A few months ago a friend of mine was shocked to find out that I don’t consider myself a feminist. This is not because I do not think women are equal to men, but because I think the word has taken on a meaning that I do not agree with. I value and appreciate the efforts of women who have stood up for our rights in the past and gotten us to the place we are today. I also very much support these movements in countries and areas that are not yet as fortunate in this regard. But, like anything inherently positive, it can go too far. Our system isn’t perfect, but if there is one thing in this world I can’t stand it’s playing the victim.
Perhaps that’s why my gut reaction to the recent Jian Ghomeshi scandal was to side with him. I realize that there are people out there who will think that I’m a monster for not 100% supporting the women who claim they were abused, but what happened to innocent until proven guilty?
Since the story broke on Sunday speculations have been swirling about Jian Ghomeshi. Ghomeshi is a well known celebrity radio host and member of the band Moxy Früvous. Up until last week he worked at the CBC on one of their most popular radio shows, Q.
The Facts as they stand right now
The CBC fired Ghomeshi on Sunday saying:
information came to our attention recently that in the CBC’s judgment precludes us from continuing our relationship with Jian Ghomeshi
Jian Ghomeshi got out ahead of the story posting a long statement on Facebook, explaining his side of the story and disclosing his penchant for BDSM and kinky sexual encounters.
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…We saw each other on and off over the period of a year and began engaging in adventurous forms of sex that included role-play, dominance and submission. We discussed our interests at length before engaging in rough sex (forms of BDSM). We talked about using safe words and regularly checked in with each other about our comfort levels.
Ghomeshi goes on to say that after he ended the relationship she began contacting other women via Facebook, looking for someone who was “abused like her” and found three.
The Star published an article shortly after Ghomeshi’s statement went live, disclosing the information they had received from the women. Despite having and investigating the allegations for months, The Star did not run the story until then.
The reason The Star did not publish a story at that time was because there was no proof the women’s allegations of non-consensual abusive sex were true or false. They were so explosive that to print them would have been irresponsible, and would have fallen far short of the Star’s standards of accuracy and fairness.
Is Jian Ghomeshi a bad date/boyfriend? Probabbly. Is he an asshole? Quite likely. But does that mean he abused these women? Absolutely not. I’ve read article after article talking about how we should assume the women are telling the truth and defending all their choices from not reporting the abuse, to rifling though Ghomeshi’s phone without permission. I’m not saying that he didn’t abuse these women, but why is everyone saying he did? If the Star didn’t have enough evidence to come forward with the story, why does everyone else think they do? These women refuse to be identified. They did not file reports. I realize that there are reasons why women do not report abuse, but anonymously smearing him in the media with no chance of any charges being laid seems petty and vindictive to me.
I have some expereince in the BDSM world and if I were a dominant man who enjoyed rough sex I would be terrified of it being used against me. How many times has a women threatened to scream rape during an argument in public if the guy didn’t submit to their will? We’ve found ourselves in a place where the woman hold ALL the power and that’s not fair. In fact, I came across an article in The Star that says:
The law is quite clear that even in a sexual context, you cannot consent to bodily harm…Legally speaking… assault is only consensual in some professional sports. Consensual barroom brawls, she adds, are treated… much like rough sex under the law.
This angers me in ways I can’t properly describe in print. BDSM is just as valid as any other sexual practice and those who participate in aggressive sex that is 100% consensual, should not fear repercussions through the law.
It seems like the social media consensus right now is that the women are telling the truth despite being anonymous and having no actual proof, but Ghomeshi is lying despite being open about it and having no actual proof. When we turn into a society that throws stones before almost any facts are known purely due to the sex of the alleged victim, we are on a slippery slope. I for one, choose not to discriminate in either direction based on sex and that is why I will assume Jian Ghomeshi is innocent until proven guilty.