Fame (and wealth) are relevant to how a victim is received, so I ought to have mentioned them too. But so is whiteness. There is a pattern demonstrating pretty consistently that people who victimize white women are more likely to meet consequences. Many of Weinsteins’ accusers were white. One of his black acusers, Lupita Nyong’o, was the only accuser Weinstein vehemently denied (perhaps because he was ashamed of having been with a black woman). Bill Cosby’s accusers were mostly white women, and he met consequences. Louis CK, O’Reilly, many of the other folks mentioned in this piece, had white accusers, and they met consequences.

Conversely, R. Kelly was accused by black teen girls — and he has met no consequences. Chris Brown assaulted Rihanna, a black woman, and was met with few consequences. Kelis accused Nas of domestic violence, and Nas met with virtually zero consequences. Terry Crews, a black man, was attacked by a white man, who was not charged. When white women falsify attacks and blame black people, they are typically believed and, if found out, do not meet consequences.

Of course, how race and privilege impact these things is complicated. For instance, the Cosby accusations started getting way more media attention after a black man, Hannibal Buress, drew attention to them. Chris Brown has had some legal consequences for his behavior over the years, even if his professional career is still very much afloat. The trends are present, but they can’t allow us to predict with certainty how each case will pan out. There’s a lot of variables.

None of these things happen a vacuum. We can’t look at how Milano’s accusations would have been received if she was nonwhite, anymore than we can look at how her accusations would be received if she was not famous. But we can look at the overall trends and see that these demographic factors are generally quite relevant.

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