Social-media Justice? Let’s talk about Cosby

social awareness

Quality radio is hard to come by in the Land of Enchantment. There’s this one guy on the oldies station that seems to be getting a serious case of dementia that I rather enjoy. There’s our beloved NPR, but that’s only good during rush hour national programing. In between it’s a lot of mariachi and a couple of other pop stations manned by utter idiots. Seriously, how did these people get on the radio? It is painful to listen to.

J has been giving me daily updates on what so and so on the radio said that was offensive today. I typically respond with, “Why do you listen to that crap?”. I guess it’s like watching a train wreck. A little piece of you wants to be horrified by the current state of our idiocracy. Today’s report included a clip of Whoopi Goldberg on The View discussing the Cosby rape allegations. You can view it here and make your own interpretations of her statements.

The ABQ radio show went on to claim that Goldberg was only defending Cosby because he is black. -Hold the phone- I don’t think that what she said here is all that much different from what a lot of people think. We don’t know. We have a justice system in our country, that granted is very broken, but none the less keeps us from tar and feathering the wrongfully accused. That is irregardless of race. So what ever you do, please don’t spin this story into a big scary black man raping little white girls. Please don’t spin this story as women exploiting a rich man for fame or fortune. Please do  not spin this as a racially divided issue on crime and punishment.

What this is exactly no third party can say for sure. What it definitely is are fourteen women telling a story that they know to be true, there accused rapist exercising his right to remain silent and statutes of limitations that keep the legal system out of it. Check out this article about the improbability that we will ever have a definitive answer in the case.

I hope that we can all agree on the above.

I spent this afternoon reading a lot about rape. I like to think of myself as pretty savvy when it comes to social justice issues and especially when those intersect with women. But to be honest, I knew nothing about rape from an informed perspective. The peer-reviewed articles, studies and publications that I read today simply broke my heart. I know that rape, crimes against women, on-campus-sexual assaults pop in and out of the news. It’s sensationalized like everything else, in the eye of the public until the next big thing comes along. And I’m just as guilty as most. There is so much to keep up with and one thing is more ludicrous than the next. It’s hard to investigate everything.

Take a few moments and go down this path with me, we owe it to the 237,868 (reported) people over the age of 12 that are sexually assaulted in the U.S. every year.
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I have a few issues with what Goldberg said in that clip. Not because it’s Whoopi Goldberg (who I love), or because it’s a black person saying it, but because it falls in line with the collective American opinion of rape. And really crime in general.
“THEY will handle it. There are procedures in place that are followed by our trusty law enforcement to handle these things. Victims of crimes forfeit their claim to justice or even the actuality of a crime being committed against them by not reporting it.” I’m paraphrasing.
I’m sure that many of you disagree with these statements. That might be because you, yourself have been a victim of a crime and know how convoluted your emotions are about “reporting” the crime. Or you may know something about local politics, campus politics and statistics.

Whoopi says,”Don’t the cops take you to the hospital to get a rape kit?” . Well in theory. Academic article after article makes the point that between 64% and 96% percent of rapes go unreported. An investigation by a law professor at my alma mater showed that over 1 million cases of rape in the US went unreported in the past 2 decades. Here’s the big picture on the statistics.

“Many people have an incentive for crime to be down on paper,” Yung said of the reason why rape numbers were under-reported. Pointing to reduced crime numbers, politicians are often elected or re-elected, policy makers make decisions on police funding, officers are promoted, communities promote themselves as safe, and numerous other decisions are made. There is intense pressure, politically and socially, for police departments to show they are reducing crime. “From a personnel perspective, every officer has a reason to downplay the numbers,” Yung said.

Rape happens to be one of the easiest crimes to under-report, for a variety of reasons. There is a very low conviction rate — only about 2 percent — for all rapes. That manifests itself in fewer cases coming to trial as they are viewed as harder to win, and less time and resources being invested in investigations. There is also often very little corroborating evidence that a rape occurred.

In crimes such as murder there tends to be a litany of forensic evidence, and it’s obvious a life has been lost. In less severe crimes such as auto theft, there is an insurance claim that must be dealt with. In the case of rape, there is often not a rape kit, and an alarmingly high percentage of the time when there is one, it is never processed and any evidence it might contain is not used as part of an investigation, Yung said.

In cases where drugs or alcohol made consent impossible, drug tests are often not performed in time, and even when they, are they don’t always test for all relevant drugs.

“If you wanted to manipulate a crime rate statistic, that’s the easiest one,” Yung said of rape statistics. – See more here

Well damn, that’s “THEY” for ya.

Here’s reporting rape from an individual perspective. The reported sexual crimes are largely violent attacks by strangers.
For a minute let’s think about the act of rape. Yes it’s a crime committed against a person. But it is also deeply personal. This is not the same as being the victim of theft or assault. This is an attack on you in the most intimate way possible. I can’t begin to fathom the internal struggle that a victim of sexual assault must go through. It’s not hard to surmise that it’s much easier to draw all of this attention to the perpetrator and inherently yourself, when it was a crazy random assault by a stranger. We know that 2/3 of rapes are committed by someone the victim knows. So there’s a good-likely- chance that your rapist is a member of your family, your husband, your boss, your friend, or even your idol? What if your perpetrator doesn’t seem like a criminal in any other light? What if your scared? Terrified of the repercussions? What if your rapist is ‘America’s Dad’? (I’m not accusing, I’m just putting into context what any of these fourteen women may have been feeling.)

1415684124038_wps_38_Bill_Cosby_invited_the_in

That’s something that we’ve all been grappling with. Every night since the Bill Cosby rape meme explosion it’s been on the dinner table discussion agenda. But, no, not Bill Cosby. Not Dr.Huxtable. I read an article the generational divide between those that grew up in the 80’s and 90’s with The Cosby show, Fat Albert, Kids Say the Darndest Things and the proliferation of Cosby as an American idol, a public mentor. Those that are younger, just babies during the waining years of Cosby after school entertainment.  Those that do things like use Twitter, click on viral you-tube stand up clips and make memes may have a different impression of Bill Cosby altogether. The one where he constantly scolded their generation, told them to pull up their pants, stop being a disgrace, get off the drugs. This patriarchal hard-ass persona, out of touch with current generation and making a lot of assumptions.

Now it’s 2014 for America’s Dad, it’s a whole new world for Mr. Bill Cosby, Ph.D J-E-L-L-O alleged rapist.

That’s a real thing that we have to swallow. A real thing that we have to realize about countless number of people amongst us. A lot of us are criminals (I’m actually not a real criminal, I’m too pretty for jail 🙂 ). Not just they stole bubblegum from a store, they smoke weed or didn’t file their taxes. But legitimate violent criminals. And you could never know. Or you may and you have quarantined that information under justification or at least satisfaction in their remorse and recovery. It’s alright for them to be amongst us. It’s okay for them to be my father, my neighbor, my husband. That’s not them anymore.

Or is it?
I really want to believe that we are more than a sum of our actions. But time and time again that’s been hard for me to accept. People very close to me have made ‘serial mistakes’. To the best of my knowledge it hasn’t been rape but there’s also this fun little fact. 6% of a group of university student men admitted to committing acts of rape shown in a study by Lisak and Miller 2002. None of them were convicted criminals.

The evidence that a relatively small proportion of men are responsible for a large number of rapes and other interpersonal crimes may provide at least a partial answer to an oft- noted paradox: namely, that while victimization surveys have established that a substantial proportion of women are sexually victimized, relatively small percentages of men report committing acts of sexual violence (e.g., Rubenzahl & Corcoran, 1998). In this sample of 1,882 men, 76 (4%) individuals were responsible for an estimated 439 rapes and attempt- ed rapes.
Link here for the study. 

(That’s 5.77 rapes a piece, yikes!!!)

There’s the story of the 11,000 forgotten rape kits in Detroit that began being processed in 2009. Again let’s not pretend like ohhh well there’s a rape kit, legal obligation to these victims fulfilled. According to this article

1,600 victims’ rape kits have been processed (in Detroit as of 2009). Among those, the Wayne County Prosecutor’s office identified 100 likely serial rapists, through matches in CODIS, the country’s DNA database. 

It’s safe to say that serial rape is a real thing. A very real problem. And a real possibility for Cosby. I see a factoid floating around that 90% of rapes are committed by serial rapists. I haven’t found a solid citation for that. Which may be because these kinds of statistics are hard to nail down.  Because criminal records are not conclusive and far from accurate. There’s no good way to survey all of the rapists in the country and have them tell you how many people that they’ve raped. It’s not possible. It is probable that offenders are often repeat offenders. There’s real reason to believe that this isn’t a coincidence that fourteen women have similar stories about how they were sexually violated by Cosby.

Goldberg said, “I’m going to reserve my judgement, because I have questions”. Another woman on the The View (mind you a forum for opinionated women to have a public discussion about current national issues) said,  “It’s either a tragedy or a tragedy, I hate being part of the conversation on these stories. Either way this is devastating.”

You’re right. Either he’s been falsely accused. Or he’s a heathen. Again, our trusty legal system isn’t going to get involved in this unless much more recent attacks come out. It won’t be proven one way or another in the court of law.
But what I do know is that WE HAVE TO HAVE THIS CONVERSATION. No they aren’t comfortable. No we don’t want to think that rape and sexual violence is real. We sure in the hell don’t want to accuse our friend and ‘America’s Dad’ of being a serial rapist. But we need to be objective. We need to hold people accountable. The justice system isn’t doing the job. It’s not the responsibility of the victims to prosecute their attacker. It is the shared responsibility every single one of us as a collective to hold men to a higher standard (and women I’m not discussing acts against men that happen and have a whole other set of information). Let’s start that by talking about it.

We will not tolerate rape. There are very clear criteria for rape whether or not you chose to label it that. It simple is.

-If you have tried to have sex with another person by using physical force or a threatening tactic, successful or not you have committed rape.

-If you have had sex with someone who did not want to have sex with you, that is rape, even if it’s your wife, your girlfriend or lover.

-If you had sex with someone who did not want to have sex with you, but you did anyway because they were under the influence of drugs or alcohol (self-administered or not) and could not resist your advances  you committed rape.

For the record, you don’t just commit rape, once, twice or fourteen times. You are a rapist. May the stigma be abound. You violated the basic rights of another human being. You deserve all of the public ridicule that comes your way.

Bill Cosby may or may not have raped these women. I’m willing to talk about the gravity of falsely accusing someone. That’s real. But what feels more important to me is that if Cosby takes the public humiliation fall for rape whilst stirring up a whole lot of public opinion that teaches and/or reminds men that rape is a vile intolerable act with terrible repercussions than I’m willing to let him fall.

Let’s talk about it.

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2 thoughts on “Social-media Justice? Let’s talk about Cosby

  1. We don’t live in a perfect world. It matters not whether we are for or against Cosby. Every opinion is important. Silence is our enemy. That being said, to those of us who struggle with Cosby’s guilt, you must come to grips with accepting the fact that the rolls Cosby played as an actor and the life he lived as a serial rapist are as painful and clear as the “Jekyll and Hyde” scenario. You must do so for your own family’s sake, for so many rape victims and for societies everywhere. Please do not forsake so many defending a serial rapist. It is important to be reminded, appreciate, and accept the fact that 98% of victims tell the truth. To date 35 women have accused Cosby of rape and still victims are comng forward. Because 95% of rape crimes are never reported, these 35 women represent 5% of the victims Cosby raped. This is basic math 101. Don’t shoot the messenger. Cosby didn’t rape just once 30 years ago, Cosby has been raping for 50 years. Sociopath international serial rapist Cosby is no hero or role model and he never was. We just wish he was. He has no one to blame but himself, he owns this.

    WHY! VICTIMS MATTER! These victims represent all of us, our families, our children, daughters, wives, mothers and sisters. When our courts and countries fail to protect our families we must take action. When our “so called” leaders and professionals tell us there is nothing we can do, it’s time for new leaders and professionals. Rape is everyone’s business. Get involved. Spread the word. YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE TODAY.
    Agree! Please send this link to every level of your government representatives. Help stop rapist Cosby’s ongoing reprisal threats against the women who have accused him of rape. It’s not complicated. Tell a friend. Thank you. #cosbyrapistlaw https://plus.google.com/103041359322144339544/posts/e5vBecfNDJw

    Like

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