Tag Archives: Ghomeshi

Busted! At bail hearing. CTV photo.

BUSTED! Jian & His Big Penal Adventure

Woke up this morning to the news that Jian Ghomeshi has been arrested. It’s like rainbows exploded in my head. So this is Schadenfreude, eh?

I’m not someone given to delighting in the misery of others (aka Schadenfreude), but this time I’m not fighting it.

There are still some early defenders of this ass who’ve not publicly reversed their opinion on social media, and that’s sad, but hopefully they’re starting to realize that, yes, when you have a number of women coming forward, there’s probably a lot of substance behind those charges, and to not give them any credence is just another form of attack against them.

Those courageous women had NOTHING to gain from coming forward. They stood to have their lives dismantled. Lucy Decoutere could never have guessed that, instead of being hounded and harassed, Twitter would explode and “#IBelieveLucy” would be the first of several hashtags empowering all women to talk more about this oft-dismissed topic of sexual assault and violence against women. But thankfully, that’s exactly what happened.

Today, Ghomeshi’s on $100,000 bail, has dropped his $55 million suit against the CBC, owes them $18K in legal fees, is the topic of social media for deleting all his public accounts, and even has to go live with his mommy until completion of the trial, the duration of which will be spent without a passport in his possession.

Cops don’t proceed much on sex cases like this unless there really is something solid somewhere, which is often so hard to obtain given the nature of the crime.

With any luck, these charges being laid will give faith to others who’ve been hedging their bets. Maybe still more women will come forward.

The guy looks like a mess — sleepless and lost. The photo above is from his brief appearance in public today, which I think is his first since all of this news broke a month ago. Life’s hard on a narcissist like him, when they think everyone hates them.

Hate him I do, but I’m proud of the victims, thrilled with the cops, deeply sorry for Ghomeshi’s mother, and still curious how the CBC side of things proceeds, since I think they’re not taking responsibility for his almost legendary misogyny.

I hope every woman who’s ever had a bad encounter with this man, or any man, is enjoying watching his downfall. There are so few victories in the fight against misogyny and sexual violence against women that I think a little Schadenfreude today has been a long time coming.

Now we can allow the courts to do their thing, but here’s hoping the journalists keep digging too. One small victory for women, but it’s a good ‘un.

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Canada’s Shifting Perspective on Sexual Assault

Note: I have become painfully aware of language for sexual assault survivors this week. There are some who loathe the word “victim” and insist they are survivors. I would like to agree with them, but for clarity and legal purposes, I’m using the word “victim” where it is most apt, and I apologize to those who take offense. I can’t sanitize everything for you, and I hope you understand why.

And So It Begins

As I write, a third accuser is on the record with the Ontario police investigation into Jian Ghomeshi. They are requesting anyone with any knowledge, social media engagement, or evidence of Ghomeshi’s attacks and behaviour to come forward. (Call 416-808-7474 if you know anything.)

Ever since the first came forward last night, Lucy and another woman staying nameless in the media, I’ve been jumping for joy. I’m so proud of these ladies for starting what I think will prove to be a massive case, the extent of which, and the scale, has never before been seen in Canada.

When the Going Gets Weird…

It’s been a weird week in my world. As a result of unwittingly going viral, I’ve been a lightning rod for so many conversations and contacts. I’ve been inundated with stories and private emails thanking me for changing the conversation from Poor Jian to “But he beats women.”

Despite their wonderful notes and letters, and the since-changing conversation, I still found myself butting heads with many misogynists, apologists, and staunch defenders who insist that a sex crime without charges is most certainly not a sex crime. (But I’ve also felt celebrated and supported by men who steadfastly believe his accusers.)

And then there are still the idiots who insist this whole thing is about BDSM, even though they have never participated in BDSM, don’t know anyone living in the lifestyle, and think that because they read an excerpt of 50 Shades of Grey, they’re knowledgeable enough to declare Ghomeshi got a raw deal from chicks enamored with his mega-watt star who later decided they didn’t like how they were treated.

Now, I don’t understand how to get through to people I feel are being flat-out ignorant about this. I don’t grasp where their morals come from, how they could possibly expect people to empathize with them in their times of trial in years to come. But worse, I find myself imagining just what kind of person they really are if they’re behaving this way online.

96% of Sex Crime Perpetrators Walk Free

I’ve ended years-old friendships this week, blocked people close and far, and I’d do it all again. On the flipside, it’s been thrilling to see some people about-face on their positions when they finally realized everything they were saying was effectively another assault on women who might very well be telling the truth.

After all, of 100 sexual assaults or rapes, only 3.3-4% end in convictions. On the 40% chance she reports it to authorities, there’s a 10% her case results in charges, for which her entire life will be investigated, on the 8% chance she can be ravaged by the defense, judged by others, made to feel like she “wanted it,” all while possibly damage her career, and for what? Nothing. Just to have a too-painful reminder that ultimately sexual assaults are the hardest crime to prove.

Before you start attacking those statistics, you might want to take your arguments up with the FBI, the National Policy Center, and the Department of Justice, since the numbers are theirs.

False Accusations Do Happen

One conversation I kept seeing was that of false accusers. “But what about all the guys falsely accused?”

So many people I know say that they know all these guys that have been falsely accused. But the statistics behind false reporting say that it tends to be about 10% of all rapes reported.

That percentage doesn’t jive with how many people I have had telling me their friends were falsely accused. I question if they know their friends as well as they think.

Let me be clear: I am absolutely certain false accusations exist and do not argue it is 10% of those accused. I am certain some of these false claims become a very serious problem for a wrongly-accused man. I will not argue that. I do not condone this behaviour, I think a false accusation is one of the most despicable acts a person could make, and I would never, ever think it was a justified means of resolving a dispute or exacting revenge.

That said, let’s talk about false accusations and the seemingly large number of men who claim they’ve faced them. But first I’ll tell you a story.

There Be Monsters

When I lived in the Yukon, from ‘94-95, a young man named James Ward lived in my townhouse complex. He killed his girlfriend, stuffed her corpse in his waterbed, refilled it, and literally slept on it.

I won’t get into the case because it’s nearly impossible to find evidence online anymore (aside from comments here), given it’s from 20 years ago, before the internet took hold up North, but it served as a huge lesson for me at the age of 21: We really don’t know anyone.

People don’t tend to consider the implications of how much we don’t know about those around us. For me, this was a darkly cynical message to learn early, but many learn it the hard way. There are bad people, and they come in all kinds. Some are in our homes, where we work, and in our neighbourhoods.

The problem most people on the internet seem to have is, they haven’t had a come-to-Jesus moment like mine, where their eyes have opened to the darkness that can loom inside of some people.

Just because someone’s smart and funny to hang out with doesn’t mean they don’t have another side. Just because they’re your friend doesn’t mean you know what they’re like after they’ve snorted cocaine and it’s 2am on a date with a girl they don’t care about, but really want to have sex with.

Consent Can’t Be a Debate. Ever.

All sexual assaults don’t end in bruises and violence. No means no, and if it’s intimidation or force or brutality that takes it to the next level, it’s sexual assault.

Consent cannot be muddy or unclear. It’s time we have this discussion over, and over, and over again, because my social media accounts tell me there are a lot of guys who still aren’t getting this. Girls too. Consent is a changing landscape, minute by minute. When the mood shifts and one of the two says “No,” then it needs to be over.

The law needs to state this with razor-sharp clarity. It is not impossible to stop a sex act once it has begun, if someone changes their mind and says no. We need to stop acting like consent is gold once given.

If the BDSM community and their sacred “safeword” rules can mean playtime is over despite hours of planning and preparing, then why can’t the vanilla sex world figure out the same?

The hashtag #BeenRapedNeverReported went viral this week and it’s one of the most powerful moments to emerge from this. I’m sure more than a few men were stunned by how many women they know say they’ve been raped, and recoiled at the stories their friends and family were telling. (And kudos to the men who had the courage to tell their own stories about being raped, using this hashtag. Wow. Brave.)

We Can’t Solve What Isn’t Investigated

I’m pretty sure a majority of my male friends are good men, safe men, and kind men. Some I’d trust my life with. I believe they respect women to their core. These men of mine have been on the side of the accusers since Monday, or shortly thereafter. They’ve blocked misogynist friends of theirs. They’ve been incredible advocates for the accusers.

And yet rape culture is a reality. At least one in four women will suffer rape or sexual assault, and usually at the hands of a man she knows.

Only 4% of them will ever hear the word “Guilty.”

Our society still doesn’t value rape as a crime. Rape kits languish untested, in the thousands. It costs $1,500 to process a rape kit. That’s how little we value the safety of our women.

In the United States alone, just 10 years ago more than 221,000 rapekits remained untested, and the assailants remained on the streets. Five years ago in Detroit, some 11,300 kits were found never processed.

As the Economist wrote in July of this year, “Tens of thousands of untested kits have been discovered in police warehouses in America, including as many as 20,000 in Texas, 4,000 in Illinois and more than 12,000 in Memphis, where three survivors are now suing the city for mishandling evidence. In addition, crime labs are estimated to have a backlog of 100,000 rape kits. Such delays betray victims. Most rapists are never caught.”

And how many of those assailants are guilty for multiple attacks? I don’t even want to guess. How many could have been arrested with a simple kit processing? My stomach turns at the thought. Jezebel looked at one example.

Despite all these kits never being processed, accusers are scorned as having an ax to grind or an ulterior goal they’re after. The accused generally get defended by coworkers and everyone else as a “nice, charming guy.”

But men who successfully prey on women can be good-looking, nice, and charming too. Look at serial killer Ted Bundy.

The Takeaway

This week, the country has learned what I learned two decades ago. We don’t know anyone, and terrible things happen even at the hands of people we see or hear daily.

Most people, when confronted with an accuser and an accused, will simply side with whomever their friend is. This is a big problem, and reached epidemic proportions here in Canada just last Sunday.

If there’s anything that we can learn this week, I hope it’s that we never, ever take anyone at their word without listening to both sides.

Maybe I appeared to do this with my now-infamous post on Monday, but I’ve been educated in both PR and journalism, and Ghomeshi’s take just didn’t add up under scrutiny. I never questioned my reaction when Jian Ghomeshi turned much of a nation against his accusers with his moving lie-filled missive. After all, lying can be persuasive, and he’s certainly considered a master manipulator.

For a couple days there, there may have been dozens, if not more, women across the country who felt like they’d just been kicked and beaten all over again, as legions of fans rushed to Ghomeshi’s side, swearing support and railing against these “petty, greedy women” they believed were launching smear campaigns against a beloved host.

Those women didn’t deserve that treatment at the hands of Ghomeshi, and they certainly didn’t deserve the fan-based attacks that followed after his exposure.

In the end, the tide turned. A nation began to say “I believe Lucy,” and an outpouring of support for those brave enough to tell tales followed and swelled.

Today we sit with bated breath as authorities investigate this. Ghomeshi is at large and authorities don’t know where he is. As yet, a search has not begun, charges have not been laid, and only three victims have come forward.

As I’ve been saying all along, the rumours of his behaviour go back years. Even celebrities like Jann Arden have said they’ve known of this behaviour for “years.” How it took so long for truth to out, we’ll never really understand.

For his accusers, though, what matters is that a man they see as a monster has finally been stopped. His stories are exposed, his behaviours are known, and his predilections are notorious the world over. Today, there’s one less serial monster in action, and if we’re lucky, we’ll see legal proceedings ensure the only rough sex he ever has again is of the prison variety.

My Latest on Ghomeshi

I’ve written another entry in this scandal, but it’s running over at the Vancouver Observer. 

It starts off…

We have the stupidest trend in word history going on, one that makes me want to jam a fork in my eye and twist every time someone starts it up again.

It’s this fad of using “-gate” as a suffix in order to denote scandal. Such as “Ghomeshi-gate.”

You know the origin of this, right? 1974’s Watergate?

The short version: basically burglary, doxxing, and invasion of privacy, plus a little cover-up on, oh, you know, a scale never before seen. Oh, Nixon, you dirty dog.

Phew, that’s some pretty impressive stuff. But you know what didn’t happen there? Women weren’t reported to have been shoved up against a wall, choked, thrown, beaten upside the head, or basically abused in every other way, including verbally.

To continue reading, please check me out at the Observer. Thanks!

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Jian Versus the CBC

Written less than 24 hours after Ghomeshi’s infamous Facebook tirade in which he claimed he was a victim of CBC and fired for no cause, this post wound up getting over 200,000 visits & helped change the discourse in Canada. Today Ghomeshi’s case is waiting to be tried and it’s hard to believe I ever felt the urge to write this.

It’s strange when a shooting can bring my country together and then, just four days later, a radio guy accused of serial aggravated abuse can rip us apart. Weird week, bro.

Last night, I had to brace myself so I didn’t explode in anger and unfriend everyone I felt was jumping to defend a guy who’s doing Scandal Management 101 to the tee.

The problem when you jump to defend the accused is it ends up making the accuser or victims feel like they’ve just been assaulted all over again. That’s easier to stomach when you can say “But HEY, they’re not coming forward, so they can’t be serious.” No, it’s you who can’t be serious. You can’t hear the accused’s spin-cycle and then make your decision then and there — but so many of you already have.

I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s look at this from all the angles.

The Background & a BDSM Primer

Jian Ghomeshi jumped into action Sunday the moment CBC fired him. It was within a couple hours that he had stated there’d be a $50 million suit to defend his good name, and then he posted a long “My dad is dead, my show was wrenched from my hands, and I’ve been a good soldier for the CBC” kinda sob story that masterfully framed the conversation.

(A “good soldier” the week one of our own is gunned down in cold blood? Motherfucker. Don’t even — And 100,000 likes in under 24 hours? I weep for objectivity.)

But here are the allegations he was jumping in front of, according to The Toronto Star:

“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.”

Ghomeshi, though, wants you to think this is all about BDSM and how he’s forward-thinking but his bosses aren’t. He “framed” the discussion by claiming he has edgy sex preferences, and the big, boring government broadcaster isn’t hip to alternative sex lives.

Anyone involved in BDSM knows BDSM is not how the public perceives it. People joke about “safe words,” but in the BDSM community, the safe word is sacred. There is a widespread understanding amongst even hardcore BDSM fans that sadomasochism is all about trust and power — except that power is never held by the person with the whip in hand.

In the BDSM world, it’s the person being hit, choked, bound, or whatever else they fancy, that holds 100% of the control. It’s understood that if that safe word is even whispered, fun time is over. Period. No discussion, no whining, no pleading. Over.

Why is it so strict? Because folks in this lifestyle understand that these beatings, the choking, it can all go horribly awry and death is an accident away. That’s why you actually very rarely ever hear of deaths stemming from BDSM practice — there are rules and ethics in play. Always.

You Spin Me Right Round

Ghomeshi and co. (since his Facebook letter was almost certainly orchestrated by the country’s leading “reputation recovery” and “crisis management” PR firm, Navigator Ltd.), decided to frame this whole thing as an invasion of the bedroom and mutual consent.

After all, this is Canada, where “What Happens in Bedrooms Stays in Bedrooms.” This has been thus since 1969, the year itself a cute little joke. That’s when Trudeau declared the government had no business in the bedroom of consenting Canadians. As a result, gay rights took hold here long before they did in most countries, and we’re more sexually relaxed than our southern neighbours will ever be. We can consider ourselves a leader in the bedroom, and that’s awesome.

For that reason, Canadians take bedroom privacy very seriously, and rightly so. I’m a huge fan of sexual freedoms and the right to practice, and love, as you like — as long as it’s with consent and including folks over the age of 18.

So whether it’s Ghomeshi or the victim, this all comes back to consent. And consent is what the alleged victims in this case insist they either did not give, or they rescinded.

That takes us back to the point of BDSM and how Ghomeshi has framed all this.

Consent Can Be Rescinded

If you read the Star’s take on these events, it seems like Ghomeshi is trying to set groundwork for a legal defense, should this escalate to court. The defense he seems to be aiming for will likely include submitting evidence via texts, etc, that he told the women ahead of time he liked it rough. They might have even talked about blindfolding, spanking, and all kinds of other behaviour some say is “alternative” in tastes.

So even the would-be defense, then, would have you believe this amounts to consent.

But that’s the amateur’s take on the BDSM world and everyone should understand that expressing a mutual interest in sex before a date doesn’t mean it’s carte blanche for hours, days, or weeks later. Their exchanges should not be considered evidence of what might’ve happened much, much later.

The nature of the safe word is that it means EVERYTHING STOPS the moment it is said. It doesn’t matter if you’ve paid a million dollars to do what you planned to do next, the safe word is like a giant “void” stamp that makes the entire sexual roadmap null and void.

And anyone who truly embraces the BDSM community gets this. Do you know who doesn’t get this? People who want to use the alternative lifestyle to camouflage their desire to beat, rape, and commit other crimes against unwilling parties.

Because, sometimes, not having consent is its own fetish for those for whom sex is a pathological need.

A Denial Is Always True — WHAT?

Let’s drop the BDSM and alternative lifestyle arguments and get down to the rest of it.

So many folks were babbling on with this argument last night: “But if he really did it, there’s NO WAY he would write such a long thing saying that he didn’t do it!”

Yeah, and Clinton would never have said “I did not have sexual relations with that woman” if he’d slept with Lewinsky. And Richard Nixon would never have said “I am not a crook” if he were guilty.

Are you serious with this? Really? Someone who’s committed a crime would be suddenly so scared of being caught that they wouldn’t tell a lie? I’d like to know what it is you’re smoking, because I want some too, if you please. Sounds fun to live in that land of rainbows and kittens.

If they have committed the crime, then they are absolutely inclined to lie about it. That’s Criminal Behaviour 101 and it makes Ghomeshi’s entire Facebook session a moot story.

But His Voice Is Like Chocolate And I Love Him

Of course, let’s not forget the fans. The people who think Ghomeshi is charming and spins a good yarn. But of course a storyteller couldn’t possibly be a serial abuser. That would never happen.

Just like such a lovely, quirky old guy like Jimmy Savile, the darling of the BBC, a knight of the British Empire, and a popular TV host for DECADES could never be guilty of sexual abuse either. His defenders said he was such a visible persona for so long there was no way he could hide his deviance.

In fact, Savile was so insulated inside the BBC that rumours swirled for decades and allegations of a cover-up even today are so far-reaching it’ll make your head spin. There are at present well over 200 witnesses in the Savile case and yet it was kept quiet for DECADES.

There’s a sticky wicket for those in charge: Do you stand by your star that has made an empire inside your broadcasting corporation, or do you distance yourself?

Before Ghomeshi, BBC was alone in this corporate-star-scandal experience. Perhaps they felt if they cut Savile off, they’d open themselves up to litigation from claimants. Who knows. But now he’s dead and the victims are emboldened by the day, and the ripples are still spreading.

CBC’s left looking across the pond at the Motherland and realizing this case could have cash and legal implications for the BBC for years. Do they want to stick their neck out and defend a guy who, by all appearances, has had a pretty solid case shaping up under the deft hands of one of Canada’s premiere investigative reporters?

CBC’s Walk-Walk-Walkin’ Right Out That Door

As a taxpayer, I think CBC has done the only thing it can do. It’s walked away, likely on strong advice from lawyers who have probably seen the evidence brought forward by acclaimed media/investigative journalist Jesse Brown.

So now the general public’s argument is, “Well, if the Star doesn’t have proof, they should shut up.”

Well, not having hard proof didn’t stop the Star from doing one hell of an investigative case on Mayor Rob Ford and his crack addiction. They went after him like a dog on a bone, and everything they wrote proved so true that the OPP were involved, and still are.

The Toronto Star has a long history of investigative reporting. They do it very, very, very well. In 2012, their massive local investigation led to widespread sackings and reform in the Toronto School Board.

Because this is what good journalists do, and I don’t give a shit what your thoughts on journalism are — there are a LOT of good journos out there who got involved in the industry because they were tired of powerful people getting away with stuff, little guys getting the shaft, and corporations writing new rulebooks as they go along.

There are idealists in journalism, and more than a few can be found at the Toronto Star — and other papers across the country.

And You Would Come Forward?

Next you have the crowd shouting “Well, the victims won’t come forward. If they’re really victims, then they would come forward. Cowards!”

Oh, and you would?

Let’s imagine this. You’re some young girl, about 25, with dreams of making it in journalism or music. You somehow run into Ghomeshi at an event. He wows you with his pretty smile. Next day, he finds you on Facebook and says how he found something you wrote, or heard a song you did, and would love to talk to you about it.

Somehow, you’re flustered and proud, and the exchange gets flirty as it progresses, you say a few things that position you as a fan of sexual escapades, favourable towards BDSM, and yes you’d love to have a crantini at 9.

But then everything goes sideways. Choking, beating, whatever it is. That happens.

In the morning, you wake abused. But you’re still a 25-year-old kid who hasn’t even gotten her career started yet. The guy you were with is a millionaire radio guy who’s the face of a national broadcasting corporation.

First you need to contend with a well-sculpted public persona. Then you need to lose credibility in the press as some nobody-nothing who’s got “everything to gain” (except a career, respect, trust, or friends) from making accusations. Then you need to deal with the cops investigating you, and finally, your mom, dad, and whole family being embarrassed that you’re not only sexually promiscuous, but you’ve explored BDSM and were apparently willing to do it with a guy you only met once.

And all of this is before it ever reaches a court. This is all in WEEK ONE of a drama that could conceivably drag on for years, all with you at the forefront as the evil bitch who’s wrecking the career of everyone’s favourite cultural radio dude.

But, hey, yeah, you, you’re tough enough to do all that. You’re big enough to take on the machine. You’d have no excuses. You’d “trust” that the authorities and the media were going to treat you fairly. YOU WOULD DO THIS.

Is that about right? You’re that big on making a stand that you could handle this — even if you were some naive fresh-outta-school girl dreaming of a new career?

When’s the last time you busted someone at work for stealing supplies? When’s the last time you called someone out for a racist comment? When’s the last time you put your reputation on the line to fight someone in a position of authority? When’s the last time you stood up to anyone about ANYTHING — not to mention in front of police, the media, and an entire country?

Oh, never? Then shut the fuck up about why these girls aren’t coming forward. They’ve more to lose than you ever will.

But How Do I Really Feel?

Every single person giving Ghomeshi the benefit of the doubt and then saying “Why doesn’t his accuser come forward? How dare they?” is kidding themselves that they’re simply “waiting for facts.” They’ve already picked their sides.

I’m opting to believe that a massive broadcaster who has stood by its star’s side through YEARS of industry insider gossip about what a creep its star is, but then finally severs the relationship after an investigative journalist pores over his life for MONTHS, probably had pretty good cause to walk away.

I’m gonna believe a newspaper who’s made their name around the world through high-quality, groundbreaking investigation in the last three years probably decided it was worth the risk of a $50,000,000 lawsuit to expose someone who’s claiming he’s Mr. Good Guy and that it’s all “jilted ex-lover” innuendo — if only for public safety.

I’m choosing to remember people like Phil Spector, who was legendary in the music industry but had a widespread reputation for violence and extreme behaviour, and who couldn’t be touched, until one day he killed someone.

Where I come from, being a pretty, well-spoken man doesn’t mean you can’t be an absolute monster behind closed doors.

If these accusations were levelled against Don Cherry instead, for instance, we’d have had a very different discussion this morning.

It might be “innocent until proven guilty,” but that gives no one the excuse of calling the accusers names, belittling them as having something they’re after, or accusing them of being greedy little whores who just want their fame and limelight.

Oh, and not for nothing, all this discussion is about a man who wanted to “debate” whether “rape culture” even exists. Or have we all forgotten that little explosion from March of this year?

All She Wrote

Talk to anyone well-established in the music promotion business, and they’ll tell you rumours of Ghomeshi’s behaviours have circulated for years, but no one has dared kill the goose who laid the public broadcasting golden egg.

I, for one, can’t wait for this investigation to proceed, and I’m pretty confident that there’s no road back for Ghomeshi after this story breaks wide, wide open.

And I’m wishing for all it’s worth that every woman who may have had this happen to her at his hands will come forward.

Can’t get enough? I did a radio interview on Vancouver’s CKNW (Tuesday, Oct. 28) about both BDSM and consent, and why those claims kind of don’t wash here. You can listen to that on this page at CKNW.