Saturday, July 18, 2015

I don’t give a rip about Bill Cosby


Bill Cosby is all over the news. You can read the transcripts of his court testimony from 2005. You can read that his wife believes the victims willingly took drugs and had sex with her husband, and that she’s made her peace with that. You can read about the petition to take away his presidential medal of freedom, and how it probably won’t happen.You can read a hundred different dissections on how this has killed his career.

You can read about Cosby all day, every day, whether you want to or not, because it’s in your face.

Personally, I’m tired of it. This amalgamation of newsworthy angles on the topic as seen through the lens of entitlement. Cosby this. Cosby that.

Do you know what I want to read about?

The women.

The forty women who have come forward to report that they were raped by Cosby. The god-knows-how-many more who have yet to come forward, or who will take their silence to the grave because they don’t want to be publicly crucified, or who have perhaps already died and will never bear witness. That, I care about.

I want to know how the experience has affected them. And not just in the obvious ways we are all accustomed to hearing from rape victims: the physical and emotional scars, the self-recrimination, the shame, the PTSD.

I want to read about the stuff beneath that. How many years of therapy did it take to reach a point where they could even date again? Did they stop trusting their ability to make good decisions? What might their careers have been if they hadn’t had that kick to their confidence? How did it affect what they taught their children, both explicitly and in the hundred silent ways they modeled a defensive stance against an untrustworthy world?

How did it affect their health ten or twenty years later? Are they experiencing back problems, pelvic pain, depression, anxiety, reflux, migraines, sleep disorders, heart disease, cancer? How many days of work have they missed as a result of all of it? How much money have they lost? How many years have been shaved off their expected life spans?

And beneath that still, on a level they may not even be able to articulate, do they understand that this was not about sex, but about power? That it happened, in part, because their power was intimidating and confronting to a man, who responded by trying to crush it?

And in the years that followed, as they began to straighten out their crimped souls, breathe deeply again, even voice their stories out loud, did they still carry with them a visceral memory of that equation: that their power causes fear, and fear causes retaliation?

How many years did they walk around with their power center closed up tight like a flower bud, because what good is your own power if it slays you? And did they continue on in their lives, allowing themselves to experience just enough of that life-giving energy to take some tentative steps forward, but not enough to attract too much attention?

If they are introspective enough to recognize that they have responded to this violent betrayal by dimming their own light, will they blame themselves and not the catch-22 conditions of a social structure designed to ensure that exact outcome?

Maybe, just maybe, a day will come and one of them will decide, fuck it, I’m going to stand up tall and put all my gifts on display. Let my power rip. Belt out my song even if I’m pilloried for it. Because what good is a life half-lived? Maybe people will rail against her because they value their own fantasy more than they value the pain of an anonymous woman. But by then perhaps she won’t care. She’s high on her own truth.

So yeah, Bill Cosby. I don't care how he’s dealing with this. He is simply one of thousands upon thousands who have chosen to use their power and privilege to harm another in an attempt to fill a void within themselves. He is just another sorry-assed cliché.

But the women? They have some pretty phenomenal stories to tell.

I'm just sitting here, with half the planet, waiting to hear their songs.








12 comments:

  1. The biggest failure of the media is always to give publicity to the criminal, to the terrorist, to the victim maker. The victims themselves are treated like minor characters in a story that is about someone else - someone else, who at the end of the day, doesn't deserve our interest or our time. When society starts focusing on the victims there may finally come a time when, God willing, victims are hard to find.

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    1. Wouldn't that be something if news stories focused on the individuals who bore the consequences of the criminal's actions, rather than the criminals themselves? We are so myopic in our focus.

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  2. Such powerful and eloquent writing, Kristin. You struck at the heart of the matter so accurately, I found myself holding my breath throughout the entire post. I am so glad you decided to let your power rip, sharing your gift for writing and your compassion with the world. Thank you. You are an inspiration.

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    1. Thanks, Bina, for your lovely comment. This is a topic I get worked up about!

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  3. Well said - as always the reporting about this ghastly list of abuses against women is focused on how the rapist is coping and not on the damage he has done to those women and their lives - we need more people to say this outloud

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    1. I remain forever hopeful that the tide will slowly turn. Progress happens, it's just so slow sometimes.

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  4. He is one of many who have gotten away with rape because of their position. We have our own in Australia - look up Rolf Harris who actually painted a portrait of the Queen and turned out to be a pedophile and molester of epic proportions. Jimmy Saville is the benchmark - one of the worst in history and untouchable because of his position. But things are changing. It is now only the fringe dwellers that will support people like Cosby. Do you mind if I say a bad word What an asshole.

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    1. Aw, come on. Asshole? Is that all you got? ;)

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  5. Hi,

    I subscribe to an e-mail news curation service and I got sent a link to the woman telling their stories. These woman are incredible, and I am pleased that the Cut has decided to run their stories: http://nymag.com/thecut/2015/07/bill-cosbys-accusers-speak-out.html

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    1. Isn't that wonderful? I saw that the other day. Amazing piece of journalism and the photos and stories are so very powerful.

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