More Thoughts on Bill Cosby…

Newly released court documents reveal that in 2005 Bill Cosby admitted to having sex with Andrea Constand after drugging her. In light of this new information, a reader reached out for my thoughts on what this meant for Bill Cosby and his legacy.

“…The Cosby Show has been taken off of the Bounce Network and TV Land. A professorship named after him at Spelman was suspended. Cosby resigned from the Board of Trustees at Temple. There is even a movement to remove his star from the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Do you think his actions, which in some people’s opinions range from just disgusting to rape, erase the good work he has done? Is it possible to separate the two?…”

Some thoughts;

First, in a literal sense, of course this doesn’t ‘erase’ the good work he’s done (whatever that may be) – but his good work is irrelevant to this situation. Bill Cosby is a serial rapist. And despite public acts of charity – we have to remember that this same man repeatedly chose to drug and rape women. With that in mind, the ‘backlash’ is warranted; he should be held accountable for his actions.

And don’t forget – Bill Cosby didn’t want you to separate the public from the private.  His brand revolved around convincing you that the person you saw on camera was the same exact person he was when no one else was watching. America bought it and Bill Cosby was given a pulpit like few other African-Americans have ever enjoyed in this country. And with that pulpit, he decided to criticize and shame poor black people, peddling the idea that black poverty and oppression was the result largely of black depravity. Now, as his own transgressions have finally come to light, it’s only fitting that we hold him to the same standards by which tried to hold others.

At the same time, as I stressed in a previous post, Bill Cosby is merely the headliner. He is a serial rapist in a country full of serial rapists. If the only outcome from all of this is that we scrub Cosby’s image from the public spotlight – we’ll have only gotten it half-correct. We’ll have completely missed out on a chance to look at ourselves and ask why so many women could come forward with allegations of rape and be entirely ignored. Why an estimated 300,000 women a year are victims of rape in this country. Why 80 percent of female college students who have been raped or sexually assaulted do not report it to authorities.

If this latter-half of the conversation doesn’t materialize, if we don’t challenge this toxic culture of rape and assault on Facebook walls and twitter feeds, at dinner tables, and in public spaces – we’ll only see more Bill Cosby’s. That would be a tragedy.

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11 comments

  1. Thanks for responding to my comments. I was a fan of the Huxtables, not necessarily Bill Cosby. I was always clear that Bill Cosby and Heathcliff Huxtable were not one and the same. The Huxtables helped me make it through my first year of law school in the mid 1980’s. After a long day of classes and studying, I’d come home and watch the episodes I had recorded. So I will forever be grateful for The Cosby Show and The Huxtable Family, not because they were role models. My father and mother raised me and are still married to this day, 57 years strong. So Bill Cosby aka Heathcliff Huxtable was not my ‘ideal dad’. He and his T.V. family were my comic relief. I guess there were people who believed that who Mr. Cosby played on T.V. was who he was in real life. That thought never entered my mind. In fact, I thought the man Bill Cosby appeared to be a grouchy, negative man outside of his persona as Dr. Huxtable.

    So as for Bill Cosby, I completely agree with you. Mr. Cosby needs to be held accountable. I believe we create our own legacies. Mr. Cosby (along with his wife), from what I’ve read throughout the years, has contributed to education and art, among other endeavors. This is part of their legacy…part of his legacy. However, Mr. Cosby’s legacy now has another layer, a very despicable layer. Actually, it’s not just a layer. It appears to be woven into the fabric of his entire career. What I find interesting is that some people are attributing his behavior to a mental disorder known as somnophilia, a condition where the person is aroused by sex with a person who is asleep or unconscious. It’s interesting to me that when people of privilege engage in “bad behavior” it’s because of a mental disorder. But when the average Joe, and particularly when the average “Jamal” engages in the same bad behavior, he is immediately labeled a “rapist” or “alleged rapist.” Call it what they will, he needs to be held accountable.

    Thanks again for the conversation. Let’s share it and keep it going.

    KanishaLAdkins.wordpress.com

    1. Bill Cosby used the fact that he was famous to further engage in behaviors that he otherwise would not have got away with for so long. He even tried to cover his tracks. He needs to be in jail cos how can i watch the Huxtables ever again without seeing him on the screen, the guy let me down bigtime. Lets move on

  2. This is such an important conversation! I also think – hopefully – it will help people to see that rapists aren’t the obvious monsters that we expect them to be. Oftentimes, they are otherwise good and charismatic people. This is part of the reason they can get away with it for so long. Women understandably don’t want to go up against someone that everyone loves and respects.

    It also says a lot about our culture’s respect – or lack thereof – for women in general. Men who think of themselves as good guys can find themselves coercing women without considering themselves rapists. Of course, using drugs or alcohol takes it to a whole new level, but remember the story about the teenage boys assaulting a girl who was passed out? I don’t at all mean to excuse their behavior, but we all need to take responsibility for having created a culture in which this behavior seemed okay to them. Women’s autonomy and right to say yes or no and to have sexual pleasure instead of just having sex be something that is done to them – all of that is nonexistent in our society.

    But I think all of this attention from these high profile cases will do our society a lot of good. At least we are recognizing the magnitude of these issues. Now, if we could get everyone to see that in order to stop rape we have to change our culture so that we are a society where women are respected and are equal to men. Where our bodies are ours’ alone. And where sex is something that both parties are supposed to enjoy.

    1. Absolutely agree. Too often we get caught up in the individual case and forget that it occurs within an environment that we all contribute to shaping. Bill Cosby didn’t just emerge one day and randomly concoct a scheme for drugging and raping women. He is (and we are) apart of a culture that has a terribly skewed and undeveloped perception of consent from and respect for women. Until you address that, this will keep happening.

  3. We have bigger fish to fry! He is a legend and always will be for example most of the allegations on Michael Jackson were not true at all!!! The facts prove he never molested any children those are opinions and gossip!

    Elvis Presley drug addict still a legend the list goes on !!

  4. Reblogged this on ramblings of a twenty-something and commented:
    He as not been proven guilty yet. However even if he was, I don’t agree with removing his star from the walk of fame or from removing the show from television. He was not the only person about the the Cosby Show, and his star was earned for his good doings. As he stated keep the public and private separate.

    1. his star should be removed and he doesnt deserve to be on the screen, the star is for being “famous” not for doing anything. This man drugged so many women, who does he think he is? This is a sick man who needs locking up and those that protected him for so long need to be in the next cell. Sick people who because they have a bit of fame they think they can get away with murder and a few still do.

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