As a kink blogger with an interest in social justice, I kind of have to have something to say about Jian Ghomeshi. I’m very short on time lately, but fortunately other bloggers have already made most of the points I would if I had more time.
In case any of my readers don’t already know the background, here’s a good summary of the situation. The Toronto Star was the first to report that the CBC fired Jian not because he was kinky but because he had abused multiple women. The Star also has a timeline of how the situation has unfolded which shows how things have gone from bad to worse for Jian. As I write this post there are currently nine women accusing Jian of abuse, a number which I expect to become out of date shortly. Three women, another number I expect to change, are being interviewed by the Toronto police as part of their investigation into the allegations of physical and sexual assault.
So far two women have even come forward publicly. Actor and air force captain Lucy DeCoutere (who plays Lucy on Trailer Park Boys), and author and lawyer Reva Seth have both done interviews with the Star about their experiences with Jian.
Let me be entirely clear: if I personally knew those women, I would high five them until our hands were sore. Coming forward publicly is terrifying, but sadly necessary. As Lucy said in her interview, she wanted to tell her story, which she described as not that painful, in order to help other women with potentially much more painful stories to feel safe coming forward and “not have to deal with the brunt of any kind of media stuff.” That is fucking amazing of her to come forward to try to protect other women, knowing that Jian’s supporters will come after her and that her story will be torn apart in the news.
As for the “media stuff”, to quote the article about Reva:
She debated coming forward for fear of “judgment, online trolls, the questioning of all your other choices,” as well as possible assertions that her experience was not bad or happened too long ago.
Seth also believed if she came forward, that she would be “eviscerated” because she had willingly gone to Ghomeshi’s house, drank and smoked marijuana with him, and had a sexual past.
That’s the problem I really want to talk about. Jian is just a symptom, he’s not the root cause. The real problem is women getting torn apart because they weren’t the “perfect victim” (that is, a perfect, virginal white woman who was brutally attacked by a stranger in a place that should have been safe and who physically fought back and had never gotten drunk, done drugs, had casual sex or done anything “wrong” in her entire life, ever). The real problem is how many people knew Jian was trouble and didn’t know what to do about it besides warn people as best they could. The real problem is the many lies of rape culture that help keep women from coming forward. The real problem is the trouble we all have with understanding that liking someone personally or enjoying their work doesn’t mean they can’t also have done terrible things. The real problem is that when a man posts on Facebook saying he’s innocent, people’s first instinct is to believe him, but when women say they’ve been abused they’re liars unless they go to the police and they get a conviction, which I would like to remind everyone is extremely unlikely.
The one thing I do find heartening about this case is that despite Jian’s attempt to paint himself as a poor persecuted pervert, to quote Andrea Zanin, the media, at least in the articles I’ve read, has a shockingly good understanding of the difference between consensual BDSM and what Jian did. Here’s hoping his attempt to use the “I’m just kinky” defense leaves it forever tainted and unusable by the assholes who would try to pretend that hurting people is okay if you slap the label BDSM on it.
Note: comments are closed because I do not have it in me to deal with some shitstain crying about “innocent until proven guilty!11!!!”. I’m not a judge, I’m not a jury, I’m just a fucking blogger. I’m allowed to have an opinion. For the record, my opinion is that when nine women accuse someone of something, he fucking did it.