Men are part of the problem. Let's change that.

A new article and video over at Mic highlights some of the core issues at the heart of Rape Culture. The video, a joint effort between Vine star Chaz Smith and the One Student project, discusses the disrespect for and the entitlement to women’s bodies felt by many men. By way of a sports analogy, the video makes the point that a patriarchal culture (such as ours) filled with toxic ideas about masculinity teaches men to be the aggressors and women to be on the defensive. On the defense from what you might ask? Think about the following:

When women are catcalled on the streets, who is doing the catcalling?

When women are sexually assaulted what group commits the vast majority of assaults?

The answer to both questions is M E N (I dearly hope there are no fools reading this who think I’ve just said “all men harass and sexually assault women”, bc that’s not what I’ve done. If you are one of those fools, learn to read for comprehension). As men are part of the problem, that also means that men are part of the solution. An essential part. How is catcalling going to end unless men stop engaging in such harassment? How are incidents of sexual assault against women going to diminish without men making the choice to stop sexually assaulting women? The video raises questions of this nature (and more). Listen for yourself:

While watching the video, I was reminded of an incident a few years ago. But first:

Disclaimer:

I am about to share a story with readers.

A story with an ending I played a role in.

Before I share this story though, I want to make one thing clear:

I am not asking for a cookie. My participation in the resolution of this situation was wholly an attempt on my part to do what I felt was the right thing.

Back in 2012, a friend and co-worker of mine-Rachel (not her real name)-confided in me that she was sexually assaulted by the General Manager of the restaurant we both worked at. Our restaurant occasionally made deliveries of food and on this occasion, Rachel and GM went together. On their return trip, Rachel said GM attempted to kiss her. While he failed at that attempt, he did succeed in groping her breast. When they returned to work, Rachel told me what happened.

I did not ask her if she led him on.

I did not question her attire.

I did not blame her.

I did tell her that I believed her and asked what she wanted to do about it. She said she was unsure and I suggested contacting the Regional Supervisor of the restaurant. Rachel was hesitant at first, so I told her if she wanted I could ask the RS how allegations of sexual assault are handled by the company. She agreed to that, and shortly thereafter, I spoke with RS (but did not reveal anything about Rachel’s situation). He said the company takes such allegations seriously and encourages employees to speak up if they’ve been assaulted. I told Rachel this, and she agreed to talk to RS. After she told him about being assaulted, RS asked her to meet with him and discuss what she wanted to do. Rachel agreed to this on the condition that I be there in the meeting (she later said she wanted me there for support). RS agreed to that, as did I. During the meeting, I sat silently in a chair close to the two of them and simply listened. I only spoke when either of them directed a question at me.

The meeting happened on a Friday. Over the weekend, Rachel expressed concerns about her job. If GM was not fired or sent to another restaurant, what would she do? She didn’t want to remain at a job where she would have to work with someone who sexually assaulted her and might do so again. Would she tough it out and remain working there and deal with/try to avoid asshole GM? Find another job? Thankfully she didn’t have to give thought to those questions for long. The following Monday, when I came to work, I learned that GM was fired for sexually harassing Rachel. I have to admit that I was somewhat surprised given that allegations of sexual harassment and assault are routinely dismissed. Nonetheless, I was pleased at the outcome. More importantly, Rachel was very glad to know that GM had been terminated.

As with many men, GM displayed a lack of respect for a woman’s body and a sense that he is entitled to a woman’s body. If he had respect for Rachel’s body, he would not have sexually assaulted her. Without his sense of entitlement to women’s bodies, I doubt he’d have tried to touch Rachel in a sexual manner without her consent. His beliefs are a product of a culture that devalues women-their bodies, their lives, their accomplishments. These toxic ideas of masculinity harm women and men. They need to be countered, especially by men. We’ve been part of the problem for too long now. It’s time to be part of the solution and here are a few things that can help:

  • supporting and believing victims of sexual assault and rape
  • refusing to engage in victim blaming and criticizing those who do
  • educating yourself and others on bodily autonomy and the importance of consent
  • not harassing women on the streets and criticizing those who do
  • re-examining your beliefs about entitlement to the bodies of others
  • ensuring that all sexual activities you take part in involve consenting adults
Men are part of the problem. Let's change that.
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Men are part of the problem. Let’s change that.

A new article and video over at Mic highlights some of the core issues at the heart of Rape Culture. The video, a joint effort between Vine star Chaz Smith and the One Student project, discusses the disrespect for and the entitlement to women’s bodies felt by many men. By way of a sports analogy, the video makes the point that a patriarchal culture (such as ours) filled with toxic ideas about masculinity teaches men to be the aggressors and women to be on the defensive. On the defense from what you might ask? Think about the following:

When women are catcalled on the streets, who is doing the catcalling?

When women are sexually assaulted what group commits the vast majority of assaults?

The answer to both questions is M E N (I dearly hope there are no fools reading this who think I’ve just said “all men harass and sexually assault women”, bc that’s not what I’ve done. If you are one of those fools, learn to read for comprehension). As men are part of the problem, that also means that men are part of the solution. An essential part. How is catcalling going to end unless men stop engaging in such harassment? How are incidents of sexual assault against women going to diminish without men making the choice to stop sexually assaulting women? The video raises questions of this nature (and more). Listen for yourself:

While watching the video, I was reminded of an incident a few years ago. But first:

Disclaimer:

I am about to share a story with readers.

A story with an ending I played a role in.

Before I share this story though, I want to make one thing clear:

I am not asking for a cookie. My participation in the resolution of this situation was wholly an attempt on my part to do what I felt was the right thing.

Back in 2012, a friend and co-worker of mine-Rachel (not her real name)-confided in me that she was sexually assaulted by the General Manager of the restaurant we both worked at. Our restaurant occasionally made deliveries of food and on this occasion, Rachel and GM went together. On their return trip, Rachel said GM attempted to kiss her. While he failed at that attempt, he did succeed in groping her breast. When they returned to work, Rachel told me what happened.

I did not ask her if she led him on.

I did not question her attire.

I did not blame her.

I did tell her that I believed her and asked what she wanted to do about it. She said she was unsure and I suggested contacting the Regional Supervisor of the restaurant. Rachel was hesitant at first, so I told her if she wanted I could ask the RS how allegations of sexual assault are handled by the company. She agreed to that, and shortly thereafter, I spoke with RS (but did not reveal anything about Rachel’s situation). He said the company takes such allegations seriously and encourages employees to speak up if they’ve been assaulted. I told Rachel this, and she agreed to talk to RS. After she told him about being assaulted, RS asked her to meet with him and discuss what she wanted to do. Rachel agreed to this on the condition that I be there in the meeting (she later said she wanted me there for support). RS agreed to that, as did I. During the meeting, I sat silently in a chair close to the two of them and simply listened. I only spoke when either of them directed a question at me.

The meeting happened on a Friday. Over the weekend, Rachel expressed concerns about her job. If GM was not fired or sent to another restaurant, what would she do? She didn’t want to remain at a job where she would have to work with someone who sexually assaulted her and might do so again. Would she tough it out and remain working there and deal with/try to avoid asshole GM? Find another job? Thankfully she didn’t have to give thought to those questions for long. The following Monday, when I came to work, I learned that GM was fired for sexually harassing Rachel. I have to admit that I was somewhat surprised given that allegations of sexual harassment and assault are routinely dismissed. Nonetheless, I was pleased at the outcome. More importantly, Rachel was very glad to know that GM had been terminated.

As with many men, GM displayed a lack of respect for a woman’s body and a sense that he is entitled to a woman’s body. If he had respect for Rachel’s body, he would not have sexually assaulted her. Without his sense of entitlement to women’s bodies, I doubt he’d have tried to touch Rachel in a sexual manner without her consent. His beliefs are a product of a culture that devalues women-their bodies, their lives, their accomplishments. These toxic ideas of masculinity harm women and men. They need to be countered, especially by men. We’ve been part of the problem for too long now. It’s time to be part of the solution and here are a few things that can help:

  • supporting and believing victims of sexual assault and rape
  • refusing to engage in victim blaming and criticizing those who do
  • educating yourself and others on bodily autonomy and the importance of consent
  • not harassing women on the streets and criticizing those who do
  • re-examining your beliefs about entitlement to the bodies of others
  • ensuring that all sexual activities you take part in involve consenting adults
Men are part of the problem. Let’s change that.

How many allegations will it take for people to believe Bill Cosby is a rapist?

“O you who believe, if you borrow until a delayed period then you will write it amongst you, and let he who is an official record keeper write between you, and let him not refuse to write as God has commanded it. And when he writes, let he who has borrowed give the details of the transaction and he shall fear his Lord God and not omit anything. If the one who has borrowed is not fit, or if he is weak, or if he can’t complete the information; then let he who is responsible for him fill-in on his behalf. And you shall have TWO witnesses from your men, and if they are not two men then let them be ONE man and TWO women from those whose testimony you accept, so if one of them is misguided , then one will remind the other…..” (2/282)

As you can see from this excerpt from the Islamic holy book, the Quran, it takes two women to equal the testimony of one man. Yeah, that’s sexist as all get out, but compared to Bill Cosby’s rape allegation deniers, that’s downright enlightened. In the comments sections of article after article, you can find Cosby’s defenders vehemently denying the accusations against him. There’s even a Facebook page titled ‘Bill Cosby is innocent until proven guilty’ (yeah, these people, like many USAmericans do not understand that ‘innocent til proven guilty’ only applies to the inside of a courtroom). None of them has a shred of evidence to support their opinion. I suspect they’re basing their opinion on Cosby’s body of work as if his portrayal of Cliff Huxtable or his comedic skills somehow means he can’t be a rapist.  Just because he is/was a successful comedian…just because he portrayed a warm, loving father on the Cosby Show, that makes him NOT a rapist?  Uh-uh. That’s not how that works. In fact, his body of work has nothing whatsoever to do with whether or not he raped anyone. The flip side of these views, of course, is that all those women and their allegations? They’re lying liars who lie. No, we don’t live in a rape culture where people automatically assume women are lying when they claim they were raped. Le sigh.

Random commenters on the Internet are not the only people leaping to the defense of Cosby.  Some of his former co-workers and other celebrities have also jumped to his defense.  Phylicia Rashad (who played Claire Huxtable on the Cosby Show) recently broke her silence on the subject:

She stands defiantly behind him. She told me that in the years she’s known him, she has never seen the behavior alleged by the women who say they were drugged and raped, or sexually harassed.

Why would she expect to see such behavior? In virtually all the cases, the assaults happened with no witnesses. Of course she wouldn’t have seen any such behavior! He drugged and assaulted these women in private.

Rashad said:  “What you’re seeing is the destruction of a legacy. And I think it’s orchestrated. I don’t know why or who’s doing it, but it’s the legacy. And it’s a legacy that is so important to the culture.”

No, what you’re seeing is women who have decided to remain silent no longer. They’ve been harmed by him, and kept quiet, sometimes for decades. As more women spoke up, those who were silent found the courage to speak up, despite the inevitable backlash from Cosby’s fans.

Rashad dismisses claims from both Beverly Johnson and Janice Dickinson. “Oh, please,” she said when their names came up. She also is quick to defend Camille Cosby. “This is a tough woman, a smart woman,” she told me. “She’s no pushover.” There is no question, Rashad said, that Camille Cosby has not been complicit or looked the other way as her husband terrorized women for the last 50 years.

“Oh please”? Well, I guess that is all that is needed to refute Johnson and Dickinson. Oh, wait. No. It’s fucking not. I’m so tired of people automatically assuming women are lying when they allege that they were raped. This is one of the reasons so many women don’t speak up, because people assume they’re lying. If no one is going to believe you, then why speak up? What justice can be had if you’re treated as a liar?

She said, “Someone is determined to keep Bill Cosby off TV,” alluding to people other than the women. “And it’s worked. All his contracts have been cancelled.”

Good. Rapists should not get their own television shows.

We talked more about the legacy of The Cosby Show. “This show represented America to the outside world. This was the American family. And now you’re seeing it being destroyed. Why?”

The ‘Cosby Show’ has not been destroyed. It still exists. It still had a tremendous impact on how African-Americans are viewed in this country. It’s still a landmark series that helped show that Black people were just as diverse as white people, and I’m sure it helped chip away at some of the prejudices held by many USAmericans.

She said Cosby himself is probably too proud to raise a defense. I countered that his silence reminded me of how Jerry Lewis reacted whe, after 50 years. the Muscular Dystrophy Association treated him like dirt. He refused to fight back. To quote a popular song from the 70s: “If you don’t know me by now, you will never never know me.”

Cosby has mounted a defense, via his legal team. That defense has consisted of exactly the same shit Rashad has said: those women are lying.

So what to do about Cosby’s accusers? Rashad feels strongly that some other force is at play– for some reason, Cosby’s great strides in education, as well as show business, are being ruined so that new generations will only remember him by this scandal. And what about a defense from the man himself? “If he spoke now, what do you think the media would do with it?” Rashad asked. And let’s face it, she’s right about that.

This is so damn sad. It’s easier to believe in a far-reaching, vast conspiracy spanning decades and involving over 30 women than it is to believe that Bill Cosby is a serial rapist.  Uh huh.

Artist Jill Scott has also defended the comedian:

It’s great that you know him, buuuuuuuut…I hate to break this to you, rapes are often committed by people the victim knows. According to RAINN:

Approximately 2/3 of rapes were committed by someone known to the victim.
73% of sexual assaults were perpetrated by a non-stranger.
38% of rapists are a friend or acquaintance.
28% are an intimate.
7% are a relative.

So this “I knew him and you didn’t, therefore he’s not a rapist” is naught but bullshit.

Camille and Evin Cosby (wife and daughter of the comedian) also defended him, saying:

“He is a kind man, a generous man, a funny man,” Cosby’s wife Camille said in a statement first reported by CBS on Monday. “A different man has been portrayed in the media over the last two months. It is the portrait of a man I do not know.”

Cosby’s youngest daughter, Evin, followed up by praising her parents in a lengthy Facebook post.

Then, in a statement obtained by Access Hollywood on Tuesday, Evin said this:

“He is the father you thought you knew. The Cosby Show was my today’s TV reality show. Thank you. That’s all I would like to say :)”

I fully understand why family members would be in denial. But for all that they love, respect, and trust him…well, I’d point to those RAINN statistics again. I’m sure he has been loving and respectful to his family, but he’s also been a serial rapist.

While Cosby’s defenders are busy denying the allegations against him, the number of victims has continued to rise (33 named women have spoken up). Cindra Ladd is the latest woman to publicly accuse Cosby of rape:

In 1969 I met Bill Cosby while working in New York for the late film producer Ray Stark. I was a 21-year-old single woman in the world’s most exciting city. He was a 32-year-old internationally known comedian and television star, one of the most likeable and popular entertainers in the business. He asked for my number and I gave it to him.

We began hanging out, took in a movie, watched television and ate pizza and hot dogs in my apartment with my roommate. He was married to his current wife and he acted like a perfect gentleman who didn’t come on to either of us, which, I have to admit, made me wonder what his objective was.

One night we were going out to a movie. We agreed to meet at an apartment that he said belonged to a friend of his. I had a terrible headache but didn’t want to cancel the evening. He told me he had a miracle cure his doctor had given him that would get rid of the headache. He went into another room and came back with a capsule. I asked a couple of times what it was. Each time he reassured me, asking, “Don’t you trust me?” Of course I did. This was Bill Cosby.

For more than 45 years I have tried to recall exactly what happened that night. To this day it remains a blur. I have a vague recollection of feeling like I was floating while walking through Times Square and watching some kind of Japanese samurai movie with him. I don’t remember where the theater was nor very much of the evening.

What I do recall, vividly and clearly, is waking up the next morning nude in the bed of his friend’s apartment and seeing Cosby wearing a white terrycloth bathrobe and acting as if there was nothing unusual. It was obvious to me that he had had sex with me. I was horrified, embarrassed and ashamed. There was a mirror above the bed, which shocked me further.

To Cosby’s defenders, Ladd is lying. She has an agenda. She is part of a vast conspiracy to keep Cosby off of television. To me, she is a brave woman who spoke up about being drugged and raped by a man whom many people continue to hold up as an icon.

I have to wonder, how long will people continue to think he’s a great man? Can you watch this clip and still think of Cosby as a good man who would never violate the boundaries of women and ignore their consent?

(source)

As Jay Leno said when he spoke about the allegations surrounding Billy Cosby, why is it so hard to believe women?


For a no-holds-barred skewering of Cosby, check out the second episode of Larry Willmore’s Nightly Show.

How many allegations will it take for people to believe Bill Cosby is a rapist?

Bill Cosby is not being intimidated

Over at U.S. News & World Report, Peter Roff shares his thoughts on the sexual assault and rape allegations surrounding Bill Cosby. In his eyes, the court of public opinion has intimidated Bill Cosby:

Now that he stands accused of heinous acts against women, it has severely tarnished his star. I don’t know if he’s guilty as alleged; I don’t know that he’s guilty at all. What I do know is he is a very big target with an even bigger bankroll and that things may not be as they seem. There are two sides to every story, and he has yet to tell his. Is it possible that some people have come forward to tell a story because they see a big payday at the end of it all? Sure – just as it is possible that he did everything he is now accused of. What is important is that people keep, as Cosby himself has urged, an open mind.

I couldn’t find a way to comment over at U.S. News & World Report, otherwise, I’d have given Mr. Roff a piece of my mind.
Cosby is NOT…I repeat NOT…urging anyone to keep an open mind. What he’s doing is asking people to dismiss the allegations of 24+ women*.  Why should we dismiss their claims? Why should we believe that the claims are outrageous or nonsensical? I suspect he’s appealing to his public image. A public image shaped largely by (IMO) the character of Cliff Huxtable. A character who was warm, affable, and lovable. A character that many people view as interchangeable with Bill Cosby himself. If Cliff Huxtable was no rapist, then Bill Cosby is no rapist.

Logic. Logic. Wherefore art thou, logic?

Meanwhile, those who have come to his defense have been marginalized or shunned. TV Land has pulled “Cosby Show” reruns from its lineup; a planned sitcom with Cosby has allegedly been shelved; and his schedule of appearances seems to have been curtailed. In the court of public opinion, he has been found guilty without trial on the basis of how the media has hyped the allegations made against him.

Oh dear. A tv network removed the “Cosby Show” as a way to distance themselves from a celebrity accused of sexual assault and rape. OMG! That’s like, the worst of the worst that could happen to Cosby.
And, once again, someone whines about the public judging the actions of an individual as if the public has the same power as a court of law. Mr. Roff might be shocked to learn this but:

The “court” of public opinion ain’t a real courtroom.

The standards of a courtroom exist to offer protection to the accused. To ensure that they receive a fair trial, bc the outcome of a trial can determine the future freedom, or even the very life (depending on the case), of the accused. The decisions civilians make don’t hold the same power. We don’t have the power to imprison him. We don’t have the power to take his money and dispense it to his victims. We don’t have the power to sentence him to death. We are not bound by the rules of the courtroom bc the most power we have over Cosby is making him a social pariah. Not buying his books. Not watching his tv shows. Not watching his stand-up performances.

Also, I love how he plays the anti-media card. The media hasn’t “hyped” the stories of the 24 women who have come forward to tell their stories. The media has given voices to these women. The media has allowed these women to tell their stories. The women have been granted a platform to tell their stories. The media does this. Moreover, to the best of my knowledge, none of the articles I’ve read about the various allegations has offered any judgement of Bill Cosby.

Given how Mr. Roff criticizes the media for doing nothing more than reporting on these allegations, it seems to me, he’d prefer they NOT have done so. IOW…the stories of sexual assault and rape victims are not newsworthy material. They should not be reported on.  At least that’s my take-away from Roff’s whining.

*I’d also like to point out that dismissing or ignoring the claims of victims of sexual assault or rape is one of the many manifestations of Rape Culture in our society.

Bill Cosby is not being intimidated

3 more women come forward with accusations against Bill Cosby

At last count 23 women had stepped forward and accused comedian Bill Cosby of drugging, sexually assaulting, or raping them. That number has risen by three more. In an article at Vanity Fair, former supermodel Beverly Johnson revealed that Cosby drugged her in the 80s:

Looking back, that first invite from Cosby to his home seems like part of a perfectly laid out plan, a way to make me feel secure with him at all times. It worked like a charm. Cosby suggested I come back to his house a few days later to read for the part. I agreed, and one late afternoon the following week I returned. His staff served a light dinner and Bill and I talked more about my plans for the future.

After the meal, we walked upstairs to a huge living area of his home that featured a massive bar. A huge brass espresso contraption took up half the counter. At the time, it seemed rare for someone to have such a machine in his home for personal use.

Cosby said he wanted to see how I handled various scenes, so he suggested that I pretend to be drunk. (When did a pregnant woman ever appear drunk on The Cosby Show? Probably never, but I went with it.)

As I readied myself to be the best drunk I could be, he offered me a cappuccino from the espresso machine. I told him I didn’t drink coffee that late in the afternoon because it made getting to sleep at night more difficult. He wouldn’t let it go. He insisted that his espresso machine was the best model on the market and promised I’d never tasted a cappuccino quite like this one.

It’s nuts, I know, but it felt oddly inappropriate arguing with Bill Cosby so I took a few sips of the coffee just to appease him.

Now let me explain this: I was a top model during the 70s, a period when drugs flowed at parties and photo shoots like bottled water at a health spa. I’d had my fun and experimented with my fair share of mood enhancers. I knew by the second sip of the drink Cosby had given me that I’d been drugged—and drugged good.

[Editor’s Note: Cosby’s attorneys did not respond to Vanity Fair’s requests for comment.]

My head became woozy, my speech became slurred, and the room began to spin nonstop. Cosby motioned for me to come over to him as though we were really about to act out the scene. He put his hands around my waist, and I managed to put my hand on his shoulder in order to steady myself.

As I felt my body go completely limp, my brain switched into automatic-survival mode. That meant making sure Cosby understood that I knew exactly what was happening at that very moment.

“You are a motherfucker aren’t you?”

That’s the exact question I yelled at him as he stood there holding me, expecting me to bend to his will. I rapidly called him several more “motherfuckers.” By the fifth, I could tell that I was really pissing him off. At one point he dropped his hands from my waist and just stood there looking at me like I’d lost my mind.

What happened next is somewhat cloudy for me because the drug was in fuller play by that time. I recall his seething anger at my tirade and then him grabbing me by my left arm hard and yanking all 110 pounds of me down a bunch of stairs as my high heels clicked and clacked on every step. I feared my neck was going to break with the force he was using to pull me down those stairs.

It was still late afternoon and the sun hadn’t completely gone down yet. When we reached the front door, he pulled me outside of the brownstone and then, with his hand still tightly clenched around my arm, stood in the middle of the street waving down taxis.

When one stopped, Cosby opened the door, shoved me into it and slammed the door behind me without ever saying a word. I somehow managed to tell the driver my address and before blacking out, I looked at the cabbie and asked, as if he knew: “Did I really just call Bill Cosby ‘a motherfucker’?”

Why that was even a concern of mine after what I’d just been through is still a mystery to me? I think my mind refused to process it.

The next day I woke up in my own bed after falling into a deep sleep that lasted most of the day. I had no memory of how I got into my apartment or into my bed, though most likely my doorman helped me out.

I sat in there still stunned by what happened the night before, confused and devastated by the idea that someone I admired so much had tried to take advantage of me, and used drugs to do so. Had I done something to encourage his actions?

In reality, I knew I’d done nothing to encourage Cosby but my mind kept turning with question after question.

It took a few days for the drug to completely wear off and soon I had to get back to work. I headed to California for an acting audition. Not long after arriving, I decided I needed to confront Cosby for my own sanity’s sake. I thought if I just called him, he would come clean and explain why he’d done what he had.

I dialed the private number he’d given me expecting to hear his voice on the other end. But he didn’t answer. His wife did. A little shocked, I quickly identified myself to her in the most respectful way possible and then asked to speak to Bill. Camille politely informed me that it was very late, 11:00 P.M. and that they were both in bed together.

I apologized for the late call and explained that I was in Los Angeles and had forgotten about the three-hour time difference. I added that I would call back tomorrow.

I didn’t call back the next day or any other day after that. At a certain moment it became clear that I would be fighting a losing battle with a powerful man so callous he not only drugged me, but he also gave me the number to the bedroom he shared with his wife. How could I fight someone that boldly arrogant and out of touch? In the end, just like the other women, I had too much to lose to go after Bill Cosby. I had a career that would no doubt take a huge hit if I went public with my story and I certainly couldn’t afford that after my costly divorce and on going court fees.

For a long time I thought it was something that only happened to me, and that I was somehow responsible. So I kept my secret to myself, believing this truth needed to remain in the darkness. But the last four weeks have changed everything, as so many women have shared similar stories, of which the press have belatedly taken heed.

Then there’s Chloe Goins:

One woman in particular who will sit down with LAPD is Chloe Goins. The 24-year-old model recently claimed that Cosby, now 77, spiked her drink and attacked her back in 2008 at the Playboy Mansion.

“I have had lengthy communications with the Los Angeles Police Department and there is now a definitive open investigation which is ongoing for, it’s my understanding, not only with Chloe’s case but other unnamed victims who have yet to be revealed publicly,” Mr. Kuvin added. “They want to get all their information first before sitting down and having an interview with Chloe about her incident. This is scheduled to happen early in the new year.”

Another woman, by the name of Lisa, has also come forward:

In an exclusive interview with Dr. Phil, Lisa speaks out for the first time about her alleged experience as a 21-year-old aspiring model when she says Cosby offered to help her career. She joins more than 20 women who have come forward in the media claiming that the legendary actor drugged and/or sexually assaulted them years ago.

“I was very excited to go and see him. I was star struck. I felt invincible. I couldn’t believe that he wanted to see me,” Lisa tells Dr. Phil. “I got to the hotel, he was a gentlemen and he was respectful and kind. And he seemed very interested in me, and that made me feel very secure in seeing him again … My mother trusted Bill completely.”

But Lisa claims he ended up betraying that trust during a mentoring session in his hotel suite.

 […]

“He made a second drink and had me drink the second drink as well,” she recalls. “I noticed myself getting a little dizzy. Bill had sat down on the edge of the couch. He said, ‘Come over here and have a seat.’ And he had his legs open and when I sat down, I was sitting down in between his legs with my back to his crotch. And he started to stroke my hair back in a petting motion like this. The last thing I remember is just feeling the strokes on my head. After that, I don’t remember anything else.”

Dr. Phil asks, “Do you know if he molested you in some way, do you know, you don’t really know what did happen?”

“No,” responds Lisa, who says she is coming forward after Janice Dickinson’s allegations against Cosby made Lisa concerned for what may have happened to her.

Cosby has remained largely silent in the face of these allegations, apparently at the behest of his lawyers. He did speak up recently with some advice for black media:

Bill Cosby broke his silence Friday, albeit briefly, to lecture the media on remaining “neutral” and to say that his wife is standing by him.

Reached at his Massachusetts home, the star declined to address the rape and sex abuse allegations from an ever-growing list of women that now includes supermodel Beverly Johnson.

Instead, Cosby, 77, said that the African-American media — for which this reporter often writes — should be impartial.

“Let me say this. I only expect the black media to uphold the standards of excellence in journalism and when you do that you have to go in with a neutral mind,” Cosby said.

Two thoughts:

1- A ‘neutral mind’? In the articles I’ve read about the ever-mounting allegations, I haven’t seen the media taking sides. I’ve seen them interviewing the women who have stepped forward with these claims. I guess in Cosby’s eyes, the mere fact that the media is reporting on the subject somehow shows a bias against him.  That’s not true in the slightest.  His call for black media to have a neutral mind sounds to me like someone who wants to silence the women who have bravely stepped forward.

2- In the wake of these allegations, Cosby has been pressed by the media, but aside from his lawyers dismissing the accusations as preposterous, he’s said nothing of substance. He hasn’t personally refuted these women, and even if he did, his word shouldn’t (and in my eyes doesn’t) outweigh even one of these women, let alone 24 of them.  I suspect he’s gambling on the affection the black community has for him, hoping that the love of Cliff Huxtable…the love of the guy who created Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids…the love of the guy who criticizes black men for wearing their pants “down around the crack”…all that love is enough for people to dismiss the charges against him.  Can’t speak for anyone else, but that’s not the case for me.  It doesn’t matter what accomplishments he has. It doesn’t matter how popular he is. It doesn’t matter how beloved he is. At the end of the day this is a question of whether or not to believe the accusations against him.  Me, I believe them.

3 more women come forward with accusations against Bill Cosby

Feminist Link Round Up 12.11.14

If catcalling is harmless, why did this man get stabbed 9 times defending his girlfriend from street harassment?

“It barely missed my spinal cord in the back by just a few inches, so luckily this wheelchair is not permanent, thank God,” he said. “I punctured my right lung from behind.”

Schwartz was stabbed nine times Saturday morning walking home from a friend’s house, with his girlfriend. They were near Larkin and Ellis streets when he said a man started catcalling and making obscene comments.

“At first we tried to just ignore it, just kind of walk away and make our way home, cross the street and try to take a different path,” he said.

But the man started following them and Schwartz braced for a fight.

“It turned violent very quickly, punches thrown,” he said. “Next thing I know, I kinda had a knife in the back of my neck.”

The suspect was picked up in a silver sedan and got away. Between witnesses and police Schwartz got help and was taken to the hospital. His mother came in from Tucson, Ariz. as fast as she could.

“It’s a terrifying experience for a parent or probably anybody who hears about it,” Schwartz’s mother Claire Schuren said.

If catcalling and street harassment are harmless, why did any violence occur at all? This is why the advice to ignore the problem doesn’t always work.  Sometimes ignoring the problem results in violence. Sometimes it doesn’t. There’s no way of knowing what will happen in a given situation. Instead of telling women how to handle street harassment, efforts need to be made to teach people not to harass women on the street.

* * * *

A court in the UK ruled that drinking while pregnant is not a crime.

The case was brought by a local authority applying to the government’s criminal compensation authority for damages on behalf of a seven-year-old girl in its care who has severe disabilities after her mother drank heavily while pregnant.

“We have held that a mother who is pregnant and who drinks to excess… is not guilty of a criminal offense under our law if her child is subsequently born damaged as a result,” the ruling said.

The local authority’s lawyers had argued that the mother was “reckless” in her behavior by drinking up to half a bottle of vodka and eight cans of strong lager a day while she was pregnant.

While they do not suggest the damage was deliberate, they say she discussed her drinking with professionals and “went on to take the risk.”

The ruling centered on whether a fetus can be considered a person under English law.

Thankfully the court found that a fetus cannot be considered a person.  Which really isn’t that hard a conclusion to reach if you base your conclusions on evidence.  A fetus does not possess agency, nor self-awareness.  A fetus has no sense of the passage of time and exhibits no behavioral control.  There may not be a comprehensive list of agreed upon characteristics that defines what a person is, but there are many qualities associated with personhood.  Aside from being biologically human or having the possibility of becoming a person, no fetus possesses any of the qualities necessary to be deemed a person. As such, it has no rights (and for the abortion argument, it still wouldn’t matter if the fetus was a person with rights; no human being has the right to use another’s body without their consent).

* * * *

Large study confirms that abortion is extremely safe

After analyzing data from nearly 55,000 women who received abortion care under California’s Medicaid program, researchers at UC San Francisco concluded that hardly any of them had serious complications within six weeks of their procedure. Just 126 cases necessitated follow-up care for surgery, a blood transfusion, or other conditions that require hospital admission.

Other studies, including data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have also confirmed abortion’s safety. We already had some evidence, for instance, that giving birth is about 14 times riskier than having an abortion. But the new UCSF study goes a bit further than previous research by tracking the complete data on all of the health care used by women who have received abortions. Since many women have to travel long distances to end a pregnancy, the UCSF researchers also examined women’s follow-up care at facilities closer to where they live.

Despite the mounting evidence in this area, the notion that abortion may be dangerous for women is a pervasive assumption that has bolstered the passage of dozens of state laws tightening restrictions on clinics and doctors. In a press release announcing their findings, the study authors indicated that they hope the new study “will contribute to the national debate over abortion safety.”

“Abortion is very safe as currently performed, which calls into question the need for additional regulations that purportedly aim to improve safety,” said Ushma Upadhyay, an assistant professor at Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH), a leading research program based at UCSF.

Leading reproductive rights groups echoed that sentiment, pointing out that anti-abortion lawmakers are making decisions that don’t align with reality.

“The science says abortion is safe, but time and time again elected officials are ignoring the facts and jamming through abortion restrictions under a false guise of ‘safety’ when they actually endanger women,” Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood, said in a statement.

Sadly this won’t stop anti-abortion proponents from pushing for further abortion restrictions.  These are people who pay no heed to the evidence.  All they care about is shaming and controlling women.

* * * *

Uber offers $31 to woman after driver asks her if she likes blow jobs

A woman in London said she was sexually harassed by an Uber driver who asked if she liked blow jobs and offered to pull down a side street and perform “sucky sucky” on her during her route.

The unidentified woman, who shared emails of her exchange with Uber about the incident with Newsweek, described the March encounter as scary. According to Newsweek, she first contacted Uber after the hellish ride telling the company “Driver was very forward and quite creepy. Asked me if I wanted him to go down on me. Not cool.”

A marketing manager who responded to her complaint via email apologized, referring to the incident with the driver as an “intrusive experience.” The marketing manager then told her the company was “already investigating this with [the driver] and I can assure you that the necessary actions will be taken to avoid a similar incident in future.” The email she received from the company concluded with a thank you to her from bringing the issue to their attention. “[While] painful to hear, it’s the best way for us to address any incidents like this,” it stated.

Dissatisfied with the company’s lukewarm response, she wrote a longer description of what occurred:

She described how, having initially got in the back of the cab the driver invited her to sit in the front, which she agreed to do, feeling car sick. He then started asking about her relationship status before using increasingly inappropriate language:

“Towards the end of the journey he was asking if I liked blow jobs, saying that he was very good at going down on girls or giving “sucky sucky” to girls and did I want him to do it to me. He even suggested that he could pull over into a side street and do it now if I wanted, which was I think the scariest part of the drive.”

She detailed how, as a woman alone in the car, she felt very uncomfortable and if she hadn’t trusted the Uber name she would have got out the car. She concluded the email:

“I am aware that this kind of thing becomes very much a he-said, she-said kind of deal, but I did want to make you aware of it as I feel that people really trust the Uber name (as I do) and my trust was completely violated. I am pretty relaxed and outgoing and I feel that I can take care of myself, and if I felt so uncomfortable I dread to think how a more timid girl would have felt. I won’t be taking this any further but I do implore you to take this quite seriously as I worry for other women who could find themselves in a similar situation.”

She then received another response from a different Uber representative, which said the company was “shocked” to learn about her experience. According to Newsweek, the email stated “while things like this should definitely not happen in the first place, in the unlikely event that they do occur we have the full details of the driver, trip and rider on our systems so that we can immediately investigate any concerns raised.”

The company then offered her a £20 ($31) credit, signing the email “Sorry again for such an un-Uber experience.”

Such a response is what I’d expect if a driver didn’t arrive on time or damaged someone’s luggage, not following a driver sexually harassing a passenger.

* * * *

Chris Rock:  Don’t Forget, Ben Roethlisberger Was Accused of Rape, Too

Chris Rock called out Ben Roethlisberger on Tuesday night, reminding the media and the public that Bill Cosby isn’t the only celebrity whose history of rape allegations was swept under the rug.

During a media screening for his new film, Top Five, Rock called Roethlisberger “the original Cosby,” alluding to the quarterback’s history of rape allegations. Immediately after the comment, Rock realized his comment would probably catch some heat. “That’s horrible,” he said. “That’s gonna go everywhere.” (You can watch a clip of Rock’s comment at TMZ.)

Feminist Link Round Up 12.11.14

The many faces of Rape Culture

Trigger Warning: rape and sexual assault

In the wake of the numerous allegations against Bill Cosby, as well as the allegations against Jian Ghomeshi (who has now been charged with four counts of sexual assault and one count of overcome resistance) people are talking about rape, sexual assault, and Rape Culture.  I know there are many people who deny that Rape Culture exists.  These people tend to think of the term in a literal sense, i.e. “a culture that endorses and promotes rape”.  That is NOT what Rape Culture is.  Rape Culture is defined as:

[…] an environment in which rape is prevalent and in which sexual violence against women is normalized and excused in the media and popular culture.  Rape culture is perpetuated through the use of misogynistic language, the objectification of women’s bodies, and the glamorization of sexual violence, thereby creating a society that disregards women’s rights and safety.

Below are several links that show the many faces of Rape Culture in the United States.

Eminem targets Iggy Azalea with rape threats

In a disturbing one-minute preview of Vegas, a song believed to be on his upcoming album, Eminem graphically depicts violence aimed at Iggy Azalea.

“So what’s it gon’ be? Put that s— away Iggy/You don’t wanna blow that rape whistle on me/Scream!/I love it/’Fore I get lost with the gettin’ off.” he raps in the preview, leaked on Wednesday.

Azalea, herself still fresh from her online feud with Snoop Dogg, has already hit back hard on Twitter.

“im bored of the old men threatening young women as entertainment trend and much more interested in the young women getting $ trend. zzzz, [sic]” the 24-year-old tweeted on Friday morning.

When a popular musician recites lyrics that depict graphic sexualized violence, you know that sexualized violence against women has been normalized in society. This shouldn’t be normal. It shouldn’t be acceptable.  Yet Eminem is insanely popular and people will make excuses for what he says, no matter what vile shit tumbles from his tongue.

* * * *

Staten Island gastropub slammed for selling ‘Roofie Colada’ drink

A New York gastropub has been forced to pull a controversially named “Roofie Colada” dessert drink from its menu after facing online backlash.

The Phunky Elephant, in Staten Island, started catching serious heat last week after complainants claimed that the beverage made fun of date rape, reports SILive.com.

Owner Patricia Gaja said the syrupy concoction was added to the eatery’s list in June and derived from a joke made on the “Family Guy” cartoon.

But critics described it as “harmful” because it “normalized roofies as a date rape drug.”

They also claimed it made it acceptable to joke about a type of behavior that often leads to rape or sexual assault, reports SILive.com

“Even with all that whipped cream you can’t make a rape joke palatable. Roofie Colada = Not Funny,” wrote Lauren Marie Cappello on the restaurant’s Facebook page.

The owner of this restaurant thought it was a cute idea to call the dessert “Roofie Colada”. It’s like she didn’t give any thought to what a roofie is and how it is almost always discussed in society.  Roofies are sedatives that rapists often add to drinks to render their victims incapacitated or unconscious. They are not a laughing matter. They are not a subject to be treated lightly. Certainly, Roofie anything should not be the name of a dessert. Doing so is yet another example of a society in which rape is normalized and trivialized.

 * * * *

A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA

Extra Trigger Warning: graphic discussion of sexual assault

This Rolling Stone article about sexual assault at the University of Virginia is long and detailed.  It is also quite worth the read.  You’ll read about multiple sexual assaults on the campus of UVA and how the victims chose to handle their assaults. You’ll also shake your head in anger and dismay when you read about how UVA officials handled these cases. There is so much quotable material here that I had trouble deciding what to excerpt. I chose the following because it shows how deeply entrenched Rape Culture is in our society.

[S]ipping from a plastic cup, Jackie grimaced, then discreetly spilled her spiked punch onto the sludgy fraternity-house floor. The University of Virginia freshman wasn’t a drinker, but she didn’t want to seem like a goody-goody at her very first frat party – and she especially wanted to impress her date, the handsome Phi Kappa Psi brother who’d brought her here. Jackie was sober but giddy with discovery as she looked around the room crammed with rowdy strangers guzzling beer and dancing to loud music. She smiled at her date, whom we’ll call Drew, a good-looking junior – or in UVA parlance, a third-year – and he smiled enticingly back.

“Want to go upstairs, where it’s quieter?” Drew shouted into her ear, and Jackie’s heart quickened. She took his hand as he threaded them out of the crowded room and up a staircase.

Four weeks into UVA’s 2012 school year, 18-year-old Jackie was crushing it at college. A chatty, straight-A achiever from a rural Virginia town, she’d initially been intimidated by UVA’s aura of preppy success, where throngs of toned, tanned and overwhelmingly blond students fanned across a landscape of neoclassical brick buildings, hurrying to classes, clubs, sports, internships, part-time jobs, volunteer work and parties; Jackie’s orientation leader had warned her that UVA students’ schedules were so packed that “no one has time to date – people just hook up.” But despite her reservations, Jackie had flung herself into campus life, attending events, joining clubs, making friends and, now, being asked on an actual date. She and Drew had met while working lifeguard shifts together at the university pool, and Jackie had been floored by Drew’s invitation to dinner, followed by a “date function” at his fraternity, Phi Kappa Psi. The “upper tier” frat had a reputation of tremendous wealth, and its imposingly large house overlooked a vast manicured field, giving “Phi Psi” the undisputed best real estate along UVA’s fraternity row known as Rugby Road.

Jackie had taken three hours getting ready, straightening her long, dark, wavy hair. She’d congratulated herself on her choice of a tasteful red dress with a high neckline. Now, climbing the frat-house stairs with Drew, Jackie felt excited. Drew ushered Jackie into a bedroom, shutting the door behind them. The room was pitch-black inside. Jackie blindly turned toward Drew, uttering his name. At that same moment, she says, she detected movement in the room – and felt someone bump into her. Jackie began to scream.

“Shut up,” she heard a man’s voice say as a body barreled into her, tripping her backward and sending them both crashing through a low glass table. There was a heavy person on top of her, spreading open her thighs, and another person kneeling on her hair, hands pinning down her arms, sharp shards digging into her back, and excited male voices rising all around her. When yet another hand clamped over her mouth, Jackie bit it, and the hand became a fist that punched her in the face. The men surrounding her began to laugh. For a hopeful moment Jackie wondered if this wasn’t some collegiate prank. Perhaps at any second someone would flick on the lights and they’d return to the party.

“Grab its motherfucking leg,” she heard a voice say. And that’s when Jackie knew she was going to be raped.

She remembers every moment of the next three hours of agony, during which, she says, seven men took turns raping her, while two more – her date, Drew, and another man – gave instruction and encouragement. She remembers how the spectators swigged beers, and how they called each other nicknames like Armpit and Blanket. She remembers the men’s heft and their sour reek of alcohol mixed with the pungency of marijuana. Most of all, Jackie remembers the pain and the pounding that went on and on.

As the last man sank onto her, Jackie was startled to recognize him: He attended her tiny anthropology discussion group. He looked like he was going to cry or puke as he told the crowd he couldn’t get it up. “Pussy!” the other men jeered. “What, she’s not hot enough for you?” Then they egged him on: “Don’t you want to be a brother?” “We all had to do it, so you do, too.” Someone handed her classmate a beer bottle. Jackie stared at the young man, silently begging him not to go through with it. And as he shoved the bottle into her, Jackie fell into a stupor, mentally untethering from the brutal tableau, her mind leaving behind the bleeding body under assault on the floor.

When Jackie came to, she was alone. It was after 3 a.m. She painfully rose from the floor and ran shoeless from the room. She emerged to discover the Phi Psi party still surreally under way, but if anyone noticed the barefoot, disheveled girl hurrying down a side staircase, face beaten, dress spattered with blood, they said nothing. Disoriented, Jackie burst out a side door, realized she was lost, and dialed a friend, screaming, “Something bad happened. I need you to come and find me!” Minutes later, her three best friends on campus – two boys and a girl (whose names are changed) – arrived to find Jackie on a nearby street corner, shaking. “What did they do to you? What did they make you do?” Jackie recalls her friend Randall demanding. Jackie shook her head and began to cry. The group looked at one another in a panic. They all knew about Jackie’s date; the Phi Kappa Psi house loomed behind them. “We have to get her to the hospital,” Randall said.

Their other two friends, however, weren’t convinced. “Is that such a good idea?” she recalls Cindy asking. “Her reputation will be shot for the next four years.” Andy seconded the opinion, adding that since he and Randall both planned to rush fraternities, they ought to think this through. The three friends launched into a heated discussion about the social price of reporting Jackie’s rape, while Jackie stood beside them, mute in her bloody dress, wishing only to go back to her dorm room and fall into a deep, forgetful sleep. Detached, Jackie listened as Cindy prevailed over the group: “She’s gonna be the girl who cried ‘rape,’ and we’ll never be allowed into any frat party again.”

Rape Culture is so deeply entrenched in society that some of Jackie’s “friends” were more worried about her reputation or their status in a fraternity. She was just sexually assaulted and they’re not only sitting around debating what to do, but they’re worried about how her rape will affect them (and why the fuck are they even thinking about their membership in a fraternity in the first place? Is that so much more important than the anguish and pain of a friend)?! Did they ever fucking think about asking Jackie what she wanted to do (I’m not certain about automatically taking her to a hospital either.  I would lean toward doing what the victim wants in this situation)?  Probably not, because they seemed too worried about other bullshit. Reputation and fraternities be damned.

* * * *

In the wake of the above Rolling Stone article, the president of UVA has suspended all fraternities until January 9

Faced with mounting pressure from students, faculty and alumni, University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan suspended all campus fraternities Saturday, an action prompted by a searing magazine account of an alleged 2012 gang rape inside a fraternity house at the school.

The suspension, which includes sororities and other Greek organizations, will continue until Jan. 9, the Friday before the spring semester is to begin, Sullivan said in a statement posted on the university’s Web site.

“In the intervening period we will assemble groups of students, faculty, alumni, and other concerned parties to discuss our next steps in preventing sexual assault and sexual violence on Grounds,” she said, using university parlance for its Charlottesville campus.

Sullivan’s lengthy statement was the most dramatic sign that the 195-year-old university, which prides itself as a bastion of tradition, gentility and honor, was reeling from charges­ that it failed to reckon with a culture of excessive drinking and sexual misconduct on campus.

The article in Rolling Stone magazine, posted online Wednesday, describes a brutal sexual assault that allegedly occurred in the Phi Kappa Psi house. The victim, who was given an alias by the magazine, said a fraternity member led her upstairs during a party and into a dark room, where several men raped her.

On Friday, the magazine published additional accounts from anonymous U-Va. students describing on-campus rapes and an inadequate response from the university officials contacted by the victims.

The university’s Board of Visitors will meet Tuesday to discuss the allegations, as well as policies and procedures on sexual assault, Sullivan said.

One prominent board member, former rector Helen Dragas, posted to the university’s Facebook page to say she had learned that a college friend “had the exact same thing happen to her in a fraternity house.”

“I never knew it,” wrote Dragas, who attended U-Va. in the early 1980s, “and I was really shaken that women were being victimized then, and still are more than thirty years later. This is a serious problem, to say the least. We need to solve it.”

After the suspension was announced, Dragas said in an e-mail that she’d heard “reactions around Grounds ranging from ‘not nearly enough’ to ‘it implies all our sons are guilty.’ ”

Sullivan’s statement came after more than 1,000 students and faculty members signed a letter sent Friday night calling on the president to freeze activities for groups under investigation for sexual assault and for a suspension of Greek-letter organizations throughout the weekend.

Hundreds attended a rally Thursday, and dozens more marched through campus Friday calling for new efforts to combat “rape culture” at the university, according to reports in the student-run Cavalier Daily. On Saturday afternoon, four protesters were arrested for trespassing at the Phi Kappa Psi house, said Lt. Stephen Upman, a Charlottesville police spokesman

“People were unsatisfied with [Sullivan’s] initial response,” said Retsy Holliday, a senior foreign affairs majors who was one of the drafters of the letter. “This was our cry for more action. And she responded.”

* * * *

A selection of supportive responses to the Rolling Stone article

Sadly 
I was also raped at UVA in a frat house in 2013. I reported it through the Sexual Misconduct Board at the University and had it tried in 2014. My evidence included texts calling for help, police testimony consistent with mine, and numerous witnesses. But the University still found him innocent. I found Nicole Eramo very unfeeling as well — sociopathic, almost. She later told me she didn’t believe the studies that showed rapists, in particular, were repeat offenders of this heinous crime. It was a very negative experience to go through — to be raped and then told that your offender was innocent. I even left clothing as I ran out of the frat house that the University gathered as evidence and it was never returned to me. Not that the clothing was important. It wasn’t. The police discouraged me from pursuing it criminally, saying that I didn’t have enough evidence to win. They also told me that I should be cautious about pursuing this formally, since court proceedings and news articles related to my case could spread publicly on the Internet. For privacy reasons (I didn’t want future employers to Google me and see that I brought forward rape charges), I decided to pursue justice through the University. But the outcome of this process was painful and disappointing. I will never stop wondering why UVA so often expels students for academic lying, cheating, and stealing but has never once expelled a student for rap.

Guest D 
My best friend is a survivor of sexual assault at UVA and she has told me numerous times that Dean Eramo was a constant source of support through the entire process. The article is accurate in bringing to light the fact that changes need to be made, however little progress will be made by firing people who are trying to help student.

SK
I am so sorry for what happened to you, Jackie, and I wish I had been brave enough my freshman year to report what happened to me. But fearing the very same things – backlash, no consequences – I chose to stay quiet. I support you, I am proud of you and what you did is going to change lives. You are forcing an administration to admit its wrongdoings, and you are getting national attention, which will help to stop this misogyny, violence and pain from affecting more people. I know that feeling like a martyr is never going to feel as good as the girl you were before this happened to you, but your struggle has significance and you are needed in this world. 

There are 11 more responses. They’re worth reading, but they are rage inducing because they all demonstrate that rape is not treated seriously in our culture. The problems on the campus of UVA reach back decades.  And no, sexual assault is not just a problem on UVA, and no one ever said it was. What has been said is that it IS a problem and it needs to be dealt with rather than swept under the rug. Campus officials need to foster a climate that is supportive towards the victims of sexual assault and they need to ensure that any sexual assault counselors possess sufficient empathy for the job. They need to provide better resources for survivors and they need to stop worrying about the potential damage rape allegations can bring and focus more on the needs of rape victims. They also need mandatory campus wide education on sexual assault.

The many faces of Rape Culture

Awww, poor Bill Cosby…

…Not.

Trigger Warning:  Discussion of rape and sexual assault

Yesterday, I wrote about the rape allegations that surround comedian Bill Cosby.  Barbara BowmanJoan Tarshis and Janice Dickinson are the latest women to come forward accusing Cosby of sexual assault. That makes 15 women to publicly accuse Cosby of sexual assault  (many of the women have similar stories–that Cosby plied them with alcohol, drugged them, and sexually assaulted them).  In that post, I lamented the fact that Cosby won’t be punished for his actions (hell, he won’t even see the inside of a courtroom over the allegations), and that he’s essentially gotten away scot free.  I was hoping that his Netflix deal and/or his planned NBC sitcom would be cancelled.  Not that either would bring any justice to his victims, but I’d love for the man to be shunned by Hollywood. If he can’t be brought to justice, then he can be made to suffer by being ostracized by the entertainment industry.

Lo and behold, a day later and my prayers were answered. Clearly the Flying Spaghetti Monster heard my fervent prayers and made my wishes come true.  Bill Cosby’s NBC show is no longer in development:

NBC has confirmed to HuffPost Entertainment that a planned sitcom project with Bill Cosby is no longer in development. The network had no further comment on the matter. A representative for Cosby was not immediately available for comment.

But that’s not all.  His stand-up Netflix special has been postponed as well:

Netflix says it is postponing Bill Cosby’s upcoming standup comedy special.

A spokesperson for the company says it is postponing the launch of “Bill Cosby 77.” This follows accusations that Cosby has sexually assaulted several women.

But wait.  There’s more.  TV Land will no longer air repeats of ‘The Cosby Show’:

NBC has scrapped a Bill Cosby comedy that was under development and TV Land will stop airing reruns of “The Cosby Show,” moves that came a day after another woman came forward claiming that the once-beloved comic had sexually assaulted her.

NBC spokeswoman Rebecca Marks said Wednesday the Cosby sitcom “is no longer under development.” A TV Land spokesperson said the shows will stop airing immediately for an indefinite time. “The Cosby Show” also was to have been part of a Thanksgiving sitcom marathon.

Good.  More shunning. More ostracizing.  If he can’t be punished, let his ass fade into obscurity.

Awww, poor Bill Cosby…

There will be no further statement

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?”

COSBY: [SILENCE]

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.”

COSBY: [SILENCE]

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.

There will be no further statement

Feminist Link Round Up 11.8.14

MIT releases results of survey on sexual assault

One in six female undergraduates at Massachusetts Institute of Technology who responded to a survey has been sexually assaulted, but fewer than 5 percent reported a sex crime, MIT said.

Five percent of female undergraduates said they had been raped and one in five knew a perpetrator of unwanted sexual behavior, according to the MIT poll, which had a response rate of 35 percent from undergraduate and graduate students.

“Sexual assault violates our core MIT values. It has no place here,” MIT President Rafael Reif wrote in a campus email Monday accompanying the survey results.

MIT, which urged all its students to take the survey on attitudes towards sexual assault, is one of the first U.S. schools to release wide-ranging data on sex crimes on campus.

Lawmakers, activists and students across the United States have been urging a crackdown on sexual assaults on campuses.

MIT emailed the survey to all of its 10,831 undergraduate and graduate students on April 27 – two days before the White House called on colleges and universities to ask students about these matters.

* * * *

Joss Whedon is widely known as a feminist (though not one without problems). From his creation, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, to his support for Anita Sarkeesian, he has made his voice heard in feminist discussions. In a recent interview, he spoke up again, this time sharing his thoughts on why so many people are so angry about feminism.  It’s because something is actually happening:

You know, it’s one of those things that’s always surprising. I was raised by a very strong woman, I didn’t know feminism was actually a thing until I left home and found out the country didn’t run the way my mom’s house did. So I have this goldfish, idiot, forgetful thing in that every time I’m confronted with true misogyny, I’m stunned. I’m like, Really? That’s like, I don’t believe in airplanes. It’s like, What century are you from? I don’t get it. So usually I’m shocked, then occasionally amused, then occasionally extremely not amused, but once I get over the shock, it’s very clear that misogyny in our own culture — and not just where they perform genital mutilation and marry off 10-year-olds — runs so deep. When I see this hate bubbling up towards any kind of progress, my reaction is twofold: First, it’s horror, and then, it’s delight, because you don’t get this kind of anger unless real change is actually happening. It is a chaotic time. It’s an ugly time because change is happening. It would be lovely to be living after the change has happened.

Is change happening?  If so, is that change for the good? I don’t have an answer for either, though I hope Whedon is correct.  As a member of the atheist community, I’ve seen (and taken part in) discussions of women’s rights in the atheist movement. I’ve watched people argue against harassment policies. I’ve watched people argue against the movement being more welcoming to women. I’ve also seen the issue of feminism brought up in the comic book community, which I’ve also taken part in. I’ve read rant after rant of fanboys complain about people advocating for better representation of women in comics. I’ve listened to sexist twerps whine about how men are just as sexually objectified as women in comics (the male power fantasy is not sexual objectification; nevermind that comics have traditionally been aimed at boys and men–do these people not stop to realize that their examples of male sexual objectification-if true-would be aimed at them? Have they forgotten that a great many of them are heterosexual? Think, you fools). I’ve heard about sexism and misogyny in the gaming community (seriously, who hasn’t heard of GamerGate at this point), and the pushback against simple things like improving the treatment of women in video games (which wouldn’t fundamentally change the games, but would make them more welcoming to women, which means increasing the $$, unless legions of misogynistic fuckwits seriously plan on no longer purchasing video games unless female characters are sexualized). I’ve read about feminist issues in the science fiction/fantasy community. I’ve read about feminism in a wide variety of communities, and perhaps that’s a good thing.  This is getting talked about. Women are making their voices heard.  More and more men are speaking up in support of women and making their voices heard too.  It hasn’t been pleasant, don’t get me wrong. But perhaps Whedon is correct.  Maybe all this harassment, misogyny, rape/death threats…maybe it’s a sign that change is in the works. I hope so. I’m tired of women being run out of atheism, chased out of the video game community, or made to feel unwelcome at comic book conventions. Women should be able to participate in society to whatever extent they choose without street harassment, sexual harassment, or the threat of sexual assault or physical harm.

* * * *

 Mitt Romney:  ‘War on Women’? What ‘War on Women’?

47% of Americans pay no income taxes and are dependent on the federal government.

The middle class income is $200-$250K/year.

50% of kids coming out of school can’t get a job.

All those assertions (and more) have been made by Mitt Romney, and all of them are wrong. We can add something new to the list of claims made by Mitt Romney that are wrong:

“This rhetoric about the war on women or the war on one thing or another, I think people are saying, “You know, this just doesn’t carry water anymore.”

Birth Control.

Abortion Rights.

Violence Against Women Act.

The War on Women does indeed hold water. It is an ongoing attempt by the Republican Party to restrict the rights and opportunities of women in the United States. As with other statements made by Mitt Romney, this comment indicates he lacks an understanding of what he’s talking about. It’s especially egregious that a man with his money could be this smugnorant (portmanteau of ‘smug’ and ‘ignorant’).

* * * *

Saudi Arabia may relax ban on women drivers

The Saudi king’s advisory council — whose suggestions are not binding — has recommended that the government lift its ban on female drivers, a member of the council told The Associated Press Friday. Local media subsequently quoted an official denying the report.

There have been years of campaigning against the kingdom’s staunch rejection of any review of the ban. Though they are not obligatory on the government, simply making the recommendation would be a major step after years of the kingdom staunchly rejecting any review of the ban.

There have been small but increasingly bold protests by women who took to their cars over the past year. The driving ban, which is unique in the world, is imposed because the kingdom’s ultraconservative Muslim clerics say “licentiousness” will spread if women drive.

The council member said the Shura Council made the recommendations in a secret, closed session held in the past month. The member spoke on condition of anonymity because the recommendations had not been made public.

After the AP story first appeared, Shura Council spokesman Mohammed al-Muhanna told Al-Riyadh newspaper that reports about “the approval of the council of women driving” are not true.

There was no mention of the recommendation on the Saudi Press Agency, the kingdom’s official state news agency. Al-Muhanna could not be reached directly, and other officials declined to comment publicly.

Under the recommendations outlined by the council member speaking to AP, only women over 30 would be allowed to drive and they would need permission from a male relative — usually a husband or father, but lacking those, a brother or son. They would be allowed to drive from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday through Wednesday and noon to 8 p.m. on Thursday and Friday. It wasn’t immediately clear why the restrictions would be different Thursday and Friday, as the Saudi weekend was changed by royal decree in 2013 to Friday and Saturday.

Similar provisions have been floated as far back as 2008 as conditions for allowing women to eventually drive. It seems that the recommendations last month were building off the earlier studies, now with the additional contributions from women members in the council, appointed by the king last year.

The conditions also require that a woman driver wear conservative dress and no make-up, the official said. Within cities, they can drive without a male relative in the car, but outside of cities, a male is required to be present.

The notion that women should need “permission” to drive, or that they can’t wear whatever the hell they want, or wear make-up is so fucking oppressive and misogynistic.

* * * *

Stop Asking Why the Women Accusing Jian Ghomeshi Didn’t Go to the Cops

We have to face the possibility that in this world, the only one we’ve got, a woman who says she was attacked by a powerful man can’t necessarily expect justice and protection if she goes running to the law. That if she tells, her home address and telephone number will probably be splashed across the Internet where demented ragey misogynists will use them to terrorize her. That she’s not crazy to worry her relationships with her parents, her partners, her friends and colleagues will be forever altered if they hear about it, because lots of people just aren’t emotionally equipped to deal with a loved one going through something like this.

“So why didn’t I do anything?” says Reva Seth, the latest woman to come forward with a story about being attacked by Ghomeshi. “This is the part that I think is so important to understand if we are ever going to change the context in which rape culture and violence against women is perpetuated. I didn’t do anything because it didn’t seem like there was anything to do…And even if I had wanted to do something, as a lawyer, I’m well aware that the scenario was just a “he said/she said” situation. I was aware that I, as a woman who had had a drink or two, shared a joint, had gone to his house willingly and had a sexual past, would be eviscerated. Cultural frameworks on this are powerful.”

So either these nine women are all irresponsible dummies—doesn’t sound like it—or they did what tons of people in their shoes would do. They didn’t tell, because telling can be more painful than not telling. This is depressing, confusing, and awkward, but it’s also what happened.

Those refusing to understand why victims of sexual assault or rape choose not to inform the authorities may think the world is just and fair. That if they really were victimized it would be a simple thing to go to the cops, who would believe them, and arrest the rapist. Then the rapist would be brought up on charges and be convicted of a crime and go to jail.  Sadly, that’s often not how reality works.  The world isn’t fair. It isn’t just. The Just World Fallacy is exactly that.  A fallacy.

Feminist Link Round Up 11.8.14