On Wednesday afternoon, I saw the first image of Bill Cosby by the boxes of Jell-O with the caption “The pill is in the puddin”. So many emotions were evoked by this picture and now I find myself just wondering how the #ME Too movement and women make forward progress when this just set us back 10 steps.
Cosby was, in my younger years, a household favorite. Every kid loved Jell-O and pudding and every kid loved watching The Cosby Show and Fat Albert. He was an icon, a tv father, and a household name to us millennial/GenX kids. When the news broke of the sexual assault case it almost felt impossible to believe that someone you watched on TV every week, sometimes every day, could possibly be guilty of these horrendous accusations.
I am from outside the Philadelphia area so Bill Cosby was not just a TV name, he was legendary in our city and a prominent face at a local university, which again, made it harder to believe that any of it could possibly be true. Hence, we watched in awe as the local news stations almost reported on the story daily as the victims poured in.
During this case came the parade of the #MeToo movement and that ignited a fire in women all over the world to take a stand against sexual abuse, inappropriate behavior, sexual harassment, and other sex crimes. That fire propelled women of all ages and victims from any time to use their voice, their confidence, and their inner strength to come forward and demand justice and to bond together to use the power in numbers as strength to move from victim to victor!
Cosby’s case was sickening. The testimonies and the evidence provided by the victims felt like a kick in the gut. It was physically painful at times to watch and hear these victims using every ounce of their being to speak about their experiences all in pursuit of justice and progress towards equality for women and acknowledgement that this is a bigger issue than we had ever possibly imagined.
The news of his conviction felt energizing and like the caboose just gave that freight train the push it needed to get some steam. That is exactly what we all needed – steam to move forward, steam to make it visible, and steam to get the attention of the world. Cosby sure did get attention, just not in the way he wanted.
In 2018 the NY times reported that #MeToo Brought Down 201 Powerful Men. Nearly Half of Their Replacements are Women. Since then we continue to see some progress and positive changes related to the #MeToo movement, like state legislative changes and additional protections for workers, according to Vox.com, 7 positive changes that have come from the #MeToo movement.
And now, mid-way through 2021; many of us are struggling to wrap our minds around the release of Bill Cosby because it so closely articulates what the #MeToo movement is all about for women. His release cuts me like a knife. It is again, a kick to the gut, for all the forward progress being made and to some, is being interpreted as a degression on a subject that clearly needs progression!
I am a few classes into my Master of Legal Studies, and I am now reading this case with a much different lens than I was when it all began. It highlights the many holes in our legal system, the blatant lies that can be told in pursuit of a confession or information, and it clearly shows that while we have made progress, we still have a lot more work to do.
Vox’s final thoughts center around how Americans think about power, and that is exactly how I plan to center my thoughts on Bill Cosby’s release. His release should not give power to the idea that our justice system failed all those victims of his abuse and indecency. His release MUST give power to us, the women, to continue to push the agenda of the #MeToo movement. It must force women to recognize their power is their voice and our voices must be louder than the sound of Bill Cosby’s prison cell being opened.
I urge you to keep this momentum going and to not look at this as a step back, but as a step forward for us to push harder. We see the holes, we see the victims, we see the potential, so let us not put our heads down in defeat, let us take action.
Here are 5 things you can do in support of the #MeToo movement in honor of victims everywhere and for all the little girls becoming women:
- Educate yourselves on the movement. Do a quick google search to learn more about its history and the women who started it.
- Be an advocate. Support friends, family, loved ones, and strangers alike in support of their experience.
- Educate children. Anything systematic can be altered by disrupting its forward progress. Teach your children about gender stereotypes. Encourage them to speak up when they hear things like “girls can’t do that”.
- Communicate. If you do not like it or do not want it, say NO! Acknowledge that what someone is doing is making you uncomfortable or that behavior is not wanted. Resting bitch face or the silent treatment is NOT considered an act of not giving consent.
- Speak up. I loved this quote by Max Leach of The Odyssey “Silence is just as revolting as an offender’s actions.“
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