Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The cover and the story

"I told my supervisor at the Playboy Club what he did to me, and you know what she said to me? She said: 'You do know that that's Hefner's best friend, right?' I said, 'Yes.' She says to me: 'Nobody's going to believe you. I suggest you shut your mouth.'" — P. J. Masten

BY NOW, if you haven't read the New York Magazine's Bill Cosby feature story from the July 29 – August 9 issue, you've probably at least seen the cover. Did you know that for a time, a hacker crashed the magazine's site, preventing people from reading the article?

Below is a short piece from the Chicago Tribune, and below that the text of the New York Magazine article.



New York Magazine's Bill Cosby cover story is required reading


By Heidi Stevens
July 27, 2015

(UPDATE: The New York Magazine site was back up and running as of 3:15 p.m. Monday.)


Someone with a lot of power doesn't want you to read New York Magazine's Bill Cosby cover story.


You should read it anyway.


As of Monday morning, the magazine's website was offline. "Our site is experiencing technical difficulties. We are aware of the issue, and working on a fix," a tweet explained.


A few hours earlier, editors had posted this week's cover, which shows 35 women who share an unenviable title: Cosby accusers. (Forty-six women have come forward publicly to accuse the comedian of rape.)


"A sorrowful sisterhood," Joan Tarshis, who says Cosby assaulted her in 1969, told the magazine.


A hacker who calls himself ThreatKing is claiming responsibility for crashing the site, saying he was motivated by a hatred for New York, according to The Daily Dot, which interviewed him via Skype.


"I have not even seen the cover, LOL," he said.


You can still read the entire article here, thanks to Web.Archive.org's Wayback Machine.


It's a powerful, important piece of history in the making, finally gathering almost three dozen of the women who've accused Cosby of assault and giving them a united voice.


"The group, at present, ranges in age from early 20s to 80 and includes supermodels Beverly Johnson and Janice Dickinson alongside waitresses and Playboy bunnies and journalists and a host of women who formerly worked in show business," writes New York staffer Noreen Malone. "Many of the women say they know of others still out there who've chosen to remain silent."


Malone's article considers our culture's slow evolution in its handling of rape accusations. A decade ago, she writes, 14 women had already accused Cosby of rape. "But they were met, mostly, with skepticism, threats, and attacks on their character," she writes.


They haven't gone silent.


"Among younger women," Malone writes, "and particularly online, there is a strong sense now that speaking up is the only thing to do, that a woman claiming her own victimhood is more powerful than any other weapon in the fight against rape."


P.J. Masten says Cosby assaulted her in 1979. She tells the magazine:


"I told my supervisor at the Playboy Club what he did to me, and you know what she said to me? She said: 'You do know that that's Hefner's best friend, right?' I said, 'Yes.' She says to me: 'Nobody's going to believe you. I suggest you shut your mouth.'"


"In 1975, it wasn't an issue that was even discussed," accuser Marcella Tate tells New York. "Rape was being beaten up in a park. I understood at the time that it was wrong, but I just internalized it and dealt with it and pushed it down, and it resided in a very private place."


Barbara Bowman wrote a Washington Post piece last year reminding readers that she spent 30 years trying to get people to listen to her story. She tells New York:


"Listen, he was America's favorite dad. I went into this thinking he was going to be my dad. To wake up half-dressed and raped by the man that said he was going to love me like a father? That's pretty sick. It was hard for America to digest when this came out. And a lot of backlash and a lot (of) denial and a lot of anger."


"People often these days say, 'Well, why didn't you take it to the police?'" accuser Tamara Green tells New York. "Andrea Constand went to the police in 2005 — how'd it work out for her? Not at all. In 2005, Bill Cosby still had control of the media. In 2015, we have social media. We can't be disappeared. It's online and can never go away."


Where will we go from here?


Toward justice, I hope. Away from doubt, I hope.


But I can't help but think of another powerful quote, from another brave survivor.


"(Rape accusations) challenge our beliefs about the world and the people we can trust and our own safety and security," Anne Ream told me last fall. "It's much easier to believe you're dealing with a confused or unstable or money-motivated person. That's a lot easier to embrace than believing someone we otherwise know and trust can be a sexual predator."


Ream, who was kidnapped and raped by a stranger when she was 25, wrote "Lived Through This: Listening to the Stories of Sexual Violence Survivors" (Beacon Press), a narrative account of 18 survivors' stories.


Assigning voices and faces to survivors can be a critical part of helping them heal, Ream contends. It fosters a community and pushes back against the notion that sexual assault should be shrouded in shamed silence.


It should also push back against the reflexive disbelief that so infects this culture.


‘I’m No Longer Afraid’: 35 Women Tell Their Stories About Being Assaulted by Bill Cosby, and the Culture That Wouldn’t Listen
By Noreen Malone and portfolio by Amanda Demme
July 26, 2015

More has changed in the past few years for women who allege rape than in all the decades since the women’s movement began. Consider the evidence of October 2014, when a Philadelphia magazine reporter at a Hannibal Buress show uploaded a clip of the comedian talking about Bill Cosby: “He gets on TV, ‘Pull your pants up, black people … I can talk down to you because I had a successful sitcom.’ Yeah, but you rape women, Bill Cosby, so turn the crazy down a couple notches … I guess I want to just at least make it weird for you to watch Cosby Show reruns. Dude’s image, for the most part, it’s fucking public Teflon image. I’ve done this bit onstage and people think I’m making it up … That shit is upsetting.” The bit went viral swiftly, with irreversible, calamitous consequences for Cosby’s reputation.

Perhaps the most shocking thing wasn’t that Buress had called Cosby a rapist; it was that the world had actually heard him. A decade earlier, 14 women had accused Cosby of rape. In 2005, a former basketball star named Andrea Constand, who met Cosby when she was working in the athletic department at Temple University, where he served on the board of trustees, alleged to authorities that he had drugged her to a state of semi-consciousness and then groped and digitally penetrated her. After her allegations were made public, a California lawyer named Tamara Green appeared on the Today show and said that, 30 years earlier, Cosby had drugged and assaulted her as well. Eventually, 12 Jane Does signed up to tell their own stories of being assaulted by Cosby in support of Constand’s case. Several of them eventually made their names public. But they were met, mostly, with skepticism, threats, and attacks on their character.

In Cosby’s deposition for the Constand case, revealed to the public just last week, the comedian admitted pursuing sex with young women with the aid of Quaaludes, which can render a person functionally immobile. “I used them,” he said, “the same as a person would say, ‘Have a drink.’ ” He asked a modeling agent to connect him with young women who were new in town and “financially not doing well.” In the deposition, Cosby seemed confident that his behavior did not constitute rape; he apparently saw little difference between buying someone dinner in pursuit of sex and drugging them to reach the same goal. As for consent, he said, “I think that I’m a pretty decent reader of people and their emotions in these romantic sexual things.” If these women agreed to meet up, his deposition suggested, he felt that he had a right to them. And part of what took the accusations against Cosby so long to surface is that this belief extended to many of the women themselves (as well as the staff and lawyers and friends and others who helped keep the incidents secret).

Months after his depositions, Cosby settled the case with Constand. The accusations quickly faded from the public’s memory, if they registered at all. No one wanted to believe the TV dad in a cardigan was capable of such things, and so they didn’t. The National Enquirer had planned to run a big story detailing one of the women’s accounts, but the magazine pulled it when Cosby agreed to give them a two-page exclusive telling his side (essentially that these were instances that had been “misinterpreted”). People ran a story alleging that several of the women had taken money in exchange for their silence, implying that this was nothing more than an elaborate shakedown. Cosby’s career rolled on: In 2014 alone, there was a stand-up special, plans for a new family comedy on NBC, and a high-profile biography by Mark Whitaker that glossed over the accusations.

Read the full article here.

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