Thursday, December 4, 2014

Bill Cosby's Pain Is Our Gain

Fuel to the fire: If the Cos is a serial rapist, then rape just got real, or at least realer.

Of course there's little to be gained from the knowledge that Bill Cosby has raped countless women during his career. On its face, it's sheer tragedy, for the victims of course, not for Cosby's shattered career and reputation.

No, the one thing that is a positive for those fighting against the nature of our endemic rape culture is that we now know that THIS IS WHAT RAPE LOOKS LIKE. Except in the rarer cases of stranger rape, it's generally someone you don't think would do it.

Often it's a powerful man, a fabulously famous man, who uses that power to get women in a vulnerable position, who drugs them and then avails himself of their drugged condition to have sex with them against their will. The victims don't come forward because of how powerless they feel, because they think they won't be believed, or because, one way or another, the process will involve them being, well, re-raped for going public.

It takes special courage to come forward, however late.

Look at Bill Cosby's face. He is rape. He owns it. We now know it.

From now on, when you hear of a victim claiming rape, reporting rape, remember that nobody could possibly believe that Bill Cosby would do such a thing. It must have been [insert rationalization or condemnation of the victim here].

Thanks, Bill. You used to be funny. Now you're our poster child for stamping out rape. Now we know what the perp looks like. He looks like you.

Note. I wanted this to connect in some way with the list of welcome cultural shifts underway in America in my previous post expressing a positive contrarian view of the tragedy that is Ferguson and, now, Staten Island. Maybe it's the millennials or just a side benefit of this continuing, exploding information age.

Women are coming forward, and powerful men are not as safe as they once were. That's a net plus, a small gain in our continuing failure to get women out from under the tyranny of violence. But progress of a sort. It could also be a bookend to the examination of domestic abuse endemic to the NFL. Small steps, but hopeful.

Also, let's remember that this is only one area of our sexual abuse culture. It's everywhere -- college campuses are under heightened scrutiny as they should be -- and we shouldn't forget that the Penn State/Jerry Sandusky affair is joined at the hip. But even that sordid mess can be claimed as part of the on-going work to protect the vulnerable. As a man who honors feminism, it's hard to use the word "vulnerable" when speaking of women, but in this area of life, it's apt.

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