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Why we don’t want to believe Bill Cosby is a rapist

The sexual assault allegations against Bill Cosby keep pouring in, but many people are quick to defend him and put the burden of proof on the victims. Unfortunately in a world where rape culture runs rampant, this isn’t entirely surprising, even if it is disappointing.

As a seventh named woman comes forth to allege she was sexually assaulted by comedian Bill Cosby, the world seemingly remains pretty torn on the issue.

Cosby’s good image has been taking hits in the past few weeks, as allegations of rape continuously emerge, spanning several decades and involving 14 alleged victims. Recently, former model Janice Dickinson accused the famed comedian of rape, alleging Cosby assaulted her after the two had dinner at Lake Tahoe. This is not the first time the comedian has been accused of sexual assault, although he has never been formally charged.

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Yet despite Cosby’s name being stuck in the headlines for weeks now, the general public has very mixed reactions. It takes only a quick five-minute scroll-through of Twitter to see the division of opinion about the allegations. But why? A rape victim’s allegations should always be taken seriously, regardless of who is being accused of the crime, so why is the public so quick to assume multiple victims are lying?

1. Many of us grew up with Bill Cosby

Obviously the great populace of the world fell in love with Bill Cosby on The Cosby Show. This show is so embedded into our culture that it’s impossible to not be affected by it. Most of us grew up watching Cosby handle the difficulties of fatherhood while his onscreen kids cope with growing up — we all related. The problem is that many of us are having trouble detaching the sentimental value from the show’s leading man and looking at these very serious allegations with a clear mind. A show is a show; don’t forget that these victims are real people. We need to listen to them.

2. He is a wholesome, fatherly figure

Largely due to The Cosby Show and subsequent cultivation of this image, Bill Crosby is Cliff Huxtable to us. That’s his image: a warm, sweet father figure. We have to remember it does not mean Cosby is absolved of crime. We have to look beyond all of this and hope for the truth to prevail.

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3. He’s a comedian

The man is a comedian. Comedians are hilarious people. They can’t sexually assault people, right? Wrong. Again, we’re just so attached to Cosby and his comedy that we look at these allegations with unnecessary judgment. We don’t know what happened. We must respect the many women who have come forth with their stories and give them a chance to get closure. Again, with total and utter respect.

4. He’s just “not the type” to be a rapist

This comes up often on social media. There is no “type” for a rapist. It’s not dependent on age, physical appearance or job; it depends on a choice an individual makes. That is all. You can’t discredit the recent allegations because Cosby doesn’t come off as a rapist. We must realize that over a dozen women have accused him of rape. This is serious. Cosby is also not the “type” to be accused of rape, yet here we are.

5. We live in a society that promotes rape culture

We’re quick to absolve the accused and even quicker to blame the victims. Unfortunately this scenario is magnified when a celebrity is involved, particularly one as well loved as Bill Cosby. It’s easier to assume victims are lying rather than accept that our perceptions of a person were completely wrong.

Regardless of the sentiment we have attached to Bill Crosby over the years, it cannot overshadow the truth — whatever it may be. The women, named or otherwise, behind the allegations were brave enough to speak up, and we must commend them for the act. We have to learn to discern between the characters actors portray and the actors behind those characters; they’re not interchangeable. Maybe Cosby will be charged, maybe he won’t be. Maybe he is guilty, maybe he is not. Maybe he will never be charged, but this certainly does not mean he is innocent.

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