Growing up, everyone watched shows they followed religiously, ignorant to any implication of the deteriorating skeletons neatly packed away in the closets of our favorite actors.
One such childhood actor is Bill Cosby of the now infamous Cosby Show; one of Cosby’s skeletons gained a voice in November 2002 and opened the door to the rest of the world, revealing her experiences with the actor.
In her bravery, Andrea Constand brought with her a slew of accusations by various women of sexual assault and mistreatment that had occured over the years of Cosby’s career. In the 17 years that followed, allegations continued to surface until the situation reached a climax.
This resulted in Cosby being formally convicted of sexual assault in the midst of the #MeToo movement and sentenced to serve three to 10 years in prison. The power of #MeToo, which began as a term coined by Tarana Burke to create a global support system for survivors of sexual assault, was exemplified when the numerous allegations against Cosby came to light.
Unfortunately, the Cosby debacle didn’t end here; on Feb. 13, Cosby released a statement from prison via his spokesman Andrew Wyatt where he allegedly claimed that he was grateful for his time and experience in prison. Cosby likened himself to Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Ghandi during his stay in prison and seems to view the situation as having an overall positive outcome.
Cosby’s statement, in the wake of #MeToo, is absurd and perpetuates a narrative that we should somehow feel bad for or sympathize with these abusers. Somehow, Cosby successfully found a way to skew the narrative and turn it around to such a point where he and his experiences are the focal point rather than the survivors.
This overshadows the victims by allowing their abuser to continue to be the eye of the storm and distracting the media coverage from the serious and heinous allegations that have been raised against Cosby. The social figures which he compared himself to do not have pasts similar to Cosby, who was found guilty but maintained his innocence despite being formally indicted.
By publicizing Cosby’s statements, his spokesman has successfully managed to divert the media’s attention from the experiences of Cosby’s victims and instead the abuser is once again the center of attention. This is why it is important to remember the significance behind the #MeToo movement and what it means for victims.
#MeToo is an opportunity to give the survivors a chance to be the focal point after having been silenced for so long. It is about their voice and not about the voice of the abusers’, it is not about the abusers’ experiences but rather the survivors’ story.
While in the beginning the situation appeared to have ended his career, Cosby stepped forward and tried to make light out of the suffering of his victims. Society must continue to hold abusers accountable for their actions and vocalize support for survivors. Cosby is not Nelson Mandela or Martin Luther King Jr., he is an abuser with multiple accusations made by a scope of victims.
As a collective we cannot continue to allow abusers to draw the public eye to their experiences or validate their delusions. It is not fair to maintain to the cycle of forgetting the victim and their experiences by allowing attackers to speak out about themselves in a positive light.