Originally published: 21.07.15
So the truth finally comes out. In a 2005 deposition, Bill Cosby admittedto giving Quaaludes to young women with whom he wanted to have sex. Quaaludes was a massively popular sleep aid, sedative formally known as methaqualone. It was started off to be used as an antimalarial but was soon discovered to have sedative-hypnotic effects.
Despite this newly uncovered information, Whoopi Goldberg on the talk show, The View continued to defend Cosby, proclaiming, “I say this because this is my opinion, and in America still, I know it’s a shock, but you actually were innocent until proven guilty. He has not been proven a rapist.”
So far, 40 women have come forward and accused the comedian of drugging and subsequently raping them and Whoopi thinks he has to be proven a rapist? Does she know a thing called ‘statute of limitations’? In most of these cases, the statute has expired and the accusations cannot be used to indict Cosby…but a far bigger question is why do we need a rapist to be proven guilty by law before admitting he did something wrong?
For heaven’s sake Cosby himself admitted to giving women drugs. Is such a statement not tantamount to admission of guilt? What does Whoopi think he did with the women after drugging them? Watch them while they slept?
Now I love Whoopi and admire her acting skills but to suggest what she did on the talk show is frankly offensive to women. I cannot understand how women fail to sympathize with other women who claim to have suffered abuse! And on another thought – would Whoopi have extended the same concessions had it been a white man? Or is she siding with Cosby only because he is black?
I am not inserting race in this conversation blindly but only to prove that it takes a lot to be fair. We, as humans, always view the world with our preconceived notions and stereotypes – be it based on race, religion, caste, gender or other divisions. If we remove our lens of bias, we will notice most of our decisions are discriminatory. And those discriminatory decisions often affects someone.
In this case that someone are 40 women who were raped by Cosby. Earlier this week, CNN interviewed Janice Dickinson, one of the 40 women assaulted by Cosby, to get her reactions on Whoopi’s comments. I sympathized with her because from the moment she got on screen she looked like she would bawl. She could not hold herself and looked aghast that someone would ignore her accusations so quickly. Looking numb, she said, “I don’t know how to feel. I don’t have the strength at the moment.” She went on to add that since Whoopi was perhaps never raped she did not know what it felt to be dismissed and not taken seriously.
I just cannot get over this internalized patriarchy that we harbor. This ridiculous notion that women can get overly emotional and are unable to assess a situation fairly and hence may make up allegations is not only annoying but extremely repugnant.
Most of us, including I assume Whoopi Goldberg, have not been assaulted. Most of us do not know what is it like to live with that episode afterwards. When I use the word assault, I do not only mean physical or sexual. Verbal, psychological and emotional assault as well are offensive diatribes that leave a lasting impression on the mind.
People who are assaulted live in fear – sometimes we do not even know why we live in fear because we have forgotten we had been assaulted. The mind is a wonderful construct and in order to survive, sometimes blocks instances that were extremely painful and makes us forgot many memories that would otherwise bring us grief. That explains why rape victims remember in spurts and many times their memory fails them. It is not because they are lying but because they are trying to survive.
Memories come back here and there…sometimes there is a trigger, sometimes they are totally forgotten. If you have verbalized the incident immediately there is a greater likelihood of remembering it. But not all of us are that lucky to have someone to share it with immediately after being assaulted. Which is why one of Cosby’s victims, after being assaulted at age 15 and watching women accusing him of drugging and assaulting, started going to therapy and could remember being raped by him in a similar fashion.
That does not mean she is making up the allegations or lying. It simply means that those memories were blocked and a trigger set them off.
I was assaulted for many years 13 years ago and there are still many memories that have left me…perhaps for good and others that are waiting for a trigger. There are many times an incident provokes a memory and I live in that reality for a few moments, conversing with myself and imagining the world it would be had I been with my ex. I still, despite so many years have passed, carry the scars and perhaps will do so until the day I die. They are all hidden away from plain slight so their ugliness may not stop me from living my day to day existence and when they come back, it is usually because something provokes them. It is not because I have an active imagination and love stressing myself with absurd, painful memories and allegations.
When I first wrote my assault piece, many on Twitter accused me that since I had not reported the crime, it had never happened and hence I was making it all up. Others asked me why I was speaking up after so many years. What do you wish to accomplish they asked. Nothing. I just wanted to share the injustice I lived with for so many years and unfortunately only now have mustered up the courage to say I was raped.
So Whoopi and all the other nay-sayers, do not question someone who says they were assaulted. If you cannot offer support, walk away but do not say anything you may regret later. Thank your stars that you have never been assaulted because until you are, you will never fathom the incredibly painful reality we have to experience. As for me, I believe those women and will always believe anyone who says they were abused, assaulted, raped or suffered any form of injustice. I will always be standing here to support, address and believe. Hopefully that will help them some and also help my wounds heal.
Liberating Realisations I am womanist. I’m a writer passionate about women’s right and equality. My aim is to bring change in the way women and men are treated around the world and specially in India. I’m fighting for respect and to be treated as an equal. My blog, Liberating Realizations, on Tumblr talks about /documents the inequality – violence, abuse, rape, torture – that women face everyday all around the world, and, particularly in India. I was a victim of violence for many years and for the first time in my life am finding my “voice”. I want to use this voice to talk about equality and promulgate the belief that women are equal to men and deserve to be treated better. I occasionally write about other things as well – anything that might grab my fancy – but in the end I am a champion for women/girl rights. My Twitter handle is @rupandemehta.