Thirty five women including models, waitresses, Playboy bunnies and others made the NY Magazine cover to claim that the popular Bill Cosby raped and abused them from the 1960s to 1996 across the United States.
Bill Cosby, a pioneering African American comedian who performed in 1980s sitcom The Cosby Show, has become a pariah in the wake of the snowballing scandal.
Several dozens of women told the NY magazine their stories which appeared to be quite similar. Most of the victims said that the comedian drugged them before raping while they were unconscious.
“All 35 were interviewed separately, and yet their stories have remarkable similarities, in everything from their descriptions of the incidents to the way they felt in the aftermath. Each story is awful in its own right. Each story is awful in its own right. But the horror is multiplied by the sheer volume of seeing them together,” the magazine wrote on Sunday.
Many of the women of this week’s story say they know of others still out there who have chosen to remain silent.
In a 2005 court deposition, the actor admitted obtaining Quaaludes to have sex with at least one woman, while he had seven prescriptions for the sedative and gave them to other people. Last week, Cosby’s lawyer Monique Pressley defended the comedian, who hasn’t made comments on the allegations, even as his reputation has been shredded.
“The sheer volume, or number of people who are saying a particular thing does not make it true,” she told reporters.
The hashtag #TheEmptyChair has become higly recognizable all over the world after the New York magazine poignantly used an empty chair next to the 35 victims to show the nature and pattern of sexual abuse.
The cover of the magazine has triggered talks and discutions and has inspired many women to speak out.
“Someone you know sits on that #TheEmptyChair Sexual abuse is that common,” wrote Robin Coleman in a post on Twitter.
Anna Holtzman posted “#TheEmptyChair is every woman” below a photo with the message “to be a woman is to be reminded of daily — by street harassers, objectifying media, hacked celeb nude pics, etc — that your consent does not matter. Tell me that’s not physiological terrorism”.
New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow tweeted “I can’t even count the number of girls who told me in college that they had been raped, one at gunpoint! None reported … #TheEmptyChair”.
Others have angrily posted about the lack of change in attitudes to rape and consent.
“Stop teaching girls that being `polite is more important than their safety 2K15,” Camryn Garrett.
“The women have found solace in their number — discovering that they hadn’t been alone, that there were others out there who believed them implicitly, with whom they didn’t need to be afraid of sharing the darkest details of their lives,” writes the NY magazine.
“They are scattered all over the country — ten different states are represented — and most of them had no contact with their fellow accusers until recently. But since reading about each other’s stories in the news, or finding one another on social media, or meeting in person at the photo shoots arranged by New York, many of the women have forged a bond. It is, as Tarshis calls it, “a sorrowful sisterhood.”
New York magazine’s article has been read more than 54,000 times.