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How Bill Cosby, Porn & Rape Culture Are All Connected

If you’ve ever laughed at Bill Cosby’s legendary comedy, like us, you’re probably pretty shocked about what’s going on in the news right now. Today, New York Magazine dropped a bombshell and featured on their cover the 35 women who have stepped forward accusing the beloved actor of various forms of sexual assault/rape between 1965 and 2000.

Now, let us be clear, like all people accused of crime in America, Cosby is innocent until proven guilty. But with the rather creepy statements Cosby has released on the matter and so many women telling unsettlingly similar stories of being drugged and assaulted, things are not looking good for a man who has previously had a golden reputation.

A lot of people who grew up watching Mr. Huxtable (Cosby’s character on The Cosby Show) on TV are most likely thinking, how could this be happening? As someone that many grew up seeing as the all-american father figure, Bill Cosby is a far cry from what we all think of when we picture an accused rapist. But in a society where one in three women will experience sexual assault in their lifetime and every 2 minutes a woman is raped, this is a perception that we all need to rethink.

(Check out our friends at We Are One in Three who are working to raise awareness on these statistics.)

Obviously, there is no single cause when it comes to sexual assault. Psychology and human behavior is extremely complex – as are the contributing factors that lead to rape and sexual assault. However, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, we have scientifically proven tendencies that show if someone is more likely to force themselves on another person sexually. These include:

 Coercive sexual fantasies

 Preference for impersonal sex

 Hostility towards women

 Hypermasculinity

 General tolerance of sexual violence within the community

 Societal norms that support sexual violence

 Societal norms that support male superiority and sexual entitlement

 Societal norms that maintain women’s inferiority and sexual submissiveness.

These are the kinds of attitudes and behaviors that we know, scientifically, lead someone in the direction of sexual assault. But where do these tendencies come from? How does someone develop “coercive sexual fantasies” to begin with? What about a preference for “impersonal sex” or a “more general acceptance of sexual violence?”

And what are some of these “societal norms” that the CDC could be referencing?

We’ll give you one guess.

Studies have shown that exposure to pornography creates shockingly similar attitudes to those listed above. And while no one argues that pornography by itself leads to rape – especially since many who are exposed never get sexually aggressive – research has made clear that exposure to pornography creates the very attitudes that show up on lists of risk factors for sexual aggression.

It is also worth noting that in light of the accusations, media outlets have begun digging into Bill Cosby’s friendship with Hugh Hefner, the founder of Playboy Magazine. After the two met in the early 1960’s, it’s been reported that since that time, Cosby was a regular at the Hefner’s parties at the Playboy mansion. Currently, three of the women making accusations towards Cosby have connections to Playboy.

We’ll leave it up to you on whether you find that coincidental or not.

So, again, what leads the charismatic “nice guy” to be one who forces himself on unwilling women? The simple answer: lots of things. But as philosopher Robin Morgan once said, “pornography is the theory, rape is the practice.”

Porn leads to harmful perceptions about rape and promotes a harmful porn culture in society. This is not something we want to see have an influence in the world.

What You Can Do

If you’re not cool with pornography promoting rape culture in society, SHARE this article and raise awareness that harmful attitudes towards sex can lead to harmful acts towards people.

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