A Black and White Look at Sexual Harassment Against Woman
by G. Brown
This is a story about two men named Bill. Both are rich, high-profile celebrities. Both are accused of crimes against women. One Bill is Black, the other White. The Black man named Bill is virtually destroyed and put on trial after as many as 60 women allege that he used his position of power to rape, drug and/or sexually assault them. The second Bill, the White guy, has been tied to at least five cases of sexual harassment and misconduct in his position of power, reportedly settled several of those cases at a cost of $13 million dollars and is rewarded by reportedly signing a new multi-million dollar, multi-year deal with FOX News. Now the President is coming to his defense saying Bill O’Reilly is “a good person” and “…personally I think he shouldn’t have settled…because you you should have taken it all the way. I don’t think Bill did anything wrong.” Before he was President, Donald Trump said of Bill Cosby to EW.com back in 2015, “I’ve never been a fan of Bill Cosby. I’ve never liked him. I think he’s guilty as hell. I mean, he’s looking guilty.”
The details of these cases are very different and may be like comparing apples and oranges on some level, but the overarching common denominator is both men allegedly victimized women. Bill Cosby’s crimes date back further, involved more alleged victims and also involved the use of drugs. But both men allegedly used their power to manipulate women sexually and threatened their careers if they told anyone. One of Bill O’Reilly’s accusers even had recorded proof of his salacious calls and threats.
So is one Bill less guilty than the other? The number of women involved in the cases doesn’t make it more horrible. Even if both Bills had been accused of victimizing one woman, the fact that one woman had victimized is enough. The number of years the Bills engaged in the criminal behavior also is hard to compare…though if women felt they could find justice instead of being judged maybe the first day a woman was victimized she would have come forth. Instead, women hid their pain for years in both cases.
In the case of Bill C., mainstream media gave us almost daily updates, launched investigative reports to seek out victims and stamped a scarlet letter on the accused. Feminists spoke up and protested, Black colleges and universities removed Cosby from their foundations, stripped him of honorary titles (but didn’t return the millions he donated). Why is there not the same public outrage against O’Reilly?
At least one person is vocal about O’Reilly’s behavior. Democratic congresswoman Maxine Waters told MSNBC that the justice department has opened a case to look into FOX News track record of harassment. The previous head of FOX News Roger Ailes was forced out last year under similar charges of sexual harassment. Waters says “Bill O’Reilly needs to go to jail.”
As for the President defending O’Reilly as “a good person” who has done nothing wrong, Waters says, “it’s coming out of the mouth of a man who has said some horrible things about women. Don’t forget he talked about grabbing women in their private parts and because he was important he could get away with it. And so they are two of a kind.”
Waters gives us what may be the biggest take away from both cases surrounding our Bills. Whether Black or White, people who have means think that money gives them power to do whatever they want and buy their way out of it. We started out saying this story is about ‘Bills’. Turns out it’s not just about the given names of the men accused in these crimes, but about the dollar ‘bills’ both Bills have in their wallets.