The image of 35 women, victims of sexual assault at the hands of Bill Cosby, featured on the cover of New York Magazine. Dressed in black, the picture gives faces to the women who were sexually assaulted by the comedian.
The cover presentation and individual portraits along with the accounts of the victims created online frenzy and took social media by storm. The cover for this week’s edition, which was posted Sunday night, features the women seated in four rows in an arrangement which the magazine calls an “unwelcome sisterhood.”
According to CNN, the 36th seat – which is unoccupied – is a placeholder for the victims who have not stepped forward because of either shame or fear.
— New York Magazine (@NYMag) July 27, 2015
Soon thereafter, hashtag #TheEmptyChair became a trending topic on Twitter.
#theemptychair represents all the voiceless victims we will never know.Those shamed into silence by the stigma and victim blaming of society
— George M Johnson (@IamGMJohnson) July 27, 2015
— Anna Holtzman (@annerloo) July 27, 2015
TBH #theemptychair is making me cry. So many of us could be or are that person. Too many. It's a painful image for so many reasons
— afrobella (@afrobella) July 27, 2015
#TheEmptyChair is a chair I've sat in- for all of my adolescence I sat in it for fear of not being believed, or loved, because of it.
— Laura (@ThisisLauraS) July 27, 2015
Cosby has repeatedly denied accusations of sexual assault made against him. He has not been criminally charged.
Jody Quon, the magazine’s photography director, said she researched and put together the accounts of the women who were sexually assaulted by Cosby.
“What I saw was this community of women who really had nothing in common with each other other than this one thing,” Quon said.
When she started contacting some of these women, the response she received was “overwhelmingly positive,” she added.
“At the beginning of the project, we couldn’t know how much these women were going to really embrace this and how much they were really going to talk,” she said.
The author of the article, Noreen Malone, wrote, “The group of women Cosby allegedly assaulted functions almost as a longitudinal study — both for how an individual woman, on her own, deals with such trauma over the decades and for how the culture at large has grappled with rape over the same time period.”
The magazine’s website, which had been receiving an overwhelming amount of traffic, went offline early Monday morning.
According to Quartz, a group that goes by the name VikingDom2016 took responsibility for the cyber attack, though the same could not be confirmed.
“Want to know a top reason?” a user who goes by the name ThreatKing said, regarding the motivation behind the attack. “We know one of them females in the cover.”
Following the attack, employees of the magazine were unable to access their corporate email accounts. While it was confirmed that the website had been hacked, staffers were trying to determine what type of attack it was.
However, it appeared that the attack was executed to receive attention.
One of the representatives of the cyber group said, “What is proof though? I just send you a picture of packets sending? That’s not really proof.
“I am not showing you my tools.”
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