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***Let me preface this post with a handy disclaimer for clarification – When women say that have been abused – I believe them.***

**Update – Lucy DeCoutere speaks of her abusive experience with Jian Ghomeshi on CBC radio’s show The Current – Catch the podcast here.**

 

CBCradioOkay this story broke over the weekend and the major print media involved so far has been the Toronto Star.  In the TS’s words here is what happened

“CBC star Jian Ghomeshi has been fired over “information” the public broadcaster recently received that it says “precludes” it from continuing to employ the 47-year-old host of the popular Q radio show.  Shortly after CBC announced Ghomeshi was out the door on Sunday, Ghomeshi released news that he was launching a $50-million lawsuit claiming “breach of confidence and bad faith” by his employer of almost 14 years. He later followed that up with a Facebook posting saying he has been the target of “harassment, vengeance and demonization.”

Hmm.  Well I think the CBC’s information – having a host that is violent toward women – is probably a good reason for canning the dude.

“Ghomeshi’s statement said that he has been open with the CBC about the allegations. He said the CBC’s decision to fire him came after he voluntarily showed evidence late last week that everything he has done was consensual. Ghomeshi blames a woman he describes as an ex-girlfriend for spreading lies about him and orchestrating a campaign with other women to “smear” him.

The three women interviewed by the Star allege that Ghomeshi physically attacked them on dates without consent. They allege he struck them with a closed fist or open hand; bit them; choked them until they almost passed out; covered their nose and mouth so that they had difficulty breathing; and that they were verbally abused during and after sex.

A fourth woman, who worked at CBC, said Ghomeshi told her at work: “I want to hate f— you.”

Fascinating.  It would seem that Ghomeshi has the standard defense of blaming and making women responsible for his shitty behaviour down pat.  Might another dodge in the dude’s handbook be that what he does in private (beating women) should have no effect on his job?

“Let me be the first to say that my tastes in the bedroom may not be palatable to some folks. They may be strange, enticing, weird, normal, or outright offensive to others. … But that is my private life. … And no one, and certainly no employer, should have dominion over what people do consensually in their private life.”

Ah, but Jian the three women in question all say that you physically attacked them explicitly without their consent – and that boyo – means your private life, your private kinks – are fucking irrelevant to the issue at hand, because attacking people is against the law.

“Early last summer, the Star began looking into allegations by young women of sexual abuse by Ghomeshi over the past two years. The Star conducted detailed interviews with the women, talking to each woman several times. None of the women filed police complaints and none agreed to go on the record. The reasons given for not coming forward publicly include the fear that they would be sued or would be the object of Internet retaliation. (A woman who wrote an account of an encounter with a Canadian radio host believed to be Ghomeshi was subjected to vicious Internet attacks by online readers who said they were supporters of the host.)”

Don't be that guyGo read that paragraph again. You will not find a more clearly defined example of what rape culture is and how it affects women and their choices.

Why didn’t these women just go to the police?  Because often filing a police report and going through the process ends up as nothing more as a re-victimization of an already traumatized individual and no legal censure for the abuser in question.  Plus, now with the shiny new information age, women are targeted for harassment, rape and death threats over social media and email (just take a peek at the abuse women get for daring to speak their mind).   Coming forward just isn’t that easy or cut and dried as people would like to portray.

From the New York Times:

“They [the women Ghomeshi abused]  explain further:

“Each of the women accusing Ghomeshi cite the case of Carla Ciccone as a reason they desire anonymity. Last year Ciccone wrote an article for the website XOJane about a ‘bad date’ with an unidentified, very popular Canadian radio host whom readers speculated to be Ghomeshi.

“In the days that followed, Ciccone received hundreds of abusive messages and threats. An online video calling her a ‘scumbag of the Internet’ has been viewed over 397,000 times.”

In her 2013 XOJane piece, Ms. Ciccone writes that a man she calls Keith, who “has a successful radio show in Canada,” repeatedly tried to touch her when they went to a concert together, even after she asked him to stop.

Those who speak up about sexual harassment or violence have long been subject to public scrutiny and criticism. But an onslaught of online abuse and threats has become a strikingly common response to women’s public statements — see for instance the threats Anita Sarkeesian and others have received when they speak publicly about misogyny in video games.

Brianna Wu, a game developer, details her harassment in an essay at XOJane, describing death and rape threats as well as threats to her career:

“They tried to hack my company financially on Saturday, taking out our company’s assets. They’ve tried to impersonate me on Twitter in an effort to discredit me. They are making burner accounts to send lies about my private life to prominent journalists. They’ve devastated the metacritic users’ score of my game, Revolution 60, lowering it to 0.3 out of 100.”

Yah, soooo..before we get any spirited arguments about “Why didn’t they just go to the police? – the above quote is your answer.  Do you want to face the possibility of ruining your life given the very real chance that your trauma won’t be taken seriously by the authorities?   Can you see how large the disincentive is for women to “go public”.  Again, say hi to what it like to live in a rape culture.

   Heather Malik writing in the Toronto Star elaborates this key point about how rape culture effects women and the reporting of sexual abuse:

“When it comes to redress for suffering a sexual attack, Canadian women might as well be in Saudi Arabia. We whisper among friends and quietly trade stories, or we shut up for our entire careers.

The barriers start with institutional sexism and pile on with the almost impossible burden of proof for acts committed in private, the adulation offered to well-paid and well-connected men, the insulation of a large staff on Ghomeshi’s radio show Q, his hiring of a PR company and a team of libel lawyers, the fact that he claims he is a union member now filing a grievance against the CBC, an army of carefully catered-to fans online, the continuing shock of being physically assaulted, and then one of the worst things of all, the terror of being placed in the online bearpit.”

The stigma for women surrounding sexual assault and battery needs to be removed.  The choice between ruining your life for a slim chance at justice or shutting up about your sexual assault is really no choice at all for women, as this story so vividly illustrates.   Women need protection and support from the legal system and society.  Woman should be able to exercise their human and legal rights without fear of retribution from the misogynistic elements of society that would see their lives ruined for the mere act of speaking the truth about their experiences.

As a long time CBC radio listener, I sincerely hope that Mr.Ghomeshi is not rehired.  Canada is a progressive country and the abusive, anti-woman vibe that surrounds Mr.Ghomeshi has no place on our national radio network.

 

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