A frequent question that comes up in connection with alleged serial rapist Bill Cosby is “why him, why now?” especially since he’s hardly the first or only celebrity with a private life that is totally unlike his public persona.
It’s an interesting question. We’ve seen filmmakers like Roman Polanski and Woody Allen pilloried for their antics with underage girls, yet they both continue to work and even attract their fair share of supporters. With them at least we can manage to separate the work from the person (to varying degrees – I refuse to watch or pay for a movie by either of them). Why can’t we do the same with alleged serial rapist Bill Cosby?
Here’s how I see it. Bill Cosby’s body of work, especially in recent years, is Bill Cosby. There is no separation between the comedian, the actor, the social commentator and the man. It’s all him. If you applaud the comedian (as was done at a recent show in Florida) you’re also applauding the alleged serial rapist. I can’t do that. Even if he eventually admits to this, it’s too late for me. Why? Because of the damage. There are women who have had their lives ruined as a result of his actions and no amount of apology is going to make up for that.
And since we’re on that subject, let’s talk about those women. I know that there are many voices accusing them of lying, profiteering and more. But here’s the thing. First of all, why would these women lie? The statute of limitations on these alleged crimes has long since passed. There is no possibility of him being prosecuted. None at all. Although there have been lawsuits, they’ve been settled privately out of court. There’s no reason to believe that anyone will profit from suing alleged serial rapist Bill Cosby.
What’s most troubling about the accusers is this: why do we automatically cast doubt on women who say they’ve been raped? It’s not just this case, every woman who accuses a man of raping her will be subjected to the most vile questioning in court in an attempt to discredit her. Unsurprisingly, women hesitate to press charges knowing their entire life will be subjected to ridicule. Who wouldn’t? We as a society should be ashamed of this behavior but this case proves that we’re not. And it’s not just “men’s rights activists”. Alleged serial rapist Bill Cosby received a standing ovation the other night and you can bet that it wasn’t just men doing the applauding. What does this sat about us?
As I said earlier, I was a fan from childhood. I was disappointed when the news of his martial infidelities first surfaced but I convinced myself it wasn’t unusual and besides, his wife stood by him. Of course, she’s still with him. It’s none of my business (or anyone else’s) why she is, that’s her decision to make. But a pattern of drugging and raping women isn’t something you can just overlook or wave away as “boys will be boys”. There’s nothing to make him admit anything other than his own conscience. Perhaps some day, he will listen to it.