Are ‘People Like’ Phylicia Rashad the Reason Why Rape Victims Stay Silent?

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*Phylicia Rashad doesn’t believe Bill Cosby raped all those women. Ain’t nothing wrong with that. But some people may find her reason why leaves a lot to be desired. After all, she’s been going around talking about a “legacy” being destroyed.

Dozens of women are saying they were sexually violated by a man who happened to be the biggest TV star of the 80s and its his legacy that makes you believe they’re lying?

Rashad played Claire Huxtable to Cosby’s Cliff on The Cosby Show from 1984 -1992, and she recently talked to Showbiz 411’s Roger Friedman about the growing list of sexual assault allegations against the 77-year-old comedian, all of which he and his attorneys have denied.

“What you’re seeing is the destruction of a legacy,” Rashad asserts. “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.”

Seriously girl?

Perhaps sexual assault victims should thank Rashad though.

Her dismissive stance illustrates better than any public service announcement or myth-busting list ever could, why so many women who are raped don’t report their assaults. It’s a perfect encapsulation of the exact reaction that many victims — especially those raped by powerful men — fear.

No doubt many of these women, who are being chastised for “bringing this up after all these years” did tell their agents, managers or what-have-you’s that Bill Cosby drugged and raped them. But those same individuals made them feel just like Rashad is making them feel today. “How dare you go against a “legend” like Bill Cosby.”

Can’t you just hear an agent responding to his client after she admits she was raped by Bill Cosby?

“If you even think about coming out with this, you’ll never work in Hollywood again!”

“Say one word about this and I’ll drop you from my client list.”

“Listen honey, no one’s gonna believe ‘America’s Dad’ would do such a thing.”

The beautiful Keisha Knight Pullium recently spoke of “The Cosby I know.” The one who would never do such a thing. I don’t believe Cosby would have done such a thing to someone like Phylicia Rashad – a married woman who was also his cast member.

That would have been a bit too close to home.

claire huxtable

And of course I wouldn’t imply he would’ve done anything to the young Pulliam.

rudy from cosby

But if the tables were turned and the foxy Pullium of 2015 was around, would it be so hard to imagine her as one of the women talking rape today?


You’re 18, 19, 20. Just trying to start your career and this happens. Would you be so quick to go to the authorities…many of whom were/are “Cliff Huxtable” fans.

Rashad, who was initially quoted as saying “forget these women,” (she has since denied that she ever did, or would, say such a thing) explained herself and revealed even more of the type of attitude that silences victims, telling ABC News, “What I said was this is not about the women. This is about something else. This is about the obliteration of legacy.”

There’s that word again. It’s as if all should be ignored because the man has created a legacy.

Read those sentences closely. Rape accusations are “not about” the women who make them. The women who make them need to consider whether they are damaging their rapist’s legacy.

So, a woman who says she has been raped by Cosby is being told, by the woman who played his wife, to think long and hard about whether she wants to be held accountable for destroying the glittering cultural influence of a man who headed a frickin’ TV show.

Her remarks hit all the notes that a woman raped by a powerful, famous, widely adored man like Cosby would fret about before publicly accusing him. It’s easy to see how beliefs like the three main ones revealed by her curt statement could silence anyone:

  1. Power earns people the benefit of the doubt and a loud defense: Rashad seems to suggest that Cosby’s high profile and the fact that he has a show business “legacy,” mean he is somehow either incapable of having committed the assaults of which he’s accused, or shouldn’t be held responsible for them. And Rashad’s choice to use her platform to defend him is a reminder that powerful people like Cosby have the loyalty of other powerful people, who have the tools to amplify their defenses of their friends.
  2. Women have all sorts of shady incentives to make claims about high-profile men: Rashad’s “I don’t know why or who’s doing it” comments, and her reference to an “orchestrated” effort to ruin Cosby’s legacy, are telling. It’s not clear whether she’s saying that the accusers have all decided to get together to frame Cosby, or that they’re puppets of someone else. Either way, the sentiment goes hand in hand with the equally popular idea that the accusers might just be seeking publicity. This makes very little sense, based on what we know — but what woman would want to risk the pain of having her motives scrutinized in these ways after confessing a major trauma?
  3. Some people are just too important to criticize: Rashad’s hand-wringing over the destruction of Cosby’s contribution to “the culture” — ostensibly through his creation of a sitcom depicting an African-American family that defied racist stereotypes — seems to suggest that she would want potential accusers to embrace a line of thinking that goes something like this: if you come forward against the alleged crimes of Cosby the man, you’re destroying the legacy of Cosby the public figure, and that legacy is important, and other people who believe it’s important will attack you if you ruin it, and even if you succeed in persuading people to believe your story, you will have done something terrible.

The good news is that the disturbing example provided by this “it’s not about the women” thinking means none of us will ever again have an excuse to wonder, “If she was really raped, why didn’t she say something right away?”

The answer is: because of people like you, Phylicia Rashad.

Read more at Vox.


4 thoughts on “Are ‘People Like’ Phylicia Rashad the Reason Why Rape Victims Stay Silent?”

  1. Please, are we really acting as though these kinds of situations do not occur! Yes, they do. Black men and women of all kinds of stations in life are accused an jailed for things that were perpetuated for various kinds of reasons. If the white persons who make decisions about our lifes decide that they for whatever reasons want to destroy you, me, them it happens everyday ! I personally at my lowly station in life have been accused of a horrific thing that I did not do, would never do, and believe it to be something that I would never even ream of doing. The lie started white folks grabbed hold of it and the situation rolled into me having to get a lawyer, pay an enormous amount of money to keep myself out of the penetentiary. I still feel the sting of it. This thing occurred 2.5 years ago. I know it was all about my race, money and popularity in my community… Sad but true1

  2. I agree with Ms. Rashad. I would extend that to ALL Black celebrities who are making what some people consider too much money and/or status. They think we should be kept in our place. Just think about who has come under attack, Ophra Winfrey, Michael Jackson, Vick, Diddie, Jay Z, Beyonce Chris Brown, Tiger Woods, and the list goes on!!!! Let THEM lead the charge and the rest of us can wait on the verdict before we make any more accusations.

  3. I AGREE with Felicia as well. Here’s the thing; she was asked about her thoughts on the situation, and she answered in her OPINION. Just because her answer is not what the “media” wanted, why “bash”her?? This is america, and the last time i checked, we have the FREEDOM to say what we want. Freedom means OPINION.

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