Jian Ghomeshi Gets Spanked

jian Ghomeshi, spanked
Jian Ghomeshi

If you’re Canadian, you’ll have heard about the firing of CBC radio host, Jian Ghomeshi. He is accused of sexual violence with women he has dated. What’s complicating matters is his involvement in BDSM, a practice where consensual violence is the norm.

This is an explosive situation happening in a media context that has primed us perfectly. If what I’m seeing on social media is anything to go by, we are experiencing another wave of feminism, a wave asking the right questions and making the right demands. Why is Microsoft’s CEO telling women to behave? Why can’t large companies provide on-site daycare?

However, there’s also a troubling element in some current feminist thought, and that’s the wide and potent swath of victimism running through it. As wise global voices discuss the politics of being female, a whiny voice of entitlement, coming from western countries, is scratching its manicured nails on the blackboard. That voice is complaining about social circumstances within women’s control, decrying the disadvantage of being female in cultures that are comparatively privileged. It may be wrong to weigh an articulate Malala against a twerking Miley Cyrus, but if we want to take ourselves seriously we need to out ourselves on some fairly blatant hypocrisies.

I don’t know if Jian Ghomeshi is guilty of any wrongdoing. However, the accusations against him have more than a whiff of vindictiveness about them, which means we should be eyeing them critically.

What we know is this: a former girlfriend of Ghomeshi’s made accusations of physical violence against him. She did this after a two-year relationship ended. She also contacted four of his former lovers. Then Kevin Donovan, an investigative journalist with the Toronto Star, became involved. I think it’s fair to conclude that the instigating ex-lover, or someone connected with her, contacted the media outlet.

jian Ghomeshi, spankedGhomeshi is notoriously private, so much so that speculations about his sexuality abounded online, speculations that mostly asked: “Is he gay or straight?” So his contention that his ex went through his phone to find the numbers of other women seems plausible. In any event, information about these women was collected and I suspect technology, in the form of a device or social media conduit, was the source. We will probably hear that Ghomeshi’s ex did this to validate her doubts about her relationship with him. Their joint enjoyment of BDSM means this included consensual violence.

As a woman who also enjoys her privacy, I wonder why Ghomeshi is the only one concerned about this violation. Surely most of us put this kind of snooping somewhere in the stalking ballpark? If a man I was dating, and only dating, went through my phone to contact former lovers (with the intention of gathering information), I would be enraged. And I’m betting that a lot of women having that experience would be too. So Ghomeshi’s complaint that his privacy has been violated is a powerful one and one that we should not be ignoring.

Read Why we all need Edward Snowden.

The privacy violations against him go further. As a daily user of social media, I see hundreds of attempts at public shaming. The problem is that shaming posts and tweets constitute their own sub-genre, a sub-genre vast enough to get lost in and common enough to be overlooked. So even though it’s often ineffective, at least for regular folks like myself, the trend of public shaming is worth examining. While some commentators place Ghomeshi’s behaviour in the context of a “rape culture,” they forget that we in the west, perhaps less dangerously, live in a tattle-tale culture as well.

In the end, Ghomeshi’s lawsuit against the CBC for wrongful dismissal may have broad implications. And that’s because he’s not just up against our nation’s broadcaster, he’s also up against a social media culture that makes TMZ look kind. He’s essentially holding the CBC responsible for believing unsubstantiated accusations and making sure that the consequences do not end with him. I hope he wins his case.

Why? Because although it’s unfortunate, the accusations against him do appear contrived. The fact that his main accuser waited until after the relationship was over is problematic. It raises the question: if the violence was non-consensual why did she tolerate it for two years? I am always uncomfortable when he said/she said conflicts like this become public. They have a deleterious effect on real victims of sexual assault.

The reality is this: there are some forms of sexual play, rough and gentle, that are deeply compelling. I once heard a BDSM aficionado, a plump middle-aged woman, say that for her, ordinary sex was “vanilla” by comparison. That sounds convincing to me, more convincing than the complaints made by this group of young women. That they now feel used by a promiscuous man, interested in their bodies only, seems more plausible than their allegations. This does not get Ghomeshi off the hook — he’s clearly not a prince — but it doesn’t make him a criminal either.

jian Ghomeshi, spanked
Nancy Friday — one of the first women to write about women’s sexual fantasies. She was also one of the first feminists to dispute victim-feminism.

The fact is Ghomeshi was upfront about his tastes, a fact that Kevin Donovan is only reporting reluctantly. This makes the accusations against him seem more petulant than justified. If a man tells a woman he likes rough sex, it’s up to the woman hearing those words to believe him and make a decision. And that process — of listening, processing and deciding — is where the real power for women resides. Saying yes can be as powerful as saying no and saying maybe can give a woman time to think about it. What isn’t good for a woman is to violate her own boundaries and then regret it later in the form of an accusation. That’s pathologizing something that’s not pathological to begin with.

Here is an example: when I was in my 20s, I dated a renown bad boy. The relationship ended because although his edginess was exciting — I’ll admit it was a huge turn on — he pushed me too far. I walked away because I accepted reality as it was.

What is the problem here? Ghomeshi is a celebrity. He is also a very attractive man. Even so, these women had a duty to themselves to respect their own limits. They also had a duty to recognize they had made an error and to learn from it. What they don’t have a duty to do is publicly warn other women about a man who announces himself before anything sexual happens and then use those warnings to make rough sex synonymous with victimization.

This combination of actions has the singular effect of demonizing a man who may not deserve to be demonized and the overall effect, achieved through moralizing and fear-mongering, of frightening women away from an experience they may actually enjoy. In short, their collective assertion that they are victims has the larger effect of infantilizing all women and limiting our choices. Other Canadian men with odd tastes and fetishes must be feeling a chill right now. “Which woman,” they worry, “will regret that bit of fun we had together and turn me in to the police?” That’s how fear-mongering works.

One last aspect of this situation has me curious. I’m wondering how many of the five women complained to friends or relatives about having violent sex with Ghomeshi. I’m curious because while I understand their reluctance to go public, I would have a harder time understanding why they didn’t share their concerns with those closest to them. One would hope, if things were really bad, these confidantes would have talked Ghomeshi’s “victims” out of seeing him again.

jian Ghomeshi, spankedKevin Donovan makes it clear that he spoke to these women repeatedly and that he found them convincing. However, anyone who has read The Crucible knows that even a small mob, guided by fear, can act like a single organism and fall uniformly into uttering one narrative. The proof, that abuse actually occurred, will be in what the friends of these five women say. Did they complain? Did they complain and keep seeing Ghomeshi anyway? Or did they decide that the kink was too much, and like me, all those years ago, walk out of an untenable situation?

The fact that these women are now acting in concert, with a collection of stories, tells me they didn’t walk away soon enough. And of course that begs the question: why not?

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Related: Jian Ghomeshi Gets Spanked and  Ouch! When Sex Goes Terribly Wrong

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46 thoughts on “Jian Ghomeshi Gets Spanked

  1. The issue with this line of thought is that it is another form of victim blaming. Why didn’t they walk out? You’re putting the onus on the person being abused to stop the abuser, and if they don’t, then you’re basically saying that it’s their fault for letting it continue. Maybe they haven’t come forward for a while because it took them a long time to come to understand the nature of that abuse. It’s not like this is unheard of.

    Why don’t people report sexual violence and abuse? Perhaps because society as a whole has an unfortunate tendency to demonize people (primarily women, but men as well) who report these kinds of abuses. There are many stories of women going to the police and either straight up not being believed. If it does go to trial, it can often be the women involved who are functionally being tried instead of the purported abuser.

    Even in this article, why do you believe his statement to be factual and not theirs? Your statement “… has the singular effect of demonizing a man who doesn’t deserve to be demonized…” basically says that you have already decided that he has done no wrong. Consider the general reaction of the public against the women accusing him of sexual impropriety. Would you really be willing to go through your reputation being raked over the coals, being told that you are lying, being called many nasty names… just because you feel like a jilted ex?

    Ghomeshi may be innocent. For now, I do reserve some judgement. But looking at the way our society as a whole treats victims of abuse, I’m (admittedly) inclined to be skeptical about his innocence.

    A few links that offer an alternative perspective:

    http://sexgeek.wordpress.com/2014/10/27/poor-persecuted-pervert/

    http://www.xojane.com/it-happened-to-me/non-date

    Ghomeshi has been accused of groping a female employee at the CBC and telling her that he wants to “hate f—” her. Is it that hard to believe that someone who is willing to do that might also be abusive in other relationships?

  2. It’s not victim-blaming, but it is asking a reasonable question. Women of my mother’s generation, if they married an abuser, were more or less stuck. Ghomeshi’s accuser was in a “dating” relationship with him–they weren’t married, weren’t even living together and had no children. I’m sorry, but holding other women accountable for poorly explained behaviour seems to me a reasonable step forward. I have experienced sexual assault AND I’ve walked away from situations that felt dangerous to me. If you’re old enough to have sex, you’re old enough to take responsibility for whom you have it with. The whole situation smells like sexual buyer’s remorse to me.

  3. This sort of spin wouldn’t even pass the smell test of Navigator PR – the folks guiding Jian Ghomeshi’s campaign.

  4. Clearly you do. However, to call this “nuanced” and disagree with the far more balanced and relevant aggregate of commentary in The Washington Post article to which you’ve linked this piece, well, it doesn’t lend you credibility.

  5. I appreciate this angle.
    So much so that I just finished reading it aloud to my wife, who, although Canadian, did not know who Ghomeshi was before I started mentioning his name.
    This was not the first article concerning him that I’ve read aloud, but in my wife’s opinion, and mine as well, the most concise to date.

  6. This comment is nothing more than MSM talking points, in my opinion.
    I do respect that you’ve decided to reserve judgement, but, your comment clearly demonstrates that in fact, you’ve made up your mind.

  7. Out of curiosity, why does she not have any credibility? What about that article (or some other information about her) robs her of credibility?

  8. I will answer you seriously, in the hope you will take it as a well-intentioned answer.

    She is making a mountain out of a molehill. In the old days, women carried mad-money and used it when men misbehaved. In my 20s, I had a variety of interesting jobs that allowed me to travel and mingle with powerful men. I had the gropey thing happen to me a lot. But instead of allowing myself to be victimized, I made sure I had enough money to get home if need be, or had some sort of back up if I was staying in a hotel on my own overnight. This young woman continued with an evening she clearly found uncomfortable; however, instead of acting proactively in her own best interests, she did not use the word “no” (or did not use it definitively enough), walk out of the concert or call a friend or whatever. And, I must say, what is considered “creepy” is in the eye of the beholder. JG may have been being over-friendly, but nothing she reported sounded serious to me. I’ve certainly handled worse and/or walked out on worse behaviour. And if she is too incompetent to get herself out of the evening, and it sounds as if she was, she’s got no one else but herself to blame. Why she’s laying all the blame for a terrible evening at Ghomeshi’s feet feels unfair and then, of course, there’s the fact that they were surrounded by people for most of that evening.

    But then, to make matters worse, she gets onto social media (well, a website) and describes an entirely preventable, “creepy” evening with a man who is clearly JG. She even goes as far as saying he “looks like” a man who carries roofies. So because of the evening’s preventability, her description of him seems gratuitously and stupidly mean-spirited. And, let’s not forget the story grew legs. So the kind of irritating complaining you might hear from a not-so-intelligent young woman in a lunch room somewhere went viral on the internet and clearly harmed JG’s reputation. As someone who has been teaching for 25 years, and who has seen false accusations made against male teachers (and yes they were “proven” false), I think the weight of what she’s done is being under-estimated by a chorus of women who are jumping on that very predictable “she’s a victim” bandwagon. I consider myself a feminist, but I’d like to think I’m a smarter feminist than that.

    If you are going to go online with accusations of largely subjective “creepiness,” then you shouldn’t be surprised if you experience a backlash, no matter who the man is. False and exaggerated accusations are no joke, and the fact that all sorts of people are now saying “OMG now she’s being trolled,” aren’t getting it. They aren’t getting the fact that not only was this young woman responsible for managing her own evening, she is also responsible for what she says online. If we can decry the bullying by and against vulnerable teenagers, I think we can understand that public and online accusations can harm adults too. I oppose assisted suicide and I can tell you that the thrashing I routinely get on social media is not for the faint of heart. But I’ve learned that that comes with the territory and if I want to keep my opinion out there, I have to pay the price. It sucks, but that’s reality.

    I hope this helps!

  9. You will take tremendous heat for your stance. You will be vilified, blocked, spat on with thoughtful responses saying you don’t understand, and people will say, how, as a woman, could you possibly think this.

    I found your page on Jodie Layne’s link through Twitter. You were blocked from it. She found your thoughts “vile.” Her page is a very warm thoughtful fuzzy page filled with love and understanding for victims and intolerance for your position. And it has a serious flaw in it.

    She says, “Statistically, false claims of sexual assault are extremely rare.” She is right. They are.

    First, Ghomeshi is a different sort of case and I am not defending the man. My view has long been he is an arrogant prick, and his using violence against women raises all sorts of alarm bells.

    Here is what I want to say.

    Women who make complaints within corporations for internal process or in court have their identities protected. Not so males. A male accused can go from a post-secondary school or corporation and undergo “a court of star chamber” ( the words of a judge in one case from court transcripts) and as soon as the case is filed in a court to challenge it (it is actually a miracle to do this, it is a horrendously difficult legal process, you first must have something very good to hang your case on) the accused must then step into the spotlight. And he is immediately vilified by very well-meaning and seemingly understanding people like Jodie Layne. No mater how light the allegation, even “you made someone feel uncomfortable,” which has been used for a termination, and any more serious matter or much more serious matter off site or onsite, the accused may have no time to prepare while female accusers have a week or two from case workers with enormous sympathy provided by the corporation or post-secondary school. Look at your own immediate responses to your stance. The accused meet similar responses. The natural inclination is to believe the females overwhelmingly. The male accused is seen immediately as someone terrible. Good God, he must have done something. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. We don’t know his private life.

    A male accused risks losing everything. Not just employment or schooling. Everything. Friends, future, savings, everything tangible and intangible, is at risk- but only if he fights a false allegation. So he must decide. If a male does fight allegations of any sort, what does the male win? Nothing. A win is only proving a negative. “I didn’t do this.” That’s the win. That’s victory lane. That’s the Stanley Cup in resolution of issues like this for the male.

    Who in their right mind would fight a false allegation? Well, if you’re Ghomeshi, you’re in the public eye anyway. Your living depends on it. You have to defend yourself immediately. Not so men who do not make their living that way. You cannot have statistics for the number of men who look at those facts or risks and decide to walk away. It’s not worth it. I have fought such in the past, twenty years ago, a sexual harassment claim, a very convincing one, and only later realized that the five- count them- five women, all respected students, one the college newspaper editor, one the college newspaper advertising editor, the others writers for that school newspaper, whom I had never before heard an untruth from their lips and never, ever dreamed I would, sat all dressed in white and made claims that were not only false but they had the immediate empathy of the sexual harassment committee of the college. I learned much. There is no way for a male to win. I did step into that limelight, I did take the matter to court, and I did win, much against the odds, but learned much, not all good, and nothing has changed since that time.

    In the 1950s or 1960s women never came forward even with true allegations because they system was designed not to believe them and they had no protection of identity. But now all protections are accorded. Councillors and advisors are well-versed in these issues and avail themselves to women. There are organizations that deal in just this sort of crisis for women. The male accused is in exactly the same position women were in in the 1950s. Jodie Layne does not recognize that false allegations of sexual harassment or assault are in themselves sexual harassment.

    I wrote a book on my experience. It took me a year to write. I think it sold six copies. No one is interested in the other side, the side of the male. It is indefensible. It is not at all popular. The vast majority of accused males will continue to be silent.

    I went to a sexual assault centre wanting to know from them where I could turn for advice. I was very lucky. I met two very knowledgeable and understanding women who worked there. They believed the women as they read the written allegations I gave them. I read that in their faces. That was fine. They read the allegations, then asked about the hearing I had undergone. And then I saw their faces as I described the hearing I went through. They were shocked. Shocked to the core. And from that point I realized it wasn’t me. Until then all I felt was shock and numbness.Everything was surreal. It was as if the sky was pink and grass was purple and people burned money and ate dinner routinely on their rooftops, and I thought, no this isn’t the way it is, but it must be, everyone thinks it’s so. Only from the point when I talked to those two women did the feeling numbness and it all being surreal subside. It was as if they cut open a plaster cast to free me and I could breathe again.

    One issue bothered one of the councillors. Her name was Heidi. I cannot say enough about her. She noticed something only odd to her that I had not twigged on it at all. The five women wanted this hushed up, were very secretive, were immediately satisfied with the result. She said that was puzzling to her. In her long experience victims want to tell the world. They want people to know what happened. The secretiveness in how this matter proceeded struck her as odd. She didn’t say the matter was false. She said the behaviour of the women was “contrary to her experience.”

    There are no accurate statistics on false allegations. I believe that is for good reason. If a police detachment has 100 robberies and 78 per cent of them are resolved, you know that you have a 78 per cent resolution rate. Not so with false allegations. There is no way to tell. But Layne’s using that low statistic, and it is low, for false allegations, is misleading and she does not know it. That statistic is by far interpreted only one way.

    That said, Ghomeshi is a pig. Hitting a woman in the face is not a human right or sexual right. What he has done seems beyond horrendous. He always impressed me as a smug prick.

    Christie Blatchford, in her article on this for the National Post, received, like you, many disparaging comments. But on this issue Blatchford appears to know more than most. It is an issue that will always have one side inadequately addressed. The vast majority of innocent men accused of sexual impropriety within corporations or post-secondary schools, or perhaps in other places, will not complain. It’s not worth it. Innocent men will simply take it move on. And that is the the smartest thing they can do. Ghomeshi has to fight his issue publicly because he’s a public figure. I have doubts about his innocence because anyone choked and said they didn’t like it and didn’t ask for it should be believed.

    It’s not because of the number of women involved in the accusations. He has three or four women who are accusing him. I had five. One of them was quoted, anonymously, in the newspaper they all wrote for: “I sacrificed a big part of myself. It will never end.” How much sympathy do you think she was accorded? I can only imagine. Each and every one of these young women, from 18 to about 25, was highly respectable, and every one of them in that long ago hearing, I only realized much later, wore white, every one of them dressed from head to toe in the purest white, from shoulders to socks, and none of us, not I, nor the college sexual harassment committee, noticed the importance at the time of that single careful clue.

  10. Thank you for such a thoughtful contribution to the discussion. I honestly think Ghomeshi’s promiscuity is at the heart of this conflict. If they did things they regret, they can place the entire blame for it on him. It’s a form of distancing.

    The issue of whether or not he was hitting women is complicated by the BDSM context. I once heard a renown sex expert explain it and she warned her audience in advance that what they were about to see (she had slides) was disturbing. And boy was she right! But the women, all of whom she knew personally, were into it consensually. So hitting and biting and punching apparently turns some women on. I mean, me, I like apples and caramel, but whatever floats a woman’s boat is no business of mine.

    Your ordeal sounds very similar to the ones I’ve seen, although they were less serious, I think. There is a predictable template to these events and to some extent, I’m using that to judge what’s happening here. I’m glad you were vindicated, but sorry you were put through all that. The two men I knew were devastated by the accusations too.

  11. Here’s something to think about. You only “know” that the relationship lasted for 2 years from his (self-serving) FB post. In fact, everything you “know” comes from him. Even if the relationship did last as long as he says, how can you have any knowledge of what actually happened? You don’t know anything – you only think you do. I don’t know anything either, but I have formed an opinion. That opinion is based on his words. That post is self-serving & self-pitying – playing the sympathy card & attempting to frame the narrative. He’s hired a high profile PR firm and filed a lawsuit – actions which can easily be seen as a threat to anyone else who might be thinking of coming forward. Ask yourself if those are the actions of an innocent person. Ask yourself if the same actions coming from someone you don’t like would elicit the same response? Then ask yourself if there might be some fire behind all that smoke?

  12. Actually the 2 years was mentioned in the Toronto Star. And if the woman stayed with him for that length of time, that’s an indication of consent, isn’t it? I don’t necessarily like Ghomeshi and hardly ever listen to his show. I’m just a bit fed up with all the victim narratives. There’s an expectation paradigm here, as if the environment owes it to us women to be safe all the time and if it’s not, well excuse me while I pout because life is unfair.

    If a dating situation isn’t safe — and sometimes it isn’t — women aren’t the only ones at risk. Bad stuff happens to men too. The whole idea that a woman is actively interacting with a man, a social context and an environment when she’s out on a date, or in a relationship, seems to be missing from the debate around this situation. There’s a level of self-responsibility we need to consciously carry with ourselves and use when the situation warrants it. Our grandmother’s use to call it “mad money.”

    What is wrong with looking a man straight in the eye and saying, ‘You’re a jerk and I’m outta here’? I’ve done it. I’ve got friends who have done it. But somehow that very simple social skill has gone awol. I dunno. I don’t want to give away my personal power in exchange for victimhood. We have it pretty good here in North America…I’ve lived in the middle east and things were different there.

    And these women went to a newspaper–a newspaper! Why didn’t they go to a rape crisis centre or to the police? Rape crisis centres are staffed by women and often liaise with the police so that victims are treated sensitively.There are so many social services in place to help women. Why didn’t any of these victims use them? Sorry, there are just too many questions here.

  13. In terms of victim-blaming related issues, I think we have to agree to disagree on that. Anyhow.

    My question about her credibility still stands, in some sense. I can accept that you don’t like the tone of her story, but saying that she has no credibility suggest that you don’t believe that her story is true. So I repeat, why doesn’t she have any credibility in that sense?

    I mean, realistically speaking you can hardly say that she was doing this to defame Ghomeshi, or to gain any real notoriety/fame out of this. She kept his name out of it (although perhaps she didn’t hide his identity very well), and it reads to me like she is relating a pretty shitty experience she had. Anything that happened after that (with regards to her being “trolled”, or the story taking legs) can hardly be held against her in terms of whether or not you should believe her story.

    So that said, do you not believe her story? If so, why not? And if you do, do you really think that the guy in the story sounds like a good guy?

  14. Another explanation of “sexual buyer’s remorse” might be thinking WTF was I thinking for allowing this to happen. If it wasn’t “consensual” as he says it’s wrong whether someone says something @ the time or after the fact.

  15. No, I do think she was doing it to defame Ghomeshi. Womanizers generally leave a lot of angry women in their wake and a smearing article like this is one way of getting revenge. I do think Ghomeshi’s promiscuity is the real issue here.

    I live on a corner in Montreal where a lot of homeless people beg. They stand between traffic lanes, a lot like squeegie kids, and hold out paper cups to collect change. From what I can see, they are all addicts or alcoholics. I have no problem with them, but there is one young couple, in their twenties, who are clearly “together” and who really tug at my heart strings. I feel very bad for them, so one day I suggested they go to a nearby 12 step meeting that is for young people. A lovely friend of mine goes there regularly and so I told them to ask for her.

    They went and the next day my friend contacted me and told me how warmly this couple had been welcomed by the group. Someone ran out to get them a fast-food meal, everyone pitched in and gave them some change; they were even offered warm places to stay, etc. My friend’s description of the event was profoundly warm-hearted. She said she was really proud of how all of those young people at the meeting had rallied around this couple and done everything they could to help them.

    A few days later, a neighbourhood dog-walking friend told me a completely different version of events, as she had heard it from the young woman. According to her, they had been treated disrespectfully and had been verbally abused by a number of people there. She was shocked and horrified and she was never going back.

    Now, you could easily qualify this as a they said/they said, but I know who I believe. That’s the kind of thinking I have here. This young woman’s ability to interpret reality is clearly off the beam (by what appears to be gross immaturity) and so what she’s relating, for me anyway, is useless information. Unfortunately, it’s not useless for everyone. It went viral and had bad consequences for Ghomeshi.

    Ghomeshi sounds like a grabby guy, and he may be a douchebag, but the concert venue they were in, I’m sure, had exits. She should have used one.

  16. I agree with you, but retracting consent after the fact isn’t really possible. I understand these young women may feel soiled, but again, Ghomeshi says he had proof of consent and I believe him. Apparently people in the BDSM community are pretty careful about this.

  17. As a survivor of sexual assault, it may surprise people that I am supporting Ghomeshi in this. Of the eight on these women who allege this man beat them in the head, forced them to perform fellatio, etc. not ONE received medical attention. If I get a blow to the head during a violent encounter with a man I just met, you can bet I am going to, at the very least, seek medical attention. Further than that, it is up to the woman to press charges. The summation of evidence these women have compiled to support their allegations are unreliable and can be worked up after the fact, retrofitted, messages can be deleted, thereby rendering what communication is left a distorted picture of the original. As a survivor of an actual, completely non-consensual act of violence, I am infuriated with these women whether their allegations are true or not. If they are true, why wouldn’t they seek medical attention? A blow to the head can be life threatening. Why wouldn’t they document their injuries? As educated, professional women, how is it possible that not ONE of them was empowered enough to come forward at the time of their attack? I was 21 when I was raped. Just out of university and headed to the Peace Corps. I was young, frightened, and felt terribly alone. I had a friend come with me. She saw my injuries, my distress, my pain. Where are the bosom buddies of these women? Why didn’t one of THEM come forward with the accusers? Why didn’t one of these women’s friends press them to seek medical attention, document injuries, etc? I have so many questions that this frankly abhorrently written article in the Star could not answer. My gut feeling is that they cannot answer it because there is no substantiating evidence. There are medical records, no friends to come forward because there was no assault. So these eight women are destroying a mans life, and helping to keep in place an institution of skepticism and denial when women who are actually, for real non-consensually violated and assaulted DO seek help from medical professionals and authorities. And that absolutely disgusts me. This wave of victimization in the feminist movement is leaving an enormous impact on our society. “Rape” in Western culture is now being used to define anything that women want it to. Vaccinations for their children are a form of rape, emergency cesarians in lieu of an at home “natural” birth, and even a baby’s first bath being performed by a nurse is coined “bath rape” by whiny, entitled, over educated, self centered women who care more about their rights then the well being of those around them. As a woman, I am sick and tired of the schizophrenic paradox that my peers are pressing on all of us. As I see it, that paradox is a desire for control, respect, and dominance that borders on or crosses the border into bullying, while still wanting to be nurtured, protected, and cared for. Men are terrified of getting into the cross hairs with these women, and for just cause. The more they whine about how victimized they are, the less attention actual victims are going to receive as a result. Their overuse of the word “rape” is minimizing the gravitas of what that word implies.
    Please pardon my run on sentences and free flow thought exchange. I am just blown away by the Star article, the hysteria surrounding these unsubstantiated claims, and am very grateful to you, Irene, for shedding a wary, skeptical eye on this. Thank you for actually USING the education you received by questioning the sources, reviewing all data, and reaching an educated, plausible conclusion based on those things.

  18. Your article is exactly why these women don’t go to the police. Because people such as yourself question the victims’ decisions. Even if they were not the smartest decisions (a 20-something star-struck person is not likely to make the best decisions), NO ONE, I repeat NO ONE has a right to assault another person and make them feel unsafe. When they walked away is irrelevant, why they went to meet him is irrelevant, how many times they met with him is irrelevant, how many times they texted and emailed dirty kinky messages is irrelevant, ALL of their decisions are irrelevant because those decisions, unlike the ones Ghomeshi made, were not made with the intention to harm, violate, cause fear or damage another person. I can understand how someone would rather not form an opinion on the Ghomeshi affair, but to go out of one’s way to defend a person who quite possible is a sexual predator, is totally inexplicable to me.

  19. No one seeks medical attention for a blow to the head unless they are bleeding profusely or have sustained a concussion. A blow to head does not have to be incredibly hard to scare the shit out of you when it comes from a man. As the evidence mounts, and more and more women are speaking out without anonymity about their experiences, I think the truth will likely demonstrate that Mr. Ghomeshi has some serious issues–whether criminal or not–a trial can only judge. One thing is certain though, things are not black and white as you describe: between a random act of non-consensual sexual violence and a TRUE act of BSDM bedroom play, there is a whole lot of gray. And in that gray area is where women are afraid to speak out, where women question their decisions, where people like you and this author make women feel like unless they needed to go to hospital because they assaulted so violently as to need urgent medical attention, because they chose to “just live with it and move on”, an act of violence did not occur–nothing worth complaining about. In this respect, I strongly disagree with you and most men I know and have discussed with, agree with me. No level of violence against any gender is acceptable.

  20. I didn’t say violence was okay. No one is. But credibility should matter in a case like this where a man has lost his livelihood. Why is it that we can’t ask questions? I am not a big fan of conventional feminism because of *its* tendency to silence dissent.

  21. I have nothing to do with why women do not report abuse. I just think that in this day and age, when there are so many social supports available to women, it’s weird that women do not use them. I was assaulted too. I did not go for help immediately, but eventually did. If I had to face my rapist in court, I would have written records of having asked for help by at least two authorities. That would go to my credibility if a lawyer challenged me. Honestly, what is the big deal here?

  22. Of course we can ask questions. We should all questions. Everyone, as far as I can tell, is asking questions. Those questions, however, should not subversively serve as an attempt to discredit the victim (in this case a woman). While you have not asked directly what these women were wearing, whether they were being flirtatious, or peraps, if they “led him on”, you are judging the decisions they made and are not-so-subtly insinuating that the decisions they made led to their eventual assault. Feminism aside–I am not certain why you keep taking this angle of attack as though feminism is a bigger problem than the perpetuated violence itself–when so many women come forward (two now publicly) to denounce a possible predator, why not take this opportunity to open the dialog on sexual violence, consent and fear of coming forward, rather than attack the credibility of those we are trying to encourage?

  23. Look, if you get drunk or stoned while you are alone with a guy you’ve not known for very long, it can get dangerous. Read my subsequent article. Do I wish we lived in a world that offered unconditional safety for women? Sure I do, but it’s a fantasy and I’ve made the decision to live in reality.

  24. Or perhaps he is so insensitive to others & out of touch with reality that he interprets flirting as “consent”. And why are you insisting on taking his word as gospel. It’s no longer a case of he said/she said, but rather he said/they said x9! Unless you were in the room with him, you have no reason to accept his word as “truth”. There is a preponderance of evidence that he is either a liar or delusional. It’s becoming increasingly obvious that he is likely a serial abuser. How many women will have to come forward before you’re willing to admit that your faith in his version might be misplaced?

  25. So the price of an error in judgement is being assaulted & you’re OK with that? He’s blameless & THEY’RE the ones who are responsible!

  26. I don’t think that’s the issue at all. I think he’s a celebrity (on a Canadian scale) and he’s probably used to compliant women. I’ve spent time around men like him. The x 9 are not all such great choices in the victims’ stakes either. A lot of them had some clue he was into kinky sex…some of them came back for a second time, even after they were hit and/or engaged in rough sex talk with him. You know, women of my mother’s generation worked really hard to give women the right to walk away from abusers and there is tons of help out there for us. I really do wonder why none of these women, it seems, asked for help from professionals or didn’t go to a rape crisis centre, or something. Ghomeshi may be coming across as a real creep, but the women are not backing up their claims with much evidence either. How about letters, not naming the women, but from counsellors they may have seen in the aftermath? After I was assaulted, I saw counsellors so the proof is there. Donovan and Brown seem to think they are doing us all a favour. I’m not the only one who picked up on their weasel words. Lots of people are.

  27. It takes courage and confidence to seek the help of authorities. We question every decision we made. We fear that because of some of the decisions we made, because we went back, or because somehow we accepted to be treated so violently, we have no right to seek the help of the authorities. This, ma’am, is what makes me sick. It makes me sick that society has not supported the women who get assaulted in these gray zones. What is the big deal?! As a victim yourself, you of all people, you are asking that question?! And what supports are you referring to anyway? This blog? People who were victims in the past, like you? Twitter trolls? Their boss? Their expensive lawyer? The few hours of therapy you might be lucky enough to get?

    Listen, you are obviously an exemplary victim, if such a thing exists. You might have had the confidence and balls to alert and tell your story, but not everyone does, and that is goddam fact. That does not make their experience less real. It’s not LESS TRUE or LESS REAL for them if they did not go to the authorities. Basically, you’re saying that because these women didn’t do what you did, than 1) what happened to them is not valid, and 2) it happened because of the poor decisions they made?

  28. Irene, having a drink or smoking a joint with a man–not just any man but a man who works in the public eye–and going back to his hotel doesn’t mean he has a right to slap you around. You’re right, they took a risk, that still does not condone or excuse actions of violence. I don’t understand why you continue to blame the victim. You concede that “it didn’t work out”–that they got assaulted–and yet, cannot place any blame on the perpetrator. Your arguments are coming apart at the seams and you appear to be blinded by some continued “anti-feminist” banter. This is not about feminism. It’s about violence against women.

  29. You say victim-blaming, I say holding an adult responsible. I would understand if she filed a complaint with the police, but she is publishing an article in a major publication — the Huffpo — and making herself sound like a victim. I disagree. She bears some responsibility.

  30. Can you at least hold him to the same standards of responsibility or would that be too feminist of an approach?

  31. You used the phrase “weasel words” in another post – saying “they took a risk and it didn’t work out” are weasel words for yes they’re responsible.

  32. Don’t hold your breath Susy. Irene’s all about “personal responsibility” for women – not so much for men.

  33. What would they report? He slapped me? And, what, face the exact same allegations you’re making?

    Your pieces aren’t well-argued. You can have all the opinions you want — but it’s not like you know anything about the reality in this case.

  34. The language you use is so stilted. Ghomeshi “lost his livelihood.” He was fired. Again, we don’t know the whole story here.

  35. Well, despite the other comments, I loved this article! I think some of your readers misunderstand there is a big difference between wearing a mini skirt to a bar and getting raped vs. being in a relationship of abuse or questionable S&M practices.

    I think it was bold that you used yourself as an example. Honestly I’d never heard of this guy before, but with celebrities & politicians, all it takes is one vindictive person to go after them. Call me sexist, but this is a common reaction by women who think they are owed or have been wronged and seek vengeance not justice. I think many of the readers here don’t realize your playing devils advocate. You are not saying she wasn’t harmed, but that he is also not completely blameless. Had she been harmed at any time going to the police would have been the 1st choice, not to investigate on her own.

  36. You’re projecting, Irene.

    Responsible for what? Being hit and choked?

    Nobody had been accusing the guy of being “grabby,” as you put it, or of unwanted sex. They’re saying that in their experience, the violent part of the encounter wasn’t discussed, negotiated or consensual — period.

    She’s not publishing the article, the Huffpo is (don’t you teach English?) but doesn’t say she’s a victim — she’s saying the sex was violent and that wasn’t consensual. After Ghomeshi says it was. And she came forward with her name after people had been decrying the lack of named sources.

    Irene, I notice you generally only talk to people who agree with you so I don’t expect you to answer.

    But what if you’re on a date (first, second, third, whatever) with Ghomeshi, you start kissing and then he chokes you. Or hits you in the head. What would you have done?

    And what, if, years later — you’d read him saying that, yes, he gets physically rough (again, we’re talking about pain and torture) but it’s 100% consensual? And that hadn’t been your experience. What would you have done?

    Have you listened to the interviews on the CBC or read the Star stories? If not, do.

    I certainly don’t know the truth here. Nobody who wasn’t involved does.

    You’re making a lot of assumptions. The biggest is that these women had sexual buyer’s remorse? But where do you get this from? Again, none of the women is specifically alleging unwanted sex — they’re alleging unwanted violence during that consensual encounter.

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