Just last week, supermodel Beverly Johnson penned a searing personal account in Vanity Affair about her experience being assaulted by Bill Cosby, stating that in a proposed "audition" for a role, Johnson was at the comedian's home where she drank a cappuccino that she knew, for certain, was altered with drugs. She managed to get herself out of the situation, calling Cosby a "motherf**ker" (amen) and angering him so much that he dragged her into the street and put her in a cab. Such a horror to live through much less to write about, but Johnson has been stalwart and brave, and appeared on Monday on The View to further discuss the experience and why she decided to speak out. Unfortunately for the esteemed Miss Johnson, that meant she would have to come face to face with Whoopi Goldberg, one of Cosby's biggest defenders and apologists. As expected, the exchange did NOT go well.
Since Hannibal Buress called out Cosby for being a serial rapist in one of his routines and it went viral, scores of women have brought their stories forward about being drugged and raped by the comedian. And since the very beginning, Whoopi expressed her extreme skepticism on The View, minimizing the pain of the victims saying that they were simply "alleging" things that weren't true. Which is baffling—what could a victim that had stayed quiet for so long stand to gain besides offering solidarity to other women and maybe, just maybe, getting a little justice?
As the story developed, the discussion on The View did, as well. Last week, Rosie O'Donnell gave her support to the victims, talking about her own abuses as a child, and Whoopi continued to say, to be colloquial, that she thought the victims were full of shit. I called her her to leave the show then, and after yesterday's debacle that was beyond disrespectful of Johnson, I think Goldberg's time has certainly expired.
Johnson began the interview by rehashing the experience, talking about taking that first sip of coffee: "It was coming on like a moving train, and at that moment I knew I had been drugged." She angered him by screaming and shouting and eventually he dragged her out into the street and put her in a cab. Her voice was a little shaky but she stood strong, and said "One of the reasons I decided to come out was I saw all these very courageous women coming out on TV and telling their stories, I thought it was my responsibility."
But Goldberg seemed only to want to clinically cross-examine Johnson, focusing on her "responsibility" in the incident. The questions were bizarre: "Were you worried about what you might have ingested?" Goldberg asked. I'm not sure exactly what kind of an answer she was looking for, but Johnson responded, "At that point, I was just struggling to stay conscious." Goldberg also, for some reason, wanted to know if Johnson talked to the doorman of her building the day after the incident. "Did you ask the doorman the next day what condition you were in, or did you say anything?" And the sobering response from Johnson:
No I didn’t. I basically just put my head down and just tried to get out from the embarrassment and the shame. This is not about Mr. Cosby. He’s just a lightning rod for a conversation about violence against women.
First of all, major respect is due to Johnson for not losing her cool, because WTF was Whoopi getting at? Beverly Johnson was not on The View to be on trial. How dare Goldberg stare a victim in the face and ask her questions as if she were trying to find a hole in her argument? When you ask, "Who's on trial here," there really isn't any answer — Cosby has been accused over and over by a number of women, but there has been no legal action-taking. Goldberg's treatment of Johnson is such a laughably tired symptom of rape culture: doubting and questioning a victim's innocence instead of questioning an abuser's guilt.
I think Whoopi is destroying whatever modicum of safety that women felt when they visited The View to be a guest — and what about all the women in the audience who could have been victims of sexual assault, having to listen to Goldberg cut Johnson down? It's high time for her to book it so that real, productive conversations can happen on the show again.
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