On Saturday, following a week during which multiple women accused comedian Bill Cosby of raping them, The Wrap published an op-ed that can only be (and should be) defined as pure, misogynistic rape apology crap. Then, to make matters worse, they defended it in the most spectacularly obnoxious fashion.
Thanks to a garbage op-ed written by Richard Stellar, The Wrap has now officially joined the ranks of media outlets publishing tone-deaf victim shaming bullshit written by men. The article was originally entitled "The Rape of Bill Cosby," until they changed it after people pointed out that comparing a public scandal to rape was beyond insulting. It is now called "In Defense of Bill Cosby (Guest Opinion Blog)," just one of the many attempts The Wrap tried to make to distance themselves from Stellar's post while simultaneously trying to defend it (I'll get to that in a minute.) It should probably just be called "More Dumb Victim Shaming Bullshit" because that is exactly what it is.
Here's how the article (which now include's Stellar's shitty mea culpa) started out:
"Bill Cosby raped me."
Before you shut your laptop and proceed to bash your head on your desk for the next few minutes, wait until you see what else Stellar has to say.
Now that I have your attention, consider this: the allegations of sexual misadventure and impropriety that have pummeled the Cos over the last few weeks is not the issue.
Hey, everyone. Good news. The fact that a famous man allegedly drugged and raped 18 women isn't the issue. It turns out, as Stellar goes on to explain, it's that the media are "aging corpulent prostitutes, their hair dyed flame red and their nails like elongated daggers," who have railroaded "the Cos" (yes, that's how he refers to him). THE MEDIA ARE THE BAD GUYS HERE, SEE? NOT THE ALLEGED RAPIST.
Then we get to the absolute worst part of this "op-ed." Brace yourselves. Emphasis mine:
I'm not saying that what these woman claim happened, didn't happen. I get it — Cos was the campfire that parents would sit at with their children, and chuckle at his homespun humor and life lessons. When we all retreated back to our tents with our tummys full of S'mores and toasted marshmallows, Cos was back in his tent, banging the camp counselor after doping her with quaaludes. Yes, that could well have happened, and once those women realized the violation that they endured at the hands of Cosby, then they should have reported it then — not a generation later.
"I'm not saying that what these woman claim happened, didn't happen." But he's going to going to go ahead and shame them anyway. What. Complete. Bullshit. This is pure, putrid garbage. It's this kind of victim shaming that sets everyone back to the Stone Ages. And yet here we are, in 2014, and yet another man is telling victims what they should and shouldn't do following a horrific attack. The Wrap seemingly published a poorly written comment pulled out of the worst men's rights activist forum on Reddit and called it an "op-ed."Don't believe Stellar's bullshit that he was just taking the media to task. He could have done that without telling these women they did something wrong in how they handled being sexually assault. This isn't a nuanced look at how the media handles scandal. This is rape apologia. Stellar's entire framework for this defense of Cosby is that the victims should have reported their crimes when it happened. That, and that reason alone, is enough to shame victims and continue sucking up to a man who used star-worshiping sycophants like this to enable his predatory ways.
Hey, but we can't hate on Stellar for being an obtuse ass, says Stellar. He believed Dylan Farrow (as he so helpfully points out in the post) so he's one of the good guys, see?
Dylan Farrow had credibility. Child abuse in my estimation is on an equal par to murder. The uncomfortable truth that Dylan Farrow courageously revealed, to me, was undeniable — and that abuse had been reported to both social workers and to the courts.
Yes, Dylan Farrow had credibility. But Joan Tarshis, Barbara Bowman, Tamara Green, Therese Serignese, Janice Dickinson, Angela Leslie and all the other women don't, because they aren't sainted innocents to Stellar, simply because they waited a little too long to talk about being victims of a man they trusted and revered.
The concept of justice is disregarded. The statute of limitations is ignored. The recollections of events that happened as long as fifty years ago are dredged up by aging actresses who have one eye on the CNN camera, and the other on a book or reality show deal. If the statute of limitations was as long as the 15 minutes of fame that these lost souls are trying to recapture, then our prisons would be as vacant as the Holiday Inn in Acapulco (you probably have no idea what that means because you're not used to real news).
In his mea culpa that now precedes the original post, Stellar claims his blog post was "misconstrued as defending Bill Cosby." But this IS a goddamn defense of Cosby. There is no other way to explain writing something that basically says "all these old women want is fame." He's tripping all over himself to make the point that the media covers scandal. You can do that without destroying victims and humiliating them by calling them "lost souls" or saying they just want "15 minutes of fame." You can call the TMZ's of the world pieces of shit without doing that.
Not only is the article brazen in its contempt for victims (they don't even get a mention until the fifth paragraph), it's also factually inaccurate. Both Lachele Covington and Andrea Constand filed police reports against Cosby. They tried to come forward.
Perhaps instead of wasting so much time shaming victims because they didn't come forward right exactly when everyone thinks it's appropriate, we should be asking why so many victims choose to stay silent. This type of "opinion" is exactly why victims are afraid to go to the police. They are terrified they won't be believed. Terrified they'll be shamed. Terrified they will be re-victimized all over again. It's because of the Richard Stellars of the world.
But if you really need a good reason to understand why victims are terrified to come forward, look no further than the events of Friday evening. Cosby performed in Melbourne, Florida and received a standing ovation. A man who multiple women have publicly accused of rape was applauded by hundreds of people. Because he was on a couple of sitcoms. Because he tells funny jokes. Hundreds of people applauded him and assured him that no matter what he does, they will still provide him with the warm embrace of celebrity worship he so desperately craves.
And yet you have the audacity to question why his victims would hesitate to come forward.
But if you thought that pile of crap was bad, wait until you see the asinine way The Wrap's publisher and executive editor defended this sewage. (I won't even bother with Stellar's lousy mea culpa which now appears before the piece, but you can take my word that it's as poorly written and obnoxious as his original take.) Joseph Kapsch and Sharon Waxman took to Twitter to defend, then distance themselves, then defend again Stellar's work. They cobbled together a series of utterly baffling defenses, whining about the "#mob" that was critiquing them and crying FREEZE PEACH along the way for good measure.
As you would expect, they were rightly taken to task and questioned by sane people who probably were mostly worried their brains would explode after reading Stellar's vile shit.
Even some famous people jumped in to ask why The Wrap, a film blog, suddenly became a haven for anti-victim crap.
Kapsch, the executive editor of The Wrap spent a lot of time reminding people of all the other times he ran stories about Cosby that didn't include a healthy dose of crap:
"Don't be mad at me; one time I told someone to write about rape kits!" You have got to be fucking kidding me with this bullshit. Listen, it's not good enough for you to trot out old stories or tell people you care about victims because you have a daughter when you publish crap that tries to obliterate the very real struggle victims face after crimes such as rape.
Protecting victims from being shamed is not a "liberal bias," for fuck's sake. No, Kapsch. No one is telling you to only publish "anti-Cosby" pieces. Publish whatever the fuck you want, but don't publish crap that wags a finger of shame at victims of rape and then expect people to hand you a goddamn cookie for it.
But the prize for Best Strawman Bullshit definitely goes to Sharon Waxman, publisher of The Wrap who had this to say:
Once again, I am forced to say "Nancy, what the fuck are you talking about please." According to Waxman, victim shaming is a "legit contrarian view." Anyone who disagrees is a "mob." She goes on to contend that it's an issue of free speech (and then complains about the people exercising free speech by telling her how full of shit she is). She later wrote a post explaining that Stellar is one of their independent bloggers with Hollyblogs: "Hollyblogs are written by independent bloggers and represent their own views." That's fine, but she published it and gave it a platform on The Wrap.
In all of the defenses of the decision to publish Stellar's op-ed, they all spectacularly miss the point. We know this is an opinion. Everyone knows that. GODDAMNIT, WE KNOW. OK? The point is this is a destructive opinion. At some point, you have to take responsibility for the lousy, hurtful and downright dangerous opinions you give a platform to. You can't just put blinders on to how damaging something like this is and cry "LALALALA FREE SPEECH LALALALA" like a two-year-old. You can't go on Twitter to complain about the "#mob" calling you out in the same breath as you whine about free speech. You're not living in an age where free speech isn't welcome. You're living in an age where people have the tools to hold you accountable for your words and remind you just how much damage they can do.
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