Bill Cosby & the Sexual Assaults

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I want to talk about victims and victors concerning surviving sexual abuse.

It is not easy for anyone who has been sexually abuse to come forward with their experiences. For many thousands of years, women, in particular, have experienced sexual abuse. With the stories that have been recorded about women being sexually assaulted, they will tell you that it took them a very long time to come out. The reason why it is so difficult for women to admit that they have been sexually abused because of all the messages that society has constructed into “truths.” Women who have been sexually abused know what typically happens when one admits that they have been sexually harmed through previous examples of those who have told before them. Growing up as an individual who was born in the 80s, grew up in the mid-80s, and grew up entirely in the 90s, I will tell you that exposure of women being sexually abused, sexually harmed, etc. was at its height (and more so now in the Millennium). Even before then, the way American women have been treated has an important legacy. Our American women’s history tell us the tales of how women could not vote, could not own property and were the property of men. Think about that…the property of men. Our foremothers, our fore-sisters, were once the property of men. And let me tell you…my fore black mothers, black sisters, black grandmothers, etc. were SLAVE property. When I say that, oh, we had it worse than white women. We were treated worse than cattle. Black female slaves were used to breed more slaves, more of an “impure” race, to continue to the slavocracy during that time. Anyone who was not considered purely white and could not pass—they were considered black. During slavery, if it was found out that you were passing as white and slave owners or others who supported slavocracy knew it, slave owners and others alike tried to make sure you become a slave.

I say all this because history does not repeat itself. I don’t really believe that notion. I believe when you look at history, you are looking at a continuum of certain of events that have never really been cured—but half way treated.

All this is relevant to the Bill Cosby situation. When I talk about American women’s history, when I talk about women once being property and/or treated like property, it all boils down to power. The Bill Cosby situation is an excellent example of how we all have to continue to fight and solve the issues of individuals abusing power.

Let’s talk about power and what power is. Dictionary.com defines power as I want to describe in this writings as this instance: “the possession of control or command over others; authority;ascendancy” (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/power?s=t).

Power is when someone uses it to control someone. Power is when someone abuses his or her authority to take control over someone’s else power so they can manipulate them. When one is abused, manipulation is one of the acts that comes into play in gaining power over that other person.

Many individuals who are sexually abuse are victims at first. They are victimized by an authority figure or someone that they know. Usually, this powerful person is seductive. He or she instinctively preys on individuals he/she knows that are easy to prey upon. What abuse is about is power. In order to exercise that power, one must seduce and/or manipulate in what he/she wants from that individual.

Due to the power of, historically, how women are viewed, how women should act, and/or how women should be, for women who are abused, it is very difficult for us to come out. Usually, when we come out and say someone has harmed us, it is not taken seriously. It is laughed upon. It’s…you sure about that? You sure that you aren’t overreacting? You sure that he/she didn’t mean any harm? Maybe you are too sensitive?

In certain situations when abuse happens, it heightens the fear of whether or not in wanting to tell someone or somebodies. You start realizing that if you tell someone…they may not believe you. Then, you start thinking…okay, they believe, but then what? What will happen to me? I may not have a normal life. There will be a lot of people judging me. When it comes to sexual abuse in particularly, a woman can be shamed. “Well, maybe he/she misunderstood the way you dressed?” “Well, you slept with him/her the night before? Maybe you just didn’t feel like it.” “Why would you say something NOW after all of this time?” “You were a kid then…you sure you remember correctly?”

Listen, I understand that people do not want to accuse someone especially of a crime. Or defame his or her reputation. The outsiders who were not involved in the situation but was told the situation want to give people in the entire situation (like me…I try to be as logical as possible and fair in my assessment) the benefit of the doubt.

But people, sometimes, the writing is right on the wall, and people choose to ignore it.

In almost a week’s time, there have been several more victims stating that Bill Cosby drugged them and raped them or sexually assaulted them several decades ago. There has been over 15 women now that have “alleged” this.

It can very difficult in not believing the women who are making statements that Cosby sexually assaulted them. Because look at who we are talking about. It’s Bill Cosby.
What does Bill Cosby represent?

For American culture, he represents one of the all American fathers in not just popular culture. In the black community, Bill Cosby represents how all black men should strive to become successful husbands, fathers, citizens, and professionals in American society. The Cosby Show represents him as Heathcliff Huxatable who is married to his wife, Claire. The good wholesome father who is a good husband and provider. He and his wife are in an egalitarian relationship and work together very well. They love each other unconditionally and their children. Bill Cosby and Cliff Huxtable, for many of us, are one in the same and have been for a very long time. We have individuals thinking that Bill Cosby is actually the true representation of his character on television. What also shows is that Bill Cosby is a successful black man as well. Looking at black history, black men were lynched and emasculated. Black men were denied rights that led to opportunities to be successful. If anything, Bill Cosby is one of the most successful black men in our American culture. One reason why he is so successful and looked upon so reverent is because of when he became successful. The Cosby Show debuted on September 20, 1984 and concluded on April 30, 1992. The show eight year run was during the Reagan era and the Bush era. Both of these eras showed how black America was in quite turmoil with a lot of gang violence, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and how black communities were very poverty stricken. He is important figure in American culture because of the haunting legacy of how blacks have been treated in American society. He has defied all the odds not only relating to how blacks were treated several hundred years ago. Bill Cosby created a character and a show to juxtapose the representation of how other black folks live in America as well.

For many people who are fans, I am sure they are having a difficult time with believing these women coming forward. Now, we have over fifteen women who are “alleging” that he sexually assaulted them. As someone who has been sexually harassed, more than once, as a teenager, a young woman, and an adult woman, I know how difficult it can be to come forward. I know how difficult it can be to remain silent due to the pressures of not wanting to accuse someone. Not wanting to get someone fired. Not wanting to get someone in trouble. Then to come forward where everyone doesn’t believe you…

I tell you two cases of this happening to me.

One was in high school. I had this suitor who happened to be a track star. He pursued me. At first, like any teenager girl, I was flattered. This guy even went as far as to come to my house and ask my mom could he court me. However, I just wasn’t attractive to him.

It started when he would touch my breast. At first, I did not make a big stink about it, BUT I did tell him that it was inappropriate and not to do it again. However, he did do it again, and I stood up to him. I remember once I laid down the law, he pretty much grabbed my wrist so tight I felt like he would break it. Prior, before he did this, he pretty much told me…

“Well, you know, if you tell anyone, no one will believe you. You really think they would believe you over me, the track star, of the team.”

As he grabbed my wrists, those words echo through my mind, the combination of him echoing those words and grabbing my wrists set me on fire. Instead of it silencing me, I went directly to the assistant principal, and they pretty much put his ass on his punishment.

And you are thinking…alright, Sophia, way to a go! You told, but I was ostracized by my peers. All the female high school students in my health occupations class pretty much was surrounded by the table talking about how I unfairly put the track star in-school suspension. One of them came to the table and ask…how could you do that? My character was put under the radar (I wasn’t well like in high school by many anyway, so, let’s shit on Sophia even more). I had no RIGHT to report him. How dare I report him? What was the matter with me? He didn’t do anything bad.

Then, the other time was when I was a Mormon (I did not belong to the illegal church…I belonged the Latter Day Saints that is legal)…

One of my former classmate friends picked me up, and we were talking, and out of nowhere, he grabbed my breast. I was in such a shock that I yelled at him and pushed his hand away. He was like he was sorry. I assumed that since he thought I was black that it was okay just to grab my breast. I suspect that he thought that all black women were fast and wanted sex. Due to him having an opportunity while he had me in the car, he would test me out. I did not even see it coming. I was so confused and felt ashamed because at that time I was religious and was dedicated the church. I went to the bishop at the time and told him what happened. He told me basically the guy did not know better and let it go.

The reason why I am tying my experiences in with the women who have stated that Bill Cosby assaulted them is because….

Whether it is on a celebrity scale or in “normal” life, women/men are sexually assaulted. Those who do not come forth to anyone about what happened to them know how difficult it can be. In those two instances, it was difficult for me, and I did it.

Those experiences, in some ways by others, were minimize. Yes, the track star got into trouble, but my character stood further trial by my peers. When I visited the Bishop and told him what happened to me, he told me to forgive the former friend because he did not know what he was doing even the Bishop said that it was not my fault.

These women all collectively said that Bill Cosby drugged them, and some of them have said when they woke up after they were drugged, they found semen inside them, or their clothes were a mess. Some of them have admitted that Cosby made them performed forced sexual acts on him while they weren’t drugged. All this happened throughout different times in Cosby’s career. When some of them did try to tell, they weren’t believed. They were laughed off with…He’s Bill Cosby…you are crazy.

Because of Bill Cosby’s stance in American culture, it is hard for some people to believe that he would do this. As I mentioned, he’s one of America’s fathers. It can be hard for particular ethnic groups to believe that Bill Cosby would be capable of this behavior as well. It is hard to speak out against someone or have a differing opinion if you are black. In the black community, from what I know as being black and study black culture and reading about black culture and experiencing black culture and doing a thesis about black culture, blacks have witnessed and experienced many horrors throughout American history. For those black Americans who have become successful, it took a lot of work to break down color barriers. Bill Cosby did that and so has many other black Americans. However, yes, he is a successful black man, BUT it still does not excuse the very possible dark acts he has committed. Due to the nature of how many women are coming forth and their stories being similar, it is starting to become less and less apparent to me that Bill Cosby did do something to these women.

Now, I know I am going to get flack, and you can bring it own, Folks. I respect your opinions. I am not going to stop being friends with you if you think that Bill Cosby is innocent and all of these women are lying. But from my own experiences and the way I read people, deep down, I don’t feel like these women are banding together and lying on him. In context, those who are sexually abused, they do take a long time to admit that they were sexually abused. For those of us like me who have reported the abuse, we still don’t talk about it willingly to people unless it is relevant to something else or in a relation to something else. It is difficult to come forth, and it is difficult to talk about. It is not easy to talk about because if someone like me who is prideful and still doesn’t want people to look at her a certain way, you just aren’t going to mention it unless it is in relation to something. Also, let’s think about the time period and where they were at. These women’s accounts, if not all, happened over a thirty-five year span; women were still not believed for being sexually assaulted. Most of these women were young women who tried to get a start in their career. It appears that Cosby did prey on them. He selectively chose them to help them in their career. If we look at the timeline, these women all of the sudden were dropped from Cosby’s mentorship. And why is that? Good question, isn’t it? It is not so believable that the reason why his mentorship stopped was because they were victimized by him?

It is hard enough for survivors of abuse to become victors—to not only survive but to go on beyond survival.

One of the most beloved entertainers of the world has his character on public trial. But some people want to put these women’s characters on trial as well. I want people to put in the effort and look at this objectively. Why would all these women come forward after several decades where the statues of limitations are expired? They want attention and fame? Really? Would all of them really band together and plan an evil assault on Bill Cosby AFTER the fact?

Maybe, just maybe, they are coming forth now because they are tired of what Cosby did controlling their lives. I believe they want to become free of Cosby’s sexual victimization of them.

As for Bill Cosby, the most intriguing part is…

He has not even deny it simply that he didn’t do this.

Despite all of this, he does have the right to say without consequence he didn’t do this?

Bottom line is…these women stories are important, and we should give them the benefit of the doubt as well.

Sophia Muriel Flemming

Okay, I Know What Crazy She’s Talking About

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I just finished Tracey McMillan’s Why You’re Not Married…Yet: The Straight Talk You Need to Get the Relationship You Deserve. In the spirit of really understanding McMillan’s book, I will continue with the chapter analytical essays. They’ve helped me in further understanding the book.

I want to talk about when I read Chapter 4: You’re Crazy: Or, Deal with Your Inner Courtney Love.

You could not tell me five years ago that when Rupert told me…”you are acting crazy” I would have agreed upon it.

Now, since I’ve matured a lot more and realized it, yes, now, I understand all those times when he was calling me crazy.

McMillan explains it very well in this chapter when men call women crazy…it actually means what it does.

You are being crazy.

What is crazy when you are dating or in relationships?

McMillan writes:

Crazy is about intensity. It’s about being out of control emotionally; acting against your own best interests in your relationships; stoking lots of drama; being needy, easily hurt, jealous, insecure, and/or in other psychological states of being that men are not looking for in the mother of their children. It also includes eating disorders, crying after sex, and anything you can easily picture Courtney Love doing (68).

I remember when I first got into a relationship with Rupert, and the crazy spilled over. No, we aren’t talking about me acting like a murder psychopath, but all the deep stuff that was hidden in view came spewing out when we got together. I even remember telling him…I think that there is something wrong with me. He brushed it off. He thought I was overreacting…and being crazy for saying that something was wrong with me.

Come to find out, the OCD/severe depression I had come bubbling up from the surface. When I got into a relationship, it acted as the catalyst for other major shit that went on through my life to appear. I had to fully recognize and understand that I was in extreme duress.

Well, what was I in duress about? At the time, I couldn’t even scratch the surface, but now, I can. It was because I never had to answer to someone else. I never had to be intimate with someone else…and show them all of myself. Even though I thought I was ready to do it mentally, it wasn’t really ready to do it emotionally. It affected me and exposed the deep dark fears that I had been keeping away…and what was scary is that I didn’t even know that they were there.

Looking back at that time, geez, that was long ago when really it wasn’t. It was 9 years ago.

I think the reason why Rupert stayed with me because he knew there was a possible chance that I didn’t want any children. Besides that, he stayed probably because he has issues with his mom as well. Nevertheless, he stayed when he should have ran for the hills.

Did I say that? Yes, I did.

I agree with McMillan. Crazy is intense. When you are crazy, you cannot think straight at all. When I was having my episode, I could not think straight, and I was not myself. All that television I watch, the times I was in therapy when I had the opportunities when I was younger, and all the friendships I had could not compare to the outcome I would have concerning how I would act when I entered my first relationship.

However, I’ve went through my degree of crazy. McMillan defines the two degrees of crazy:

“Crazy comes in two basic flavors: major crazy and minor crazy. If you’re major crazy, you already know it, because you have been told so by at least three people who aren’t even among your exes. Major crazy involved major actions—like the girl I know who threw a Durafalme log into the front seat of her ex-boyfriend’s new car and set it on fire. Violence, self-harm, serious vandalism, and destroying someone’s reputation (even if it was your own) all fall into this category. Major crazy is never cute or dramatic if you’re a danger to yourself or others” (69).

I would say that I fit into a fluid degree of moderate crazy. First off, I never had anyone tell me that I was crazy outside of Rupert. And I still don’t have anyone tell me I am crazy and Rupert hardly calls me crazy because I’ve gotten myself together. Pretty much, 24 thru 29 was some difficult times for me to swallow. Now, I recognize that it was my crazy period, and I own it. I finally understand that I went berserk because I thought I had it together (and I held it together for so long….my mother’s emotional abuse, my guilt with leaving my family to finish my degree, not being close to my extended family anymore). That period has taught me so much about myself already. It has taught me that I needed to learn that I am not invincible…and that I have issues like everyone else. It is okay to be flawed as long as you put effort into changing…into your transformation.

But unlike my unusual situation, Rupert met me when I was fine. I didn’t realize that living alone and doing my own thing what was attractive about me. But I just couldn’t handle being with someone else and being vulnerable when it became long term.

Now, I can. That blue and yellow period was a time to really go through the fire and come out of the ashes. It was difficult, but I did it.

However, most guys aren’t going to stick with a woman when she has an explosion of crazy unless they got issues as well. McMillan is right; men want women who they believe will be able to take care of their children. Let me break this down for you. Basically, if a man thinks that you are crazy and you keep harassing him, stalking him, whining to him, acting like a complete fool, he is not going to think you will be responsible enough to take care of a family. And looking at this, I agree with it. Crazy people, typically, cannot take care of themselves because they aren’t in their right frame of mind. If you are crazy, it usually means you aren’t independent:

“If you look closely, the cray-cray comes out of an underlying belief that we are dependent on the outcome of what happens with a given man, and we’re not going to be okay unless things turn out a certain way (usually the way where we get what we want: the guy) (70).

How does this relate to dependency and being crazy?

Well, it is true. Reflecting on it, I wanted Rupert to act a certain way. I wanted an outcome with him to go the way I wanted. When it didn’t go the way I wanted it to, I started acting crazy. Minor crazy. I would accuse him of this or that…and letting my emotions run high and getting all agitated and overwhelmed. Showing my ass off. Showing my ass out. Basically, I wanted to run the show with certain situations, and I just needed to have them play out. Yet, all in all, it does return to my need of wanting to be in control. When I was hoarding, I thought I was in control of that. Once it got out of control in my tiny college apartment room, I was in denial about admitting I was out of control it (the collecting/hoarding). Denial is lying to yourself. I was lying to myself how I needed all these books…and they were there for me…but looking back, I had all these books covering my entire bedroom to where, I could hardly get inside my room. And I started sometimes sleeping outside of the bedroom. When I met Jonathan, I would spend the night in his room at his college apartment room. Looking back on it, I was practicing the crazy without even knowing I was doing it. That I was harming myself because I thought it was normal.

I grew up around a house filled with collectibles. I grew up in a household, actually, with a hoarding mother. So, to me, that was my normal. But when you start having to face the situation by engaging in another situation (like moving to another room…and a short amount of time), you realize that what you did was crazy.

Crazy + Crazy= Double Crazy. If you don’t get a handle on it, Double Crazy+Crazy=Triple Crazy…and so forth.

So, how do you put a stop to the crazy? Here are some of McMillan’s advice/application concerning this issue:

“You’re going to have to get help. Obviously I’m not a therapist, but I have spent thousands of dollars with one (or six). I’ve also read about seventy books hoping to unlock the mysteries of my own dysfunction, and I’m happy to say it worked! I now know that most of the insane bullshit I’ve been doing in relationships is related to my childhood. Talk about insight.

You can be pretty sure your insanity is related to your childhood, too. If your craziness is keeping the husbands away, the question is really one of degree: is your stuff major or minor?

If you’ve done major crazy stuff more than once in fairly recent past (say, one to three years), you have only one choice: get major help. You need to go to therapy immediately and start dealing with childhood trauma that almost surely underlies such acts. The part of your mind that tells you you’re not really that fucked up is lying to you. That doesn’t make you a bad person, but it does mean that as soon as you get into a relationship that triggers you in a specific way, all those feelings—and thus all that crazy behavior—will come roaring back like a yeast infection where you only took the medication for two days” (77-78).

As I said prior, when I told Rupert something was wrong (I had racing thoughts at the time), I got helped. I entered therapy, and I had very good therapists that were helping me. So, I agree with what Tracey McMillan says. You need to get help as soon as possible when you starting act the “cray cray.” Because we aren’t just talking about why you aren’t in a relationship or why you aren’t married, we are talking about how you need to resolve and move forward with your childhood issues.

After you starting attending your therapy sessions, McMillan also says you need hobbies which I whole heartedly agree with:

“And that’s when I realized that, after therapy (and all that it entails), what you need is hobbies. Lots of them. Hobbies may seem too simple to be worth talking about in a book about relationships, but they’re not. Because hobbies are all about you. They are about your passion. Who are you? What makes you you? How do you sepnd time with yourself and build your relationship with yourself? Your hobbies are special time between you and you. Like the Big Sister/Little Sister program, except that this time you’re both the pretty career lady and the disadvantaged girl with the big eyes and the pigtails” (79).

A part of reducing that crazy ass energy is finding healthy ways to release that energy. Hobbies are wonderful outlets to realize, control, and maintain balanced energy. Besides finding a full time job which help me realign my priorities, I’ve started to put in an effort to write on a daily basis and read books again. I also would like to start other types of hobbies as well. Hobbies help give us structure and self-esteem. If you someone with mental illness and dealing with childhood demons, you certainly do need hobbies.

And then, the most helpful advice that McMillan gives you out of each chapter: “Spiritual Stuff That Will Help You Change:”

“From a spiritual standpoint, your craziness is where your wounds are—whether they are wounds from childhood or those from past relationships. It’s where you don’t believe you will be supported. Where you fear that if you don’t do something, no one will. It’s where you store, or metabolize, your pain over life’s hurts and disappointments. The good news is that dealing with your craziness will set you free in all areas of your life.

The antidote to being crazy is to know that you have choices. As mentioned earlier, when you are being intense, dependent, and out of control, it’s a like a tantrum—you have reverted to a childhood state. There’s a saying that children who grow up in dysfunctional homes don’t have any power and know it, while adults who live in dysfunctional homes have power and don’t know it. Leaving the craziness behind is about understanding that you have power—you just need to exercise it in a way that works for you,  not against you” (79-80).

Yes, there are people who have hurt you and me. But we do have choices to realize that those people cannot hold power over us anymore. We hold the power to make the choice not to let those people no longer have influential power over us. There is a time where we have to recognize that we are adults…and no longer children. We can’t just make up excuses that my mom, dad, whoever did us wrong.

I remember this poignant quote from Alice Walker’s The Third Life of Grange Copeland. It is a power quotation where Grange tells Ruth, his granddaughter, about Brownfield’s behavior:

“Your daddy’s done taught me something I didn’t know about blame and guilt,’ he said. ‘You see, I figured he could blame a good part of his life on me; I didn’t offer him no directions and, he thought, no love. But when he became a man himself, with his own opportunity to righten the wrong I done him by being good to his own children, he had a chance to become a real man, a daddy in his own right. That was the time he should of just forgot about what I do to him—and to his ma. But he messed up with his children, his wife and his home, and never yet blamed hisself. And never blaming hisself done made him weak. He no longer have to think beyond me and the white folks to get to the root of all his problems. Damn, if thinking like that ain’t made noodles out of his brains” (212).

It is unusual for me to hear a parent not only own what he has done but tell his child about himself. These powerful words being spoken is about how Brownfield has chosen the same road as his father instead of choosing a better road…and becoming a better man than his father. Brownfield is acting crazy because he still holds on to this huge resentment that his father did him wrong. No one is asking Brownfield to forget what his father has done. I am sure Grange bears enough of the emotional pain he has inflicted on his son. However, Brownfield can no longer excuse what his father did to him by continue to misbehave as he has. Grange is right. Brownfield is supposed to rise above his circumstances and have the kind of life that Grange took advantage of.

This is what happens when we don’t deal with our childhood demons. We choose to let them swallow us whole and become something twisted and ugly. And once the twisted and ugly are presented then we are unable to really see what we are made of. Who we want and need to become start being unclear, and as a result, we become monsters for it.

Pretty much, McMillan and Grange hit it on this head. Don’t let the cray cray screw you over. The cray cray will screw you out of a relationship…and good things. It will especially screw over your decision making. Instead of thinking clear and making logical or ration decisions to empower yourself, you are making decisions based on irrationality and fear. If I can recover from the cray cray, I know you can.

Best,
S