Bill Cosby’s admission that he provided Quaaludes to several women with whom he wanted to have sex doesn’t mean he is a sexual predator. Certainly, there are women and men who use illicit drugs during intimate encounters.
The trouble for Cosby is that he has never emphatically stated that every woman to whom he gave a Quaalude knew she was receiving one. In fact, some of the 25 women who have accused him of sexual assault have stated that they were told the pills were simply to help them cheer up or that they weren’t told they were being given the drug at all.
During a deposition in 2005 related to a lawsuit filed by one of the 25 women, Cosby’s attorney advised him not to answer a question from the woman’s attorney about whether he had drugged any woman without her knowledge.
Not answering such a question, in a deposition, under oath, or addressing the question very directly in a public statement makes the 77-year-old Cosby appear guilty, to my eye. And I am a forensic psychiatrist who has interviewed well over 100 rapists, murderers, drug dealers, drug abusers, thieves and thugs.
Comedy is not always a defense against tragedy, but it is sometimes exactly that.
If I were accused of what Bill Cosby stands accused of, I would not only tell my attorney to shut up and proceed to answer the question about whether I drugged someone without her knowledge, but I would also ask for a polygraph test and would pass it with flying colors. And I would be filing countersuits against every one of my accusers for defaming me. Cosby’s silence is deafening — and damning.
If Bill Cosby is guilty, that would say a lot about what he likes, sexually — sex with women who are unresponsive or nearly unresponsive. But that would leave the why question unanswered. Why would a man take pleasure in penetrating a woman who is, for all intents and purposes, not conscious, who might not even recall much of much of the encounter?
I have never evaluated Bill Cosby and I am not his psychiatrist. But some men who are gratified by sex with women who cannot knowingly participate in the act are men who require absolute power over their partners. They feel profoundly weak inside, sometimes (but not always) because they, themselves, have been the much weaker victim of a sexual predator. Women who have needs of their own and express them can make such a man feel vulnerable and exposed. Even being seen naked by a fully conscious adult can make such a man feel vulnerable and exposed. With women drugged and unable to assert themselves, such a man feels anonymous and, therefore, free to be sexual. And that twisted freedom can be intoxicating.
Think about Jeffrey Dahmer, the serial killer who drugged and sexually assaulted many of his victims before killing them. One of his perverse desires was to create a sex zombie whom he could have sex with while the person was entirely unaware — absent, for all intents and purposes. That desire was not without meaning. It might have meant that Dahmer’s sexual identity had been formed at a time when he himself wished he did not exist, when he was being profoundly humiliated or when he felt overly exposed. Psychological zombies — who were dehumanized at some point in their lives — are the ones who want sex with zombies. The ultimate extension of this perversion is necrophilia -- the desire to have sex with dead people.
Comedy is not always a defense against tragedy, but it is sometimes exactly that. The side of Bill Cosby that made us laugh for decades may have been his way of introducing us to only half of him.