Spanish Fly

witches chair 2We are a people who fail to consider consequences just as we fail to consider the linear notes of our history. It seems it is impossible for some of us too reason, for us to see where we have been and acknowledge the whys and wherefores of how we arrived at where we are today. We only see the right this minute and think somehow this is all there is, this bubble of bullshit somehow represents the entirety of our social make-up, there is nothing else, we got to this moment in time without all of the transcendent moments before this too pile upon.

Really? Are we really, as a people this stupid, this blind? Can this truly be possible?

I swore I was not going to discuss the issue of Bill Cosby and his heinous acts against women and I am not. What I am going to talk about is why so many, men and women alike came to his defense. We watched Bill Cosby and Larry King and we laughed right along with them, a nation thought their discussion of drugging women was funny.

Why did so many turn their backs as women came forward to accuse Cliff Huxtable (Bill Cosby) of being a sexual predator? Because we accept his actions, it is simple. Why so many, shrugged their shoulders and thought to themselves even when not thinking it aloud, ‘boys will be boys and those women were probably asking for it’.

I said I wouldn’t discuss Bill Cosby, I won’t. What I will discuss, is why anyone would think to defend him or his sexual molestation and rape of twenty or more women. Why anyone would think it was okay for Bill Cosby to drug young women so he could sexually molest and rape them. I know why, but I wonder if most understand how far back our disdain for women goes.

 If within the city a man comes upon a maiden who is betrothed, and has relations with her, you shall bring them both out of the gate of the city and there stone them to death: the girl because she did not cry out for help though she was in the city, and the man because he violated his neighbors wife.

Deuteronomy 22:23-24

There is of course more, but this is a good place to start with the very framework of those who lay the foundation of a nation in Biblical literalism. Starting with the Pilgrims and moving to the Puritans, not a single one of those who first came to these shores believed women were of equal value to men, in fact most believed they were of far less value.  In all cases, women could not own property, not even their own children unless they were widowed and never remarried. Even within the context of those much vaunted and hallowed documents of Independence and Democracy were women considered, only men are given a voice; not women and just to be clear, only White Men.

Witches and Puritans

Witches and Puritans

When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are. If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back again. But he is not allowed to sell her to foreigners, since he is the one who broke the contract with her. And if the slave girl’s owner arranges for her to marry his son, he may no longer treat her as a slave girl, but he must treat her as his daughter. If he himself marries her and then takes another wife, he may not reduce her food or clothing or fail to sleep with her as his wife. If he fails in any of these three ways, she may leave as a free woman without making any payment.

Exodus 21:7-11

We are without moral ground, it is power and control and it is right there in the very book so many within this nation claim as their guiding light, their shining beacon. How could we not ignore rape, ignore or worse still, blame the victims of rape in favor of the rapist. How could we not look at the victim of rape and ask these horrible questions:

6371058_G“What were you wearing?”

“How many sexual partners have you had?”

“What did you do to entice your rapist?”

“How much did you have to drink?”

“Why were you at that restaurant, bar, party?”

Of course there is any number of other questions the victim is asked, making them party to their own violation. Making them at fault for their rape, not a victim of violence at all, rather a willing participant and someone to be victimized, ostracized and humiliated further by society, the criminal justice system and too often family and friends.

It is estimated there are 400,000 untested rape kits sitting in evidence rooms across the nation. Rape victims, waiting for justice, who have submitted to invasive examinations of their bodies so Untested-Rape-Kits-1000x600police can collect DNA evidence, in most cases they do nothing with. The decision to test those kits, at a cost of $500-$1,500, is usually left to the investigating officer. The officer or the District Attorney, who too often are making the decision the case is ‘too hard to prove’, or worse have decided the rape didn’t happen, who are all too often searching for consent, searching for a reason not to prosecute and thus serving the rapist.

How did we get here? We have always been here, this is what we have always been. This is not new, we have not reached some new sociopathic low. The difference is women have started to speak out, started to say enough and no more. The difference is social media and the ability to connect with other victims, to compare stories and begin to understand the true nature of rape, the damage rape does to us, not just the initial damage to our bodies but the long-term horror the rape victim suffers.

In the past rape was a silent crime, the victim was silent and thus after the fact consented. Perhaps, if they were fortunate they had family or friends who were supportive and loving, this wasn’t always the case though. There was a reason rape victims’ names were masked from the public, it was to protect them from being humiliated and ostracized by the community, to prevent the community from dragging them to the gates and stoning them.

images‘What were you wearing?’

Blue jeans, a tee shirt and tennis shoes; I was eleven years old. I was silent for far more than twenty years because my rape humiliated my mother.

Recent Stories: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2015/07/16/untested-rape-kits-evidence-across-usa/29902199/

Private Programs to end the backlog: http://www.endthebacklog.org/backlog/what-backlog

Comments

  1. I don’t know if you have already seen this but have a feeling you will approve 😀 http://rockstardinosaurpirateprincess.com/2015/03/02/consent-not-actually-that-complicated/

  2. There is no defense of Bill Cosby. Period. I think it’s more a reluctance for many people to admit that, this man they welcomed into their homes every Thursday night for many years during the 1980s, fooled them so completely. People couldn’t look past his sweaters or his Jello pudding pops, I suppose. Great post, btw.

  3. Val I am with you.. It was the same for many many years here in the UK.. reported abuse which was not acted upon because of the perpetrators high profile on the BBC.. Even the Police squashed it.. But It came to light after his death.. I think only then as I am sure he was part of ring of abuses and would have taken those who ranked higher still down with him..
    There has since been huge revelations of child abuse which I think I shared before with you.. Still those in High places are not being prosecuted..

    • So it goes Sue, it isn’t going to change soon if we don’t demand a change in how we view the entire issue. Starting with how we view sex, not as something terrible but instead as something joyful and joyous. It has to start there.

  4. We have had quite a few high profile cases where men, having been raped by priests and teachers as kids, have finally come forward after 20-40 years . Nearly all said they didn’t think anyone would believe them. Men in power will take advantage of this. Women and children have long been silent victims .

  5. ****‘What were you wearing?’

    Blue jeans, a tee shirt and tennis shoes; I was eleven years old. I was silent for far more than twenty years because my rape humiliated my mother.***

    POWERFUL. OMMMMMMMgosh. Makes me sick.

    I don’t give a sh*t if you are naked and falling down drunk. NOBODY. EVER. Has the right to TOUCH or Fondle you in ANY way.

    EVER. NEVER.

    When you do….

    THIS. IS. RAPE.

    xxxx kiss from Duluth.

    • That my friend has been my response to a couple of posters below. It doesn’t seem to sink in. Yes, you are right. The strange thing on this one, everyone seems to focus on Bill Cosby and not the larger issue. I guess it is easier.

      Hugs right back to you.

  6. With you all the way, Val, the only good thing about it is that in the UK people like Cosby, famous, liked/loved are actually getting their come – uppance.. being jailed, and women are actually being believed. I think that the world is at a point where the truth is forcing itself out, instead of people being able to hide it all their lives.
    Just one thing, the Quaker communities, I always understood, gave woman equal rights and equality, both in England and in America…which is why I used to go to their silent meetings…

    • Yes, the Quakers were and remain an anomaly within the Christian churches. Many of their practices are far more balanced.

      I look at how we treat rape victims and have to wonder, when will we pull sex out of the closet. If we didn’t treat sex like such a dirty secret maybe we would stop treating rape so horribly. There are so many bright lines.

      • I always feel it’s more about power than sex.. men exerting their power, because they haven’t come to terms with the power of the feminine and fear it… just a thought !!! Who knows ????
        I find it fascinating that nowhere n the bible does it say that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute and yet the legend of her ‘unworthiness’ has passed down from word of mouth for two thousand years….like the ‘sin’ of Eve… ( feisty curious darling !)

        • Rape is absolutely about power. But if we brought sex out of the closet, if we allowed women their own power, the power of their sexuality, the power over their own bodies, their own decision making, it would not be so easy to shame them into silence. Rape would still be about power, control. It would remain a terrible and violent crime. The difference would be in the reporting of rape and how the victim of rape was treated in the the justice system and in the public eye.

          You are so right about Mary Magdalene, I have also always found her story fascinating.

  7. I was never too much of a Cosby fan, and I didn’t really like “The Cosby Show.” It’s obvious, though, that Cosby’s professional achievements not only made him a cultural icon to some, but allowed him to behave with absolute impunity. More than a few people have wondered why so many of these women are just now coming forward. But each of them knew subconsciously they would have an uphill battle. Here they were, unknown starlets in a brutal industry, and they would dare accuse a man like Cosby of something as perverse and immoral as sexual assault? Their reputations and careers were doomed even before they awoke from their drug-induced stupors.

    But, as we all know, what goes around comes around. Cosby was going to be outed at some point in time. His recent confession may have been purely self-serving. He knows he has more years behind him than ahead of him, so he’s facing his own mortality and a final judgment.

    And what can be done now? Nothing, absolutely nothing. The statute of limitations has expired on most of these cases, and any evidence collected might have been lost or destroyed. The only real alternative is for these women to come forward and reveal what happened; even if it was years or decades ago. They also need to strip off the “Victim” moniker and replace it with “Survivor.” Cosby may have ruined their entertainment careers, but he can’t ruin their dignity or self-respect.

    • The worst though Alejandro, some of them did come forward. They weren’t believed. Court records were sealed and their careers were ruined. This is what is so terrible.

      But this isn’t about Cosby, it is about an entire culture that we live in that does this to women. Has been doing this to women for hundreds of years, thousands of years. You are right, survivor is a much better definition, isn’t it.

  8. I think it wasn’t so much that I didn’t believe, but that I didn’t want to believe. I still don’t want to, but I do.

  9. Perhaps we need to consider this point of view. Many people withheld judgement of Cosby simply because of a lack of evidence in the early stages. Women came forward but anytime a celebrity is accused there is always a suspicion of motive by the accuser. Did they just want money? Fame? Why did they wait so long? Etc.
    That attitude in no way condones rape or molestation. But it says that we should not rush to judgement. Now that so many more facts have emerged are there any folks still supporting Cosby in his assertions of innocence? Very few, I would think.Waiting for facts and evidence is not the same as approving of illicit or violent behavior. Not everyone accused is guilty.
    Questions regarding alleged victims of rape fall under the same category. Doesn’t anyone accused of a crime have the right to confront their accusers? When you prevent a defense attorney from asking certain questions are you not prejudging the outcome and assuming that the accused is guilty? While we must have no tolerance for violent actions against women (and against men, also) at the same time we should not rush to judgement or prevent the accused from having a legitimate defense.
    We all have a disgusting feeling thinking that our daughter has been raped and the perpetrator may go free. Should we not have the same disgusting feeling that our son may be wrongfully convicted of rape?

    • 18 women came forward, there were still defenders.
      Many of these women had come forward previously, they were quashed. He was famous and they were just women, just nobodies. Just as you said, maybe they wanted something. Their accusations were ignored in favor of the famous man.

      No Joseph, this nation, this society is prepared to tack a scarlet letter on a woman. Do exactly what you have just done.

      • And how, EXACTLY, have I “tacked a scarlet letter” on anyone? Please give evidence of that. I simply stated what SHOULD be obvious. No person, man or woman, should be condemned without evidence. And every person accused has the right to challenge their accuser. Or are you suggesting that women are so weak that they cannot stand up to an attorneys questions? Isn’t that a bit sexist?

        • Joseph, several of these women came forward. They went to the police. They went public. You suggest they didn’t, you suggest they somehow should have done more and that with 18+ accusers, squashed evidence, hidden sworn testimony Bill Cosby still had the right to greater protections than his victims.

          That Joseph, is what we traditionally call painting a victim with a Scarlet Letter. It has nothing to do with making a victim weak. It is simply identifying a social phenomenon, the very one this entire post is about.

          • I was able to locate the name of one woman (Lachelle Covington) in 2000 who filed a police report alleging that Cosby tried to put her hand down his pants. She stopped him. Police took it to the DA. The Manhattan DA at the time did not have enough evidence to proceed. I found no evidence that anyone else filed a police report. Can you provide a link to that information? If others filed police reports and the DAs did nothing then we have a clear problem of a system that does not work. How many police reports of sexual misconduct were not acted on?
            By the way, at no time did I suggest that anyone accused of a crime “had a right to greater protections than his victims”. Never said it. Never implied it. But all people accused of crimes, even celebrities, have the right to confront their accusers. I am not sure why anyone would find that basic legal concept unacceptable.
            Regarding the larger issue. Sexual assault accusations have always been a problem because of the issue of evidence. The nature of the “he said-she said” accusations. Not sure how to get around that. But times have changed. Women are now willing to speak out and openly accuse the perpetrator. That is a positive development.

  10. The problem with Cosby, I submit, is one of conflating his behavior with his affable persona and his common-sense public moralizing. They are now revealed as opposites, so how can this be?

    I have wondered if the answer might be that some people can compartmentalize their true selves easier than others? Cosby is an actor, and therefore one who can assume a convincing guise different from his own. Ronald Reagan was another. It was hard not to like him. I have come to think that he was not so much the President as merely playing the role.

    Consider the celebrity effect. Celebrities are seen as successful and therefore wiser on general topics than most, so people take their advice on products and relationships when they are so often the worst possible source. In this context, isn’t it interesting that Donald Trump is currently on top of the GOP contenders’ polls?

    • Yes, this is a big part of the Cosby / Reagan / Trump issue. It does not however, address the much bigger issue, does it?

      • You’re right, Val, my comment didn’t address the “bigger issue”, which is the assumption of the woman’s fault in cases of rape. I thought you covered it well from the woman’s point of view – I have no doubt such things do happen regularly and I would be the last to assert that bias is appropriate for either side.

        Unfortunately, rape is often a case of she said, he said, unless there is clear evidence of violence or witnesses. Your listing of historical treatment of the (physically) weaker sex is accurate and I don’t doubt that most cases have been biased against women. There is something to be said, however, for a minority of cases where women have wielded their sexuality excessively, leaving consent unknowable.

        As it happens, yesterday I looked out the window of my den at a car full of people stopped in the street. They were apparently surveying the neighborhood, perhaps looking at real estate. A nubile young lady jumped out of the back door to pick up a walnut and throw it back into a yard. She was wearing skimpiest of bikini’s, leaving virtually nothing to the imagination. The bottom, such as it was, left nothing to the imagination and was well below the line where one would expect to see pubic hair. Would such behavior justify rape? Of course not. But it does show, in my opinion, that many of the fairer sex regularly deploy sexuality as a powerful force, no Spanish Fly required.

        My best hope is that authorities will use the Cosby case and similar ones to usher in a new era of open-eyed and unbiased judgement in rape cases, rape of either sex.

        • Jim I give two shits if I walk down the street stark naked, it is not an invitation to rape. The use of power and violence to take by force is never under any circumstances justified, ever. What about that statement do you not understand?

          A woman is a fully enfranchised individual, does not need the permission of a man or of society to do anything she pleases. This includes having multiple sexual partners, wearing anything she wishes, having full time work, being in full control of her body at all times, making all her own decisions. At no time do any of her actions give another person the right to name her as “less than”, at no time do her choices give another person the right to treat her as a ‘less than’. At no time do her actions invite rape, period end of story.

          That men are trained to believe their desire trumps a woman’s right to say ‘No’ is exactly the reason for the mentality you demonstrate in your comments. Yes, there are rare occasions where a claim of rape has been made where it is not the truth, these are shameful. However, they are rare, they are not common. The reason they are rare? The victim is treated so badly by society, by the justice system it is not worth making these false claims.

          • Val, if you will re-read my comment you will see that I did not condone rape in any way but only referred to instances where “consent” is at issue and where rape may not have occurred. While rare, as you properly point out, those do occur. A DOJ report in 1997 estimated that 8% of rape accusations were regarded as unfounded or false. I think it is also true that there is some correlation between provocative behavior and accusations of rape. The case studies I can find on this are conclusive that rape is motivated by a desire to impose control and I wasn’t denying that. However, I do plead guilty to thinking there was some correlation. My bad.

            This weekend’s USA Today newspaper has an excellent article on its front page about the widespread neglect of many communities in processing rape kits. It turns out that DNA processing costs about $1,000 per kit and that, I suspect, is the principal reason for the neglect. Hopefully, with the steadily lowering of the cost problem and more publicity, this is the beginning of a solution and of uniform rules requiring processing and sharing of a national DNA database.

            The kit processing is a problem on the same scale as the one of (lack of) extradition of criminals by the individual states. Once the perpetrator leaves the state, he or she becomes “not our problem” because it costs buckets of money to try them and incarcerate them. In my opinion this is one of the principal problems with strong “states’ rights”.

            • Often, in this politically correct society, when a man is accused of rape or any kind of violence against a female, he’s almost always presumed guilty. It’s then left up to him and his defense attorneys to prove his innocence. In other criminal cases, jurisprudence usually is not upended so badly. It’s an unfortunate irony. If we break it down further along racial and ethnic lines, the disparities become even greater. How many non-White men have been imprisoned and executed in this country because they allegedly raped a White woman? Some of the nation’s first drug laws – passed in the early part of the 20th century – were designed with one primary goal: keep Black men from raping White women. Dallas County, for example, has the highest rate of exonerations of any county in the U.S., and most were rape convictions. That’s because Henry Wade, Dallas County’s long-serving D.A., told his staff to win at all costs. That meant, even if there was proof of innocence, prosecutors had to ensure a conviction.

              Another tragic aspect of this entire issue is that, when a woman really does make a false accusation of rape, she essentially disrespects all the real victims of sexual assault; women and girls who may not have the luxury of wide-ranging media presence and must heal themselves. She might as well just smack them across their collective faces and give them the finger.

              Don’t get me started on the police! They’re generally worthless, until called upon to intervene. Ten years ago a local policewoman made a U-turn into oncoming traffic, ran a red light and almost rear-ended my truck…just to stop me because of a recently expired inspections sticker. That’s typical of most law enforcement who are never around when real problems arise. Then they throw out this crap about, ‘Well, we can’t be everywhere at once.’ There was a case here in Dallas a couple of years ago where a woman called 911, as her ex-husband was breaking into her house. Her screams could be heard on the recording. But the dispatcher didn’t code it as an emergency, so the 2 responding officers (one of whom stopped at a convenience store for a bottle of water) merely knocked on the front door. When they got no response, they just left. The caller’s family found her dead a day or two later because she hadn’t answered any of their phone calls.

              • In race politics you are right Alejandro, but in most situations rape victims are still at the mercy of the system and it is an unkind and ugly system.

            • Many of the ‘false’ accusation statistics are not ‘false’ at all but are instead rape victims ultimately withdrawing from the process. If you read further in both the DOJ and FBI reports on this issue you will find they both name this as a problem with the statistic.

              I talked about the unprocessed Rape Kits in this post. I talked about the cost, in this article. The fact is, that cost is quite small compared to other costs of prosecution. The fact is, districts choose not to process them, have chosen not to process them time and again.

  11. Every time I hear about the progress women have made, I’m happy, but I never fully enjoy the moment, because I know how far there still is to go. So I end up feeling frustrated. For example, just the other day, I read in USA Today how there are stronger roles for women in movies now more than ever. That’s true, and I’m thrilled about it, but yet in the next click of a mouse I’m reading about all the rape that goes on in Game of Thrones. (I haven’t seen the show, but I’ve seen it discussed on social media.) So I kind of feel like it’s one step forward, one step back.

    Great post as always, Valentine.

    • Interesting Carrie, the rape in Game of Thrones is contextual within the story. Where so many women are bothered by it, I am not. I am certain this makes me strange, but I see through the lens of my reading of the books, my understanding of the story and the characters and the world they live within.

      Yes, I suppose women have made progress. We are allowed to work. We are allowed to vote.

      We are losing our ability to define our medical decisions. We are in truth losing our voice in politics, despite some strong women we are under represented. We are under represented in the workforce, except in low wage jobs. We continue to earn less than men, even where we are better qualified.

      No, I don’t think we are making real progress, it is all on the surface to pacify us and sit us down.

  12. Reblogged this on The Militant Negro™.

  13. Someone called me sexist in response to my my-son-wears-pink post. I’ve posted other negative comments about me, but this I would not post. Why? Because of the other part of that, the one that said sexism is recognizing sex exists at all. I will not have my blog be home for anyone’s damnable, ludicrous assertions the only bar to equality for all is that “those people” still keep talking about inequality. That bullshit is in enough other places–even with clear-cut cases where fault should be hard assigned to anyone other than the aggressor!–that I will not suffer it in my own space, granting it the legitimization of that space and discourse. By now, too, there is enough evidence out there that anyone willing to see will have seen already. It won’t be because I try enticing someone to see the world through someone else’s eyes when they’re convinced the world is the same through all eyes … and if we’d just stop talking about it, all would be well.

    Not enough swear words for that, especially reading a piece like this.

    Thank you.

    • I know there are always many perspectives, many ways to see the arch of history. Even my own history has an arch and I have seen it. Knowing that arch has allowed me to create the bright boundaries around my life and through my life, those boundaries that are fully me.

      They are broad and allow many in, they are wide and enable much grace. But they exist and they protect me and those I love.

      You are so right to not allow and not legitimize. There are enough swear words my dearest friend, they simply take up too much space.

  14. Good find by Dr. Drew. …. and thanks sharing your perspective through your story.

    • In the end Frank, truly it is the only perspective I have. It is what gives me the lens I have on this issue. I suspect, each of us looks at any issue in part with the lens of our own experience. It is nearly impossible to do otherwise I think.

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