It's been four days sinceNew York magazine's explosive cover story,"Cosby: The Women"went viral.In this media-saturated world,it's still ubiquitous.And why?Is it really such a big deal?After all,this scandal has been simmering for years;Hannibal Buress's "you rape women,Bill Cosby" joke trended last October.
Yes,it's officially a Big Deal.
Just look at those 35 women,doxed and dangerous,all accusing a beloved celebrity of sexual assault,staring down the denial of a crime that's still too often dismissed.If the grid of those images doesn't hit you enough,there's the last chair—empty.It was meant,according toNew York's editors,to represent Cosby's 11 other accusers who declined to be photographed,plus all America's rape victims who have yet to come forward about their attacker.
Inside the magazine,the women do not hold back as they—finally—tell their stories.Heidi Thomas reports she met Cosby in 1984 for what she thought was a private acting session.After he poured a glass of wine for a scene set in a bar,she said,"I really don't remember much,except waking up in his bedroom.He was naked,and he was forcing himself into my mouth." Victoria Valentino alleges that in 1969 she and her roommate went to dinner with the actor,and he gave her a pill to feel better.Afterward,she recalled,"I couldn't form words in my mouth because I was so drugged out....He sat down and unzipped his fly.He had me give him oral sex,and then he stood me up,turned me over,did me doggy style,and walked out."
The stories go on.Their courage,unmistakable.And the ripple effect?More like giant waves."We've seen a 15 percent increase in demand for the National Sexual Assault Hotline's online chat (online.rainn.org) since theNew Yorkmagazine cover,compared with the previous week," says Katherine Hull Fliflet,spokeswoman for the Rape,Abuse & Incest National Network."And many are referencing the Bill Cosby coverage,as to why they contacted us with their own stories."
The conversation continues on at #theemptychair.
But what about next week?Next month?Will the calls and tweets slump back to what they were before?Despite the roar about preventing sexual assault everywhere from college campuses to in our military ranks,68 percent of rapes are still not reported to the police,according to RAINN.Can a moment like the Cosby cover move the needle on that depressing stat?