I’ve talked with a few concerned close friends and family about the freakish twist this unjust case has turned into.. Specifically because I met Jian Ghomeshi in a bar in Sackville, NB, after he honourably spoke to a large audience of Q fans, Canadiana junkies, and eager academics similar to myself who appreciated the live presence of a national icon. A preview to the later welcoming of Peter Mansbridge as the Chancellor of our fine institution, who conferred my and fellow classmates degrees.
Ghomeshi talked about broadcasting and savoured the moment of being interviewed rather than doing the interviewing. He, in a casual manner, attended the town bar frequented by a 70/30 combination of students and townfolk. A town and gown battle unified over drinks.
At one point, in a pause from mingling I look over my left shoulder and there, in a similar pause, was Mr. Ghomeshi himself. I took a moment, requested his attention with a raised glass and a compliment to the tune of “great presentation, thank you for speaking, welcome to Sackville!” We clinked beer bottles and with gentle forced conversation about Q he focused intently on my words as much as he was scoping the room aware of who he was in this place. In a moment I went from being appreciative to uncomfortable. I smiled through the charismatic exchange and found another social opportunity at another table. Looking back on that moment, and proximity, I wonder what I potentially escaped. I wonder, moreso, who fell deeper into the sycophant’s trap that evening.
However, I also identify with abuse and manipulation and understand how the engrained cultural patterns of sexualized flirtation as default interaction in the bar environment. Yes, we are working to challenge that; yes, we are working on improved communication that is non-sexualized and consensual and not permissive of creepy pursuants to entice the unwilling into a sexualized situation against their better intentions. We are coming around to define extreme mysogyny as rape culture. but, is it always the male who is at fault? Women can be consumed by desire as well, and must reconcile with this beast like any man facing similar harmful drives to deconstruct the ‘rapist’ course of actions which Jian is facing in great complexity.
For the global audience, it seemed ‘right’ and just that he should be put on trial to be appropriately condemned for what seemed like overwhelming evidence against him. But, somehow the judge found enough holes in this case to allow this high profile representation to come between justice and our understanding of it. What in the women’s testimony allowed for the shadow 0f doubt to keep Jian on this side of bars? What was the judge looking for to appropriately find this smooth-talking abusive man to not be guilty of the crimes of violence, emotional abuse, and sexual perversion..? Is it a sign of our justice system falling through on a civil duty, or is our understanding of the case flawed that actually, what went on behind closed doors was a consensual sexual encounter.
These charges are outrageous, nullifying the voices of victims in this magnified cultural representation of distorted sexual health. If we can talk about mental health, why can we not also demand a legal system that concerns tackling the system of emotional landmines.
Yes, I stand with the women, and yes women, I believe you.
I also wish the case wasn’t so instantly gendered, as followup rhetoric has gone on to destroy the Man and defend the Women as cyclical victims at the mercy of systemitized blame. Symbolic, honourable, and important, we must continue to fight injustice. We must also trust in our definition of consensual.
I consensually engaged in conversation with Jian in the bar in Sackville, NB. I offered a cheers for a respected career (at the time), and I removed myself from the interaction when he sent off signals I was uncomfortable with any longer. A moment of strength I now appreciate, though cannot say in other situations I was as stoic. No one is inherently infalliable. We are victims of patterns and vices. We are complex emotions taking on responsibility of maintaining a respectful reality. Generally, that means NOT raping others. It means removing romance from our understanding of bar culture, and heeds caution to our dating scene.
This verdict outrages myself and others for failing the brave woman. For casting aside a vulnerable testimony in favour of the abuser because the battle of spoken words still cannot empower trust in empathy in the eyes of law.
Please, women and men, do not become silenced by this verdict. Use it as cause to scream louder than before when someone is not doing right by you. Trust the gut that commands your weakness to stand aside while you fight; challenge the beast of fear inside you when faced with distasteful disapproval of your failure to consent. We do not owe abusers any part of us. We should not define ourselves by the verdict of a celebrity’s weak moments.
Without gender, we are all equal to fight for love and against emotional warfare ever so freely. Without gender, our excuses can no longer be stereotyped. Always speak up.