We Only Care About Violence Against Women When It’s Convenient
This past weekend, three more women came forward to accuse Bill Cosby of sexual assault. That’s numbers 36, 37, and 38, by the way. 38.
Can we talk about how easy this has become?
I’m not talking about the women who have come forward and told their stories. Doing that takes a level of courage and inner strength that I could not even begin to understand.
I’m talking about the rest of us. Those of us who bear witness to this epic, unprecedented fall from grace. Those of us who are rightfully horrified by the crimes of this monster who has been masquerading as an American treasure.
Can we talk about how relatively easy it was to righteously exile Bill Cosby from our good graces? All it really took was a YouTube video of some other comedian telling people to Google “Bill Cosby Rape.” That’s what started the avalanche.
We, the coveted 18-35 demographic, understood his importance to pop culture in the same way we understand the significance of a Paul McCartney or Stevie Wonder, our relationship to him much like the one we have with the beloved patriarch of a good friend’s family: We like him, we get it, but he isn’t really ours. And you know what? Our generation cares about Paul McCartney or Stevie Wonder far more than we ever cared about Bill Cosby.
We weren’t exactly beating down the doors of our local venue to catch a glimpse of the legendary Cos before all this went down. The power he wielded that had silenced his victims for so long had mostly dissipated, which, if we’re being real with ourselves, is why most of this went down in the first place. The media was a lot less scared of Bill Cosby than it was even a decade ago, which is why they were willing to repeat the allegations in the first place. Boycotting Bill Cosby was just as easy for us as, say, giving up Friendster. We weren’t really going to miss him all that much.
I bring this up because another serial abuser of women will be in the headlines this week, but not for his serial abuse of women. Floyd Mayweather is going up against Manny Pacquiao in what many boxing analysts around the world are already calling the “Fight of the Century” and, as you can tell by the moniker, people are pretty stoked for the event. So much so, that Pacquiao is expected to make $120 million off of the fight, which would be the new record for the highest payout an athlete has ever received from a single contest by a mile, if not for the fact that Mayweather will probably pocket around $180 million. This doesn’t include the tens of millions in revenue going to HBO and Showtime who are offering the fight through pay-per-view (for about $99.95), ticket sales, sponsorships, and merchandise sales. Ain’t capitalism grand?
Sure, the socially conscious sports reporters are bringing up Mayweather’s five domestic violence convictions. Some are even calling for boycotts of the fight. But the airtime spent having those difficult conversations pales in comparison to the hours spent building up excitement for the fight, analyzing and dissecting every possible angle for a match-up years in the making. A special featuring ESPN personality Stephen A. Smith gawking at all of the cool shit Mayweather has while asking hard-hitting questions like, “Talk to me about why you made the decision to drive different colored cars in respective cities?” premiered on the World Wide Leader this weekend, and will air six more times this week, including in primetime on ABC.
Let’s indulge the inane and destructive fantasies of the naïve, the woefully misguided, and the misogynists who won’t believe a word a woman says anyway for a second and remind ourselves that, yeah, Bill Cosby has not been convicted or charged with anything. No physical evidence of his crimes, if it exists, has been made public. We’ve collectively condemned Bill Cosby solely on the word of a few dozen women.
Why haven’t we done that to Floyd? Why hasn’t he gotten the Cosby treatment despite five domestic violence convictions, actually having spent a depressingly short amount of time in jail in 2012 (a sentence which was delayed for months so he could participate in a fight), refusing to show any form of contrition for his actions, and even going so far as to publicly humiliate his accusers on social media?
The answer to this is stupefyingly simple: He’s still really good at boxing.
What? Is that a bad reason to continue giving our money and attention to a monster?
The inescapable truth is that we care about violence against women only to the extent that we don’t have to make any sacrifices of our own. We’ll kick somebody while they’re on the way down, but bring down a behemoth? Trade in our own personal pleasure in order to make a righteous stand? Not a chance. Not while we can still be entertained.
And the second he can no longer entertain us? The moment he no longer is what he once was? Fuck him. He’s a rapist. He’s an abuser. We’re done with him.
But not a second before.
It’s why Ray Rice was cut by the Ravens after the worst season of his career, but Greg Hardy was signed to a multimillion dollar contract by the Cowboys. Why we won’t dare see a new Mel Gibson flick, but Bill Murray is a modern-day folk hero. Why Chris Brown is a devil, but John Lennon is a saint.
You know what’ll be weird? The next retrospective you see on television or comedic history will make zero mention of Bill Cosby. Despite the immense cultural significance of The Cosby Show and his albums, the man’s face won’t appear once. And we’ll all feel great about ourselves because we’ll be refusing to honor the legacy of a man who brought so much pain and suffering into the lives of dozens of innocent women.
As for Floyd Mayweather? Well, you can catch his title bout against Manny Pacquiao this Saturday night at 9pm/8pm central. It’s sure to be a barnburner.