Black or Feminist: The Intersections of Misogyny, Race and Anti-feminist Rhetoric Pertaining to the Bill Cosby Allegations
The intersections of race and sex historically depict a polarized and complex relationship which was only exacerbated by second-wave feminist failures to incorporate the needs of women of colour into their politics. Through an analysis of data relating to the Bill Cosby rape allegations, this chapter analyses how these intersections continue to undermine feminist politics through specifically racial rhetoric while reaffirming misogynistic dogma and manifestations of rape culture. The data, collected from Twitter during February 2016, depicts a notable correlation and polarization between racial identity and feminist politics.
The data analysed suggests a condition of loyalty from African-America men and, specifically, women. In challenging those who do not support Cosby’s cause, the implication is made that they forfeit their racial heritage and identities to a predominantly white and feminist movement. The implication that African-American women cannot identify as feminist not only reaffirms the schisms originating in the second wave but, furthermore, limits women’s options and freedoms while designating the feminist identity as undesirable.
Within this equation, gender and sex are secondary to a racial identity which disputes feminist claims against Cosby. Further implicated within this already politically fraught issue is the figure of the “black rapist” as an historically false myth utilized to justify excessive racial violence and mass lynching of black men across the US. This chapter will analyse how these intersections and historical events continue to influence rape allegations, gender politics and racial consciousness in the present day and what that means for a new feminist movement.
- Allison, J. (2015, March 6). Bill Cosby Sexually Assaulted Me. I Didn’t Tell Because I Didn’t Want to Let Black America Down. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/03/06/bill-cosby-sexually-assaulted-me-i-didnt-tell-because-i-didnt-want-to-let-black-america-down/?utm_term=.ba50cd420f30.
- Brownmiller, S. (1991). Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape. Harmondsworth: Penguin.Google Scholar
- Carr, D. (2014, November 24). Calling Out Bill Cosby’s Media Enablers, Including Myself. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/25/business/media/calling-out-bill-cosbys-media-enablers-including-myself.html.
- Constand v. Cosby, No. 05-CV-1099. (2005). Retrieved from https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2158445-cosby-deposition.html.
- Estrich, S. (1987). Real Rape. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- hooks, B. (2015). Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Keller, J., Mendes, K., & Ringrose, J. (2016). Speaking ‘Unspeakable Things: ‘Documenting Digital Feminist Responses to Rape Culture. Journal of Gender Studies, 27(1), 1–15.Google Scholar
- Littleton, C., & Johnson, T. (2014, November 25). Public Convicts Cosby in Viral Media Storm. Variety, 236(4), 14–15.Google Scholar
- Malone, N. (2015, July 26). “I’m No Longer Afraid”: 35 Women Tell Their Stories About Being Assaulted by Bill Cosby, and the Culture That Wouldn’t Listen. The Cut. Retrieved from https://www.thecut.com/2015/07/bill-cosbys-accusers-speak-out.html.
- Mantilla, K. (2013). Gendertrolling: Misogyny Adapts to New Media. Feminist Studies, 39(2), 563–570.Google Scholar
- Moorti, S. (2012). Color of Rape: Gender and Race in Television’s Public Spheres. Albany, NY: SUNY Press.Google Scholar
- Nagle, A. (2017). Kill All Normies: Online Culture Wars From 4Chan and Tumblr to Trump and the Alt-Right. Winchester: Zero Books.Google Scholar
- sight, e. (2014, October 29; 2017, May 20). Hannibal Buress Called Bill Cosby a Rapist During a Stand Up. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dzB8dTVALQI.
- West, T. C. (1999). Wounds of the Spirit: Black Women, Violence, and Resistance Ethics. New York: NYU Press.Google Scholar