Living and Learning

Interesting Times

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Pond Scum Under A Microscope

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.

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6 replies »

  1. I am glad you decided to post this blog. I have vivid recall of two instances where today I could have screamed rape and perhaps someone would listen. Perhaps not.

  2. I think as women, many of us probably recall events and situations for which we were wrongfully blamed because of our gender. Equally, we all probably endnote those memories with “if only I had done, said, insisted or reported”. I take solace that my own painful memories are now part of a greater understanding of what it means to be a woman today which, as a mother of women and soon grandmother, can be used to teach them what I wish I knew then. A great thought-provoking post.

    • I am sorry that you, too, have some painful memories, gypsythinking. I like to think that there is a greater understanding today, and I can certainly see more discussion and awareness in the articles I read. Eventually, I hope that will lead to more promising statistics.

  3. I had to take time to process this before I could respond. And my first thought is, I’m so sorry that happened to you, and I am grateful for your courage to share, and your wise perspective on what we hope was a different time and place.

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