December 30th brought more than the end of 2015. Bill Cosby, the 78-year-old comedian, was arrested at 4PM (EST) for the aggravated sexual assault of Andrea Constand. Cosby was released on a $1 million bail.
As a self-identified woman, as a feminist, as an American I had exactly one reaction to this momentous news: “HELL YEAH! IT’S ABOUT DAMN TIME!”
The infamous comedian has continued to evade judicial persecution due to statute of limitations expiring even though as many as 50 women have come forward as survivors of Cosby’s sexual predation. Constand’s case is being pursued by Montgomery County district attorney-elect, Kevin Steele, after new evidence came to light in July of this year. Thankfully, Steele beat out the 12-year statute of limitations that was going to run out in January 2016.
While Cosby’s lawyers have promised to fight the charges, a deposition from 2005 shows the broken entertainers true colors as a perverted man with a twisted sense of sexual consent.
In the deposition, Cosby describes what he interpreted as Constand’s consent for sexual contact after he had already assaulted her, “I walk her out. She does not look angry. She does not say to me, don’t ever do that again. She doesn’t walk out with an attitude of a huff…” Later in the deposition Cosby admits that he had seven prescriptions for Quaaludes, a depressant that acts as a sedative, that he and his doctor knew he was going to use for having sex with women, “What was happening at that time was that that was — Quaaludes happen to be the drug that kids, young people were using to party with and there were times when I wanted to have them just in case.”
These excerpts from the deposition demonstrate Cosby has a small, ignorant, and mainstream male understanding of sexual consent and assault. To begin, consent for sexual contact must be given—verbally—before anything physical happens. Consenting to one behavior does not obligate you to consent to any other activities. Consent can be retracted at any time for any reason by either participant.
As horrendously painful as it is for each woman to come forward and publicize their trauma in hope for justice, the Cosby case is a necessary, steep learning curve for the country. The populous must learn what sexual consent is and how dire the consequences are when consent isn’t given, but taken.
American mainstream media has taught boys to view sex as a right, a privilege they can take advantage of whenever the moment strikes them. The media has taught boys to seek manhood in the number sexual conquests they have; to define their status in how quickly and efficiently they can take power away from others—particularly women. In a society where rape culture is rampant, perhaps even celebrated, is it really any surprise that one of the most beloved, celebrated male sitcom stars, Heathcliff Huxtable, is a serial rapist?
Unfortunately, most women (1 in 5) aweren’t surprised because rape is so widespread, it’s almost an expected event for women between the ages of 18-24. In fact, most women who experience rape do not report the assault to the police because of the pain and consequences that are almost inevitable. Just like the 50 women who reported abuse at the hands of Bill Cosby, most women who report sexual violence are never believed, supported, or assisted in getting justice– 98% of rapists will never spend a day in jail.
The sobering picture of rape in the USA is this: there’s no harm in committing sexual assault. For that reason alone, I’m ecstatically rooting for Bill-The-Rapist-Cosby to spend his last years in prison, paying as much as possible for the crimes he’s committed. Cosby is, and needs to be, the country’s sacrificial wolf-in-lambs-clothing that is (figuratively) beheaded in the middle of the town square to appease the jeering crowds. Cosby, the archetype of rapists, needs to be publically punished thoroughly to match the multitude of crimes he’s committed. If America’s sweetheart dad, Heathcliff, is held to the fire the country will be forced to face the moral problem of ubiquitous, unfettered sexual assault. Do we, as a nation, support and defend the rapist, or do we stand with the 50 women (and every person) seeking physical safety and justice?
Imagine a society that condemns rape…that society would see Bill Cosby arrested, imprisoned, and made an example of when the first survivor stepped forward. We don’t live in that society. We can, though, help push the public perception of rape towards one of intolerance. To that end, let’s sing together, “DING DONG, THE RAPIST WAS ARRESTED!”
Image through Creative Commons