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Looking to Charge Bill Cosby? By Robin Barnes

cosbyIt’s hard to imagine, given the scope of the New York Magazine article, featuring a dramatic photo collage of his alleged victims on its cover: that US authorities are going to pass on the opportunity to indict Bill Cosby for rape.

The article suggests that although they photographed and interviewed 35 women, there are still more victims of a crime spree that spans more than 50 years: “The group of women Cosby allegedly assaulted functions almost as a longitudinal study: both for how an individual woman, on her own, deals with such trauma over the decades and for how the culture at large has grappled with rape over the same time period.”

I must have missed that part of the story.

What I did see was an “acknowledgment” that younger women will take up their cause using social media as a weapon. I saw a rather detailed description of how the statute of limitations makes it difficult to prosecute this case because most of the accusations are 25-35 years old. There was legal wrangling in 2002 and 2005, but then in 2014 dozens of women made public accusations that Mr. Cosby sexually assaulted them.

One claimed that she was molested as a minor and Cosby counter-sued with evidence of an attempt to extort money from his estate.

In sum, with the New York Magazine article there is a revving of the engine, a possible run-up to the announcement that the public outcry for justice is simply too loud to ignore.  If so, I have not heard it.   But that may be the very problem that the media is trying to solve. They want a public outcry.  Good luck with that.

Some of the most horrific cases of rape have surfaced in the past few years and the silence is deafening: media silence in particular…. Where was New York Magazine and its photographers in the aftermath of crimes for which there is more than ample evidence and no hint of extortion?  The examples are endless:

Try rape among politicians: Israeli president Moshe Katsav was found guilty of rape and sexual assault.

The Delhi Bus Gang-Rape/Murder.

The Steubenville High School rape on the night of August 11, 2012, when a high school girl, incapacitated by alcohol, was publicly and repeatedly sexually assaulted by peers,  who documented and disseminated the acts via social media.

How about the sexual assault of Savannah Dietrich in Louisville, Kentucky?

The suicide of Rehtaeh Parsons (Cole Harbour District High School, Nova Scotia)?

The suicide of Audrie Pott (Saratoga High School, California)?

The Torrington High School Rape (Connecticut)?

The Glen Ridge High Rape (New Jersey)

The $1.3 Million Settlement paid by the University of Connecticut to end its rape suit?

NADA! A US Justice Department study found that 80 percent of campus rapes went unreported between 1995 and 2013, compared to 67 percent in the general population.

I have no thoughts on Cosby’s guilt or innocence, but I have a multitude of questions about the priorities of the media, and its interest in celebrities accused of rape far and away above the culture of rape that women battle world-wide every single day.

In Rape Culture Is Real, Zerlina Maxwell offers a candid view.

Simply put, feminists want equality for everyone and that begins with physical safety.

You were drinking, what did you expect? Those were the first words that I heard when I went to someone I trusted for support after my roommate’s boyfriend raped me eight years ago. When I came forward to report what happened, instead of support, many well-meaning people close to me asked me questions about what I was wearing, if I had done something to cause the assault, or if I had been drinking. These questions about my choices the night of my assault — as opposed to the choices made by my rapist — were in some ways as painful as the violent act itself. I had stumbled upon rape culture: a culture in which sexual violence is the norm and victims are blamed for their own assaults.

Rape culture is when women who come forward are questioned about what they were wearing.

Rape culture is when survivors who come forward are asked, “Were you drinking?”

Rape culture is when people say, “she was asking for it.”

Rape culture is when we teach women how to not get raped, instead of teaching men not to rape.

Rape culture is when the lyrics of Robin Thicke’s ‘Blurred Lines’ mirror the words of actual rapists and is still the number one song in the country.

Rape culture is when the mainstream media mourns the end of the convicted Steubenville rapists’ football careers and does not mention the young girl who was victimized.

Rape culture is when cyberbullies take pictures of sexual assaults and harass their victims online after the fact, which in the cases of Audrie Pott and Rehtaeh Parsons tragically ended in their suicides.

Rape culture is when, in 31 states, rapists can legally sue for child custody if the rape results in pregnancy.

Rape culture is when college campus advisers tasked with supporting the student body, shame survivors who report their rapes. (Annie Clark, a campus activist, says an administrator at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill told her when she reported her rape, “Well… Rape is like football, if you look back on the game, and you’re the quarterback, Annie… is there anything you would have done differently?”)

Rape culture is when colleges are more concerned with getting sued by assailants than in supporting survivors. (Or at Occidental College, where students and administrators who advocated for survivors were terrorized for speaking out against the school’s insufficient reporting procedures.)

It’s no surprise that we would refuse to acknowledge that rape and sexual violence is the norm, not the exception. It’s no surprise because most of us would rather believe that the terrible realities we hear about aren’t real or that, at least, we can’t do anything about it. The truth is ugly. But by denying the obvious we continue to allow rapists to go unpunished and leave survivors silenced.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, media pundits target celebrities and victims with false and misleading headlines: leaving a trail of ruined lives, while lining up to argue that they deserve special legal protections because they serve the public interest.

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