Suggested listening: “Not Great Men” by Gang Of Four
Last week, I wrote about the abuse I suffered as a child. I am thankful that so many people responded with love and compassion. This is the environment we need to foster in order to make it easier for victims and survivors of abuse to tell their story publicly.
Too long, we’ve enabled the attackers, the abusers and rapists by rationalizing either their behavior or the reasons why a victim would publicly name their attacker. Look at the many women who have accused Bill Cosby of drugging and raping them. The closest Cosby has come to facing justice has been in the Andrea Constand trial. Constand alleged that Cosby drugged, molested her and removed her clothes at his mansion in the Philadelphia suburbs in early 2004.
That trial ended in a mistrial in June. This June. June of 2017. Thirteen years later. Thirteen years.
Allegations against Cosby go back nearly fifty years and only in the last few years has he only begun to feel even a whisper of consequence for his alleged actions. How did he manage to get away with it for so long? It helped that he was enabled. By his status as a Hollywood star, a public figure, and in part by prosecutors who were reluctant to go near him (a prosecutor in 2005 declared there was insufficient evidence to charge Cosby for the Constand incident), by confidentiality agreements which protect abusers from public disclosure of their actions (think Harvey Weinstein).
It doesn’t help that the public gets involved in enabling such actions. Rationalizing why someone would call out an abuser. . . “seeking a payday or publicity”. As if a rape victim would want to parlay that into a spot on Dancing With The Stars. But it’s not just rationalizing the victims’ reasons. Ask a Pittsburgh Steelers fan. Their star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been accused of two sexual assaults and fans overlook that (unless of course he fails to perform on the field).
Is this an extension of the Great Man Theory? Is this the price society is willing to pay for greatness? Are we willing to overlook two unprosecuted rape cases because a guy can play football well? Are we willing to overlook a broken family and abused children because Woody Allen made some of the best comedy films in cinematic history? Do we overlook dozens of women who cry out for justice because Bill Cosby gave America the warm-and-fuzzies as Dr. Huxtable while shilling for Jello Pudding Pops?
Or are we jerking ourselves off? Perhaps I’ve built a strawman here but none of those things are worth the human cost of pain and tears. Chris Brown is an unrepentant domestic abuser and his fan base is as rabid as its’ ever been. But maybe Team Breezy has a point. Have you ever heard “Kiss Kiss”, that collab with T-Pain? Almost makes up for the bruises on Rihanna’s face.
Wait a minute, these are not great men. These are profitable men, every single one of them. Not just for themselves but for other people. For Hollywood, the music business, professional sports. No wonder they’re enabled so much. Because the institutions of sport and entertainment don’t want their money fucked with. Of course.
I think I’ve hit it on the head. History is not made by great men. It’s made by men who wanted to make a lot of money. In order to do that, you may have to break a few lives. And that transcends all cultures.