Daman Wayans' Bill Cosby Comments Were Taken Out Of Context, He Says, Despite Proof Of A Troubling Interview
Actor and comedian Damon Wayans, 55, faced an onslaught of backlash after comments he made regarding the continued allegations of rape and sexual misconduct against Bill Cosby. During an interview with Power 105's The Breakfast Club radio show on Friday, Sept. 4, Wayans responded to questions about the sexual allegations against Cosby by stating that he felt the accusations were spurred by a "money hustle," and the former television icon being unable to continue what Wayans claims were consensual relationships with the women who have come forward. "I believe he was in relationships with all of them and then he’s like, ‘You know what? [I’m] 78. It don’t work like that no more,'" Wayans said. "'I can’t get it up for any of y’all. Bye, b***hes,’ and then they’re like, ‘Oh, really? Rape.’”
The In Living Color veteran also went on to question the span of time it took for Cosby's accusers to come out publicly. "40 years — listen, how big is his penis that it gives you amnesia for 40 years?" he said. Host Angela Yee pointed out that a few women had accused Cosby of sexual abuse "decades ago," but were quickly dismissed.
"But if you listen to them talk, they go, ‘Well the first time.’ The first time?” Wayans responded. “B***h, how many times did it happen? Just listen to what they’re saying...And some of them is really unrapeable. I look at them and go, 'No, he don't want that. Get outta here!'"
Comments that denigrate accusers, call alleged victims "unrapeable," and question memory are indisputably harmful to those who have allegedly experienced sexual abuse and assault. Sexual abuse can lead to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a condition that is often characterized by hypervigilance, depression, intrusive thoughts, and memory problems, according to several studies cited by Dialogues in Clinical Neurosciences. Moreover, there are a myriad of reasons that alleged victims do not choose to come forward until years after a traumatic event, while many never report an incident of sexual abuse. A poll by Global News in 2015 found that less than one in five people who'd allegedly been sexually assaulted had reported their crimes to the police, a startling low number that RAINN, an advocacy organization, attributes to fear of retribution, self-blame, and other factors.
The issue of victim blaming continues to permeate our society, and for those who choose to make claims against a public figure, the scrutiny is magnified tenfold. In a July essay for New York Magazine, 35 of Cosby's accusers shared their stories of the alleged assaults, with accuser Tamara Green detailing her reasons for waiting to come forward — and how the advent of social media has offered a new forum for alleged victims to be heard.
"People often say these days, 'Well, why didn't you take it to the police?' Andrea Constand went to the police in 2005 — how'd it work out for her? Not at all," said Green. "In 2005, Bill Cosby still had control of the media. In 2015, we have social media. We can't be disappeared. It's online and it can never go away."
Back in November, Cosby's lawyer responded the accusations of sexual abuse, giving a statement that read:
Over the last several weeks, decade-old, discredited allegations against Mr. Cosby have resurfaced. The fact that they are being repeated does not make them true. Mr. Cosby does not intend to dignify these allegations with any comment. He would like to thank all his fans for the outpouring of support and assure them that, at age 77, he is doing his best work. There will be no further statement from Mr. Cosby or any of his representatives.
Wayans' comments are harmful, in that they can potentially exacerbate the issues of blame that is placed on alleged victims, along with the questions of fault that alleged victims place on themselves. Consent is always needed for sexual acts, and there is no such thing as "asking for it."
Wayans took to Twitter on Sunday, Sept. 6, to respond to the criticism of his remarks. He posted a video from Vine, which included a snippet of his interview, in which he spoke on women whose allegations against Cosby he admitted could potentially prove to be true. "And for them, my heart goes out to them. For anybody who was raped by Bill Cosby, I'm sorry, and I hope you get justice." Wayans preceded this with another tweet, where he wrote, "Stop twisting my words. Watch the entire video before u condemn me!"
The sensitivity that served as the tail end to Wayans' interview can be appreciated. However, the aforementioned remarks remain irresponsible and potentially harmful toward alleged victims, especially considering that Wayans has chosen such a public forum to voice his opinions.