June 19, 2017

Bill Cosby and the Battle Against Rape Culture

There is a silent outrage that grows inside me as I realize that after everything women have been through just this year, we get another blow as the criminal case against Bill Cosby is declared a mistrial.

The jury couldn’t reach a verdict in the sexual abuse allegations of Andrea Constand against Bill Cosby. Andrea claims Bill had drugged her and sexually assaulted her in 2004. Andrea, however, is the only one who has gone to court out of the many women who claim they were also sexually abused by Bill. “Many of the other women never called the police, or when they considered it, found that the statute of limitations had expired,” reports The New York Times.

So this trial isn’t just a simple one, it’s the one that could symbolically give justice to the other victims. It’s the one that could show that men like Bill, despite being one of America’s beloved comedians, cannot get away with what he’s been doing with impunity.

But we’re stuck in the trappings of a legal system that puts the burden of proof on the victim, to protect that assumed innocence of the defendant. In cases of sexual assault and abuse, it could prove tricky. When is incapacity and non-consent sufficient enough to convince the court beyond reasonable doubt? If the past of the accuser is irrelevant in court, so should the defendant’s, no matter if it’s that of a family man and America’s influential comedians in the past decades.

Do we then take justice into our hands? Do we give up and stay silent? Do we leave our opinion in a tweet and call it a day?

The obvious but the difficult answer is no. If anything, the mistrial proves that when it comes to changing the misogynistic mindset we’ve grown accustomed to, we’ve got a long fight ahead. It may start with Andrea for some of us, but it hardly ends there. What the mistrial represents is how we are up against a flawed system. It’s the same system that gave Brock Turner such a light sentence for raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster.

But a flawed system doesn’t mean it can’t learn. In this trial, we need to reflect how cases of rape and sexual assault aren’t just like any other crime. For victims, the stigma against them stops them from going to the authorities. In some states, they have scrapped the statute of limitation for sex crimes, while others have extended it to 20 years. But it’s not enough. I remember reading how it’s only in a trial of sex crime that the victim must also prove the he or she isn’t lying and having a pious life. The rape culture has got to stop between our daily conversations and in the courts of law.

We need to understand how consent works. We need to stop profiling rapists as merely sleazy strangers. We also need to take down that only virgins and conservative women can cry about being violated.

We need to look at the fact that a man who made us laugh on TV is also capable of committing such crimes. It’s difficult and wouldn’t be on anyone’s top list either. But it’s the first step towards undoing the rape culture which has prevented justice from prevailing.


Art by Anfernee Dy

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Related stories: 
A Letter for the Stanford Rape Survivor
This Is Why Cong. Pia Cayetano Is a Faux Feminist
WATCH: The ‘Girls’ Cast on What You Can Do About Sexual Assault
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Will Justice Ever Be Served to Bill Cosby?



Filed Under:

Andrea Constand, Bill Cosby, culture, feminism, justice, Mistrial, Preen, Preen.ph, rape culture, Sex Crimes

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