The Strange Allegations Against Bill Cosby
by Steven Malik Shelton
Numerous allegations of rape and sexual misconduct have been made against the American comedian and entertainment icon, Bill Cosby. It is difficult to place definitive numbers on them (there were over 30 at the time of this writing) because women continue to come forward with accounts from the past in a seemingly never ending stream.
Of course allegations of sexual impropriety are not unique especially as it pertains to wealthy and influential men in the entertainment industry. And allegations of rape and sexual transgression by White women against Black men is as common in American culture as apple pie. Thus, the charges of rape against Cosby are both strange and familiar.
Incredibly, some of the allegations against Cosby are over 40 years old, and one wonders how a woman could keep such a dastardly secret for almost half a century, only to have it burst forth decades later like some ugly and loathsome forbidden fruit.
Almost all of Cosby’s accusers are not only white women but women who dabbled or meddled in the entertainment industry. And although no one should ever be forced to perform sexual acts against their will, yet reality being what it is, the entertainment industry has a sad and sordid history of sexual maleficence, immorality, deceit, and licentiousness. The television, film and stage abound with women showcasing themselves like slabs of meat to anyone with a proclivity to look. And we have all heard stories of the director’s and the producer’s casting couches. We would be naïve to think that in such a sexually charged and sex-crazed industry that amorous favors are not routinely exchanged between those that have influence and those that don’t.
Most of Cosby’s accusers were seeking prominence in an industry where thousands of women feel no shame parading about and showcasing their bodies to the lustful delight of anyone who can afford the price of the ticket. I understand that it has become fashionable to say that just because a woman may choose to dress provocatively or come into casual contact with men on a daily basis, it does not give men the right to take sexual liberties with them. Yet we must not leave out the other part of the equation: If a woman presents herself as [first and foremost] a sexual object of desire and availability with questionable moral fiber, than she can be assured that sooner or later someone will attempt to have illicit sexual relations with her, with or without her consent. In other words, one cannot appear to be offering up something desirable, without expecting that someone will gravitate toward it.
Let us not be overcome by sensationalism and the lopsided media coverage of the sexual abuse/rape allegation tales against Cosby. Let us try, if even for a moment, to analyze and reflect upon the stark reality of what often transpires in relationships between powerful, influential men and ambitious women who are desperately attempting to get a piece of the action.
I remember the late writer, Alex Haley, who penned the extremely successful book, ‘Roots’ saying publicly that after the sensational literary and financial success he acquired after writing the historical novel, he must have suddenly become irresistibly handsome judging by the scores of women that were throwing themselves at him. Whereas when he was a struggling and anonymous columnist he could barely get a date.
And, of course, the accounts of famous and wealthy movie stars and entertainers are numerous of how strange women attempted to sneak into their hotel rooms or sent them messages begging them to have sexual relations with them.
On the surface, the number of women coming forward to "bare their souls" in the bright glow of the media lights would, by the preponderance of similar testimony, seem to cast a shroud of guilt over Mr. Cosby’s shoulders. Yet, when one remembers Crosby’s legacy as a major entertainment star for the last 50 years and the fact that he has had the opportunity to have sexual liaisons with thousands of willing women and has come into contact with tens of thousands more, the number of women that have come forward with stories of Cosby’s alleged sexual impropriety, don’t seem as overwhelming.
The national media is, of course, involved in a feeding frenzy where the point of departure between what is news and what has been manufactured as such is blurred and uncertain.
To be fair we have to confess that Cosby is no choir boy, neither is he Dr. Huxtable, the charming and classic father who became ‘America’s Dad’ in the record breaking TV sit-com of the 1980’s. And even if he is guilty of sexual transgression against women, his actions did not occur out of a vacuum. He is a product of his environment. And what are the temptations this environment invites all to, young and old? Rich and poor?
Rape laws vary from states to state in America, and they have changed over the years as well. For example, in many jurisdictions the amount of time it took the alleged victim to report the crime had a bearing on the believability and validity of the charges. Also ‘’rape is the only form of violent criminal assault in which the physical act accomplished by the offender is an act which may, under other circumstances, be desirable to the victim."1 Thus according to Professor of Law, Wayne R. LaFave: ‘‘This is why the line drawing necessary in determining the boundaries of the crime of rape is especially difficult, and may help explain why it is that efforts to define that offense have traditionally necessitated, in a somewhat curious way, examination of both the victim’s non- consent and also the manner of the perpetuators imposition."
Several studies have shown that false accusations of rape are not as rare as people have been led to believe. In one study, the U.S. Air Force investigated 556 cases of alleged sexual assault and a whopping 27 percent of the women who made the charges, admitted that their allegations were false and fabricated.2 And an article by Stephen Buckley published in the Washington Post showed that two of the largest counties in the Washington, DC area had recorded that 40 percent of the sexual assault allegations were either false or unfounded.3 Also national rape statistics kept by the F.B.I. does not record the percentage of convictions relating to individuals accused of rape; thus the percentage of false rape allegations on the national level could range from zero to 100 percent.3
There are many disturbing and incredulous elements in most of Cosby’s accuser’s accounts of the incidents in which they claim sexual assault and abuse by him. But before we delve into them, a few facts about rape accusations and allegations need to be examined.
Statistics show that allegations of rape by women against men usually involves someone that the woman has a relationship with or who she is acquainted with. And some experts believe that women that falsely accuse men of rape do it for several basic reasons: "to gain sympathy, to seek revenge, to explain their own bad behavior, because they are mentally unbalanced, because they have a personally disorder, because they are impulsive, hysterical, vindictive, drunk, imbued with PMS, and so on. Women can also make false allegations to gain some legal advantage – e.g. in divorce situations – and often, simply to make money through victim compensation schemes."4
In the allegations against Cosby, many of them involve Cosby supposedly disabling his victims with alcoholic beverages and drugs; this scenario allows the women to abdicate their responsibility for their own dubious judgement and actions. Thus, as in the infamous incident involving former heavyweight champion, Mike Tyson and beauty contestant, Desiree Washington, up to his bedroom she goes in the middle of the night after flirting with Tyson all day and parading around in a bikini outfit, only to claim rape days later.
Almost all of the women that have charged Cosby with sexual assault claim that they did not come forward sooner because they believed their allegations would not be believed against a man of Cosby’s status .This in itself is an incredulous and weak excuse when we reflect on the history of race relations in America and the so-called criminal justice system and how it deals with Black men.
Moreover, American history is dripping with incidents of attractive Black men fanning the flames of desire of love-starved, devious, White women. And after their advances were rejected or after they were suspected of having relations with America’s ultimate taboo, the women cried rape in an attempt to protect their fragile ego or to buffer themselves from the outrage and backlash of White-male dominated America and the dogged and remorseless forces of White supremacy. (See the Roseville tragedy circa 1920 Florida; the Scottsboro case in 1931; the Algiers Motel incident in Detroit in 1967; and the Central Park Five case of 1989 in New York City).
The culture of the nation/society that encompasses and nurtures the participants in any transgression (sexual or otherwise) must, in due course, also shoulder a significant part of the blame. For it is in the American atmosphere of free-wheeling sexual gamesmanship that sexual assaults, accusations, manipulations, and misunderstandings abound across the board. And the old tried and true moral guidelines and principles that should regulate and govern the interaction and relationships between the sexes in any civilized society have been cast into the dust bin. And many women shamelessly parade around today in revealing outfits that, just a few decades ago, would have caused the most depraved street hooker to blush.
The powerful attraction between men and women which functions for the continuation of the human species is misused and corrupted by the casual mixing of the sexes in almost every venue and occasion. And instead of being the exception, promiscuous non-devotional sexual relationships have become the rule of the day under the guise of freedom of choice and gender equality. In short, when men and women begin to behave outside of the normal scope of human relations prescribed by an All-Wise Creator and Designer, then they will invite chaos, suffering and calamity upon themselves.
The sexual attraction between men and woman is not meant to be utilized for mere fun, cheap thrills and frivolousness. Human sexual relationships is meant to be both the bedrock and the lubricating oil of human civilization. All sexual interaction was prescribed by the Creator to occur only between men and women who had freely committed themselves to a devoted, honorable and loyal relationship to each other. And any children produced from their union are to be raised with the benefit of both its parents within the framework of a stable, affection-fueled home life.
Sadly in today’s America, men and women play fast and loose in amorous liaisons and the restraining compass of principled behavior and moral accountability has weakened or vanished altogether. So you have women who go alone to the bedroom and hotel rooms of men, voluntarily consume alcoholic beverages and drugs, then claim rape days or decades later. Shamim A. Saddiqi, provides insight:
"Today we see that most of the people (men and women) in the free societies of the world have degraded themselves to a level, even lower than the animals. The entire society, its press, radio, TV, streets, parks, beaches, thoroughfares and clubs all are surcharged with the aura of sex. They are busy day in and day out in exploiting and accelerating the instinct of sex, making boys and girls, men and women crazy to have it when and wherever possible. People in general and youth in particular have reached a state where they are all sex oriented, as if they were born only for this purpose.
In the descriptions of sexual assault against Cosby, a mere amorous advance to steal a kiss from women who have freely entered his domain and accepted dinner/ and/or drinks and drugs is enough to label him a serial rapist. And the fact that most of these women continued to voluntarily be in Cosby’s company and to ask for or accept money from him, is somehow minimized or ignored. The fact that most of the women were supposedly assaulted over 20 to 40 years ago, yet never pursued criminal charges against him, and only came out of the shadows to become litigants in group law suits against Cosby which have the potential to pay out millions in monetary compensation is cause for pause, scrutiny and cynicism.