“Bill Cosby is back in the headlines this week after the Associated Press made public a 2005 court deposition in which he admitted to obtaining drugs to give to a woman in order to “have sex with,” or rape, her. It’s the first such admission we’ve heard from the now-disgraced comedian amid the dozens of women who came forward to publicly accuse Cosby of drugging and raping them on occasions that date back to the 1960s.
But the news is also proof of another truism about how our culture deals with women who say that they’ve been sexually assaulted.
Even after a few women stepped forward to bring Cosby’s actions to light, it took two men to raise concern and then verify the stories of nearly 40 female accusers. The first was comedian Hannibal Buress, whose November stand-up set about the accusations against Cosby went viral. The second was Cosby himself, whose lawyers fought bitterly for months to keep the decade-old deposition from going public.
Every 107 seconds, a sexual assault takes place in the United States. The vast majority of those assaults — 68% — are never reported to police, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. Most of those assaults are committed by a friend or acquaintance of the survivor, not some stranger popping out of the bushes and following them home late at night.
It’s very rare for someone to lie about being raped. In fact, according to the Huffington Post, it’s more likely that someone will commit insurance fraud than lie about being raped; most studies put false rape reports at about 7%. Still, when close to 40 women came forward and accused one of Hollywood’s most beloved stars of rape, they were met with skepticism. Cosby, on the other hand, was cheered by fans and defended by colleagues and family members.” Jamilah King, Mic.com
Photo credit: Jennifer Thompson wipes away tears during an interview at her family’s home in Spring Hill, Florida on March 6, 2015. Chris O'Meara/AP