Bill Cosby Was Our Biggest Mistake
There is no silver lining to this pissed off rant you are about to enter. To be blunt, I am livid and unforgiving to the man I let into my living room every Thursday night of my youth.
My memories of Bill Cosby run deep. From Fat Albert, the lovable Dr. Huxtable, silly Jell-O Pudding Pop commercials, to the stand-up innocence he shared of his wife Camille and the kids – Bill Cosby was America’s stand-in father driven by family values and delivered through empathetic humor. I was always proud of my Cosby impression. The lovable eye-roll-smile combo we are all so familiar with. I would hold my hotdog like a cigar and let my laughter echo so loudly off the walls of my childhood they have bounced back and knocked me unconscious.
This is no longer my truth. I have been highly deceived. We all have. Cosby is a wolf in sheep’s clothing and has fooled us for decades through his lies and manipulation.
Who was then a lovable comedian has now transformed himself into a serial rapist. How did we not see this coming? To date, 51 women have disclosed sexual assault allegations against him dating as far back as the mid-60’s when he first earned our trust.
!!! 51 !!!
51 Women. 51 survivors. 51 brave and courageous souls have broken their silence to reveal the truth – that Bill Cosby is a rapist, a predator, and a sick man who used his fame to drug women into unconscious submission to sexually assault them.
Bill Cosby has been busy. The first disclosure occurred as far back as 2000 when Cosby was feeling the success of his stacked Emmy’s, People’s Choice Awards, Kennedy Centers Honor (1998), Presidential Metal of Freedom (2002), and the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award (2003). How does someone so decorated get this far into his sociopathic, narcissistic, and abusive behaviors without being held accountable?
For years his abuse was speculation. News outlets all over the country ran segments exploring the validity of these claims. It wasn’t until the summer of 2015 when new evidence revealed that Bill Cosby did admit to giving Quaaludes to women with the intention to have sex with them.
Amy Schumer’s parody of the situation explores the absurdity of our denial and unwavering desire to ignore the nasty truth behind these allegations.
It’s time we call out Bill Cosby for the rapist he is. It’s time we acknowledge his celebrity and economic privilege, which he systematically used to sexually grope, assault, and rape women. After years of being blinded by pudding pops, Cosby has revealed himself as the sexual perpetrator he is.
So how was Bill Cosby our biggest mistake and what does this have to do with us?
Watch this 2003 video of Cosby as he sat in for a sick David Letterman on the Late Show to interview a young Sofia Vergara. This video should make your chest turn knots. Hindsight is always 20/20 but seriously, this is sick. Here is the full 10-minute segment if you care to give it any attention.
Notice that the entire interview is filled with the laughter of a live audience who relished in the hilarity of Cosby’s jaw-dropping antics as he fumbles over how pretty Vergara is. Anywhere else this would be a simple case of sexual harassment.
When talking about her tight fitting dress (the majority of the interview) Cosby states,
“Men, when they look at you, think only of sin. What you have on tonight is wonderful, and when you walked out, many people became attentive… You make me feel young again, you make me feel very excited.”
As she hesitates to his obvious awkwardness, he demands, “…Look at me.”
Read between the lines and you will notice that Cosby has leaned so far into her he can barely stay in his seat. He’s like a Dementor about to give her the kiss of death and invades her space so intensely you can sense the discomfort. If there were any awkward pauses it may have been to clean the drool dripping off his chin. Vergara even jokes that his attention towards her may kill him. The most chilling statement was his demand that she look at him. 3 powerful words that sent shivers up my spine.
If you have ever heard the term “Rape Affirming Culture” related to the objectification, sexism, and misogyny that promotes violence against women – this video arguably may be the best example out there.
There are two ways to end violence against women.
It is absolutely up to abusers to stop abusing. This is on them. If you don’t sexually harass, assault, and rape women – this isn’t a problem.
Change our cultural norms to speak out against the sexual objectification of women. Don’t enable, excuse and confuse men into believing that consent is a goal. Sexual consent is a compromise and agreement. Not something we laugh at or sell products with. Women are not over-sexualized objects to be conquered.
What happened on the Late Show in this example happens every day. The Cosby’s of the world are out there. Often times, right under our noses. They’re our friends, neighbors, colleagues, teachers, politicians, and celebrities.
Harmful messages flood our brains on our favorite TV shows, movies, and the thousands of ads we come across without even noticing it. Most are not so obvious, while many scream out with unexamined sickness.
Note this recent Bloomingdale’s ad. A man looks longingly towards a woman where the caption reads:
“Spike your best friend’s eggnog when they’re not looking.”
What’s worse is not that Bloomingdale’s thought this was appropriate, but how many eyes it passed on its way to print without being stopped. It would make sense that if these are the cultural messages Cosby (and all of us) consume, it no doubt normalizes and even encourages rape.
This is our battle, to break our silence and speak up when faced with sexism so a reported 1/4th of women who experience sexualized violence don’t have to. (also acknowledged are 1/6th of male survivors.)
In 2003, when Cosby interviewed Sofia Vergara, he had already been investigated for the rape allegations of multiple women.
We laughed then, but it’s no joke now.
Let’s not make the same mistake again.