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Opinion

Shonda Rhimes Mocks Cosby’s Sexual Assault Seminars: ‘1) Do Not Sexually Assault Anyone’

As if the mistrial and jury deadlock in Bill Cosby’s sexual assault case weren’t puzzling and upsetting enough, after, for the time being, evading a conviction, Cosby went on to announce that he would be teaching classes about how to avoid being accused of sexual assault.

In response to this news, Shonda Rhimes, the brains behind some of the decade’s most popular TV shows, took to Twitter to offer her own master class on how to avoid being accused.

“From Shonda’s Town Hall on Avoiding Sexual Assault Charges: 1) Do not sexually assault anyone. 2) Shut up-this attention belongs to survivors,” Rhimes wrote.

And well, that pretty much sums it up.

Rhimes’ tweet might have been meant as a direct response to the upsetting news that, after dodging conviction despite admitting to having given women date rape drugs and being accused by nearly 50 w0men, Cosby felt bold enough to offer a helping hand to men like him, but it speaks to the tendencies of a society that remains entrenched in rape culture.

However well-meaning seminars to teach women how to defend themselves against rape and sexual assault may be, they carry undertones of victim-blaming by shifting the responsibility to women, as if men aren’t responsible for, in Rhimes’ own words, “not sexually assault[ing] anyone.” And, of course, focuses on teaching women how to avoid being assaulted ignore that one in five men will experience a form of sexual violence in their lifetime, and one in 71 men will be raped.

Everyone could benefit from learning self-defense skills, just as everyone could benefit from having some legal knowledge about what to do if accused of something you’re innocent of. But these facts don’t negate the serious need for a change in our dialogue around sexual assault, who we’re holding responsible and who we’re giving passes to.

This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.

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