A question you almost have to ask considering what he did while interviewing Joan Tarshis, one of the many women alleging Bill Cosby raped her; after ascertaining details of what she says happen during not one but two encounters with Cosby ending in some kind of forced sexual contact, he then prefaces his next comment/question saying he doesn’t intend to be crude, a sure indicator a person is about to be, but you know there are ways not to have oral sex if you don’t want to? Based on her account when he tried to rape her again she lied about an infection, him then forcing her into the aforementioned oral sex. What followed was a vague explanation by Lemmon, references to why didn’t she use her teeth to fend off, bite Cosby rather than perform the sex act; question heard round the world riling up women’s groups, activists, citizens all on comment boards, most of them understanding the offensive nature of Lemmon’s question. But more than a few agree with him pointing out inconsistencies in Tarshis’ story painting her more as a scorned groupie than a victim of anything outside her own stupidity. Yet it’s the why it’s so offensive that stands out as much as the question, comment alone; the idea, prevalent even today, you have to fend off rape as opposed to never being subjected to it in the first place. The idea that in that moment, amidst the panic, the fear, the horrid anticipation of what’s coming, something you don’t know how to stop, possibly under the influence of alcohol, alcohol laced with drugs you didn’t know were there, under the influence of drugs you were told were something else, something innocuous, potentially motor impaired, you’re supposed to remember creative ways to fight off your attacker. An attacker who set this up, an attacker who didn’t just see a drunk girl in a club, in a bar, in a hotel, taking advantage of the opportunity; instead luring these women into his trust, his world using his fame, money, promise of careers, fame for themselves. Reminiscent of what Dr. Phil said to a guest on a recent show dealing with child sex abuse ignored by a family, do you have any idea how pedophiles groom their victims; predators of adults are little different particularly in this case using a wholesome public image to get women into a vulnerable position, using status to convince people you won’t be believed if you do speak out, because that’s what these women are telling us. It’s Todd Akin all over again where there’s “legitimate rape” and some nebulous other no one can define; only this time it’s “legitimate rape” up against young groupie regret. Women’s bodies “having a way to prevent pregnancy during rape” has been replaced with ways to fight off your attacker; “why didn’t you just bite him?” Proving there are so many more things wrong with our perceptions than with what these women keep saying happened to them at the hands of Bill Cosby.
Firstly whether it sounds ultra-feminist or not, you have a man interviewing a woman about rape in 2014, when we long ago integrated women into such fields as journalism and CNN has plenty of female staff who could have adequately done the job thoroughly and informatively. If the concern was so called softball questions coming from a woman to a woman, how about a panel interviewing her, as little as two people one man, one woman putting questions to Tarshis, answering the questions burning in the public’s mind regarding an icon? Surely a woman could have better phrased the question, perhaps sounding better coming from a woman, or found a different way to achieve the same answer sans the offending question altogether. Secondly part of the problem is it is 2014; considering the state of the world today we think differently, we’ve all been educated on rape, date rape, marital rape, stranger rape, rape avoidance, what to do after if you have been raped. Joan Tarshis alleges she was raped by Cosby in 1969 at the age of 19; at a time when 19 was still young versus today where it’s 13 going on 30 or 19 going on 90. 1969 when you still didn’t talk about things, be that your alcoholic, abusive husband, that your life wasn’t the classic Leave it to Beaver, Ozzie and Harriet, never mind horrific acts like rape whether that’s a pedophile priest, perverted uncle or an unsuspecting adult predominantly female. The public, women weren’t warned about the potential danger; we didn’t start educating children on stranger danger, good touches and bad touches in schools until the 1980’s, because we started to see the need, were alerted to the world not being the nice place we thought it was. Still their were the older generations of age to middle age, middle age to old age, teenagers walking around without key preventative knowledge meaning they could easily fall victim to a predator; that was the 1980’s forget 1969, making her story much more plausible. Of course there were drugs, illicit, abuse of legal ones on the market, this was the year of Woodstock after all, a significant turning point away from the staunch down home, American values from decades before. But one not everyone was involved in that, Woodstock’s importance would be felt stronger after, two, large portions of the population remained rooted in values, what would become the old ways and 3 national drug prevention campaigns had yet to take hold detailing to, primarily young people, the negative impacts of drugs, what can happen if you accept random pills from people you hardly know, without seeing what they are. Today that would be the apex of stupidity because we have been educated on one insidious use of ruffies, special K due to a public service ad campaign in the 90’s when drugs like Rohypnoland Ketamine, GHBstarted being used in such fashion, to drug and rape women; obviously there were ruffie type drugs in 1969, probably easier to get due to drug regulations yet to be established, but the consequences were not widely public knowledge nor the criminal use apart from getting high. Values wise, women usually didn’t leave home, permanently move out of their parents’ house until they got married, so when Joan Tarshis talks about not knowing how to tell her parents, fear associated with disappointing them alongside a mother who idolized Cosby for his comedy it takes on a whole different, deeper context, when if they kick you out where are you going to go, how are you going to support yourself, what are you going to do? Because, relatedly though the feminist movement was well organized and active, their crowning achievements wouldn’t come until 1-3 years after Tarshis says this happen to her, the full cultural attitude shift that has, to this day, not come close to complete fruition, resulting in less job prospects for women, far less chance she would be taken seriously by authorities especially up against the already large Bill Cosby image machine, independent of if he had yet to be known as America’s dad, Mr. Jell-O or not. Under said circumstances he gets to play the scorned groupie, obsessed fan, even delusional mistress card, admit to having sex with her, say he made a mistake, insist the sex was consensual and it’s case closed. Had Tarshis followed Lemmon’s advice and actually bitten him, STD/STI risk largely unknown at the time aside, odds are highly probable she would have been brought up on charges for assault elevated to a higher degree because prosecutors saw it form the viewpoint of a twisted sex game, perverted revenge, mental instability before they saw a desperate woman trying to prevent an attempted rape; her going to jail for X number of years, life thoroughly ruined even beyond his violation of her body.
Further addressing the conundrum of how women get into these situations, why didn’t anyone come forward sooner, predators all look for vulnerable, easy targets; mostly we associate these patterns with pedophiles and the grooming that comes with child sex abuse, but they are characteristic of any predator from wild animal to potential rapist, never mind a suspected serial rapist with many, many victims coming to light. At least two of the women Cosby stands accused by had alcohol, substance abuse problems; according to investigation via Entertainment Tonight he called Janice Dickinson while in rehab wanting her to join him somewhere for a project, tracked her down in a foreign country and told her she’d better come to Tahoe for a meeting then plies her with wine, gives her a requested pill for cramps proceeding to rape her once she passed out. Dickinson has also been candid about her past as a sexual abuse survivor something, especially predators, can sense often causing re-victimization. Yes she was a grown woman accountable for her actions, however foolish they seem; larger question remaining, what responsible person, upstanding, moral, decent person knowing someone has just come out of rehab grants a request for pills, gives them liquor? And while what she was asking for was probably Aspirin, the 1980’s version of Midol, clearly that’s not what she got. Joan Tarshis was young and naive; accusers have come forward as young as 15, 16 saying something inappropriate happened between them and Cosby, he at minimum tried to do something sexual to them. As for why women don’t come forward, apart from it can take weeks, months, years for them to begin to acknowledge what happened to them, regardless of the circumstances surrounding the assault, the rape; there is a tremendous amount of shame that comes with this type of violence, violation perpetrated on victims male or female. Our system is notoriously hard on victims; long before CSI type crime investigations, DNA, rape kits and forensic level medical exams, there was still being seen by a doctor, telling your story repeatedly to police, having to do so in court not just in front of your attacker but in front of jurors, court personnel, recount moments of bad judgment for all to hear, a drudging up of your sexual history, realities holding true right up to present day intensified exponentially in the 60’s 70’s and 80’s when we knew far less about what motivates rapists, what actually makes them tick, why they rape. Our system reinforces the ‘this is at least partially your fault’ mentality asserting women lie about rape to avoid telling parents, family about sexual activity, avoid admitting they have a boyfriend, to avoid people finding out how many sexual partners they’ve had, to cover up cheating. We blasted, continue to blast women, blame women for the clothing they wear, being at a bar, consuming as little as one drop or one drink prior to the assault, flirting with an attacker beforehand, heaven forbid being in a relationship with them, having been in a relationship at one time. Marital and date rape used to not exist; thought being how can it be rape if you’re married, that’s why you get married to have sex and have it always available, if your dating rape is another word for morning after regret. Look at what’s happening right now on UVA campus, reflective of college, sadly high school campuses too nationwide; students accused of rape, sexual assault, some kind of sexual violence against other students and instead of being turned over to police for investigation their victims are given options including an internal, informal hearing. Internal and informal hearings where the accused, clearly guilty are rarely punished, ordered to undergo counseling and what amounts to sensitivity training, not expelled from school, not barred from campus, not out-ed to the community even after admissions of guilt; admissions of guilt readily made because the accused know they won’t be persecuted, won’t go to prison, be able to continue their education with minimal inconvenience. Victims on the other hand forced to see their attacker randomly on campus, possibly attend class with them so the school can save its reputation. Women have learned from bitter experience reporting rape gets them nowhere, does not get them justice especially if the person is well known, holds community influence, has money, forget all 3. Here investigating law enforcement attitude would go something like this independent of which woman’s accusations you take on, Bill Cosby was willing to come see you in your home town, your current city of residence, he was willing to fly you to city X location Y, help you with your aspiring career; what do you mean rape? Oh I get it; your career didn’t work out so now you want to burn him. Or, let me get this straight, Bill Cosby, the Bill Cosby wants to be with you, what do you mean rape? Lastly you do know he’s married a decent guy and wouldn’t do that, don’t you?
Interestingly enough for all those people bound and determined to believe these women are out for money, 5-15 minutes of fame there are no details surfacing indicating they are being paid for their stories, that they have ever profited from leveling rape allegations against Bill Cosby; minimum of one victim stating no one wanted this 15 minutes of shame. In fact only one woman has ever received anything monetarily from coming forward regarding her sexual assault charge; Andrea Constand who settled a civil suit in 2006, a suit only brought after prosecutors refused to indict Cosby for the purported crime citing lack of evidence. A prosecutor who’s now also adding his voice to the controversy surrounding Cosby telling CNN he believed Constand’s story, had a gut feeling about the star just didn’t think he could prove it beyond a reasonable doubt, hints no charges filed; be reminded too, 13 other women were willing to testify in the Cosby civil case telling strikingly creepy, similar stories. Nor is this the singular time a woman either tried to go to police or attempted to speak out about what she states happened to her; Barbra Bowman details going to a lawyer, him laughing in her face asking if she was serious, later adding her voice to the civil suit. Tamara Green, like Bowman was one of the 13 subsequently interviewed and told her story to the Today Show in 2005 as the suit became public knowledge. Janice Dickinson attempted to put her horrific experience with Cosby in her book, about her life only to be stopped by one of his multitude of lawyers; doubtlessly her book would have sold infinitely more copies making her more money had she been allowed to include her jaw dropping information, but of the 3 books she’s written that are biographical in nature the last was published in 2006. Wouldn’t it make more sense to try and get money out of Cosby then, come forward with the intimidation allegations over what she threatened to reveal regarding what he did to her? Recent accusations even put the Cosby extortion trial in new perspective; for those who don’t know it was a 1997 case involving one Autumn Jackson who claimed Cosby was her father and threatened to sell her story to the media if he didn’t give her millions. Except her mother is Shawn Brown who has likewise currently come forward claiming she and Cosby had a lovechild resulting from his drugging then having sex with her, she once hoped they would someday have a relationship. An encounter he admits to in the Jackson extortion case, sex consensual of course, best summed up in the following New York Post article quote “The married father of five acknowledged kids had admitted in an interview that he’d enjoyed a “rendezvous’’ with Jackson’s mother. And Cosby, who all but said that he was, at best, a lousy husband and, at worst, a rank hypocrite, testified that he paid the mother and daughter $100,000 over the years to keep his image-crushing extramarital affair a secret. In the end, Cosby won slobbering applause from starstruck jurors who convicted Jackson of extortion, conspiracy and crossing state lines to commit a crime — she threatened to sell a story of his possible paternity to a supermarket tabloid if he failed to fork over $40 million. That is, Autumn Jackson threatened to tell what she believed to be the truth.” Though the post article author has no love for Cosby and feels vindicated for her hard line news coverage of the story back then not sympathetic to Cosby, worse is what comes next in the article quotes from Jackson’s public defender: “I’m reading all these Cosby stories and I’m saying, ‘Andrea was right,’ [Andrea Peyser author New York Post] Robert Baum, Jackson’s federal public defender, told me this week. “You were one of the few journalists who didn’t think Cosby was the victim. “When I was preparing for trial, I received calls from women who said they, too, had had sexual relations with Cosby,’’ said Baum. “They didn’t say they were raped. I didn’t think it was relevant to my case.’’ Jackson ultimately got 26 months in jail ratted out by her actual conspirator boyfriend who served a significantly lesser sentence for doing so. Therese Serignese was Jane Doe number 10 in the 2005 civil suit for the first time coming forward talking about yet another sick and twisted ongoing relationship with Cosby involving combined alcohol and pills afterwards A- asked to leave after telling him she might be pregnant, B put up in a pent house, C given money “for good grades in school.”
Intriguing in all the wrong ways owing to these women were paid to essentially to keep their mouths shut; if Autumn Jackson was indeed guilty of extortion, invented the whole story about Cosby being her father to acquire a quick buck, as part of a get rich quick scheme then why was he paying her mother thousands of dollars over the years, why did lawyers, persecutors never consider perhaps Jackson wasn’t the one who was lying, rather her mother, her merely repeating what she had been told for years, the famous man was her father? Or that perhaps, just perhaps it wasn’t a lie at all and the money paid was either hush money or monetary support for a child he knew could be his. Serignese’s “school” must have been college being that she was 19 when Cosby unceremoniously booted her out of his life, and if it was for school, if it wasn’t hush money why did the checks not stop coming until 1996, when this happened in 1976? Could it be because he thought he had a child by her, too risky to check, to have contact with a former mistress since he was in the image business as much as show business, as much as the comedy business, was providing for it until its 18th birthday only to discover her pregnancy scare was just that, a scare, once the child turned 18 he deemed his obligation to her over? Further, should the motivation truly be money, why not speak out the moment the checks stopped, try to “extort” him like Autumn Jackson, say continue paying me or I talk, why wait until almost a decade later in 2005 to join a lawsuit where her name isn’t even mentioned; if the hope was again make a quick buck without having to reveal yourself as the accuser, then why did Therese Serignese come forward once more now showing her face to the world in such an unflattering light? Unless it is exactly as she said it was, she wants to know why he did this to her, she wants an apology; remembering other listed Jane Doe witnesses, one signed on after telling their story once already. Barbra Bowman had been to a lawyer, Tamara Green spoke to a credible news show initially breaking her silence when she found out there was another woman, more women out there like her who had suffered at the hands of Bill Cosby, had been drugged then raped. A third in the seemingly endless string of women making claims describes herself as financially well off, very stable, clearly offended by the notion all she wants is his money; conversely wanting the world to know yes Cosby did this because he did it to me too, horrifyingly flabbergasted he was still doing it circa 2005. Another let her story be told, spurred into action by a Cosby lawyers words absolutely incensed by them calling the allegations decades old and directly implying they are untrue. Apparently women have been saying such things for years, creditably it might be added, and it’s us who haven’t been listening; ironic since, prior to the days of Facebook, Twitter, things going viral on the internet, via the social media we know today, we were willing to pronounce Michael Jackson a pedophile in the court of public opinion chiefly for settling his child molestation case on the advice of attorneys, name O.J. Simpson guilty of brutal, cold blooded murder criticizing the televised trial and newly developed forensic evidence that went over jurors heads, virtually ignore the sad, pathetic story of a confused young woman chalking it up the given spin of an extortion plot despite Cosby giving her mother money and turn a blind eye to 13 women by all appearances legitimately crying rape. How did we miss this; even post his pull up your pants, get your act together speeches, how did we miss this? Were we really so busy praising Bill Cosby for telling youth to pull up their pants, for telling back people to stop being criminals and be decent citizens, raise their families or stop being in such a hurry to create them, get a damn job that we missed this; then shame on us.
Returning to Don Lemmon, his offensive comment simultaneously utterly sickening, offensive comments made by the public plastered all over topic boards, news stories, video clips talking about both the scandal surrounding Cosby and the hot water Lemmon has justifiably gotten himself into is examining how many people still today don’t understand the most rudimentary facts about rape. Numerous persons asking online “were these women ever hot,” forgetting when these events took place the women were young, in their prime, aspiring models, actresses, continuing to believe rape is tied to how you look, what you are wearing versus what psychologists have said for decades; rape is about power. Rape can happen to anyone, male or female, any age, infant to old age, any socio-economic class rich, poor or in between, any ethnicity, yet people are playing the other race card saying that accusations, the stories are an attempt to bring a good black man down, denigrating victimized women for being “scuzzy and white,” agenda money, to get their face on TV again post a washed up career. Not, telling their stories because it is about time, long past time the world knew who this man really was, not the amount of manipulation also involved, and rape being about power, by default manipulation, the logistical fallacy in Lemmon’s argument/suggestion of “ways not to have oral sex if you don’t want to.” That, if a predator has managed to maneuver you into such a position, maneuvering Cosby did according to accounts using drugs to subdue women, you are well past those recommendations, the potential for injury to vital parts of self, neck and spine, if you resist too much while a guy is shoving your face into his crotch. One of the many arguments against the company who wanted to produce anti- rape (AR) wear, a line of hard to remove undergarments women could don to protect themselves is/was the probability in escalating the violent nature of the attack increasing chances of devastating injury or death. Nevertheless Joan Tarshis’ story is unbelievable because her 19 year old self didn’t think to bite him taking in comments doing so would prove she had been with Cosby, indicate resistance. Speaking of manipulation listen closely to the last video after paragraph 2, the woman who was 15 when she says Cosby drugged and sexually abused her, he used his public persona to endear himself to the family allowing him to take her places with just him alone, plied her with alcohol though she was under age, when she complained about it making her feel funny, previously describing for the reporter waking up in bed the next day unable to remember anything, he said if she didn’t drink the drink she couldn’t come see him, classic pedophile predator grooming behavior. But Joan Tarshis’ story is illogical because she went back a second time with the star originally thinking they were going to be completely in public; stardom having the same effect on adults pedophile grooming has on children. All the other women’s stories are unreliable because they willingly, indiscriminately took the pills offered to them making them complicit in their fate; they were drug addict junkies, alcoholic booze hounds so who can believe a word they say? Because sexual predators don’t look for exactly such people; except they do, facts true in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s whether we knew them or not. Because being a victim of sexual abuse, sexual assault, rape doesn’t increase your chances of having a substance abuse problem; except it does, properly applying current knowledge to past situations a skill completely beyond the public mob mentality. Conveniently ignored also, the woman who had the flu when he “put her to bed,” considering the supplements we will buy in mass quantity at exorbitant prices courtesy of your local health food store housing dubious benefit one can hardly think we should judge a woman from the 70’s because she fell for the herbal anxiety reducer line, women who knowingly took nothing, who had one drink, drug lacing that drink and passed out left wide open to the assault that happened next. For the record, Joan Tarshis stated she was never offended by Lemmon’s question/suggestion, thought he was doing his job and he has since apologized; hey Don instead of rallying behind Cosby in the pull up your pants debate someone should have been telling him to keep his on and zipped then he could talk to the rest of us about our deplorable fashion choices.