Bill Cosby, R. Kelly and Brett Kavanaugh are men who are cut from the same cloth, and their women supporters are the thread that binds them, helping to stitch rape culture into the fabric of America. The sexually charged, predatory behavior they have been accused of is trash, and they've been put on full blast with good reason.
Recently, each has been forced to deal with a reckoning of sorts, in an effort to hold them accountable for their treatment of women and girls. Bill “Pudding Pop” Cosby received a three to 10 year sentence for his somnophiliac practices against his victim Andrea Constand. Robert “Seems Like Your Ready” Kelly has been feeling the wrath of #MuteRKelly; the campaign has affected the singer’s ticket sales and concert performances. Brett “Beerhead” Kavanaugh’s exploits were made public to the entire nation from the Senate floor, as Dr. Christine Blasey-Ford recounted her encounter with the brazen, soon-to-be Supreme Court justice. Their detractors are relentless in seeing justice served. We’ve seen this in the overwhelming number of Cosby accusers who have come forward; the #MuteRKelly, #MeToo and #TimesUp movements; and — à la Ana Maria Archila, who ran up on Senator Jeff Flake to confront him about his nomination of Kavanaugh.
However, supporters of these men are equally dogged. Both Cosby and Kelly’s takedowns have been compared to, or referenced as “public lynchings,” and #TeamRKelly remains adamant that the accused pedophile is not guilty. Meanwhile, Senator Lindsey Graham's insolent defense of Kavanaugh speaks for itself. Interestingly, in all three cases, many of their cheerleaders are women who appear to dismiss the allegations of assault and abuse, perceiving the accused as the victim of lies and negative press. They have even become aggressive toward complete strangers, all in defense of these men.
According to The Associate Press, a group of right-wing women flooded Senate phone lines, and even showed up to the Hart Senate Office Building in full support of Kavanaugh, outfitted in disturbing T-shirts that said things like “women for Kavanaugh” and “I stand with Brett.” One of these supporters, who was interviewed by AP, questioned the validity of Ford’s allegations, claiming they were “too timely and strategic.” This display made it painstakingly clear where these women stood on the issue of rape culture.
The opinions of Kavanaugh’s supporters are not far fetched from women who continue to be die-hard R. Kelly fans. With every allegation that comes to light, misogynoir is sure to follow. When blog site the Jasmine Brand published an Instagram post that featured the accounts of a Kelly accuser, the victim-blaming erupted as his defenders swarmed the comments:
View this post on InstagramWritten by Miata Shanay :: #AsanteMcGee, one of the many women who has come forth to accuse #RKelly of sexual assault, isn’t done sharing her story. She and fellow alleged member of R. Kelly’s sex ring, #KittiJones, first told their stories to Buzzfeed. They then sat down for the Megan Kelly Show, and Asante is recanting some of the horrific details of her past in a new interview. On the singer’s harsh rules for the “members of his family” (what he called the women involved in his alleged sex ring) she says, “I took him very seriously. When he’s joking you know he’s joking. He wasn’t playing. When he said ‘every time a king enters the room, you stand up’ — you stand up…I don’t care if he goes back and forth ten times, you better stand up and kiss him each time he comes in and out of that room.” Asante continued, recalling needing permission to enter different areas in his Atlanta home. “If we wanted to go in the hallway, we knock on the wall and wait for ...” See the full story on #theJasmineBRAND.com
One user, @na.kailya, declared herself “team r Kelly”:
But the trolling did not end there. In another IG post, user @carmencaboom went in on alleged Kelly captive Azriel Clary and her family, slut shaming Clary and accusing her family of extortion. She also had quite the advice for the R&B scoundrel:
Blavity reached out to both women to get a better understanding of why they would direct such vitriol toward women who have already been traumatized enough, in defense of a celebrity with a reputation for sexual deviance. While @na.kayla did not responded to this request, @carmencaboom initially agreed, but then backed out of the interview, citing impatience. It appeared as though she deleted her comments from the above post, till a colleague was able to access them, thus confirming I had actually been blocked. However, like diamonds, herpes and McDonald's french fries, screenshots are eternal.
Oronike Odeleye, co-founder of #MuteRKelly, did share her insight on the oddity of women defending sexual perpetrators.
“It starts with a conversation. And I try as best as I can to come from a non-judgemental place, because we're not all sharing the same information. So when I encounter women online who are vehemently telling me, ‘Leave that man [Kelly] alone; y’all just messing with him,’ l first ask that they research his full history, and then come back to me,” Odeleye told Blavity. “And let’s start from there. Can we get on the same plain of information, and then have a loving conversation?” she asked rhetorically.
“What’s been transformative for me in the process is when I get other kinds of reactions. It is surprising the amount of women — once you have a conversation with them — end in a whole other place of blame from where they started,” Odeleye continued. “Many don’t even realize their own trauma. That’s when I realized the importance of engaging in these conversations with people, and not having a knee-jerk ‘you a fool out here supporting a rapist’ type of thing. It really is that some people have never thought about the concept of [sexual misconduct] in a different kind of way.”
In Cosby’s case, we cannot forget how the allegations of his victims once fell on the deaf ears of our beloved Phylicia Rashad, Whoopi Goldberg, Jill Scott, Keshia Knight Pulliam and Raven-Symoné. Also, Attorney Monique Pressley seems to have a curious predilection toward defending controversial, problematic men; she has represented both Cosby and Kelly against sexual predatory claims. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, women who’ve been quick to jump to the defense of accused abusers, appear to lack the empathy one would expect them to have for their fellow woman, and seem to underestimate how difficult and risky it is to expose such famous, powerful men.
Although Jill Scott and others later changed their tune about Cosby, the rationale behind their initial support seems to be a commonly shared belief among those who choose to blindly defend these men: The accusers are merely motivated by a hidden, self-serving agenda — attention, money and so on. But what those who support and defend these men don’t seem to fully understand is that a man who actively seeks out underage girls is also operating with a secret agenda — to boost his ego by taking advantage of their naiveté. A man who drunkenly overpowers a young girl, pinning her to a bed while ignoring her cries to stop, is also running his own agenda — to fuel his ego and feed his carnal urges by asserting dominance over a vulnerable, young girl. A man who disarms women by drugging them has a hidden agenda — to f**k them without getting their consent.
Yes, in a court of law, people should be considered innocent until proven guilty. However, women who claim to be the victim of a sexual assault also deserve the benefit of doubt, in the same manner that it is extended to their accused assailants. But no — humanity and compassion is too tall of an order for women affected by sexual violence. We may never fully understand how or why some women can support men who’ve been accused of sexually abhorrent behavior, and outwardly dismiss, disbelieve and disrespect their alleged victims. But we do know that when it comes to patriarchy and misogyny, they are one and of the same ilk.