She later claimed this was a misquote in an interview with ABC's World News Tonight.
"That is not what I said. What I said is, 'This is not about the women. This is about something else. This is about the obliteration of legacy.'"Rashad is concerned with the legacy of Bill Cosby, and she believes there is an orchestrated plot to keep him off the tv. She says she doesn't want to talk about the accusations, "I can't speak to those things and wouldn't want to." But she has already spoken. Her dismissal of the women who have spoken out about their experiences, some of whom have been trying to talk about this for many years, is a strong message.
Words carry great weight. Words have power, and whether right or wrong, when spoken by someone with a large platform, they echo even louder. "This is not about the women," is not much better than "Forget those women." Not really.
If Bill Cosby did drug and rape women, it is their lives which are important in this moment, not his legacy.
The Huxtables were television characters. The people behind those characters are not one dimensional. They do not act the same in every circumstance or with every person. This is true of rapists as well. Rapists have jobs, families, friends, lives, and they don't rape every person they meet. I don't doubt that Phylicia Rashad loves Bill Cosby, and she is speaking from the experiences she personally had with him. But just because someone never raped you, it does not mean they haven't raped someone else. That is not a viable standard for determining someone's guilt or innocence.
Due to the statute of limitations, we will probably never have a definitive, legal, determination about this case. So we are left with just words. The words of the women. The words Cosby isn't saying. The words his defenders are saying. And these words of Phylicia Rashad that dismiss out of hand the experiences, the stories, and the lives of women who are publicly sharing their traumatic stories.
Sadly, sexual assault survivors are used to these kind of dismissals. We are used to being forgotten, set aside, and silenced. We are used to seeing the doubt and denial in people's words and actions. We have come to expect it. We are exhausted from dealing with the internalized messages and the rape culture that surrounds us.
So today I want to speak to all of those survivors who hear words like Rashad's, and feel the pain rising up again.
To the young girl who was called a liar when she spoke out about abuse and assault, even if she didn't have those words to explain it... I believe you.
To the girl who was told to keep it a secret, that it was family business, or that good girls don't talk about those things...You were so brave to tell someone what happened. You did nothing wrong.
To the teen girl who was raped by her boyfriend... You certainly didn't owe him anything.
To the college student who went to a party... You didn't deserve it.
To the woman whose rape kit has still not been processed... You do matter.
To the woman who accepted a ride home from a coworker, went on a date, met someone who seemed nice, went to a bar, trusted a friend, wore a business suit, attended a family reunion, walked somewhere by yourself during the day or night, wore a pair of jeans, met a celebrity, stayed home on a Tuesday evening, had a drink, attended a convention, told your boyfriend or husband no, wore a skirt, took your dog to the park, said something people didn't agree with, interviewed for a job, or spoke to a neighbor... You were not asking for it.
To every woman, and every man, who has been harassed, molested, touched inappropriately, abused, drugged, coerced, assaulted, raped, victimized, or violated... It was not your fault. You do not own the blame, or the shame, for what happened. I believe you, and I believe in you.