ON BILL COSBY AND THE PLAGUE OF PATRIARCHY

Famous American actor and comedian Bill Cosby has been sentenced to prison after he was pronounced guilty for his assault on Andrea Constand in 2004. In a series of revelatory events since his trial began last Wednesday (his second trial for sexual related offenses) and much to the utter embarrassment of an aghast audience, Mr. Cosby was found culpable of behaviors quite contrary to the standards that society held him up to. Apart from Andrea Constand, sexual assault allegations were leveled against him by sixty other women, all of which he denied. Statements have been issued by his publicity team and his wife stating that he was unjustly sentenced and that “falsified evidence” was used against him. Still, the collective voice of a multitude of sixty hurt and marginalized women suggests a proclivity for behaviors that are wrong, destructive and unlawful.

The #MeToo campaign that began last year has unraveled just as many disappointing incidents across several industries and walks of life. Stories were told of men brutalizing, assaulting and demeaning women. Allegations were made that exposed men as bullies and villains and also exposed women as their victims. There was a measure of relief, of a shift, a change for good but alas, barely months after some of them have been convicted, they have returned to new jobs and businesses seemingly unscathed; making no apologies, forming alliances and basically ignoring the facts of the damages they caused, reversing the tide of resolution. These men decided it was okay to revert the status quo, and whether consciously or not, society agreed. They will proceed to reestablish themselves as prominent figures, propagating not just their former ideals but a sense of defiance and a tendency for a more subtle approach to the same behavior, after all, nobody wants to take a Walk of Shame twice. This time, none of them will probably ever be caught or apprehended.

These men are fathers, brothers and sons.  Andrea Constand referred to Mr Cosby as a “mentor” and “friend” and the latter himself evokes pity at the very least, considering that he lost a daughter this year and a son over a decade ago. This stance is therefore irreconcilable to how much damage they have caused others simply in a bid to satisfy their raging desires or perhaps, it’s not that simple. Patriarchy has been a societal constraint for centuries; it’s been nursed, excused, abhorred and exalted. More than ever, patriarchy has remained. No matter how we’ve confronted it, it’s been woven into the very threads that bind us, has become familiar and subsequently, has persevered. For this reason, incidents such as these, as shocking as they may seem, only serve as a mild embarrassment. It certainly does not serve as a deterrent nor a propellant to change.

Unfortunately, women have supported the idea of patriarchy for the sole reason that they have accepted it as the order. This passivity has contributed to how much patriarchy has permeated the society, making us all accountable for the state of things. Some women succumb to different forms of dominance, many refuse to associate with feminism because they consider the methods anti-feminine; vulgar, loud, aggressive, opinionated. Most are really just comfortable with the status quo and do not desire the challenge to switch things up. So, they stay put, condone, suck it in and do it all over again. A few however, would prefer a different order to things, but how much can a minority really do to solve a problem caused and tolerated by everyone?

It is important to note that men are also victims of this system that protects them. In truth, they are probably worse for it. The rules of their much lauded machismo places undue strain on them emotionally and socially. Multi layers of race distinctions, sexuality, social class and such exist, blurring the lines. In all these, a man cannot build the emotional temerity to be solid or to preserve the trust he elicits; he simply does not know or accept himself. This is not to excuse the behavior of a convicted rapist but one such as Mr. Cosby, aged 81, is a startling example of an innate sense of denial, a façade so deep that he doesn’t see himself as he is. Patriarchy is obviously detrimental as all overused and outdated systems are and society lies on a cusp; a struggle for equanimity or a rapid decline into a worse state of affairs.

 

Abiodun Odusola
abiodunodusola@ymail.com
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