• Wed, Feb 5 - 11:55 am ET

As A Survivor, I Hate Myself For Not Knowing About Bill Cosby And Woody Allen

Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

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.

Actor Bill Cosby hosts the Jazz Foundation of America's presentation of 'A Great Night In Harlem' to benefit the Musicians'' Emergency Fund September 24, 2001 at The Apollo theatre in New York City. (Photo by George De Sota/Getty Images)

Photo: George De Sota/Getty Images

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.

What We're Reading:
Share This Post:
  • Kaitlin Reilly

    I’m so sorry that you went through that experience, and I’m glad that you wrote this piece.
    We as a society tend to bury the things that we don’t feel comfortable confronting, and I think that’s why most of America was unaware of the Woody Allen/Bill Cosby controversy. I can’t ever remember hearing anything bad about Bill Cosby and I’m sad to say that I unknowingly supported someone who likely committed these crimes. Like you, I have a tendency to believe the victim in this situation… and with the case of Bill Cosby, so many of the facts align within both stories that I find it hard not to believe these women

    Bill Cosby speaks at my college’s commencement ceremony nearly every year, and I’m incredibly disappointed that these allegations were out there and my university allowed him to speak… which I’m sure will be a very unpopular opinion.

  • Lindsey Conklin

    Aww Sam. I’m sorry you experienced that, too! But definitely don’t hate yourself (I actually didn’t know that about Bill Cosby either and will absolutely be blaming my age haha) thanks for writing this.

  • Nancy Lee Nichols Pierce

    Bravo to you! You expressed it well for all of us…the survivors and offended, the tongue-biters and gaggers who swallow the bile that rises when yet another criminal gets a pass because they’re “special”. Worst of all are the ones who don’t believe the person who has been victimized; and the worst of the worst is the legal system. This is why society has downgraded so much. Live well and keep up the fight!

  • Alfreda Wells Morrissey

    I watched the Cosby Show religiously as a child. I never heard anything about any of these allegations. I read the Wikipedia page for Bill Cosby, there is one line under the heading of Lawsuits. It was at the bottom of the two lined list under a failed paternity claim:

    “In August 2006, Cosby settled a lawsuit against him by a Canadian woman
    who claimed he had attacked her in his Philadelphia home in 2004.[33][39]
    The woman claimed she had been sexually assaulted after being given
    pills when she had complained of feeling stressed. Cosby denied the
    assertions.[40]”

    Then I googled “Bill Cosby assault”. Now I want to vomit. 13 women accused him with consistent stories of being drugged and assaulted. That is disgusting. He should be in jail. I am horrified.

    Apparently nobody could reconcile the wholesome character he played on TV with this monster he actually is so it was swept under the rug. The fact that he could continue portraying Mr. Huxtable while he was busy raping women is absolutely disgusting. I don’t want to believe it either, I looked up to him, but the accounts seem pretty consistent and I cannot deny them.

    As for Woody Allen, I didn’t know there was a debate. He always struck me as creepy. I thought it was a known fact that he was a pedophile. I don’t really know his movies, the fact that he married his wife’s daughter, adopted or not, father figure or not, consensual or not is pretty gross.

  • I Like Pizza

    Please don’t blame yourself; I’m sure you’ve done that enough already! Plus if you’re like me, these things surfaced when you paid little to no attention to the news because you were a child/angsty teen. Save the blame for the actual perpetrators.

    I just learned about Cosby, too, and I’m really disappointed in him but also in the system that buried the whole thing.

  • Alec Barbour

    I’ve never known a good answer to the,”What do you do with good art created by bad people?” question. Wagner was always my go to example. Often, a close look at the work will say some uncomfortable stuff about it’s creator (Mel Gibson is a great example of this.) I haven’t done a close watching of Allen’s work from that perspective ; I don’t get the sense I’d like what I’d come up with.

  • guest

    You’re a very strong and good person. I don’t think it’s okay for non-victims to look past abuses for simple reasons of art or such. The only complication to this issue should be that allegations and evidence are one thing, conviction or confession is another, but in our culture, convictions are so rare because blame always goes to the victim first. We need to give evidence more credit and shut out the extraneous noise, like anything to do with Mia Farrow, for instance. It would be one thing if Allen’s (or any of these people’s) defenders acted like adults, instead of rushing to his defense by demonizing the victim and her mother, or standing on other irrelevant information. Believing he’s innocent is one thing; disregarding all else is another. Decent people, victims or not, will see those accused differently, and there should be a shadow cast over them if the evidence is compelling. Geez, Allen’s friends can still support him, even while wondering if the allegations are true. I don’t understand their visceral reactions. If they were true friends to him, maybe they should be talking to Allen, not the media. Anyway, this got long, but my point was, you are not alone in how you feel, and I’m pretty sickened that I forgot about the Cosby allegations myself.

  • Mirquella Santos

    If a grown man ask a grown woman for sex, I don’t care. Besides men always want sex! My outrage is when a grown man ask or assault a child (17 or less). Dylan was 7 year-old and Soon-Yi was 17. Woody is a predator who preys on children and uses money to get away. I am sorry, but I am very protective of children.

  • LindsayCross

    I have to say, as a fellow survivor, I had the exact same reaction! How on earth did I NOT know? I’ve written about my own experiences. I’ve covered this type of news for blogs. How did I miss that these celebrities were accused of something so vile?

    I don’t have any answers for you darlin. I just wanted you to know that I’ve been over here going wrestling with the same thoughts.