Well, I guess it’s time to talk about Bill Cosby
We’ve all seen it by now – the slow-moving tsunami of shame following our favorite funny-man of yore, the damage building momentum, collecting victims, denials, witnesses as it increases in speed and fury, demolishing hearts and childhood dreams in its wake. Yes – our Bill Cosby: Rapist.
I am angry. And so, so disappointed. Just as I’m sure every other kid who, like I, grew up glued to The Cosby Show in their youth is likely angry and so, so disappointed, too.
With each new accusation it becomes impossible to think maybe there was a misunderstanding…maybe she wants money…maybe she’s a scorned lover. Because yes, I too fall into the societal norm of not wanting to believe those I’ve admired are capable of the rude evil actions bubbling to the surface with increasing velocity. I was raised with typical* boys, I was also molested as a young girl; I regretfully admit that I am a latecomer to the idea that anyone should believe the girl over the man – that’s just the way things worked in my house.
I know where the heartbreak I feel comes from as I reluctantly watch this continually unfolding cringe-fest. Don’t we all? I wanted Bill Cosby to be my dad! Rather, I wanted Cliff Huxtable to be my dad. Sure, I’m white, he’s black, I grew up in a very white, mostly racist midwestern town but I didn’t care – a frowned-upon stance to take in my household, to be sure. Very certainly watching The Cosby Show helped me to break out of the mindset of assumed racism, ignorance and poverty that most of my family members and community folk labeled onto any person of color. Nothing physical mattered to me about the characters of the show aside from the cruel fact that they were living and breathing in the life I wanted.
I wanted to spontaneously dance like a funky robot and sneak cake and be given sound, humorous advice about life. I wanted a swinging door into the kitchen and, as an adult when looking at houses to buy, the one we bought had just that. “I feel like a Huxtable!” I would call in delight, passing through it again and again. But, with testimony after testimony coming out about our dear Bill Cosby and the vile, unforgivable actions he chose to inflict on women who trusted him, I’m glad I don’t live in that house anymore.
On the bright side, I also don’t live in the house I grew up in anymore. No more camp-outs on the floor watching The Cosby Show, wishing for a father as involved as Cliff – allowing myself to, as ever, float somewhere between reality and the sweet clear fantasy life I longed for with every fiber of my young body. Sometimes I still fool myself into believing that if I close my eyes and wish for something hard enough, I’ll wake up and it will magically be so.
Much like the women who were drugged, and raped, and humiliated by Bill Cosby have likely been squeezing their eyes shut for the past 20 or more years, wishing their reality was just a bad dream.
Luckily for the rest of us, these women aren’t staying quiet any longer like so many of us were trained to do. They are shaking off their doubt. They are standing up. And they are saying “hell no: this is not mine to bear alone anymore.”
Sorry, Bill Cosby/Dream Dad Cliff Huxtable; you can’t dance your way out of this goof-up. All the commercial breaks in the world won’t laugh track this one away. And I’ll part with the most dreaded verbal punishment from my childhood:
Shame on you.
* By ‘typical boys’ I mean what was typical for that time in my life, in that part of my world. This thankfully is not meant to reflect any of the boys I am lucky enough to know in my life today.