Let us consider two of the testimonials from Noreen Malone’s remarkable story about Bill Cosby’s accusers:
Cosby started mentoring Bernard before she guest-starred on The Cosby Show in the early 1990s. “I looked upon him as a father figure,” she says. “He often said to me, ‘You’re one of my kids, Bernard.’” Later, Cosby drugged her drink, and raped her. During their last contact, on The Cosby Show set in 1992, he told her, “As far as I’m concerned, Bernard, you’re dead. Do you hear me? You’re dead. You don’t exist.” Afterward, she became suicidal. She came forward in May 2015. “For the last 23-plus years I’ve been living with a tremendous sense of fear. Being able to relinquish that fear was freeing for me, and the only reason I was able to do that was so many other women had done it before me, and I felt safe.”
According to the IMDB, Barnard had one more acting gig, a guest role on Seinfeld. Her career was effectively over.
Moritz was getting ready to appear on the Tonight Show when someone opened the door of her dressing room. Cosby stepped inside and closed the door behind him. He stood above Moritz and unzipped his pants. He pushed his penis into her mouth. “It was automatic. It was like he did this with everyone that was on a show with him backstage. I couldn’t push him away. He was Mr. Cosby. He moved himself back and forth, and my head was on his penis at all times. Finally, they called my name. I was supposed to be out, but he wouldn’t let me go. He rushed out and came out on my call, and he said, ‘I am Louisa Moritz,’ and got a huge laugh, which was my laugh I was supposed to get. I don’t remember if they introduced me again. I was a zombie. But I sat down and the show went on. I didn’t look at him. He didn’t look at me.”
These are far from the only two stories of wrecked careers, either. But somehow “objectification” feels inadequate to describe how Cosby treated these young women. He thought nothing of derailing a woman’s career for a minute or two of nonconsensual sexual gratification. Many of the ruined lives and careers were women who he came to offering mentorship. Among other things, Cosby’s victims are giving is a powerful illustration of the sheer inhumanity of the serial rapist, the inability to consider his targets as human beings at all.
And let me note yet again that although several of these accusations have been public for a nearly a decade, a major publishing house published a 500 page hagiography of Cosby that ignored the allegations entirely. It was cited as an “Amazon best book of the month.” Reviews in (inter alia) the New York Times Book Review, Publisher’s Weekly, Washington Post, and Boston Globe did not see this as worthy of mention at all. Kelefa Sanneh’s lenghty New Yorker profile based around Whitaker’s book consigns the accusations to one paragraph, the third last. All of which helps to explain how he got away with such monstrous behavior for so long.