The Jian Ghomeshi Sexual Assault Allegations Remind Us It’s The Victims Who Matter Most
As far as I knew, it all started when I got a text from my mom – “CBC severed ties with Jian Ghomeshi?!” I wasn’t a big fan of his radio show Q, so for me, it was an idle bit of showbiz gossip, a startling change to the face of Canadian broadcasting, maybe, but my interest level was about on the lines of thumbing through a tabloid while waiting in line at the grocery store.
Then came his infamous Facebook post, Jian Ghomeshi’s response to the CBC announcement. “I’ve been fired from the CBC because of the risk of my private sex life being made public as a result of a campaign of false allegations pursued by a jilted ex girlfriend and a freelance writer,” he wrote, claiming to be a BDSM practitioner whose private life was being dragged into the public eye.
“CBC execs confirmed that the information provided showed that there was consent…They said that I was being dismissed for ‘the risk of the perception that may come from a story that could come out.’ To recap, I am being fired in my prime from the show I love and built and threw myself into for years because of what I do in my private life.”
And I was furious. How dare the CBC dismiss someone for private sexual preferences – something I thought of as akin to firing someone for being gay? If there were allegations, how could they fire him instead of putting him on leave while the allegations were dealt with? After all, I think of myself – I pride myself – on being open-minded, on believing that what happens between two consenting adults is none of my business.
For a lot of people outside Canada, this was almost a joke – a Canadian sex scandal?! For many of us in Canada, though, Ghomeshi’s dismissal was touching a nerve. Many of us are watching a conservative government slowly cut away at things we love about our country. It wasn’t impossible to believe that conservative values – or maybe even governmental pressure on the CBC – might put kink on a par with crime and hold “reputation” in higher esteem than a person’s right to behave as they choose in the bedroom.
But something happened to me when I read Ghomeshi’s Facebook post, and it’s something I’m not proud of. In my haste – maybe even my need – to show how open and accepting I was, I missed something crucial: “It came to light that a woman had begun anonymously reaching out to people that I had dated (via Facebook) to tell them she had been a victim of abusive relations with me,” Ghomeshi wrote. “She found some sympathetic ears by painting herself as a victim and turned this into a campaign.”
Somehow, as I read this very carefully written defense by a man whose show I didn’t listen to and who I didn’t personally know from a hole in the ground, I never realized that “painting herself as a victim” is how an abuser perceives…well, an actual victim of his actions.