Innocent Until Proven Guilty- A Tale of Two Stories

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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?

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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.

My Concerns

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.

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2 responses »

  1. I get the notion of innocent until proven guilty, and agree without reservation that applies to someone facing a criminal charges, however Jian tried to change the discussion when he wrote the FB piece (likely at his PR Firm’s direction), to make it about sexual practices. The discussion should be about consent, because that what divides this between sexual practices and straight up abuse. At the very heart of this is just being asked to believe that three women would falsely claim no consent knowing the consequences of such a statement in today’s world. And it’s not that it is just easier to believe Jian would lie about it when clearly it’s in his interest to do so, it’s that it’s just the only logical conclusion. Even the Kink community is distancing itself from Jian, they want nothing to do with a wolf trying to hid among their flock dressed as a sheep. I think Jian laid out his defence to the CBC management “yes I hit woman, but they consented and wanted me too”, and the moment he said as much, he signed his fate. In their eyes he’s admitted their biggest fears, and it no longer matters whether he’s found guilty in a court of law of assault, a man who hits women can’t represent the public broadcasting company, and can’t be associated with their brand, period. Jian fired himself the moment he admitted as much directly to them, and they are perfectly within their rights to take the action they did. Make no mistake, I believe the women’s statement of account, for I can’t fathom the motive involved to fabricate such lies or the collusion to persecute an innocent man, but none of that matters, Jian hits (abuses) woman by his own omission and no courtroom is needed to prove that. He’s done and there is no coming back from that.

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  2. I agree that the line between BDSM and abuse is consent. But you seem to assume that Jian isn’t actually into BDSM and just wants to hit women and there is no evidence to support that claim.

    You said:
    “At the very heart of this is just being asked to believe that three women would falsely claim no consent knowing the consequences of such a statement in today’s world”

    Currently, what exactly are the consequences to these women? They are anonymous. They haven’t lost their jobs, or been embarrassed or had any consequences from coming forward- they are anonymous. Should they choose to disclose their identities then that statement would make sense.

    No one knows what Jian disclosed to the CBC other than himself and the CBC. As far as I know he has never actually pubically admitted to hitting/punching women. All he said was that he liked rough sex and that it was consensual. Would he have been fired had the CBC found out that he hit women during sex if they came forward to say that they HAD consented and enjoyed it? You want me to believe the women when they say there was no consent, but not believe the man when he says there was. Without proof it’s all subjective based on your own predisposition to the situation.

    You said:
    “Make no mistake, I believe the women’s statement of account, for I can’t fathom the motive involved to fabricate such lies or the collusion to persecute an innocent man”

    They very well might be true, but the defense that you can’t think of a reason to make it up is hardly a good reason to believe them. Off the top of my head I can think of 3, and even more for the women who started it. There have been many famous trials where this has happened and I personally know someone who was on the jury for a case where the woman cried rape and then later said she made it up to get out of some other issue she was having. I guess I’m glad that you have such a positive view on the world, but the truth is some people are vindictive and nasty and there are many reasons to fabricate stories, especially while anonymous. Think of all the people who have been sentenced to the death penalty only to be exonerated with DNA years later. Someone, probably many people, were lying in each of those trials and someone lost their life! People do horrible things sometimes.

    I’m not saying the women are lying, but I’m not going to blindly defend them purely because they are women. If they can show proof and actually charge Jian then that would be wonderful. But picking sides without proof is not how our society works and there has been no proof presented that these claims are true or there would have been police involvement already.

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