Wednesday, November 26, 2014

When Celebrities Rape: Blame the Victim?

The Daily Mail UK reports on Bill Cosby's lawyer's statement:
Cosby's lawyers slammed Valentino's account—and the 15 others—as 'increasingly ridiculous'. Martin Singer, an attorney for Cosby, said in a statement on Friday: 'The new, never-before-heard claims from women who have come forward in the past two weeks with unsubstantiated, fantastical stories about things they say occurred 30, 40, or even 50 years ago have escalated far past the point of absurdity.  
'These brand new claims about alleged decades-old events are becoming increasingly ridiculous, and it is completely illogical that so many people would have said nothing, done nothing, and made no reports to law enforcement or asserted civil claims if they thought they had been assaulted over a span of so many years.' 
Cosby’s lawyer’s statement has raised such anger in me as I can only imagine it has for the women directly involved in any similar rape or attempted rape experience.
Full tv bill cosby  mitc 1024x682
 Bill Cosby Creative Commons Image
Regardless of whether Cosby is innocent or guilty, what is “absurd” is that a lawyer has no knowledge or understanding of what a rape victim goes through or how unlikely it has been in the past for a woman to come forward with allegations.

Thankfully, times have changed somewhat for the crime and some women do feel the strength to press charges. But the reality of the alleged situations with Bill Cosby is that when someone in a position of power, wealth and adored status by society is accused of something like rape, the “absurdity” created in the culture’s collective mind cannot make sense of that public figure actually being a villain and so must belittle the victim or victims instead to allow for the dissonance.

My celebrity attempted rape experience differed in that my perpetrator was well-known at the time for being a “pickup artist.”

“His libido was so legendary that in 1989 Spy magazine published an eight-page foldout chart of his exploits called “The Pick-Up Artist’s Guide to Picking Up Women.””

James Toback

The fact that what Toback did to naïve young women, and for all I know, probably still does today, is considered a “pick-up” and not rape says a lot about the problem of celebrity in our society.

My “pick-up” by Toback started just like his others, but I did not know about his reputation at the time. I was a struggling New York City actress who fell for his line of making me a star in his next film.

Yes, even though red flags kept waving in my mind, I kept squelching them because of who he was. This was the big time; this was a real film director.

So, as the flashing signs became brighter, my mind continually told me that what I thought was happening, must be wrong. This was someone I could trust.

It was not until he stripped all his clothes off and slammed me up against a wall that I knew I was in trouble.
After I escaped his apartment, I was beyond embarrassed and hurt. I felt betrayed and ridiculous.

I was unable to speak about the experience because I knew what people would say: you asked for it; you walked right into it; no one made you go to his apartment.

But does any of that make me guilty for his actions?

What is this world becoming that we can’t trust someone’s words? That we can’t trust in the people we’ve been taught we can trust?

But the bigger problem we need to worry about is the fear that many women must live with—will I be raped? And if so, will I even be believed? Or will I be treated like the responsible party or possibly even the villain?


  1. Anonymous10:39 AM

    Wow. That's a terrible story. It's depressing when people use power or influence in disgusting ways. I think there is a deluge of nonsense from both sides about the situations that are coming to light but there is never any way to blame the person who is assaulted or attacked or just humiliated by behavior like Cosby's and Toback's. And specific to the acting world, people like them destroy the atmosphere of freedom and play that are essential to performers. The joy of being able to play with sexuality and sexual energy is one of the things that separates acting from a day job. Nothing good can happen in an atmosphere of distrust and fear of being raped or otherwise abused. Troy

  2. Great comments, Troy! It's difficult enough being an actor, but to always have the risk of sexual predators jumping on you when you let your guard down is part of the business I hated.