Cosby charge not exactly victory for women

By Associate Editor

Comedian Bill Cosby was charged Dec. 30 with second-degree aggravated indecent assault of Temple University basketball coach Andrea Constand, whom he allegedly drugged and sexually assaulted in 2004 in his Philadelphia home.

The news of his arrest caused nation- wide celebration from rape victim advo- cates as well as dismay among Cosby supporters. While entertainers, including director Judd Apatow and comedian Amy Schumer , expressed joy at the news of the arrest via Twitter, Cosby supporters have come forward denouncing the prosecution. Rapper R. Kelly went to his defense in a Jan. 20 interview with GQ and Cosby’s attorney Monique Pressley has begun making media rounds to deflect any criticism of her client.

Some critics say the decades-long delays in reporting purported crimes invalidate the accusations while others see the charges as part of a conspiracy
to tarnish the names of prominent black entertainers and maintain white privilege 
within the industry. This is in spite of a 2005 deposition in which Cosby admitted to giving drugs such as Quaaludes, strong sedatives that have been used medically and recreationally, to women he wanted to have sex with. Quaaludes, a brand name for methaqualone, is no longer legally available in the United States.

Yet any celebration of a feminist victory is premature and the likelihood that the approximately 50 women who came forward will finally be heralded for their courage is remote. If anything, the publicity has made the naysayers even more resolute in defending Cosby from not just Constand—who in fact did alert the police after the assault and settled her civil case out of court in 2006—but the other accusers who waited to come forward.

According to a 2013 report from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics that studied the reporting of sexual assaults from 1995 to 2010, only 35 percent of total sexual assaults were reported to the police in 2010. Within the 15 years, the percentage never reached more than 60 percent. 

The study also states that two of the top reasons victims cited between 2005 and 2010 as why they did not report the crimes were listed as “police would not do anything to help” and “fear of reprisal.”

The pushback was bad enough when all the court of public opinion had to base its opinions on was a damning deposition and dozens of accusers, but Cosby supporters are illuminating a major socialissue. It is unfortunate how society diminishes the importance of the alleged victim’s story because the country is not ready to stop dismissing the female victim voice.

While Cosby’s arrest is a necessary and promising step in Constand’s quest for justice, the reaction proves this step forward is far from a victory for women and assault victims. For this case to have any effect on how our male-dominated society views and believes female victims, drastic changes, including not dismissing women’s claims of sexual assault, need to occur within mass societal viewpoints.