Aug 23, 2015
Cosby-style Rapists and Family Legacy
For me, one of the saddest things to come out of the Bill Cosby rape scandal is learning that there's still such a sharp split in the American attitude toward men and rape. It turns out there are a lot of people in this country with piss-poor opinions of men. And those people aren't the feminists. They're other men and women of old-fashioned values. It's these people who think that women are not safe with men because men's default position is what I'd call rape and what they call sex, so it's the women's responsibility to take precautions from ever being alone with men. And they go further in then thinking that any woman who is alone with a man (especially if he's famous, rich, powerful etc.) should know what to expect and is, therefore, at fault for being raped.
The saddest part is that they're partway right. They're not right about the who's at fault part. A man rapes........it's his fault. They're right that there are men who are what I now call "Cosby-style rapists."
A Cosby-style rapist is a man who believes that there comes a certain point well before sex even begins when a man is now entitled to have sex --- that once that point is reached, there's absolutely no way anything he does is rape because the woman has already consented.
I've come to believe that for Bill and Camille Cosby that point is when a woman is in Bill Cosby's presence in a private situation. (That certainly appears to be what they think when it comes to Bill Cosby. However, doesn't necessarily mean they apply that same standard to other men ------ because other men are not Bill Cosby.) Once a woman is private with Bill, then (in the minds of the Cosbys) she's obviously there because she is willing to have sexual contact with Bill and has thus consented to being drugged and to having sex.
Once I finally came to understand this about the Cosbys it made me recall someone I worked with many years ago. This co-worker, who shall remain nameless, was also a Cosby-style rapist or at least a potential rapist. This was back in the 1990s and he was a young man at the time, a generation younger than Bill Cosby. But he had Cosby's attitude. He and I once got into an hours-long argument about sexual consent. I believed a woman had the right to say "No" at any point and have that "No" respected. He did not. He believed, vehemently believed, that there comes a point where a woman doesn't have the right to say "No" and that nothing he did after that point was possibly rape. Through the course of that hours-long argument, I discovered what that point was for him.
Was it when a woman was in bed with him?
Was it when clothing had been removed?
It was when a woman entered his front door.
Any woman who walked through his door had automatically consented to have sexual intercourse with him and nothing he did after that could be rape. And the thing is, he genuinely believed that down to the depths of his soul. Even if he forcibly raped a screaming, crying woman, I think you could have given him a polygraph and he would have passed that was how strongly he believed it. Certainly an hours-long argument didn't budge him an inch from that position. After that, you can be sure I was never setting foot his place. After that, he gave me the creeps. He was young and very fit. He was solid with muscle and could easily overpower a woman. I used to look at him and wonder how many women he'd raped without even realizing it.
Last I heard of my former co-worker, he moved out of state and was getting married. And today I wonder about any children he had. They're at the age to be rapers/rapees. What is he passing onto them? Did my co-worker ever rethink his personal definition of rape and realize how very wrong he was or is he teaching his children his personal definition of rape........that rape ends at the front door, so anything any son of his does after that isn't rape and anything any daughter of his goes through happened because she consented? Is that part of his family legacy?
And what of Bill Cosby's family legacy? Camille Cosby claims that she created Bill Cosby. She also claims that Bill Cosby is a wonderful husband and father. I believe that Camille Cosby genuinely believes those things. And it always leads me to an unpleasant thought.........an unwelcome thought.........an unavoidable thought. Because Bill Cosby isn't the only man Camille Cosby created. She also created a son, Ennis.
But before I get into Ennis, let's explore further the Cosby family's approach toward rape and rapists. Bill and Camille's daughter, Erinn, was the victim of attempted rape when she was 22 years old. Mike Tyson assaulted her and tried to rape her. Erinn told her parents about it. And what did the Cosbys do? Well, they didn't go to the police about it. They sent their lawyer to Mike Tyson and made an agreement that Tyson would get psychiatric counseling for a year. Tyson didn't bother to go through with the counseling. And what did Camille and Bill do then? Nothing. They let it drop. Their daughter was attacked and they covered it up. The sexual assault happened in 1989. In December 1989, Bill Cosby told the Los Angeles Times about his daughter Erinn that "She can't come here," he said. "She's not a person you can trust." 1989 was also the same year that Bill Cosby offered Erinn's story to the National Enquirer, but not the story of Tyson sexually assaulting his daughter --- he continued to cover that up. Cosby offered up the story of his daughter's addiction to drugs and alcohol. And he allegedly did this in exchange for the National Enquirer killing a story about his partying lifestyle in Las Vegas. As for Camille Cosby, she isn't just Bill's wife..........she's also his business manager. So Bill speaking with nationwide publications ------ that didn't happen without Camille's awareness and approval. Erinn went into therapy after the attack. Her parents were invited to participate in family therapy with her ---- they never bothered to show up. With parents like that, the wonder isn't that Erinn Cosby developed substance abuse problems, the wonder is that more of his children didn't...........given the environment they grew up in.
It turns out that Cosby's multitude of sexual encounters was an open secret to those around him. People who worked with him were aware of it. His wife was aware of it (though he did make some attempt to hide the extent of it from her). Were the children aware of it? Did they visit their father on the set where the parade of young women went through Cosby's dressing room? If it was such an open secret, it's hard for me to believe that the children weren't aware of it. But at the same time they saw all the veneration and respect their father received. Cognitive dissonance --- the holding of two contradictory thoughts at the same time..........the Cosby family home must have been cognitive dissonance central. My father acts like this, cheating on my mother, but my father is a great man so it must be okay. My husband acts like this, cheating on me, but I created the great man, my husband, is so it must be okay. And Bill Cosby, himself, the King of Cognitive Dissonance. The man who lectured a nation on family, responsibility, moral values and proper behavior and acted like this in private............but it's okay because he's this great man.
Ennis Cosby grew up in that household. In that toxic world. And, as I said, he was created by Camille Cosby, the woman who publicly described her husband as, "He is a kind man, a generous man, a funny man, and a wonderful husband, father and friend." He was also created by Bill Cosby, the rapist. Bill Cosby, the man who publicly joked about drugging women for sex. Bill Cosby, the man who loved to lecture and felt he led with his example. Bill Cosby, America's Dad and America's educator. Did Dad Bill teach his son his attitude toward women and sex? Because it's extremely hard for me to believe that a man whose ego is the size of Cosby's didn't want to pass on his standards to his son. And not just his son, but his only son, the person who would carry on the father's name. The man had no shame about what he did, so why wouldn't he pass it on? Would the father have offered to supply the drugs to his son, offered to show him how to slip drugs into drinks, advised him which drinks are best for covering up the taste (Cosby's a former bartender), offered him suggestions of what to say to get women to unknowingly take them like "this will relax you" or to tell women it's something else such as an aspirin?
I'd like to think that if Bill Cosby ever tried to pass on his "Spanish Fly technique" to his son, that Ennis had the moral courage to stand up and say, "You don't do that, Dad. That's rape." But I doubt it. The impression that's emerged of Bill Cosby's attitude toward his children is he expected them to toe his line. And if you didn't he was ruthless. He cut off his sexually assaulted, drug-addicted daughter and didn't let her back in the family for ten years even after she expressed her remorse saying, "Looking back, I can't believe how Dad managed to go on with his show every week, portraying America's favorite father while having a daughter like me causing so much pain." He sent Autumn Jackson, who was possibly his daughter, to prison. She also apologized to the man she believed was her father. (With what we know now, Autumn apologizing to Cosby for his "great pain and embarrassment" is as repugnant as the man who apologized to Dick Cheney when Cheney shot the man in the face. But in Cosby's world [as in Cheney's] he doesn't apologize. The less powerful apologize to him.) So, no, I don't think Ennis Cosby would have defied the father who was such a dominant influence in his life. But I hope he wouldn't have followed in his father's footsteps. I hope Ennis Cosby, in the brief life he lived, had enough moral courage to be a better man than his father was -------- it wouldn't take much, just not being a rapist.
My former co-worker had a personal definition of rape that rape ended at his front door. I told him he needed to put a warning sign up on his door so any woman who entered would know what she was walking into. But even though my former co-worker had a personal definition of rape, it's not as if he wasn't aware that society didn't agree with it. I spent hours telling him society didn't agree with it and what he was talking about was rape. It just didn't matter to him. But I hope he's not passing his rape definition on as part of his family legacy.
Bill and Camille Cosby have their own personal definition of rape. And I don't believe that Bill and Camille Cosby are unaware that society has a far different definition of rape. It just doesn't matter to them.
I hope they didn't pass on their definition of rape as part of their family legacy. But I have my doubts. And if I were one of Cosby's daughters, I'd have a long talk with any son of mine about Grandmom and Granddad's "old-fashioned" idea and how out of touch with morality and the legal system it is. But that would require that someone in that family get past their cognitive dissonance and wake up to how wrong it is and we have no indication of that happening. As far as we can tell...............they all still think Bill Cosby is a great man.
For more about the Bill Cosby rape scandal, read "Victim Blaming and the Assumption of Rape." For more about Hollywood and rape, read "Hollywood's Bizarre Take on Rape."
Please take a moment to check-out the Archive.