I have been thinking a lot about Woody Allen lately, like many of you I am sure. One of the strangest things about the case, in all its horrifying glory, is the sheer number of us who simply were not aware of the accusations. Today, I became aware the one of my favorite childhood comedians, Bill Cosby, was accused of rape, as well. In a piece on Kotaku, Tom Scocca briefs readers on the case of Cosby, who was accused by multiple women in the mid-2000s of sexual assault. Scocca states, “Anyone who didn’t think about it before now had chosen not to think about it.” Over here, in my brain, I have been thinking the exact opposite.
How couldn’t I have known? I keep asking myself. I’m a survivor, for fuck’s sake, I’m supposed to know these things about people.
My first instinct was to blame my ignorance on my age; I am, after all, 24 and Woody Allen’s alleged assault and its initial aftermath took place in 1992 when I was just three years old. As for Bill Cosby, I am honestly unsure of how I didn’t know because I was in my teen years during the mid-2000s and cannot understand how I could have possibly missed that. Here is an excerpt of the lawsuit against Cosby, wherein the plaintiff stated that Cosby offered her pills to help her “relax”:
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.
I really, truly did not know any of this, nor did I have any idea that 13 other women were reported as accusers and four spoke publicly, using their own names, to media outlets regarding Cosby’s abuse.
And I had no idea. And here, since becoming a survivor, for lack of a better term, I have attempted to cope with my experiences by priding myself on “knowing better.” Yet I was laughing at Cosby’s jokes through standup specials and reruns for the better part of my childhood and teenage years, repeating the High Fidelity “Cossssby sweater!” line over and over.
The problem with rape culture is that it has the tendency to bury things. It swallows them up whole and spits them out in half-truths. He was dismissed, it says, there was no DNA, there were no bruises. I know this because I was left without bruises in more than one incident. I never went to the police, in any case, because I already knew what happens to people who pursue these things, what happens to the thousands of rape kits left untested and ignored. Rape culture is a quiet damper to any flame ever lit inside you, so you put yourself out before anybody else has the chance to.