When I was seventeen and preparing to leave for university, my mother’s only brother saw fit to give me some advice.
“Just don’t be an idiot, kid,” he told me, “and don’t ever forget that boys and girls can never just be friends.”
I laughed and answered, “I’m not too worried. And I don’t really think all guys are like that.”
When I was eighteen and the third annual advent of the common cold was rolling through residence like a pestilent fog, a friend texted me asking if there was anything he could do to help.
I told him that if he could bring me up some vitamin water that would be great, if it wasn’t too much trouble.
That semester I learned that human skin cells replace themselves every three to five weeks. I hoped that in a month, maybe I’d stop feeling the echoes of his touch; maybe my new skin would feel cleaner.
It didn’t. But I stood by what I said. Not all guys are like that.
When I was nineteen and my roommate decided the only way to celebrate the end of midterms was to get wasted at a club, I humoured her.
Four drinks, countless leers and five hands up my skirt later, I informed her I was ready to leave.
“I get why you’re upset,” she told me on the walk home, “but you have to tolerate that sort of thing if you want to have any fun. And really, not all guys are like that.”
(Age nineteen also saw me propositioned for casual sex by no fewer than three different male friends, and while I still believe that guys and girls can indeed be just friends, I was beginning to see my uncle’s point.)
When I was twenty and a stranger that started chatting to me in my usual cafe asked if he could walk with me (since we were going the same way and all), I accepted.
Before we’d even made it three blocks he was pulling me into an alleyway and trying to put his hands up my shirt. “You were staring,” he laughed when I asked what the fuck he was doing (I wasn’t), “I’m just taking pity.”
But not all guys are like that.
I am twenty one and a few days ago a friend and I were walking down the street. A car drove by with the windows down, and a young man stuck his head out and whistled as they passed. I ignored it, carrying on with the conversation.
My friend did not. “Did you know those people?” He asked.
“Not at all,” I answered.
Later when we sat down to eat he got this thoughtful look on his face. When I asked what was wrong he said, “You know not all guys do that kind of thing, right? We’re not all like that.”
As if he were imparting some great profound truth I’d never realized before. My entire life has been turned around, because now I’ve been enlightened: not all guys are like that.
No. Not all guys are. But enough are. Enough that I am uncomfortable when a man sits next to me on the bus. Enough that I will cross to the other side of the street if I see a pack of guys coming my way. Enough that even fleeting eye contact with a male stranger makes my insides crawl with unease. Enough that I cannot feel safe alone in a room with some of my male friends, even ones I’ve known for years. Enough that when I go out past dark for chips or milk or toilet paper, I carry a knife, I wear a coat that obscures my figure, I mimic a man’s gait. Enough that three years later I keep the story of that day to myself, when the only thing that saved me from being raped was a right hook to the jaw and a threat to scream in a crowded dorm, because I know what the response will be.
I live my life with the everburning anxiety that someone is going to put their hands on me regardless of my feelings on the matter, and I’m not going to be able to stop them. I live with the knowledge that statistically one in three women have experienced a sexual assault, but even a number like that can’t be trusted when we are harassed into silence. I live with the learned instinct, the ingrained compulsion to keep my mouth shut to jeers and catcalls, to swallow my anger at lewd suggestions and crude gestures, to put up my walls against insults and threats. I live in an environment that necessitates armouring myself against it just to get through a day peacefully, and I now view that as normal. I have adapted to extreme circumstances and am told to treat it as baseline. I carry this fear close to my heart, rooted into my bones, and I do so to keep myself unharmed.
So you can tell me that not all guys are like that, and you’d even be right, but that isn’t the issue anymore. My problem is not that I’m unaware of the fact that some guys are perfectly civil, decent, kind—my problem is simply this:
In a world where this cynical overcaution is the only thing that ensures my safety, I’m no longer willing to take the risk. r.d. (via princessmilkovich)
The thing about Dylan Farrow’s open letteraccusing her father, Woody Allen, of sexual abuse is: There was not much really new about it. It was new that Dylan Farrow herself was signing her name to the accusations, but Vanity Fair had covered the case, in grim detail, more than two decades ago.
So the current crisis over how people are supposed to feel about Woody Allen is on some level odd. Woody Allen’s status as an accused child molester has been a matter of public record since before Manhattan Murder Mystery came out. Anyone who didn’t think about it before now had chosen not to think about it.
Not thinking about it is a popular and powerful choice. Which brings up another beloved American funnyman, Bill Cosby. Who doesn’t love Bill Cosby? I grew up watching Fat Albertand eating Jell-O Pudding Pops, which is a cliché, but Bill Cosby is the creator of some of our most warming and affirming clichés. He is charming and iconic, one of the most culturally important and successful comedians ever, an elder statesman of the entertainment industry.
He’s also someone who has been accused by multiple women of drugging them and sexually assaulting them. Here is one of his accusers, describing an incident:
Well, there were a number of people at the table, friends of his, and he said to me, yes, you do seem ill, you’re slightly feverish, would you like to have some Contact? You know, the cold medicine. And I thought, why not, can’t hurt. So he went into some sort of office area at the back of the restaurant and he produced two capsules in his hand. I thought nothing of it and I took the capsules. In about, I don’t know, 20 to 30 minutes I felt great and then about 10 minutes after that I was almost literally face down on the table of this restaurant…
He said, “Oh my, you must be more ill then we believed. I totally lost motor control; I was almost unable to hold my head up. I was very, very, very stoned. He took me into my apartment and then very helpfully and nicely was prepared to take off my clothes and help me into bed and pet me, and that’s how the actual assault began.
She recounted this in an on-camera interview, under her own name, with Matt Lauer of theToday show, on February 10, 2005. The assault had allegedly happened back in the 1970s, but she said she had decided to come forward because another woman had accused Cosby of committing a similar assault in January of 2004.
That woman, in a lawsuit, said that Cosby offered her three pills of what he claimed was “herbal medication, which would help her relax,” and insisted she take all three:
When Plaintiff advised Defendant she did not feel well, Defendant led Plaintiff to a sofa, because she could not walk on her own, where he laid her down, under the guise of “helping” her.
Subsequently, Defendant positioned himself behind Plaintiff on the sofa, touched her breasts and vaginal area, rubbed his penis against her hand, and digitally penetrated her.
Plaintiff remained in a semi-conscious state throughout the time of this ordeal.
At no time was Plaintiff capable of consent after the pills affected her, and at no time did she consent to Defendant’s acts.
Lawyers for the woman filed a motion stating that they intended to call as witnesses the woman who’d given the Today show interview and nine separate Jane Does, from seven different states. Eventually the list grew to a reported 13 accusers. Two more of them put their names on the record, giving interviews to Philadelphia Magazine and later to People. Philadelphiasummarized one of their stories:
They started an affair that lasted about six months. Cosby ended it without explanation. Then he called her one night in Denver, where she lived; they met backstage at a nightclub there, where he was performing. He said, “Here’s your favorite coffee, something I made, to relax you.” She drank it and soon began to feel woozy. Several hours later, she woke up in the backseat of her car, alone. She didn’t know what had happened. Her clothes were a mess, her bra undone. Security guards came and said Cosby told them to get her home. She confronted him at his hotel. “You just had too much to drink,” he told her.
The other accuser initially withheld the details of her story because of the pending lawsuit. Cosby ended up settling the suit, with the plaintiff agreeing not to discuss it further, after which the prospective witness went ahead and told her story to the magazines. Here’s People's account, using her name, Barbara Bowman:
It was in a hotel in Reno, claims Bowman, that Cosby assaulted her one night in 1986. “He took my hand and his hand over it, and he masturbated with his hand over my hand,” says Bowman, who, although terrified, kept quiet about the incident and continued as Cosby’s protégé because, she says, “Who’s gonna believe this? He was a powerful man. He was like the president.” Before long she was alone with Cosby again in his Manhattan townhouse; she was given a glass of red wine, and “the next thing I know, I’m sick and I’m nauseous and I’m delusional and I’m limp and … I can’t think straight…. And I just came to, and I’m wearing a [men’s] T-shirt that wasn’t mine, and he was in a white robe.”
A month or two later, she was in Atlantic City and says she was given another glass of red wine and felt “completely doped up again.” Confused, Bowman somehow made it back to her room, but the next day Cosby summoned her to his suite. After she arrived, Bowman says, Cosby “threw me on the bed and braced his arm under my neck so I couldn’t move my head, and he started trying to take his clothes off. I remember all the clinking of his belt buckle. And he was trying to take my pants down, and I was trying to keep them on.” Bowman says that not long after she resisted the assault, Cosby cut off contact with her and had her escorted to the airport for a flight back to Denver.
To reiterate: This was in People magazine, published nationwide in December 2006. Four women said publicly, in major media outlets, that Bill Cosby had drugged and sexually assaulted them. This coverage was more recent and possibly more prominent that the coverage of the abuse allegations against Woody Allen.
And? Basically nobody wanted to live in a world where Bill Cosby was a sexual predator. It was too much to handle. The original Philadelphia Magazine story set off his accusers’ testimony in italicized interludes, between long sections about the more digestible controversies around Cosby’s lecture tour denouncing black cultural pathology. The usually unflinching Ta-Nehisi Coates, in an otherwise comprehensive 2008 Atlantic essay on the context and politics of Cosby’s performance as a public moral scold, dropped a sentence about the lawsuit settlement and its accompanying accusations into parentheses near the end.
Conceptually, it was the sensible way to deal with it. No one was talking about it anymore. The whole thing had been, and it remained, something walled off from our collective understanding of Bill Cosby.
With shocking speed, it was effectively forgotten. When the subject came up today, more than half the Gawker staff had no memory of any sexual allegations against Bill Cosby. In 2009, Cosby was awarded the Mark Twain Prize for his distinguished achievements in humor. In 2010, he was honored with the Marian Anderson Award, for “critically acclaimed artists who have impacted society in a positive way, either through their work or their support for an important cause.” In 2011, the Marian Anderson Award went to Mia Farrow.
I remember reading about this…..
Fuck Bill Cosby
I feel like my entire life has been shattered and destroyed. Oh my God.
the statistic is NOT “1 in 3 native women will be raped in their lifetime”
the real statistic is “1 in 3 native women will be raped AT LEAST ONCE in their lifetime”
this is a very important distinction to make please make it known im serious. also its worth noting that 70% of our rapes are carried out by colombus’ crew aka white men. murders also happen more at the hands of white men. this is all important information and im pissed it was ignored in that photoset
I am a victim of sexual assault, but I am NOT:
- A Rolex watch or a fancy car in a bad neighborhood. I am not the basis for a ridiculous victim-blaming metaphor based on theft. I am a person, not an object.
- Your sister or daughter or wife. I exist independently of my relationships with and importance to men. It is not wrong that I was sexually assaulted because I am someone’s daughter. It’s wrong because I am a human being.
- To blame. I didn’t ask for this. I didn’t want it. It doesn’t matter what I wore or if I was intoxicated or if I flirted. I never wanted this. No one ever would.
- A punchline. Rape is not a joke. Rape is not funny. If you think it is funny, it’s probably because you’re a rapist.
- Impure. I am not worthless or dirty or sullied. The person who did this to me is.
- An opportunity to play devil’s advocate. The devil has enough advocates. They’re called 90% of our society, and they’ve already said every single thing your puny, unimaginative brain could possibly think of.
- Going to be silenced. Not by my abuser, and not by you or anyone else.