It’s a brilliant, and now iconic, feature that tells a compelling and uncomfortable tale about men, women, sexual assault and power.
Bill Cosby is the protagonist but this story resonates beyond Hollywood. It reveals a toxic truth that pervades rape regardless of where it takes place: we are more inclined to believe men who are accused of rape than we are the victims of this crime.
The most shocking thing is not that Bill Cosby has been accused of raping and sexually assaulting dozens and dozens of women. Far more shocking, is that it took decades and decades for anyone to listen to these women, let alone believe them.
In July this year the New York Magazine shot a cover with 35 women sitting in chairs staring down the lens. These women shared an unfortunate fate. They were all victims of sexual assault at the hands of America’s erstwhile favourite comedian. One chair remained empty, a nod to the fact other victims exist.
Some of the 35 women were raped, almost all were drugged, and all of them struggled to be heard.
This year that finally changed. The fact the New York magazine feature was commissioned and published at all is proof of it. A decade earlier, in 2004, several major publications scrapped planned features with the stories from victims and instead ran exclusives telling Cosby’s side of the story.
The New York headline says it all. ‘I’m No Longer Afraid’: 35 Women Tell Their Stories About Being Assaulted by Bill Cosby, and the Culture That Wouldn’t Listen.