Bill Cosby

It seems that in the news lately, there has been a budding discussion about rape. With the accusations against Bill Cosby and the suspension of Greek life at the University of Virginia amid several allegations, the conversation seems more open now than ever before.

What is surprising about these recent developments is that they are not recent at all — Bill Cosby’s accusations go as far back as the 1960s, and the UVA allegations date back to earlier than 2010. We’ve reached a turning point in the discussion of rape and sexual violence. Whether the allegations are true in either case, their high-profile status has given new life to discussions that were often ignored or skipped over.

But in the wake of these developments, it is important to ask: Why now? This isn’t a new problem, and, unfortunately, allegations like the ones at UVA are commonplace.

According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, one out of every six women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape. According to the UT Counseling and Mental Health Center, one in 20 women are sexually assaulted in college. There were 18 reported cases of forced sexual assault on UT campus in 2012, and two UT football players were suspended this year after accusations rose against them. 

The UVA case, however, is gaining national attention not because of the rape allegations, but because of the school’s decision to suspend Greek life until January. 

Although the school’s public action may contribute to the national conversation surrounding college campuses and rape, the discussion should not be restricted to only party and rape culture.

A lot of the discussions place rape culture and party culture hand-in-hand — and while this is sometimes true, rapes are not confined to the inside of a fraternity house or an apartment party. The discussion needs to go further: It needs to address rape allegations as a whole, not as a symptom of partying. 

Although the Cosby allegations — if true — are terrible, they are paving the way for people to stop brushing rape allegations under the rug. The plight of Cosby’s demise is making it OK for victims to come out against their aggressors, even if they are famous and powerful. 

One good thing that came out of the controversies surrounding Cosby and UVA is that they have the power to change the way we talk about and approach rape allegations. Students have the responsibility to take that power and make a change — a change that will stop rape from being put on the back burner. We can’t let rape be another topic whose 15 minutes of fame will eventually pass.  

In anticipation of his performance at Bass Concert Hall this Sunday, The Daily Texan interviewed comedian Bill Cosby.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

When Bill Cosby returns to the UT stage Sunday night, his reputation will precede him. The legendary comedian has been to UT many times. He has a UT sweater. He has UT socks. He is an honorary member of the football team and the women’s track team. But Bill Cosby’s career has not been a 100-meter dash. With a legacy in show business that spans five decades, Cosby has proved to be more of a long-distance runner. 

The comedian, now 75, has a gruff and grandfatherly manner that accompanies his slow-spoken but sharp humor. Unlike many comedians today, who Cosby said concentrate too much on getting to the punch line fast and delivering comedy quickly, Cosby eases slowly into funny.

“You can’t get a fast food performance here,” Cosby said. “You are going to marinate, to smile and forget about ‘Is this hip or not?’ You are going to get lost in a world of smiling, in identification. Forget about being hip.”

Based on his body of work, Cosby has never been very concerned with being hip. From his early stand-up career to his time on the popular sitcom, “The Cosby Show,” his subject material has concentrated on family, the follies of young adults and raising children, not exactly edgy stuff. But what Cosby’s material lacks in trendiness, it makes up for in timelessness. His fan base spans over three generations, and his comedy has earned him legendary status in show business.

Cosby, however, is not entirely comfortable with his iconic position in the world of comedy.

“Many people will say, ‘You’re a legend,’ and I say, ‘Okay, 40,000 fathoms under the sea is a legend,’” Cosby said. “It’s brand new for me, so I feel that it means old. Old and museum-like, like a ghost.”

He is coming to terms with the label of “icon” or “legend” as he recognizes what it means to be respected and appreciated for one’s work. However, he wants to distinguish the notion of legend from the notion of relic.

“I don’t want [people] to think that because I’m 75, that [they are] going to get a crotchety [performance],” Cosby said. There is a difference between old and timeless, and while Cosby described his performances as something the audience may have seen in their childhood with their parents, his comedy is still on point and relevant.

Although his work stays true to time-tested subjects, Cosby has had no problem staying current in today’s world of social media and constant digital news. He has embraced social media on almost every platform.

Unlike many members of his generation, Cosby has a Facebook page, a Twitter account and a YouTube page, in addition to his website. He is active on all of these sites, posting comments, videos and pictures, although much of the time the exact same thing is posted on all four media portals.

“In show business I have to find the people,” Cosby said, explaining why he chose to venture onto so many social media sites. “I have to tell the people where I am and then hope they remember the icon part without seeing the ghost and get excited.”

On Sunday Cosby returns to Austin to perform his stand-up act at Bass Concert Hall. The audience might see an icon, a man with a killer sense of timing and a knack for storytelling, or they might see a ghost, the man who used to be on “The Cosby Show” and “Fat Albert.” One thing is certain: They are going to see a man dedicated to performing who has given no indication of stopping any time soon.

“Fifty years. Wow,” Cosby said about his career. “But it could very well be 80 years. If I am still thinking and if the timing is still there ... it has to go somewhere, and until I am taken or stopped by Mrs. Cosby, I accept speaking and performance to cause laughter and entertainment.”

Printed on Friday, October 26, 2012 as: Cosby hits fresh, new punch lines

Journalism and Spanish senior Natalie Garza also runs a fashion blog Closet de Natalie, based on the concept of thrift. She usually gathers pounds of donated clothes from Goodwill and other second-hand stores to turn into interesting and fashionable attire.

Photo Credit: Tamir Kalifa | Daily Texan Staff

The Goodwill outlet store on Burleson Road is a madhouse on Saturday morning. Thrifters frantically pick through unsorted bins scattered throughout the giant warehouse looking for fashionable treasures. Many wear gloves to avoid touching undergarments that might not have been washed before donated. The “ick” factor is high, but the pleasure in finding a great piece makes it all worthwhile.

Journalism and Spanish senior Natalie Garza certainly knows her way around the chaos. She holds up a Bill Cosby-esque sweater, inspects it for any possible mysterious stains, remarks that she thinks she can make something of it, and tosses it into her shopping cart.

The thrifting aficionado started her style blog, Closet de Natalie, a year ago with the hope of providing fashion inspiration to her readers in the same manner that the blogs she reads inspire her. She had no idea that the blog would bring out her inner bargain hunter.

“After a couple months, I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to keep paying for new clothing,” Garza said. “I needed a cheap way to wear new clothes on the blog, and thrifting ended up being the best way to have a lot of clothing options.”

The blog that Garza thought was going to be just a fun hobby has since turned into a major part of her life. Garza regularly finds herself staying up late editing photos and coming up with witty titles for her blog posts rather than working on important school assignments.

And her dedication shines through the blog. Garza’s ability to take something as absurd as that Bill Cosby sweater and morph it into something that looks like it could have been retailed at Urban Outfitters is pure talent.

“I’m never going to be able to go back to buying everything retail,” Garza said. “It’s just not going to happen.”

For the thrifting novice, Garza suggests starting with Savers. The store, though similar to Goodwill, has a more upscale vibe. The clothes are all nicely arranged on racks, and overall, the store just seems cleaner, Garza said.

But do not expect to simply walk into a thrift store and find exactly what you are looking for. Garza explains that thrifting involves going into a store with the mindset that you could walk out with anything.

“You have to go through a lot of crap to find what you want,” Garza said. “Give yourself a couple hours. With lots of dedication, you will leave with something you never expected.”

Garza said the best part of blogging is the positive feedback she receives from readers. Fashion blogger Jessica Quirk, the face behind style blog What I Wore, complimented Garza on one of her first outfit posts. Garza was ecstatic. Quirk is one of Garza’s biggest style icons, and the comment was a huge ego boost for the fashionista.

But blogging isn’t without its downsides. Garza has received negative comments for her adventurous style, but don’t expect her to change what she wears to fit in anytime soon. When it comes to fashion pet peeves, Garza has one, and it is prominent around the UT campus.

“I hate leggings as pants,” Garza said. “It’s so unflattering, and it’s sheer!”

Fellow blogger Tolly Moseley, the voice of Austin Eavesdropper, praises Garza’s fashion sense. “She can make elastic-band waists look hot,” Moseley said. “And Lord knows that is hard to do.”

At Goodwill, Garza picks up one of those skirts with an elastic waist. She begins to sift through the items she has placed in her shopping cart, deciding what she would actually wear. The five-pound wedding dress gets discarded. Findings in hand, Garza heads to the checkout where the salesperson weighs the load, and charges her a mere $1.39 a pound.

And with that, she heads home to style the items for the blogosphere to enjoy. 

Printed on Wednesday, November 30, 2011 as: Fashion blogger gives thrifting advice