After decades of lawsuits, investigations and close calls, Bill Cosby has been found guilty of sexual assault. The comedian was convicted last week for drugging and molesting a Temple University employee, Andrea Constand in 2004. He faces up to 30 years in prison. Cosby’s image as a wholesome sitcom dad and moral exemplar has been irremediably tarnished in the past few years by dozens of women who accused him of drug-induced sexual assault. However, this conviction will redefine his legacy forever. The ruling was hailed as a turning point in the ‘Me Too’ and ‘Time’s Up’ movements. It is also a vindication for the multitude of women who doubted anyone would ever believe their words against that of the comedian and sitcom star once known as “America’s Dad”.
A few of his victims exited the courtroom after the verdict was announced, and broke down into tears inside the courthouse. These women, some who testified in court that Cosby sexually assaulted them, had been waiting for that moment for a long time. “Today, this jury has shown what the Me Too movement has been saying: that women are worthy of being believed.”, said Lili Bernard, who accused Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting her in the 1990’s. The leading voice for the ‘Me Too’ movement in Sacramento, Christine Pelosi described Bill Cosby’s verdict as a boost for the movement. “And to the next Bill Cosby out there, we’re coming for you”, she added.
There are so many men that fit into the description of “the next Bill Cosby”, but for all of them, time is up! Amongst the long list of men who have been accused, it seems the next Bill Cosby will be R. Kelly. In recent years, as more women have come forward to allege sexual misconduct, protests against R. Kelly have increased. Women of Color (a subcommittee of the Time’s Up organization) issued an open letter in which they condemned R. Kelly and joined the #MuteRKelly campaign on social media. In the letter, they asked multiple companies like Ticketmaster, Spotify, and Apple Music to cut ties with Kelly in the wake of recent allegations of physical and sexual abuse levied against him. The social media campaign #MuteRKelly has sought to stop the playing of his music and the cancellation of his concerts, and Time’s Up has joined that call. The Time’s Up letter addressed to Women Of Color (WOC), started by saying, “We see you. We feel you. Because we are you.”
The Me Too movement, which has destroyed the careers of numerous powerful men after a wave of sexual misconduct allegations, has helped women to be believed rather than attacked when making such accusations, even in cases when victims avoided speaking up for years, as in Cosby’s case. Today, once you’re found guilty of any sexual misbehavior, your contribution to the entertainment, business , political or media industry becomes irrelevant and this tossed into the trash bin. It’s an era of transparency, where more women appear less afraid to call out anyone for abuse and gender inequality in many different forms, and even re-examine accused abusers who thought they had escaped from the iron hands of this social movement.
There are many men like Bill Cosby and R. Kelly who quiver in fear whenever they read the news of one of their kind being convicted or sentenced. However, in the meantime, men like Harvey Weinstein and James Franco have a short time to prepare for the judgement day in court because time is up.
Written by Tommy Monroe.