Thirty or forty years ago, being harassed, fondled, propositioned and even assaulted by men was not unusual. The problem for Bill Cosby is that this is a new era. If every man who had behaved as he is accused of behaving were to be vilified in the press, there would be no room for any other news. I’d like to think times have changed, but it turns out the biggest change is that more women are now likely to report abuse. They are still unlikely to get a conviction, though.
Once, I was one of those women who were asked what I was doing out so late, why I was wearing a short skirt, and so on. The two strangers who, after a college dance, grabbed me and my friend and dragged us towards a van were never caught, so far as I know. Apparently, we had asked for it. The police officers who took our statements gave each other meaningful looks and closed their notebooks decisively.
Similarly, the three men who were my bosses in a large, well-known, corporation were just regular guys, even though they took me out to a distant location for what turned out to be a three-hour lunch in the home of one of them, with no way for me to get home. I never told anyone about that event. There was no point.
Bill Cosby was just doing what regular guys did back then. At least, some of them did. He probably got kudos for his conquests. Puffed up his chest a bit. Grinned as he lit his cigarettes.
But, to be honest, I don’t know that. I am just making assumptions. What he is being accused of is not surprising because lots of men did those things. That doesn’t mean that he did them. It just means that it would not have been unlikely, given his age and circumstances. These charges come on the heels of accusations and trials of other men who were famous back in the seventies and eighties, so we have precedent. Even so, that doesn’t mean Bill Cosby is guilty.
I want to live in a world in which we are all innocent until proven guilty. It wouldn’t surprise me if he is guilty, but I won’t reach that conclusion before he has had his day in court. Similarly, I don’t want to be judged by the actions of my peer group back in the seventies and eighties.
I have lived in interesting times.