Bill Cosby’s longtime TV wife, Phylicia Rashad publicly came out in support of the legendary comedian in response to the multiple rape allegations that have essentially dismantled Cosby’s late-stage career.
Just to recap: 28 women have accused the comedian of sexual assault. The stories are frighteningly consistent: drugging, intimidation, as well as, an abuse of his power . Cosby’s response to these allegations have been, for the most part, lacking: instead of addressing these accusations, or comment on rape culture, he’s remained largely silent, which unfortunately for him, comes off as arrogant and dismissive.
In support of Cosby, Rashad said, “Forget these women…What you’re seeing is the destruction of a legacy. And I think it’s orchestrated. I don’t know why or who’s doing it, but it’s the legacy. And it’s a legacy that is so important to the culture.” She went on to say, “Someone is determined to keep Bill Cosby off TV… And it’s worked. All his contracts have been cancelled…[The Cosby Show] represented America to the outside world. This was the American family. And now you’re seeing it being destroyed. Why?”
It’s understandable for Rashad to defend Cosby – after all, the two have worked together for more than ten years (8 years on The Cosby Show and four years on his 90s comeback vehicle Cosby). She’s a friend of his, and she’s just as wrapped up in the legacy of The Cosby Show as he is; after all, Rashad’s an iconic figure in American pop culture solely because of Cosby and his career.
But it’s depressing that Rashad is so quick to dismiss the women. Like many of his supporters, Rashad has relied on leaning on Cosby’s considerable legacy, as if his artistic accomplishments would make up for any criminal behavior. And the sad thing is Rashad could’ve supported her friend, and yet avoided her dismissive tone. And like Cosby, Rashad could’ve also maintained that rape culture is real, instead of sniffing, “forget these women.”
What is particularly galling about Rashad’s comments (as well as the others who are lining up to denigrate the accusers) is that it doesn’t really make all that much sense. How would these women – almost 30, at this point – how would these women band together to participate in this frightening conspiracy to destroy Cosby’s career? None of these ladies would benefit financially – or socially – from coming forward.
Of course Cosby has the right to presumed innocence – but Rashad’s loyalty to the comic didn’t have to come at the expense of the dignity of the women involved. Instead of saying “forget these women” – a line that too many rape victims have to hear – Rashad should take this opportunity and to something Cosby failed to do: take this opportunity to decry rape culture in our society.
Update -January 7, 2015
Rashad went on television – probably due to the fallout – and claims that she was “misquoted.” ABC News has snippets of an interview with Linsey Davis. She responded to the “forget these women” line by saying she never said those words, saying, “this is not about the women, this is about the obliteration of legacy…I am a woman I would never say such a thing.”
Update – January 8, 2015
Another update to this story – as with anything Cosby-related, it appears that everyday something new comes up: According to Rashad and Roger Friedman, whose interview with the actress contained the “forget these women” line, the quote was taken out of context. His full explanation can be read here.
If both Rashad and Friedman are telling the truth, then that does change the gist of what Rashad was saying – but it still doesn’t alter the fact that even though we’re talking about women being raped, Rashad’s main concern is Cosby’s legacy, and not whether these women were assaulted.