Like most Canadian music lovers I’ve been a fan of Jian Ghomeshi’s for a long time and recognize his position and importance in our country’s culture. His interviews are always interesting and entertaining and I always assumed he was a stand up guy based on his radio personality. By now, you’ve probably heard about the accusations against him that cost him his job. I myself have been following these allegations for the last year or more.
I think it’s generally hard for a population to accept when a beloved cultural icon falls from grace and that has absolutely proven to be true in this case. It really feels like that’s all anyone is talking about ever since the news broke last week and there’s a clear divide between those who believe the allegations against Jian and those who don’t. I’ve seen and heard all types of commentary regarding this case but perhaps the most disturbing of all is the rampant amount of victim blaming and total denial of giving these women, at the very least, the benefit of the doubt. So far there isn’t much evidence that suggests that these women should not be believed. Except, of course, Mr. Ghomeshi’s word.
I myself would prefer not to disclose where I stand in all of this because just thinking about going into detail about it gives me a migraine and I could probably write you a bible. Nobody has time for that! But what I will say is that I am deeply bothered by the stance a lot of people seem to have on sexual abuse. It’s disappointing just how behind society seems to be on the topic of abuse and even more disappointing to me that it doesn’t stop these same people from voicing their half-educated opinions.
Let me spell it out for you: no matter what side of the debate you’re on, it’s absolutely never okay to suggest that a person deserves any type of abuse. No matter what, no matter who, abuse is abuse. There is no grey area when it comes to using your perceived or real power over somebody else to harm them. Abuse is intentional — although not always premeditated and sometimes not even recognized as abuse by the actual abuser, it is a choice. You have to think for at least a fraction of a moment that you have the right to act upon the ideas your brain comes up with before you actually ever see them through. So before you decide that it depends on the details, circumstances or identities of the people involved you need to take a seat and reevaluate why you think this way.
It doesn’t matter what someone’s sexual preferences are, whether or not substances were involved, whether or not they have a relationship with their abuser or didn’t know them until the incident. And when it comes to power trips or violence within the context of a sexual encounter (usually with the exception of some BDSM practices, which Jian has used as his defense but, again, my written opinion on this could go on forever) you can’t tell me that it’s justifiable. When someone is trusting you with their body, which is one of the times when a human being is most vulnerable, it’s completely deplorable to take advantage of them in ways they didn’t consent to. Their guard is down, it’s not fair game.
The bottom line is that where consent doesn’t exist, a sex crime does. If nine different and completely unrelated women are coming forward to cry foul about the same man I’d like to think that we as a society could at the very least listen before writing them off, considering how hard it is to not only have gone through it to begin with but also how notoriously difficult it is to have these allegations taken seriously at all. We should stop asking what a victim must have done to afford themselves such a fate and instead ask what kind of people we are collectively defending when we make those types of inquiries.
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