This week the world discovered that Bill Cosby had obtained drugs called Quaaludes, a popular ‘70’s and ‘80’s sleep aid pill, intending to use to rape women. This information was disclosed by 2005 deposition transcript for a sexual assault accusation. We use the term “discovered” because many people did not take the accusations seriously when close to 40 women stepped up to accuse him of sexual assault. We use the term rape because it still isn’t taken seriously now.
Rape is an incredibly sensitive and painful topic. It affects people from all walks of life and all levels, admittedly some groups more than others. As a famous TV father figure, Dr. Huxtable, “Fat Albert” creator and a household name, Cosby’s accusation is no exception to the expectation of controversy that the term rape comes with. So touchy is the topic, the term and the accusation that even with Cosby’s literal admission of purchasing a drug that incapacitates people, news organizations seemingly continue to hop around the possibility that he did anything wrong. Time magazine went as far as finding a legal defense expert to claim that women could’ve taken the narcotic with consent (not just one person, multiple). They softly entitled the article, “Why Bill Cosby Admitted Under Oath to Getting Drugs to Have Sex With Women.” “Sex” in this case is a soft euphemism for “sexual assault” or “rape.”
Are drugs used to sexually take advantage of unconscious people not strictly used in the context of nonconsensual sexual relations, also known as rape?
When the accused is a beloved sitcom actor, it’s not! But hey, if we want to continue acting like there’s any world where multiple women who would later accuse Cosby of sexual assault had originally used quaaludes under consent — oh who are we kidding? What the hell! This is not okay. Stop.
Luckily, not every organization like Time or Temple University (recall how the institution protected board member Cosby in a sexual misconduct case brought by one of its own employees) are falling in line with this level of bull. Disney in particular did children everywhere a favor when they took down his statue from its Hollywood studios. We remember when University of Massachusetts Amherst cut ties with Bill Cosby when the accusations first came out. While that was controversial then, there is certainly little excuse for other institutions to stay silent now.
That’s good. Some organizations are learning. Others are not. But we should stop pussyfooting around the idea of Cosby’s sexual misconduct in the news, especially at this point — it is bizarre to think that a good entertainment career can change facts about sexual assault.