Bill Cosby has finally been found guilty on three counts of aggravated indecent assault for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand inside his Philadelphia home in 2004.
Many people have voiced their anger and disappointment at the “unfairness” of it all. Why—Cosby apologists have wondered aloud—is Cosby facing consequences that powerful white men like Harvey Weinstein have not had to? The argument seems to be that Cosby’s inability to get away with sexual assault in a court of law proves just how much the judicial system is structured to discriminate against black men. These people really need us—and by “us” I mean those of us who don’t support serial sex predators—to understand that black rapists matter.
They also claim that the guilty verdict against Cosby is all about the dismantling of his “legacy” and white society’s obsession with bringing down powerful black men.
Certainly, we must have nuanced conversations about the intersections of sexual violence and white supremacy. In fact, it’s critical that we do. But if the people introducing the “But-but-but Weinstein, Woody Allen, Bill O’Reilly, the guy from Party of Five!” comments to the conversation have never given any indication that they care about rape or rape culture—or about divesting from men who have harmed women—then it’s clear to me that they just don’t give a damn about women.
They do not care any more about Weinstein’s victims than they do about Cosby’s victims—and many of them are still stepping in the name of pedophilia with the Pied Piper of R&B. The conversations have not been, “Weinstein’s victims need justice, too!” They have been, “Why should Weinstein get away with assaulting women and not Cosby?”
What has also become more and more clear is that when state and sexual violence intersects and lands on black women, the nuance seems to disappear for some of these same people. It then becomes, “Let’s focus on black men, period. Why are y’all being divisive bringing up black women?!”
Until these Cosby apologists hold all of that nuance in conversations about black women who are victims of sexual and state violence—not conversations centered on the perpetrators/predators and the so-called unfairness of it all—then I will never believe that they really care out justice. It’s impossible.
For the men defending Cosby, it’s about being free to be rapists without consequence, like the rich white men they clearly want to be. As for the women defending Cosby? Get Out.
No, Cosby can’t get away (anymore) with rape the way police officers get away with raping and murdering black people. No, he can’t get away with rape and sexual assault the way white men get away with raping and murdering black people. He should have remembered that—or, better yet, just not sexually assaulted anyone at all. While this may seem like a novel idea to some, it’s not without precedence.
As I’ve repeated several times over the past few years since Bill Cosby has dominated headlines:
Defending a rapist does not make one revolutionary. It’s time to find another way.