Here’s the thing that I don’t hear people talking about when they discuss Cosby’s alleged drugging and raping of women (I should really put alleged in quotes since it’s pretty damn obvious that that did actually happen): Everyone talks about him letting down the African American community, but no one talks about him letting down the feminist community. For me (as a Caucasian), that’s the hardest part about all of this. When I watched Dr. Huxtable, I got Dr. Huxtable, because he was SO much like my dad. He was funny, and played with and respected his kids and demanded their respect in return, and he raised his daughters to stand up for themselves and his son to respect women. It was a feminist show, with much fun getting poked at Elvin and Kenny, the token chauvinists. His daughters were modern, independent, intelligent young woman who took after their highly successful mother. It was straight up feminism with men and women as equals both in the home and at work. And it reinforced the message my parents were giving me.
I grew up with Free to Be You and Me. My dad sat me down to talk about Beauty and the Beast when it came out to remind me that if a man is a jerk when you meet him, he’s going to stay a jerk and you won’t be able to change him. My parents split the household chores. They built and renovated houses together, using the same power tools. My dad was a cross between Dr. Huxatable and the dad on Family Ties (that was his dirty hippy side, of course).
And in the midst of all this pain with losing my dad, I had been finding great comfort in watching episodes of the Cosby Show on dvd when I had a few minutes to relax. It was like seeing little glimpses of who my dad used to be. And then all these women came out with these horrible allegations, and I didn’t want to believe it. It was like finding out your father wasn’t who he said he was. How could someone who championed women’s rights in the most public and main stream of forums be drugging and raping women he said he would mentor? It just didn’t make sense. Which is, to me, what makes him truly evil. The actual acts of rape he perpetuated are horrible, awful, disgusting and revolting. But equally bad is the fact that he was hoodwinking us all. And he did it so well that none of those women could come forward at the time, because who would have believed them?
I’ve thrown out my Cosby Show dvds, but I have to be honest that it broke my heart to do so. It was like throwing out a piece of my dad – one of the pieces that I’m most proud of. And now I don’t have that little moment of solace in my day, and it makes me question the public figures I grew up admiring. I don’t trust my ability to judge, all because this man is a horrible person but a damn good actor who managed to convince us all that he wasn’t cruel. And he’s ruined those women’s lives and stolen something that was good and right in our world. And that is unforgiveable.