An anonymous juror, who told the Philadelphia Inquirer last Thursday that Bill Cosby should be let off the hook because the poor guy/serial rapist already suffered enough, made further reprehensibly tone-deaf statements implying that Andrea Constand, Cosby’s “alleged” 2004 victim, was asking for it. According to the Inquirer, he stated, “Let’s face it: She went up to his house with a bare midriff and incense and bath salts. What the heck? . . . [She should have] dressed properly and left the incense in the store.”
To be clear, according to the Inquirer, “in a deposition read to jurors, Cosby detailed a sexual liaison he had with Constand when she showed up at his home with her midriff exposed, some time before the night of the alleged assault. Constand denies that encounter ever occurred.” Additionally, the incense refers to a gift that Constand had brought Cosby when the two had a friendship prior to the incident.
But, regardless, the juror’s statement is a prime example of the victim-blaming trend in sexual assault cases (and abuse cases in general), in which people attempt to justify the guilty party’s actions by shifting the blame to the victim. In this case, the juror is suggesting an outfit or a gift undoubtedly signifies that you consent to someone drugging you without your knowledge and sexually assaulting you while you’re too incapacitated to resist. But, let’s say – hypothetically – that you did go into a situation with non-platonic intentions . . . when the initially-consensual situation leads to forced sexual acts while you’re involuntarily sedated, that shit becomes nonconsensual, IDGAF how you spin it. And, despite a new (and fucking ridiculous) law in North Carolina, you still have the right to stop the action at anytime, for any reason, without someone forcing you to continue against your will.
Reactions like this juror’s are dangerous, both for assault trials and for society at large. When we place the responsibility to prevent rape on victims, it negates that the guilty party is the one singlehandedly responsible for committing (and preventing) the offense. Because if it’s not the midriff, it’s the skirt; if it’s not the clothing, it’s the alcohol; if it’s not the alcohol, it’s because the victim was alone; and if not that, it’s the physical inability to fend off an attacker. The list of unconscionable excuses that can be, and have been, used against victims is limitless, yet people still attack victims that don’t feel comfortable immediately (if ever) reporting their stories.
If we justify that assault is just a natural response to an irresistible temptation, we send the message that potential victims should constantly be living in proactive fear rather than concretely enforcing the message that it’s never okay to for anyone to commit nonconsensual acts under any circumstances. Just last week, Bill Cosby’s spokespeople announced that Cosby was planning a series of town hall speeches intended to be, essentially, a tips and tricks seminar about dodging sexual assault accusations. Although they both initially said – on live television – that the speeches were targeted for “young athletes” and “married men” who may not know the technicalities of assault, like the length of the statute of limitations, they have since pulled a Team Trump and made a completely incoherent 180. Probably because the statements caused a tsunami of “if you want to avoid being accused of sexual assault, don’t sexually assault/serially drug and rape people”-type responses.
According to Deadline, Cosby spokesperson Ebonee Benson said on CNN New Day Weekend yesterday that what they really meant is that the talks will regard the restoration of Cosby’s damaged legacy. Yeah, good luck with that one ya fuckin’ idiots.
Photo: Screenshot From @sophhams, Instagram
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