I was profoundly dismayed by Christine Flowers’ editorial that appeared in the Standard-Times on Nov. 21 ("National View: Cosby accusers should have spoken sooner"), in which she declares that the recent rash of female accusers of Bill Cosby “waited too long for their day of reckoning.” Well, perhaps they did wait too long. But should they forfeit their right to be heard simply because they couldn’t “transcend their own pain, uncurl from the fetal position and raise their defiant voices to say ‘J’accuse?’”
For too long, women have been robbed of their voice and now that these women have found theirs, Flowers is telling them that they found it too late and should now bear their pain in silence. There are many reasons — too many and too well known — to iterate here as to why women delay recounting those horrible incidents. Their reluctance is wholly explicable. Yet, Flowers would deny them the therapeutic relief afforded by opening up about their perceived wounds and dealing with whatever shame or guilt they may have endured as a result of the alleged assaults.
Flowers strongly suggests that these putative victims bear some responsibility for their injuries. This is a tired mantra we have heard over and over again when women end up in a position vulnerable to male sexual assault: “She put herself there and she shouldn’t have been there.” But if Mr. Cosby is the virtuous man of high morals and integrity that his supporters seem to feel he is, why shouldn’t these women have felt safe in a closed room with him? Whether or not they erred in their judgment of his character or the vulnerability of the space they put themselves into is no reason to deny them license to voice their claim of wrongdoing. In essence, Flowers has blamed the victims; would deny them voice; and offers no sympathy for their plight. Indeed, she concludes “I have no compassion for these women and their cobwebbed, aged stories.” How cruel!
As a man, I believe I have a responsibility to offer my voice in defense of a woman’s right to be free of the fear of sexual assault and her right to purge herself of whatever pain and anguish she may have endured as a result of sexual assault, no matter how long it may have taken her to overcome the ordeal and voice her claim.
None of us may know if Mr. Cosby is innocent of the charges lodged against him and none of us may know whether the accounts of these women are truthful and accurate. But the moment at which we effectively dissuade women from coming forth about charges of sexual wrongdoings to them simply because they did not speak up immediately, we have effectively given the advantage to the perpetrator.
It is time we stop denying women the right to tell their stories, and in their own voices!
Bruce A. Rose lives in Dartmouth.- See more at: http://www.southcoasttoday.com/article/20141129/OPINION/141129362/101228#sthash.dXGCBXSF.dpuf