A very interesting commentary on Jian Ghomeshi from a couple of weeks ago.
…graphic videos were presented to CBC executives — by Ghomeshi! — as a pre-emptive gambit, to save his job, an attempt to convince the stunned suits assembled that the women were willing participants and, look, bruising could occur even when the activity was consensual.
The women who’ve spoken out insist they never consented to this treatment.
Within a legal framework, consent is crucial. In practice, however, it turns into a judicial ledge from which an accused can jump into the “she-was-willing” safety net below. The standard of proof is simply too high, as victims have learned to their traumatizing dismay.
With plain assault, that doesn’t work – people don’t consent to being beaten up (apart from the occasional genuine masochist). People don’t consent to having their noses broken and their teeth knocked out. But people do consent to sex, so saying “she wanted it!” does work in rape cases. This is why lack of prosecution or conviction doesn’t necessarily mean lack of guilt. This is why sometimes warnings are all anyone has. “Watch your back with that guy; keep an eye on your drink; don’t let him get you alone.”
In the midst of the Ghomeshi whirlwind, Chief Bill Blair said no investigation had been launched because no complainants had gone to police. Now they have. As of this writing, no charges had been laid against Ghomeshi.
Blair encouraged any woman who has endured a sexual assault to come forward. Crowns who prosecute sexual assault endlessly make the same plea.
Many women won’t go there. Their wariness is understandable.
Every historical fallacy, every outrageous stereotype, every cultural misconception is heaped upon the complainant. Sexual assault victims are de facto disbelieved. Women are characterized as crazed and vindictive.
Does that sound familiar? Very, very familiar? It does to me.
Blanche Quizno says
Well, *I*’m certainly crazed and vindictive, but I certainly wouldn’t generalize about anyone else from that!
Jenora Feuer says
I hadn’t seen that article either, despite living in this town. Definitely familiar with the columnist in question, though, and generally in a good way.
The thing that caught my eye was right at the end:
I hadn’t heard that show either (Q normally is on the air while I’m at work), but yeah, the phrasing of that question sent up big red warning flags right there. Especially considering the number of rape chants and the like that had come up at University frosh week the previous year…
Hmm, she says the show was from last March, that was presumably just after Anne-Marie Roy went public. You wrote on that at http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2014/03/we-meant-you-no-harm/
So re-read that article and realize that not long after Anne-Marie Roy’s public comments about rape culture at uOttawa, and the threats she received, Jian Ghomeshi had a show where he asked if rape culture was an alarmist term.
Oh, yeah, red flags all right.
And while CBC corporate has been closed-mouth and ducking and weaving as much as possible, some of the individual shows have been less circumspect. Matt Galloway here in Toronto has had some interesting interviews and discussions with people regarding the whole ‘cult of personality’ and ‘culture of silence’ aspects of this, and all the back-hall chatter about who to avoid getting an internship with. Yeah, it’s been pretty obvious that more people had some idea of what was going on than we like to think, nobody really wanted to be the first one to stick his head out, and as a result, nobody really had more than pieces of the puzzle.
That Ghomeshi had a track record of consensual activity that was so similar to his crimes ought to be even more damning.
That he could use his prominence to put uninterested parties in his grasp, would seem to show a level of callous indifference toward ALL women. That SOME people might want, or accept, whatever he was ‘into’ has no logical connection to his inflicting his wants on others.
I’ll bet Ghomeshi took those videos just to have this sort of leverage.
The police engage in a whole host of behaviors that basically drive victims away. That culture concerns me greatly. People with an attraction to jobs where they will be able to act dominant and aggressive, and just happen to make it easier for people who use dominance and aggression to be sexual predators. This is not an accident. If it’s not identical predators within these authorities trying to preserve the status quo, it’s their ignorant friends and colleagues or just something about the psychology of aggressive humans. Probably all of them.
Sounds positively religious (catholics and more), and athletic (penn state, sports fans and abuse), and lots of other places where social aggression and dominance intersect with lack of accountability and consequences (like parts of the atheist community).
There’s also the little matter of whether the women in those videos actually, you know, consented to have the videos shared with his bosses. Because I really rather doubt they did.