Pop Culture

The Jian Ghomeshi Sexual Assault Allegations Remind Us It’s The Victims Who Matter Most

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Jian GhomeshiAs 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.

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67 Comments

  1. keelhaulrose

    November 5, 2014 at 10:19 am

    As a BDSM practitioner myself I can say that, if these allegations are true, it is unequivocally abuse. It shouldn’t be tolerated in any community, but most BDSM communities pride themselves on their stance of safety, communication, and consent. A session that lacks any one of those three things crosses the line into abuse. I get wanting to defend your community, but even “respectable” players have been known to cross the line, and when they do they should not expect acceptance and forgiveness of their actions.

    I don’t see this as someone losing their job for their sexual preferences. I see it as an abuser losing their job because they abused. I wish more abusers/rapists faced the loss of their livelihoods.

    • Kate Spencer

      November 5, 2014 at 10:30 am

      I think that’s what the author is getting at in this piece when she says “I am angry that Ghomeshi has turned BDSM, a legitimate practice when done with care and consideration for all parties involved, into cover for abuse”

    • keelhaulrose

      November 5, 2014 at 10:39 am

      I have read a few opinions on BDSM sites that actually debate if it is abuse or not. I am starting to feel that, after a certain book series, there is an influx of practitioners who can’t differentiate between a healthy BDSM relationship and abuse. Five years ago this would have been a non issue because it would be considered abuse in a nanosecond.

    • Katherine Handcock

      November 5, 2014 at 10:48 am

      I would not be surprised at all to hear that, considering that I’m not a practitioner and everything about said certain book series did not speak of healthy, caring ways to engage in a potentially dangerous kink.

    • rockmonster

      November 5, 2014 at 10:58 am

      Fifty shades of WTF Twilight Fanbase?!

    • Katherine Handcock

      November 5, 2014 at 10:37 am

      Yes, as more and more has come out, it’s clear that Ghomeshi’s firing has nothing to do with BDSM, and I’m very angry at myself that I bought into it! It was very humbling for me.

    • NorthernGirl

      November 5, 2014 at 11:17 am

      But he totally played the “they just don’t like by bedroom choices” thing. Yeah, but it’s only choice when everyone consents. Ugh.

    • cabecb

      November 5, 2014 at 5:36 pm

      It is hard when someone we admire in someway turns out to be doing something wrong. For me, it was finding out the father from 7th Heaven was a child moloster. I loved him from the first Star Trek movies so it was a shock.

    • ted3553

      November 6, 2014 at 2:21 pm

      I’m not into BDSM but you do you. What isn’t BDSM though is walking in to your dates house, giving him a kiss and he punches you in the face. Ummmm. that’s not sexy, that’s not mutually agreed upon, and that is abuse.

    • keelhaulrose

      November 6, 2014 at 2:25 pm

      I’ve seen a lot of odd kinks, but getting unexpectedly punched in the face is not one of them. I don’t even know how this guy is defending himself.

  2. AnonforThis

    November 5, 2014 at 10:25 am

    I think you’re being a little too hard on yourself. I had basically the same reaction as you – given the political climate I think it’s reasonable. Your reaction (and mine) changed once we started to learn more. I think what’s most important isn’t the initial reaction but that we took a second look at it. What I realized is that I, like many people, react to what I hear without always thinking critically about the other side from the very beginning. It’s human and its what Jian was hoping for when he posted what he did. I’m hopeful that next time I’ll be a little more analytical right from the beginning.

    Also, I think this is important, I could easily post my own comment to #beenrapedneverreported and I still took what he said initially at face value. But we don’t exist in a vacuum and the political context is important.

    • Katherine Handcock

      November 5, 2014 at 10:39 am

      Thanks! I’m trying not to be too hard on myself. At the same time, it’s a very humbling lesson about how easy it is to buy into an abuser’s story if they’re the one who tells it first. Re-reading his post in light of what’s come out since, I feel like there were hints in it that something wasn’t right, so I feel a bit like a sucker.

    • Linzon

      November 5, 2014 at 11:17 am

      He also posted that after he had enlisted the services of a PR firm (who have since dropped him like a hot dog turd), which has left me curious as to whether he made that post of his own accord or if they helped him out with it.

    • SHEILA,

      November 5, 2014 at 3:04 pm

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    • Frannie

      November 5, 2014 at 4:09 pm

      I hear ya. Even though I’m in the US, I listened to Q on XM Radio and loved that show- and Jian. I read his account of what was happening BEFORE I read any allegations or blind items, and I admit, I too took his side at first. But once I learned the whole story I stopped immediately and am absolutely horrified.

  3. pixie Ninja Tits

    November 5, 2014 at 10:49 am

    I don’t know if you’ve read this post on it yet, but here you go:

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

    It’s quite interesting. I had never heard of Ghomeshi prior to this issue – I don’t really listen to the radio while I’m at school because I don’t own a radio and even when I have access to a radio at my parents’ house, we rarely listen to CBC (and the occasional time my dad does listen to it, he listens to Vinyl Café and the Drive at Five). I had people pounce on the issue all over Facebook when the news broke and Ghomeshi wrote his post; they claimed how unfair it was, etc etc. Then, thankfully, they started seeing other things about the issue, like the blog post I linked above. I get that it’s a blog post, but blogs – like M’ish – can do a good job at looking at things critically and bringing to light new information.

    • Katherine Handcock

      November 5, 2014 at 11:06 am

      That’s a great post! I wish I had seen that sooner, or I would have linked it in my piece too.

  4. AmazingE

    November 5, 2014 at 10:54 am

    I used to listen to this guy’s show pretty regularly, and until I read a piece on Pajiba the other day, I had no idea about any of this. I was shocked at first, but the more I learned, my shock turned to disgust pretty quickly. My heart breaks for his victims both known and unknown.

    • emilya

      November 5, 2014 at 3:46 pm

      I love running into other Pajiba-ites on other blogs! The piece they did on this and why it matters was top notch and definitely worth the read.

  5. LaughingRat

    November 5, 2014 at 11:03 am

    We can’t all be on 100% of the time, things will go over our heads or just not register the way they should. In retrospect Ghomeshi is clearly an abuser trying to take control of a narrative before it gets out of his hands, and he’s trying to take advantage of the natural human tendency to want to believe what we’re told. Point is, now that the truth is coming out we’re all adapting our perceptions instead of buying into his victim blaming.

    • Jessifer

      November 5, 2014 at 11:13 am

      I read an interested article written by a legal expert discussing why Ghomeshi launched a lawsuit against the CBC despite the fact that as a unionized worker, he is not allowed to sue his employer (from what I understand, his union would have to sue them on his behalf). This lawsuit will likely be dismissed. BUT, what the lawsuit does is allow him to make several allegations against his victims with no repercussions, as people cannot sue for slander or defamation for anything said about them by a plaintiff (I’m not a lawyer but this is how I understood it). So this basically allows him to say whatever he wants about them without having having to prove that any of these allegations are true. He can sling as much mud as he wants. It’s disgusting.

  6. Jessifer

    November 5, 2014 at 11:05 am

    I had been waiting to see if someone at Mommyish would post something about this story and am so glad you finally did.
    Not only is it shocking that the CBC had known about these rumors for a long time, but that many, many people had known about Ghomeshi’s behaviour for YEARS, going all the way back to his time as president of the student federation at his university (an article came out just this morning about a man coming forward about being sexually assaulted by him as a student over 20 years ago). Furthermore, reports are now coming out that several universities also knew about this and had banned their students from doing internships at the Q due to their concerns. How could he have gotten away with this for so long? The sheer amount of victims involved in this, both identified and anonymous, is absolutely astounding.

    • Lilly

      November 5, 2014 at 11:53 am

      I think because it is such a small industry in Canada, it was just rumours and the CBC is too broke to lose their one super profitable show on something they couldn’t be certain of 100% they didn’t act. Same for the universities — it was out of their domain so the best they could do was to try to avoid being involved. I am not condoning their actions but we have seen this so many times before with closed environments/cultures that have a star abusing their position (Penn State comes to mind).

      For the women a large part was Jian’s power over them (since so many worked in the industry) or the fact that he kept it in a grey area — often not engaging in intercourse and stopping when the women said no. A lot of the victim descriptions indicate that even they questioned whether what had happened was illegal/prosecutable. It really is a depressingly good case study of sexual assault and violence against women.

  7. andrea

    November 5, 2014 at 11:11 am

    I hate how everyone jumps to make assumptions, either way. The truth is, no one will ever know except the two people in the scenarios that took place. BDSM can be a very slippery slope; those on top might cross boundaries if they get caught up in the moment, misinterpret their partner’s expectations, or are simply the type of person who doesn’t care (aka abusive). Those on bottom may not communicate their boundaries well, may go along perhaps afraid to say anything, then feel violated later (bottoms are submissive by nature after all). And when you throw in the celebrity element, you could have this dude abusing his “power” thinking his fame will protect him, and on the flip side, the woman (women??) might be using this as their 15 minutes of fame they want to cash in on. Sadly, in this world, you just never know anymore.

    • Jessifer

      November 5, 2014 at 11:17 am

      The problem in this case is that sadly, it’s not a case of he said/she said. It’s what’s he’s saying vs. what we now know are DOZENS of people are saying. The common pattern in all these allegations are that there was no consent to even engage in BDSM, or even a sexual encounter in the first place. He would invite these women on a date, the woman would show up, and he would punch them in the face without any warning. Then the next day, when these women got over their shock and confront him about it, he would act like nothing happened.

    • noodlestein's danger tits

      November 5, 2014 at 11:50 am

      I’m not sure how much background you have with BDSM, but that’s not really how it works at all. Because it involves things that can seriously harm the submissive partner, these types of things are EXPLICITLY discussed beforehand, negotiated for, and every scenario fleshed out to prevent exactly the type of thing you’re talking about. This isn’t a case of he said, she said. This isn’t a slippery slope. These women did not consent to any kind of BDSM, none of them (of which there are lots and lots), and the fact that he’s trying to use a subculture that people don’t understand very well as a cover for the fact that he’s an abuser makes me sick.

    • Katherine Handcock

      November 5, 2014 at 11:58 am

      I think the problem is that there is responsible BDSM, which is as you describe, and then there’s sort of a dabbler’s BDSM, which isn’t explicitly discussed ahead of time but generally doesn’t go into territory that’s as threatening. Someone dabbling with BDSM could absolutely cross a boundary without realizing it, or fail to communicate their boundaries properly; true BDSM practitioners won’t because they are responsible about the practice.

    • noodlestein's danger tits

      November 5, 2014 at 2:00 pm

      Really good point. With mainstream acceptance does come growing pains.

  8. NorthernGirl

    November 5, 2014 at 11:14 am

    I read a comment somewhere pointing out that when he posted something, the reflex was to believe him, but it took many women disclosing his abuse before people started to believe the victims. It seemed to be true from what I saw online. And it made me so freaking sad/angry/frustrated.

    I saw friends posting total support for him online (look at my pic with him, he was so nice!) and then adjusting their opinions as more info came out. I just wish that it didn’t need so many victims to change their minds. One victim is more than enough.

    • ChillMama

      November 5, 2014 at 12:44 pm

      To be fair, when it was early on it was difficult to know what was happening. I did not take his side, but I did not rush to judge either. I had no disrespect for the woman apparently making allegations (because at that time it seemed there was just one woman), but I also felt it was right to wait to condemn him until more came out. We do live in a society of innocent unless proven guilty, so I don’t see anything wrong with adjusting your opinion as you go along.

      Bottom line: I agree that one victim is more than enough. But I don’t think the number of victims is what convinced people his behaviour was bad. More that the number lets you know that yeah, it is overwhelmingly likely that this happened (especially if you had no prior opinion of him, or had not heard any rumours before).

  9. alexesq33

    November 5, 2014 at 11:33 am

    Why did I read all those articles. So fucking disturbing.

    • noodlestein's danger tits

      November 5, 2014 at 11:34 am

      Yes, I need some brain bleach, too, or to add them to the R. Kelly section of my brain that is locked down so I don’t have rage fits every day.

    • alexesq33

      November 5, 2014 at 12:34 pm

      An R. Kelly brain section is a great idea. Many squicky factoids I have read could be stored there. Except the Dave Chappelle skit of R. Kelly which is pure gold.

    • noodlestein's danger tits

      November 5, 2014 at 3:55 pm

      True. Dave Chapelle needs to skit out all horrible things so that we can laugh instead of eeeeewwwwww.

    • Katherine Handcock

      November 5, 2014 at 11:56 am

      Yeah, I was infuriated at the idea he had been fired under some sort of morality clause and then with every article I read after, I felt worse and worse. Brain bleach would definitely be appreciated.

  10. monamiemarie

    November 5, 2014 at 11:39 am

    The only reason, I didn’t also give his statment credence is because I had already heard the rumours and read the XO Jane piece. His statement was carefully crafted by a PR team to be believable and to touch a nerve with Canadians who are against discrimination based on sexuality.

    • Katherine Handcock

      November 5, 2014 at 11:55 am

      I wish I had seen the xoJane piece before I read his. It would have totally changed how I saw the whole situation.

    • ohladyjayne

      November 5, 2014 at 1:41 pm

      Totally. It was absolutely worded to appeal to the CBC demographic – considers themselves progressive, supportive of gay rights, etc. I’m assuming it was written by or at least in conjunction with that PR firm that has since dumped him.

    • Gruzinkerbell

      November 5, 2014 at 2:41 pm

      The most telling part about the whole situation for me is that the PR firm dumped him. Their tagline is ‘for when you can’t afford to lose’ and they’re notorious for helping a politician entirely rebrand himself after a road rage incident that resulted in him killing a cyclist but apparently Ghomehi was too much, even for them (and that’s not even starting on the allegations that he withheld information or flat out lied to them when he first hired their services).

  11. Maria Guido

    November 5, 2014 at 11:44 am

    I think you’re reaction changed once you started to learn more – and that happens a lot when these stories come out. There is not always a ton of info at first – but it quickly became clear that he is terrible and your essay is a very well-written commentary on how we digest this type of news.

  12. jendra_berri

    November 5, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    My favourite commentary to come out of this whole thing is from Ed The Sock.
    I never listened to Q and didn’t care much about Jian. I read his defence first, then waited to see what the actual allegations were. As more and more comes to light, I think I’m feeling pretty sure he’s guilty, but I don’t see him being brought to justice. The incidents are mostly old and didn’t leave any evidence like DNA.
    I think a lot of people were taken in by his well-crafted post. But like with all sensible people, opinions change and develop as more and more information comes to light. There’s nothing wrong with that.

    • Katherine Handcock

      November 5, 2014 at 12:24 pm

      The Ed The Sock response both made me cheer for its message and made me really, really miss when he used to do the New Year’s music video show…

    • Gruzinkerbell

      November 5, 2014 at 2:42 pm

      Ed’s Fromage was my favorite part of New Years, for as long as it was on the air.

    • Katherine Handcock

      November 5, 2014 at 3:46 pm

      Fromage, that’s what it was called! For the life of me I couldn’t remember. I miss Fromage…

  13. Rachel Sea

    November 5, 2014 at 12:54 pm

    This wankstain isn’t into BDSM, he’s into committing violent acts against women. BDSM isn’t my jam, but I’ve dabbled with partners who swung that way, and the reason I’m still friends with those partners is that they took my boundaries seriously. If they hadn’t it wouldn’t have been kinky, it would have been assault. Guys like this make sex more dangerous for everyone, as they try to redefine what it means to give consent, with access to a huge audience. I hope his fall is painful and permanent, so that the lesson, in the end, is that there are consequences to assaulting women, and not just further proof that with enough money, and fame, you can get away with anything.

    • GetItGoing

      November 5, 2014 at 3:32 pm

      allegedly assaulting women.

    • emilya

      November 5, 2014 at 3:39 pm

      nope.

    • GetItGoing

      November 5, 2014 at 3:48 pm

      Until someone is convicted rightfully of an accusation or there is sufficient evidence to support a claim, it is, indeed, alleged.

    • Emee

      November 6, 2014 at 8:33 am

      Actually I don’t think that alleged works here because she is saying that “there are consequences to assaulting women” – if we say that there are consequences to allegedly assaulting women, then that says our justice system is broken (which it arguably is, but that’s off point).

  14. ohladyjayne

    November 5, 2014 at 1:43 pm

    Thanks for covering this. It’s been the main topic of conversation in all my social circles this week and it’s just all been so troubling.

  15. GetItGoing

    November 5, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    I never realized that “painting herself as a victim” is how an abuser perceives…well, an actual victim of his actions.

    No, it is how someone perceives someone who is attempting to slander them publicly and victimhood, time and time again, has shown to draw great sympathy from others and destroy the lives of others without proper due process. Their are multiple examples where a woman has, in fact, portrayed herself as a victim purposely; plenty of examples come to mind.

    If there is validity to accusations being made, then their should be credible proof at some point. Let due process take its course. The behavior of a woman, however, “reaching out” to others in order to slander someone for an alleged offence is atrocious and definitely an indicator of someone with an agenda and personal issues.

    The mob mentality is what some count on from others in order to manipulate them by whipping them into a frenzy for similar purposes.

    • LeggEggTorpedoTits

      November 5, 2014 at 3:36 pm

      Reaching out to other potential victims is how we take violent offenders off the street.

      There, fixed it for you.

    • GetItGoing

      November 5, 2014 at 3:41 pm

      You haven’t “fixed” anything.

      If they were truly victims, there are steps they could have or still can take to deal with the alleged crime. There is something very off about someone ralllying to gather others, rather than going to authorities to deal with an alleged crime.

      If the law was based off of the emotional responses of women like on this page, their would be no such thing as an impartial due process for alleged victims or alleged perpetrators. All accused men would swing from the gallows, so to speak.

    • LeggEggTorpedoTits

      November 5, 2014 at 5:58 pm

      Your entire premise is based on the idea that one jilted girlfriend/sexual partner convinced an entire group of other likewise –what.. jilted? dissatisfied? —former partners to come up with elaborate stories to RUIN HIS ENTIRE LIFE because… dumped? This is where your theory falls flat: You seem to be laboring under the delusion that “women” are so shallow that they are willing put themselves in the public eye to be shamed by MRA dirtbags and scrutinized incessantly by authorities, the media and society at large — just to get back at a guy for dumping them.

      That is insane.

    • GetItGoing

      November 5, 2014 at 5:59 pm

      Have no idea what you’re talking about, not interested in arguing with women.

      Have a good week.

    • LeggEggTorpedoTits

      November 5, 2014 at 6:00 pm

      Exactly. Gotcha.

    • Jessifer

      November 5, 2014 at 3:46 pm

      Oh please! Here is the world’s smallest violin, playing just for poor, misunderstood little Jian!
      http://www.reactiongifs.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/tiniest_violin.gif

    • GetItGoing

      November 5, 2014 at 3:51 pm

      Your sarcasm is quite misguided.

    • LeggEggTorpedoTits

      November 5, 2014 at 4:44 pm

      It’s hard to take your point of view seriously when it is given defensively and without an ounce of objectivity or consideration for the alternative– that being that there are potentially more victims who deserve at least as much as you are oozing for the potential predator. It is a cathartic moment when you realize, as a victim, that you are not alone, and I will not apologize for finding repulsive to the point of laughable, your instant dismissal of victims in an unquestionable and inexplicable loyalty to this person…especially given the ever mounting evidence against him.

      Rest assured, Get It Going, that my humble opinion means little to nothing on this matter. You can settle yourself down and have a cup of tea.

    • GetItGoing

      November 5, 2014 at 4:54 pm

      without an ounce of objectivity or consideration for the alternative– that being that there arepotentially more victims who deserve at least as much as you are oozing for the potential predator.

      That statement is incorrect. I did consider that, actually (see additional comments below). I have yet to dismiss anything, nor pledged allegiance to either side.

      Impartiality, critical thinking, and attempting to hold out for the facts as best can be substantiated is a necessity to avoid be a part of the group mentality.

      Had this being a woman accused of some terrible crime, I would have said exactly the same thing.

      I realize logic isn’t as stimulating and adrenaline-inducing as a hot-button topic and the emotions that come with it, so I’m not surprised at the attempt to paint me as something I’m not. Oh well, women do as women will. Nothing new there.

    • Katherine Handcock

      November 5, 2014 at 3:55 pm

      Whatever side you’re on in the Ghomeshi situation — obviously your conclusion has been different from mine as more information comes to light — I think we all have to acknowledge that even a real abuser does not generally consider themselves to be abusive. They excuse their actions, both to themselves or others, and argue that the person accusing them is too sensitive, or provoked them, or that it was a misunderstanding.

      I also think you have to acknowledge that, from the opposite perspective — the one of those making allegations against him — Ghomeshi’s whole statement can also be considered painting himself a victim.

      I don’t have any problem if you want to say “Let due process take its course.” But that means we can’t swallow his single account hook, line, and sinker. That’s what I did initially, and in my opinion, that made me come to the wrong conclusion.

    • monamiemarie

      November 5, 2014 at 5:29 pm

      There have been rumours about his behavior for years. I know that doesn’t prove anything, but let’s not pretend this is just one jilted ex who convinced a lot of other women to lie. This isn’t something recent.

  16. LeggEggTorpedoTits

    November 5, 2014 at 3:33 pm

    Katherine, I don’t doubt your commitment to defending victims’ rights one bit. Your post is very thoughtful. It brings up a lot for us to reflect on, like why we feel like we need more than one victim to prove to us that some one is committing acts of violence. You’ve given me an opportunity to check myself and that is valuable.

    • Katherine Handcock

      November 5, 2014 at 3:58 pm

      Thanks. It was tough for me to really examine my reactions to this one, and it would have been a lot easier for me to pretend that I was immediately skeptical! I do feel like this has been an excellent lesson for a lot of people in taking time for consideration before coming to conclusions.

    • LeggEggTorpedoTits

      November 5, 2014 at 4:22 pm

      Well done, and much appreciated.

  17. Rowan

    November 6, 2014 at 4:36 am

    “Ghomeshi has turned BDSM, a legitimate practice when done with care and
    consideration for all parties involved, into cover for abuse”

    *cough*ELJames*cough*

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