonJena T, Judy Huth, Chelan, Helen Hayes, P.J. Masten, Beverly Johnson, Chloe Goins, Lisa, Lachelle Covington, Shawn Brown, Donna Motsinger, Katherine McGee, Linda Kirkpatrick, Lynn Neal, Kasey, and Cindra Ladd.

Recently, three more women have spoken up, raising the total number of allegations against Bill Cosby to three dozen. Heidi Thomas decided to speak up and her story mirrors the stories of so many of Cosby’s victims. 30 years ago, she was questioning her career choices when she was given the opportunity to meet Bill Cosby. Seeing this as a way to further her career, Thomas journeyed to Reno, Nevada, in the hopes that Cosby would coach her and help her develop her acting skills.

Thomas says she was picked up by limousine at the airport in Reno. She questioned the driver because she remembered seeing the city lights behind her as they drove away. Thomas says she was confused because the postcard she bought at the airport showed Harrah’s as being in the middle of town.

The driver told her that a friend let Cosby use their house outside Reno so “he doesn’t have to deal with all of the paparazzi,” Thomas says.

Thomas says Cosby greeted her at the door of the sprawling house, and later, the coaching began.

She says she performed a monologue, and when she finished, Cosby asked her to do a cold read of a person who was intoxicated.

According to Thomas, Cosby wasn’t impressed. Thomas wasn’t much of a drinker.

“How are you ever going play an intoxicated person … if you’ve never been drunk?” she says he told her.

She says Cosby wanted her to relax, and he gave her a glass of Chablis.

Thomas admits that her memory of the next few hours is “foggy,” but she says that at one point, he may have asked her something like, (Are you) “feeling the part now?” or “Feeling the lines now?”

Thomas says that when she woke up, Cosby was next to her in bed, naked and “forcing himself in my mouth.” She says she remembers feeling like she wanted to throw up.

Soon after, Thomas says, Cosby was getting on top of her again and referring to himself in the third person.

“I’m your friend … your friend is gonna (ejaculate) again,” Thomas remembers him saying.

Rather than get angry with Cosby, Thomas says, she made excuses and asked herself, “What’s happened? Why am I here? Why is he naked? What did I say? What did I do?”

Thomas says she remembers eventually storming out of the room and slamming the door, and then apologizing for being “rude.” The next thing she can remember is riding with Cosby to his show. She says the rest of her memory is spotty: She recalls a cook offering her strawberries and having wine with Cosby before his show. But, she says, she doesn’t remember much more from the four-day trip.

Thomas says that months after the incident in Reno, she learned Cosby was going to be in St. Louis. She says she traveled there and was able see him backstage after one of his shows, but never talked to him about what happened in Reno. She was never alone with him, she says.

“There’s another thing I wish I could explain,” she says of the trip. “[The] closest thing I can say here is I just wanted to make this right … I’m still not thinking I’ve been abused. I’m thinking this is all my fault.” Thomas says she wanted to see if Cosby really thought she had talent.

That was 1984 — and Thomas says that she’s been haunted in the years since, thinking that maybe she’d brought it on herself. She chose not to confide in anyone, including her agent or the talent agency.

But Thomas says everything changed a few weeks ago when she learned that her mother knew something had happened in Reno. Thomas says she learned this from a friend; her mother had never mentioned a word of it to her in all these years.

Indeed, Johnson says Thomas called her from Reno back in 1984 after her first full day there and after the alleged incident. Thomas says she doesn’t remember making that call, but her mother has little trouble recollecting the confusion and anguish she felt hundreds of miles away.

“I remember standing in the kitchen thrilled to hear from my daughter. She was excited.” Johnson remembers making some small talk when she said Thomas said something very disturbing.

“I did something wrong and … I got away and slammed the door,” Johnson remembers her daughter telling her.

Johnson says she continued trying to get more information from her daughter on the phone.

“‘Did he rape you?’ She said, ‘No, I got away.'”

Johnson says she wanted to comfort her but didn’t know how. “I couldn’t reach her. I couldn’t touch her. I didn’t know anyone in Reno to send her to. She was on the other side of the earth.”

Thomas says she returned to Denver with no memory of the flight or the ride home with her parents.

“I don’t remember seeing them. What did we say to each other? How did she look? I-I-I have nothing.”

Johnson says she decided not to mention the phone call — or let on that she knew in any way — because she just wanted “things get back to normal” for her daughter.

Thomas has never spoken publicly about this incident, until now. She says finding out that her mother knew all along was what freed her to speak.

“I finally find out that she knows, that Dad knows, that they are supporting me if I want to go public…Then it became full steam ahead, I want to empower people.”

“I was beginning to think though…that whole keeping-your-silence is a form of acceptance. It’s not supporting the women who are coming forward. It’s not helping … and if enough people make enough of a fuss, maybe we can get a culture that starts to listen,” Thomas says.

Reading her story brings tears to my eyes and enrages me. She remained silent because she felt no one would support her. And that’s what happens in our culture. People don’t support victims of sexual assault and rape. They blame them for their assault. They tell victims what not to wear, where not to go, who not to hang out with. They give all sorts of “advice” to sexual assault victims. But support? There’s far too little of that to go around. This is one of the reasons that many victims of sexual assault and rape stay silent. If no one is going to support you…if no one is going to believe you, why speak up? And this is something that flies over the head of Cosby’s attorney:

Cosby’s attorney has called the spate of sexual assault accusations against the comedian “ridiculous.”

Martin D. Singer said in a statement it defies common sense that “so many people would have said nothing, done nothing, and made no reports to law enforcement or asserted civil claims if they thought they had been assaulted over a span of so many years.”

Here’s the thing Mr. Singer-if you pay attention to what the victims are saying, you will learn exactly why they remained silent. But no, you don’t even have the decency to listen to them and actually pay attention to their words. You dismiss them out of hand. I’ve been trying to cut back on insulting others a little bit, but your callousness and indifference to the sexual assault of one woman, let alone three dozen, enrages me. You and your serial rapist client are morally contemptuous assholes who most likely have no compassion to spare for former models Linda Brown and Lise-Lotte Lublin, who recently spoke about their horrible encounters with Bill Cosby:

Brown said she was 21 when she met Cosby in 1969 at a restaurant in Toronto. She went to his hotel room, because he wanted to give her a gift, and when she got there he gave her a soft drink. She took a sip, blacked out, and woke up naked in bed with him, where she says she was raped.

“I felt like a rad doll and like a real-life blow-up doll for him” she said. “I felt dirty, ashamed and embarrassed,” and fooled into believing that Cosby was “nice, trustworthy and honorable.”

“I want people to know who Mr. Cosby really is: He has a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personality and if you trust him then he has fooled you as well,” she said.

Lublin was 23 when she met Cosby in 1989 in a Las Vegas hotel where he sought to evaluate her acting skills. He insisted she have a drink to relax.

“I trusted him because of who he was, and how well he was respected around the world,” she said. “The taste was horrible and unfamiliar to me because I was not a drinker.”

She fell into a stupor, remembers Cosby wrapping himself around her and stroking her hair and then she passed out. She woke up at home with no memory of how she got there although her car was in the driveway.

“Bill Cosby appears to think that rape is a joke,” she said. “Let me tell you something, Bill, I’m not laughing.”

She vowed to lead a campaign to press Nevada legislators to throw out the statute of limitations for sexual assault. Such a change would not help in her case or in the cases of most of the women who have accused Cosby.

“I will do everything in my power to change the law that protects criminals and re-victimizes the innocent,” she said.

For his part, Cosby continues to deny the dozens of allegations against him. On Wednesday, he released a statement saying:

Dear Fans: For 53 years you have given me your love, support, respect and trust. Thank you! I can’t wait to see your smiling faces and warm your hearts with a wonderful gift — LAUGHTER. I’m ready!

I thank you, the theatre staff (Heymann Performing Arts Center), the event organizers and the Lafayette Community for your continued support and coming to experience family, fun entertainment. Hey, Hey, Hey — I’m far from finished. Sincerely, Bill Cosby.

Yes, we know you’re not finished (you are at NBC though). You continue to press on with your North American tour (which you laughably tout as “family, fun entertainment”). You do so because you still have supporters. You still have people who refuse to believe you’re a serial rapist. You still have people who think your carefully crafted media image represents the type of person you are. I know that there are many people, especially African-Americans, who are having difficulty reconciling the idea of a much-loved, well-respected icon being a rapist. The doors you’ve opened for others, the paths you’ve helped pave, the barriers you’ve helped shatter…these are things that people rightly appreciate. Hell, I appreciate the work you’ve done.

However.

In spite of your accomplishments, you are still a human being. You are not a peerless paragon of perfection untainted by human foibles. You are a complex, flawed, human being. Your flaws exist alongside your accomplishments. You are the first African-American to star in a weekly prime-time television series. You are also a serial rapist. You brought Cliff Huxtable to life and in the process, presented an image of African-American families that helped shatter racial stereotypes. You are also a peddler of the bullshit that is respectability politics. I recognize that it’s difficult for many out there to view you in this nuanced manner. You’re an icon. You’re an inspiration. You’re a hero. But there’s a problem with that.

Elevating humans to hero status often results in flaws being ignored. Commendable attributes are praised while flaws are rationalized, downplayed, or ignored. Biologist and atheist Richard Dawkins is admired and well-respected in the atheist community for (among other things) helping to lead people away from religion. And yet, he’s a Rape Culture apologist–a fact that many of his supporters deny. The late Mother Teresa is lauded the world over as a saint and a hero who did much to help poor people and those in need. In response to the question “Do you teach the poor to endure their lot?“, Mother Teresa once said “I think it is very beautiful for the poor to accept their lot, to share it with the passion of Christ. I think the world is being much helped by the suffering of the poor people“. Despite Mother Teresa’s endorsement of human suffering as a good thing (or any of the other criticisms against her), there are many people who still view her as a saint whose shit smelled like roses. Even after allegations of doping arose, fans across the world continued to idolize Lance Armstrong, refusing to entertain the idea that the seven-time Tour de France winner used drugs to enhance his performance. I suspect that even after his admission of drug use, he still has supporters. Elevating humans to iconic or heroic status brings with it the danger of their follies being ignored, rationalized, or even outright ignored. What’s worse, when that icon or hero is discovered to have done something decidedly unheroic-like say, sexually assaulting 36 women-it can be difficult for some to accept that the person they admired and held up as virtuous is actually a flawed human being. That’s a problem currently facing Lee Daniels, co-creator of the television series ‘Empire‘. Daniels recently sat down for an interview with CNNs very own peddler of respectability politics, Don Lemon:

“It is very, very hard, and what bothers me most is if there is an iota of truth to this … the one person of color that means the most to me is pulled down,” Daniels told CNN’s Don Lemon on Wednesday. “If he is guilty, it says that we are human, which is what I like to examine with every character that I breathe life to. We are not black, it is not white — it’s grey. We are all complicated, and we all like to point fingers and drag people down and drag people through the mud when stuff ain’t right. What’s fascinating is it’s not going to change. I pray for him. I pray for him. I’m sad. I am wrecked by it, I am gutted by it. He’s a man. And the victims, you know?”

Oh dear Isis, where to start? Oh yeah, with his doubt over the accusations. “If there is an iota of truth to this” indicates that Daniels is uncertain whether or not Cosby is a rapist. Unfortunately, that means he still has doubts about whether 36 women are being truthful. Remember upthread when I discussed believing rape victims? This is what Daniels needs to do. No one is asking him to place Bill Cosby in the mental file marked rapist for all time and never adjust his opinion of the guy. We’re saying “believe the women”. If it turns out that all 36 of them are lying, then he can adjust his opinion. If we’re ever going to see a reduction in incidents of rape and sexual assault, it is vital that we support victims.

Then there’s the confusing comment “if he’s guilty, it says that we are human…”. Whether he’s guilty or innocent doesn’t change the biological fact that Bill Cosby is a human being. He’s not some highly advanced human who no longer has flaws. He’s not an evolutionary offshoot of humanity. He’s not some non-human species of animal. This is exactly why it’s problematic to have heroes. No matter what he’s done, Cosby is still a human being. Understand that Mr. Daniels, and you might begin to understand how Bill Cosby can be both an inspiration and a sexual predator.

As for the rest, I’ll simply restate what I said elsewhere:

I’m sad too.
I’m sad for the 36 women who were sexually assaulted or raped by Bill Cosby.
I’m sad that according to Jennifer Lee Pryor (widow of the late Richard Pryor) Cosby’s actions were a well-kept secret in Hollywood.
I’m sad that people around the world are leaping to the defense of a man they know precious little about, and are taking his word over the word of 3 dozen women (implying in the process that they are lying and he is being truthful). Given the rape statistics which are readily available to anyone reading this, it makes far more sense to believe victims when they allege that they were attacked (and if it turns out that a victim is lying-which doesn’t happen anywhere near as often as too many people believe–you amend your opinion).
I’m sad that so many people still think of rapists as “men who jump out of the bushes and attack random women”, rather than people whom the victims know.
I’m sad that Bill Cosby likely won’t face the inside of a prison cell.
I’m sad that people think Bill Cosby is just like the warm, affable, fictional characters he’s played on television shows.
So yeah, I’m with you on the sadness. Not the prayer thing though. That’s a complete waste of time.

I’ll add one more thing: I’m not sad for Bill Cosby. He’s a scumbag.

I'm sad too, but not for Bill Cosby