Monday, November 24, 2014

Denise Huxtable and Rape Culture

I loved The Cosby Show.  I was the same age as Denise Huxtable only not nearly as cool as she was and I worshiped her.  Do you remember the pilot episode and how she only wore makeup on half of her face? You may not understand that this was incredibly cool if you are too young or too old to ever have worn blue mascara.

Denise graduated from high school, went to the same fictional HBC attended by her father, and got a spin off.  Then Lisa Bonet made a racy movie with Mickey Rourke and got fired from A Different World .  And then she married Lenny Kravitz (so dreamy) and then came back to The Cosby Show with her new TV husband, Martin, and his daughter, Raven-Symone, who could fill the cute little girl quotient that Keshia Knight-Pulliam was now too puberty-y for.

When Denise came back to The Cosby Show, I was really glad to see her and her fabulously cool braids.  Denise was cool.  She was so much cooler than Sondra.  God, Sondra was insufferable.

This brings us to my first inkling of Bill Cosby as a patriarchal fuckwit (patriarchal fuckwittery is, you understand, the foundation of rape culture):  In a scene shortly after Denise's return, Cliff sits across the famous Cosby kitchen table from Denise's husband, Martin, and asks him if Denise was a virgin on their wedding night.  And Martin confirms that she was.  And Cliff is happy.

How fucked up is that?  I mean, it is fucked up enough that he thinks it's any of his business - but it is especially fucked up that he has this conversation without Denise there, just a couple of guys sitting around talking about the state of the hymen in which they both feel a certain ownership.

That's rape culture, in its most insidious form. The woman is absent, her character is reduced to the sum of her sex partners, and all of this is open fucking forum for the men in her life.

Deciding the character of a woman based on her sexual history, dividing girls up into good or bad based on their sexual behavior, deciding that her sexuality is something you have a stake in  - this is rape culture.

Fathers of daughters, I can't say it enough: you want to raise good strong women, teach your girls that no one, not even you, gets to make her sexual decisions.

And Bill Cosby can go fuck himself.