Bill Cosby, let me say this: I believe you.
I believe you when you say in a 2005 deposition that “yes,” you give women Quaaludes. “I give her quaaludes. We then have sex.”
I believe you when you say you knew it was illegal to get the prescriptions. (I also believe that the gynecologist who gave them to you knew you really shouldn’t be his patient in the first place.)
I believe you when you describe your version of what consent means, one that isn’t so much based on “yes.”
“I don’t hear her say anything,” you say during the deposition. “I don’t feel her say anything. And so I continue, and I go into that area between permission and rejection. I am not stopped.”
And I’m not alone. Your own words did you in with at least one man on the jury that convicted you last week of three counts of sexually assaulting Andrea Constadt.
“It was his deposition, really,” Harrison Snyder, 22, said about his decision to find you guilty in an interview that aired on Monday on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “Mr. Cosby admitted to giving these quaaludes to women, young women, in order to have sex with them.”
A year ago a different jury couldn’t decide if you were guilty of assaulting Constadt after tricking her into taking pills that left her slipping in and out of a consciousness. But a year ago the #MeToo movement hadn’t erupted. The New York Times and The New Yorker hadn’t yet published their damning accounts of Harvey Weinstein. Prominent men in other fields hadn’t fallen.
Since then, women (and men) have been emboldened to speak up about their experiences with sexual assault and sexual harassment. The seeming ubiquity of these crimes has shaken the public into listening in a new way. Your case was the same. Your words were the same. But we hear differently now.
Still, there are people who don’t take you at your word, like Snyder does or I do. And to those people I say, you don’t have to just take Cosby’s word for it. Here are 35 women who told New York magazine about their own experiences with him. They use different words, but they paint a similar picture of strong sedatives and a man who doesn’t look for an affirmative yes. You don’t have to believe Cosby; you can chose to believe these women instead.
And look, Cosby, it’s not just you. There’s an epidemic in this country of not believing men, or at least downplaying what they say. Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose and Mario Batali all apologized for their own alleged abhorrent behavior in recent months. Already they’re angling for a comeback, each working contacts and old friends, who are taking meetings with them.
Or look at our president. When a tape surfaced of him joking at length about how he likes to treat women, I believed him. Here’s the full transcript. Here’s a key passage:
“You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them,” Donald Trump says on tape. “It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.”
“Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.”
A lot of people rushed to say that Trump was lying — it was all a bunch of “locker room talk.” Trump himself even tried to push that line, that we shouldn’t believe him. But I still do.
It’s understandable to see why some people would not think Trump was being honest, given his track record with the truth. But luckily for Trump, just like, you, Cosby, there are many women who back up his first version. They say he’s done these very things to them. They’ve come forward and said so. He’s got credible people to support his original version. Here’s a timeline of the details.
This trend is deeply troubling. Even in the face of clear statements and corroborating evidence, we so often just don’t believe men when they say sexual assault is funny or when they say they’ve done it.
I’m glad men like Snyder are standing up for men like you. It’s time for us to start believing you.