I need an explanation.
I, probably like you if you've come here to read this, have been following the growing allegations of rape against Bill Cosby. Fifteen women have accused him of rape-- six publicly-- and networks and content distributors are sprinting to distance themselves from him.
Time and Vulture have compiled comprehensive timelines of the rape allegations against him-- beginning in the 1960s-- and it's as damning as the Village Voice expose on R. Kelly. It's bad. Real bad. Joe Jackson.
Despite the number of women-- FIFTEEN-- who have made allegations over the years, despite the similarity of their stories over decades, there are many who just can't fathom that Cosby has committed these crimes. The go-to argument seems to be, "but why now?" They wonder why, if these women were drugged and raped, why they waited a year, or years, or a decade or longer to come forward.
To which I ask, why not now?
Given Cosby's celebrity and iconic status (before The Cosby Show, he had the distinct honor of being the first Black man to have a lead role in a primetime series) and wealth and lawyers, and the way the stories of FIFTEEN* women with similar stories are being disbelieved now, and the way these women are being dragged as groupies or "party girls" (as if girls who "party" can't be raped), I don't get how anyone could not understand why these women would remain silent.
Rodney King got beat ON VIDEO which we all saw and the cops who did it still went free. (The LA riots, remember?) These women-- young women when these crimes occurred-- don't have video. They have stories. About one of the biggest names in show business, who still, in 2014, facing allegations that he has raped 15 women, is spoken to by journalists with deference and respect and soft-ball questions.
It's a respect not given to Joan Tarshis, one of his accusers, who showed up for a CNN interview and was publicly questioned by anchor Don Lemon as to why she didn't bite Mr. Cosby's penis in self-defense. Really? No one asked Lemon why he didn't bite or clench when he said he was molested as a boy.
You can't understand why a woman, why many women would hesitate to put themselves in the position to be a national spectacle and have their entire sexual history dragged across headlines? In the 80s when Cosby was in his professional prime and untarnished by the respectability politics rantings that garnered him so many side-eyes before all this? Add to that, we are talking about women were allegedly drugged, then assaulted with fleeting memories of what occurred and they are confused and hurt and embarrassed and humiliated.
"I didn't go to the police because i was 19 years old," Tarshis explained in that horrible CNN interview with Lemon. "I was scared and I thought nobody would believe me. I'm a 19 year old girl and he was Mr. America."
I get it. But what I don't get is the people who do mental contortions to defend Cosby from fifteen accusers. It's beyond basic logic. As Ta-Nehisi Coates summed it up (so brilliantly) over on The Atlantic:
"A defense of Cosby requires that one believe that several women have decided to publicly accuse one of the most powerful men in recent Hollywood history of a crime they have no hope of seeing prosecuted, and for which they are seeking no damages."
"The heart of the matter is this: A defender of Bill Cosby must, effectively, conjure a vast conspiracy, created to bring down one man, seemingly just out of spite. And people will do this work of conjuration, because it is hard to accept that people we love in one arena can commit great evil in another. It is hard to believe that Bill Cosby is a serial rapist because the belief doesn't just indict Cosby, it indicts us. It damns us for drawing intimate conclusions about people based on pudding-pop commercials and popular TV shows. It destroys our ability to lean on icons for our morality. And it forces us back into a world where seemingly good men do unspeakably evil things, and this is just the chaos of human history."
*I emphasize the number because it's unfathomable to me that fifteen people could accuse the same man of similar crimes of rape and be disbelieved. If we were talking abut FIFTEEN people identifying the same person who robbed a bank, it would be a foregone conclusion, not an ongoing discussion about whether the accused, did in fact, rob said bank.