Oprah Talks to Camille Cosby
Camille (continued): One of the challenges for young people—whether they are growing up in an environment like this or in another type of environment—is to not be influenced by the images they see on the tube or on the Internet or whatever the form of media is. But that is the parent's challenge, too, because I remember I was constantly countering all those images of women in the magazines that our teenage daughters wanted to look at. What we see is powerful, because we think it is real. We should teach children to become critical thinkers. We don't. We just accept.
Oprah: Our girls' idea of what it means to be a woman has been so bombarded by media images that they have no concept of what it is. How would you define it?
Camille: I think it is a combination of things—assertiveness, being loving, being smart about what you know, not pretending to know something if you don't know it. It is listening well, and it is demanding to be heard.
Oprah: I love that.
Camille: Women are told just to listen. Even little girls are told that.
Oprah: And to be nice.
Camille: Exactly. You demand to be heard. Being a woman is being erect; it is communicating well; it is having positive, reciprocal relationships with your lover, your husband, your friends, your family. In other words, if you give, you want to get back. I don't believe in unconditional love.
Oprah: I've always heard that we should love unconditionally.
Camille: No. That creates the long-suffering female. I think you have the right to not love someone if that person is not lovable.
Oprah: That is so powerful.
Camille: And that concept has to apply to a marriage, a lover, a business associate, a publicist. Even your children have to know that they are not lovable sometimes, that you don't express love for them if they can't love you back. I think it applies to everyone in your life.
Oprah: That makes sense. Over the years, women have said to me, "I love him. I love him." And I say, "Love is not supposed to hurt."
Camille: Love is supposed to feel good.
Oprah: Earlier you talked about sustaining yourself in tough times. Do you believe in something bigger than yourself?
Camille: I don't belong to a formal religion, but I am spiritual. I believe there is a spiritual force that cannot be defined in terms of how it looks. I don't believe that it is a he or a she or just an it. I think it is a combination of the above. It is arrogant for humans to create the image of a spiritual force in the image of a human, and especially a male. And until women put more pressure on the major religions to change the pronouns, we will always have a difficult time establishing our rightful place in society.