An open letter to Dr. Camille Cosby

Dear Camille Cosby,

It is very believable that the man you hear about in the news with over 20 victims coming forward telling their Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 1.23.26 AMstories of having been drugged, sexually harassed and abused by him is not the man you know. I don’t doubt it. Consider this — the vast majority of men who buy women to abuse in prostitution are married. Their wives would say the same thing you have said about Bill were they to hear from prostitution victims and survivors of their husband’s sexual abuse. This is relevant to Bill Cosby how? The descriptions and testimony women are giving of his alleged abuse mirrors how men who buy women for prostitution treat them. And no, they don’t like it, want it. But yes, we live in a world of family-loving sexual predators.

The allegations against your husband are under public scrutiny because so many of us recognize the scenario — a location he can control, separate from his home and family — the private interview or meeting he needs to have with you, the meeting that you dare not refuse if you want that job, awareness of the power he has over you after you are freed.

We know that you are a civic-minded woman Camille, not only a stay-at-home mother and wife. Is it possible that you in your life were more likely to not be in the vulnerable position many of us who were unmarried, dependent on that job or promotion? That is when we were earning $.60 to men’s $1.00, closed out of most professions, yet we still believed, undervalued as we were, that we would be treated professionally by the men from whom we sought jobs, positions and promotions. Threats, implicit or otherwise, to victims of sexual predators, kept many of us in our place, living in unspeakably painful silence, knowing that living in a society that gives preference to males, we would not have been believed had we spoken. Now we find that it is the same for today’s generation.

Being a devoted wife often gives women a particular but limited perspective of their husbands’ sexual behaviors. It is a perspective he carefully constructs in his familial space and marital relationships, one that protects his secretive sexual abuse of other women. In fact, for many sexual predators, getting away with it while appearing to be a committed, loving husband is half the fun. Camille, these are among the reasons why so many women identify with the “alleged” victims of your husband.

 

Respectfully,

Kathleen Barry, Ph.D                                                                                                                                                           Sociologist and Professor Emerita

 

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, I-D, Truthdig, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.

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