What Bill Cosby Shows Us About Our Victim Blaming Culture
Start writing a post

In 2004, Andrea Constand was raped by Bill Cosby. A year later, Constand decided to sue Cosby in civil court. By the time the case settled, 13 other women came forward with reports that Cosby sexually assaulted them. Now, over 40 women have accused Bill Cosby of sexual assault, but it took a confession from Cosby for our society to believe the victims.

That is truly terrifying. Why were these women not believed when they first came forward with these allegations?

Constand reported the incident to the police in 2005, but the District Attorney decided not to press charges because of a lack of physical evidence. Another victim said she went to a lawyer with her assault, and he claimed that she was fabricating the story. Sadly, this trend is the norm for the other women who have come forward with accusations against Cosby.

Women had been accusing Cosby of rape for over a decade, and while some people achieved minor media attention with their stories, the public didn’t seem to care. No one cared about the 2005 charges until a male comedian called Cosby a rapist in a video that went viral. Only then were the charges taken seriously by the public. When asked about what he said, the comedian said he was just using information easily accessible on the internet. He said anyone could have gotten information on the charges from a simple Google search.

I understand that part of the initial lack of public reaction is because Cosby’s role on The Cosby Show. No one wanted to think that the man who played “America’s dad” was actually a serial rapist who drugged young girls (some as young as 15). However, when so many women come forward with similar stories, there needs to be serious doubt about Cosby’s innocence. Furthermore, now that court documents have been released where he admits to his crimes, there should be no doubts about his guilt.

But the fact that there is still doubt shows us some important trends in our culture.

Firstly, our society doesn’t believe victims. Over 40 women have come forward, all with similar stories involving drugs. However, people are still defending Bill Cosby. This week, court documents were released from the 2005 lawsuit against Cosby, in which he admits to drugging and raping Constand, and paying other accusers to keep quiet about his attacks.

And yet, all over my Facebook wall, people are claiming he is innocent until proven guilty. And while this would be true (had he not admitted his actions under oath), this phrase is never used when people are charged with other crimes. The norm is to assume that if a person is arrested, they are probably guilty.

So why is the opposite true for accused rapists?

Even in cases where there is hard evidence of an attack, such as a video tape or hospital visit, juries are skeptical to believe victims. One specific example is a case in 1989, where a jury acquitted a Florida man accused of rape, despite video evidence. The jury foreman said that because the woman was wearing a miniskirt: "We all felt she was asking for it."

Thankfully, this caused public outrage, which led to new legislation regarding what information defense attorneys can use to defend an accused rapist (for example, what the victim was wearing). However, in other states, juries can still be asked to consider whether a victim was "asking for it" by drinking, wearing certain clothes, or voluntarily entering an apartment.

This leads to my second point: Our society blames victims for their attacks. When asked why she waited so long to report the incident, one victim said, “It never works out [for the victim], unless you’re bleeding and there’s DNA and an eyewitness. I was 19 and he was the king of the world... Nobody would've believed me."

The sad thing is, she’s right. Our culture has a way of putting the blame on victims.

Like with Constand, sometimes the police choose not to press charges because of lack of evidence. It can take months or even years for a survivor to be able to talk about what was done to them. By this time, most physical evidence of an attack is gone.

Or, like most of Cosby’s victims, it is assumed that the victim is lying or did something wrong. The probing questions that survivors are asked, from “What were you wearing?” to “How much did you have to drink?” show that our culture is skeptical towards victims.

We shouldn’t do this to victims of sexual assault. Police should take every report seriously, no matter how long ago it happened or who is accused. In the public sphere, we should stop our victim blaming. It doesn’t matter what they were wearing. It doesn’t matter how much they had to drink. It doesn’t matter if they’ve had consensual sex with their rapist before. Victims are never to blame for their attack, period. It’s important for us as a society to learn from the Cosby case, so we can better help sexual assault victims and punish attackers.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Health and Wellness

Exposing Kids To Nature Is The Best Way To Get Their Creative Juices Flowing

Constantly introducing young children to the magical works of nature will further increase the willingness to engage in playful activities as well as broaden their interactions with their peers

60033

Whenever you are feeling low and anxious, just simply GO OUTSIDE and embrace nature! According to a new research study published in Frontiers in Psychology, being connected to nature and physically touching animals and flowers enable children to be happier and altruistic in nature. Not only does nature exert a bountiful force on adults, but it also serves as a therapeutic antidote to children, especially during their developmental years.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

5 Simple Ways To Give Yourself Grace, Especially When Life Gets Hard

Grace begins with a simple awareness of who we are and who we are becoming.

97735
Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

If there's one thing I'm absolutely terrible at, it's giving myself grace. I'm easily my own worst critic in almost everything that I do. I'm a raging perfectionist, and I have unrealistic expectations for myself at times. I can remember simple errors I made years ago, and I still hold on to them. The biggest thing I'm trying to work on is giving myself grace. I've realized that when I don't give myself grace, I miss out on being human. Even more so, I've realized that in order to give grace to others, I need to learn how to give grace to myself, too. So often, we let perfection dominate our lives without even realizing it. I've decided to change that in my own life, and I hope you'll consider doing that, too. Grace begins with a simple awareness of who we are and who we're becoming. As you read through these five affirmations and ways to give yourself grace, I hope you'll take them in. Read them. Write them down. Think about them. Most of all, I hope you'll use them to encourage yourself and realize that you are never alone and you always have the power to change your story.

Keep Reading... Show less
Entertainment

Breaking Down The Beginning, Middle, And End of Netflix's Newest 'To All The Boys' Movie

Noah Centineo and Lana Condor are back with the third and final installment of the "To All The Boys I've Loved Before" series

362067
Netflix

Were all teenagers and twenty-somethings bingeing the latest "To All The Boys: Always and Forever" last night with all of their friends on their basement TV? Nope? Just me? Oh, how I doubt that.

I have been excited for this movie ever since I saw the NYC skyline in the trailer that was released earlier this year. I'm a sucker for any movie or TV show that takes place in the Big Apple.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

4 Ways To Own Your Story, Because Every Bit Of It Is Worth Celebrating

I hope that you don't let your current chapter stop you from pursuing the rest of your story.

226831
Photo by Manny Moreno on Unsplash

Every single one of us has a story.

I don't say that to be cliché. I don't say that to give you a false sense of encouragement. I say that to be honest. I say that to be real.

Keep Reading... Show less
Politics and Activism

How Young Feminists Can Understand And Subvert The Internalized Male Gaze

Women's self-commodification, applied through oppression and permission, is an elusive yet sexist characteristic of a laissez-faire society, where women solely exist to be consumed. (P.S. justice for Megan Fox)

117382
Paramount Pictures

Within various theories of social science and visual media, academics present the male gaze as a nebulous idea during their headache-inducing meta-discussions. However, the internalized male gaze is a reality, which is present to most people who identify as women. As we mature, we experience realizations of the perpetual male gaze.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

It's Important To Remind Yourself To Be Open-Minded And Embrace All Life Has To Offer

Why should you be open-minded when it is so easy to be close-minded?

304163

Open-mindedness. It is something we all need a reminder of some days. Whether it's in regards to politics, religion, everyday life, or rarities in life, it is crucial to be open-minded. I want to encourage everyone to look at something with an unbiased and unfazed point of view. I oftentimes struggle with this myself.

Keep Reading... Show less
Swoon

14 Last Minute Valentine's Day Gifts Your S.O. Will Love

If they love you, they're not going to care if you didn't get them some expensive diamond necklace or Rolex watch; they just want you.

186176

Let me preface this by saying I am not a bad girlfriend.

I am simply a forgetful one.

Keep Reading... Show less
Student Life

10 Helpful Tips For College Students Taking Online Courses This Semester

Here are several ways to easily pass an online course.

126078
Photo by Vlada Karpovich on Pexels

With spring semester starting, many college students are looking to take courses for the semester. With the pandemic still ongoing, many students are likely looking for the option to take online courses.

Online courses at one time may have seemed like a last minute option for many students, but with the pandemic, they have become more necessary. Online courses can be very different from taking an on-campus course. You may be wondering what the best way to successfully complete an online course is. So, here are 10 helpful tips for any student who is planning on taking online courses this semester!

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments