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The Cosby Conviction

September 26, 2018

bill cosby

Bill Cosby has been sentenced to 3 to 10 years in prison, a lifetime on the sex offenders register, must undergo mandatory counselling, and is considered to be a sexually violent person with a high risk of reoffending.  He is 81 and it has taken 50 years of his offending for his case to be taken to court, and for him to be convicted.

He is not the only man to have been accused; he is not the only man to be being taken to trial.  He is the first, and I think it would be naïve to assume that his skin colour has nothing to do with the fact he has been convicted.  For all his power, he could not fight the inherent systemic racism in the system.

He is guilty, let’s be clear on that.  He deserves his punishment, and considering how many victims there are and how long his offending has been going on, he got off lightly.  He has had over 50 years of success, fame and wealth.  His victims have had careers and lives ruined and even now, many will not be believed.

Harvey Weinstein will be the next high profile trial which has comparable status to that of Bill Cosby, with the latest accusation being that of sex trafficking.  It will be interesting to see how that trial goes.

It is also fascinating to watch the furore around the POTUS Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nomination Brett Kavanaugh, and the two accusations that have been levied against him.  Will Kavanaugh face a trial or will he be appointed to the lifetime role of a Supreme Court Justice and be in the position of making law and setting precedent despite the strong possibility (at the time of publishing the blog) that he has broken it?  The hearing regarding the accusation by Christine Blasey Ford is set for tomorrow, and the vote with regard to his appointment is set for the day after so we don’t have long to wait.  It should be remembered that this is an accusation of assault on a 15-year old girl by a then 17-year old boy.  The accusation made against him by a fellow student whilst at Yale is not scheduled for a hearing.

Trump has loudly criticised the accuser in myriad ways, all of which a basic google of statistics and sociological studies of sexual abuse, harassment and rape cases would have showed him are very common ways of reacting when one has been victimised in this way.  He asks why she didn’t report it, and implied in a tweet that ‘her loving parents’ would surely have gone straight to the police if she had told them; this has the extra twist of implying that either she is lying or her parents didn’t love her because they didn’t report it at the time.

Every word Trump has stated about this matter has been cruel, vindictive and I believe based in the very real fear that he sees his behaviour in Kavanaugh and wishes to push Kavanaugh into the Supreme Court so he himself will never have to face the consequences of his actions.  This is a man who admitted to grabbing women’s ‘pussies’ without their consent, to simply kissing beautiful women he sees without consent because he can’t help himself, and to walking into changing rooms of beauty contests (some contestants being underage) to see them in varying states of undress.

This is rape culture.

It would be a fallacy to assume that rape culture affects all people in the same way; misogynoir means that women of colour find themselves victimised by gender and race identity, entrenched homophobia means male-identified victims are disbelieved, transphobia leaves transgender people victimised at horrifically higher rates that cisgender people.  Patriarchy sees convictions very difficult to obtain if the charges are laid at all.

Racism finds the perpetrators treated differently depending upon the colour of their skin.  Bill Cosby had all the power, all the prestige and all the wealth at his fingertips, but still finds himself rightfully convicted.  What he did not have was the ‘right’ skin colour.

I hope very much that justice will be achieved for all those victimised by predatory males.  Until we rid ourselves of systemic misogyny, sexism and racism.  However, I will not be holding my breath until it is achieved.

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