I’m sick to my stomach. Just ugh.
It’s partly about Bill Cosby, whose Wikipedia entry now describes him as “an American stand-up comedian, actor, author, and activist who is accused of serial rape.” (More than forty women have accused him, including three who came forward in a press conference today.) But I’m not sick to my stomach just because of the images I had of the Bill Cosby I knew as a TV dad I grew up with and adored. And not just because I received an honorary degree next to him a few years ago.
And not just because he is a supposed hypocrite, as everyone is saying he is.
No. I’m sick to my stomach because this happens. It happened then, it happens now and I’m afraid it will continue to happen.
And it doesn’t matter if we are talking about Bill Cosby, or a man who has hired a prostitute, or a college football fraternity brother, or your neighbor, or anyone you think you know so well that “they couldn’t have done the thing they are alleged to have done”; it’s the same dialogue.
I’m sick to my stomach trying to grok the fact that men (and even some women) say these kinds of things:
“Well, why was she there in the first place?”
“What did she expect?”
“Why was she having drinks with him?”
“Isn’t this just her having second thoughts after having sex with him?”
“Maybe she just wants to get attention from the media.”
“If she had sex with all those other men, why is this the one she decided she wasn’t okay having sex with?”
Well, here’s my response.
It’s not your business why I go somewhere, or how many drinks I’ve had with whom, or whom I have had sex with. Do not drug me and have sex with me. Do not have sex with me against my consent, or without my express consent. Do not think that you are entitled to my sexual identity or body because you are rich, famous, handsome or stronger than I am. Or because you are a man. No way.
Real men don’t take advantage of women. Ever. At all.
That’s what I plan to tell my sons. Real men respect women and themselves. Real men advocate for the safety of women and real men stand up when they see a woman in trouble.
The “It’s On Us” campaign introduced this concept brilliantly last year. It’s up to all of us to not be afraid to talk about this with each other and especially with our kids. It’s how we turn this around. Unfortunately, there will always be men looking to take advantage of women, and there will always be situations we can shift with our voices and our words and our convictions.
For more information visit ItsOnUs.org.
If you have been the victim of a sexual assault, contact NotAlone.gov for help.