Jian Ghomeshi and the Women He Knew

Some thoughts on Jian Ghomeshi, about whom I feel entitled to opine because I was once a guest on his show — talking about the little fundraising thing I did last year which included RAINN, an interview which now in retrospect is sadly ironic.

(For those of you not up on this, Mr. Ghomeshi was a radio show host in Canada, who was let go by the CBC because of then-mysterious reasons. Mr. Ghomeshi took to Facebook to allege that he was fired because he participated in consensual BDSM play which was now being used against him by vengeful exes, and sued CBC for wrongful termination “breach of confidence and bad faith.” Since then a number of women have come forward to allege totally non-consensual abuse and/or harrassment at the hands of Mr. Ghomeshi.)

So, a numbered list.

1. There’s nothing wrong with consensual BDSM play; if that’s your thing and you can get other people to go along with it in a safe and consenting manner, then you kids have fun with that.

2. Suddenly smacking the hell out of someone and/or choking them without prior discussion or agreement is pretty much the opposite of consensual BDSM play, now, isn’t it. (Note: this is a rhetorical question. The answer is: Yes, it is the opposite.)

3. As a matter of law (to the extent that I know anything about Canadian/Ontario provincial law, which I don’t so I might be entirely wrong), Mr. Ghomeshi is innocent until proven guilty. Currently there is no criminal investigation against Mr. Ghomeshi. (Update, 8pm: Toronto police have opened an investigation.)

4. The procedurally laudable governmental presumption of innocence does not mean, however, that as a matter of opinion, one cannot believe the allegations against Mr. Ghomeshi. As a matter of personal opinion, I believe the women who are coming forward and saying that Mr. Ghomeshi attacked, abused and harassed them. I could be wrong, but I don’t really think that I am.

5. I think it’s possible that Mr. Ghomeshi deluded himself into thinking these attacks equated to consensual sexual play, which is both not an excuse at all, and a good argument for availing one’s self of educators in that particular field who can teach one how to do one’s play safely and to know what “consensual” actually means. However, I think it’s rather more likely that Mr. Ghomeshi, who is a full-fledged adult and someone with some evident facility for words, was in fact quite aware that what he was doing was not in the least consensual and relied on his position at the top of the Canadian cultural heap to protect him from the consequences of his actions, as indeed it appears to have done for a very long time.

6. If what is alleged against Mr. Ghomeshi is true, and to reiterate I rather strongly suspect that it is, then his being fired from the CBC is, bluntly, the least worst thing that could happen to him at this point. If the allegations are true, he deserves a stint in prison, full stop, end of sentence.

7. It was canny of Mr. Ghomeshi to try to frame his assaults in the context of BDSM, but also disingenuous and false. BDSM is not my thing, but I know a lot of people for whom it is. None of them would see what Mr. Ghomeshi did as something relating to their particular kink. Attacking someone without their consent isn’t about sexual gratification, it’s about the assertion of power — the ability to say “I can do this to you and there’s nothing you can do about it.” And sure, maybe Mr. Ghomeshi got a rise out of that, too. But at the end of the day choking a woman who is not consenting to the experience and saying it’s BDSM is akin to stabbing someone in a bar and claiming it was a martial arts test match. Again, BDSM isn’t my thing, but it’s a thing I know enough about to know that what Mr. Ghomeshi was doing wasn’t that.

8. The irony of the above point is that if it really was about BDSM (which it was not), then there was no reason for any of that to happen. What little I know about BDSM is that those who enjoy it are happy to share and to teach and to provide a safe space for that enthusiasm. Mr. Ghomeshi, I am certain, would not have lacked for willing, consenting partners — if this was really about consensual sexual exploration and enjoyment. But, again, I don’t really think it was ever about that.

9. I don’t know Mr. Ghomeshi other than through a very brief professional encounter. I don’t envy the people who do know him who are now learning about the allegations and who suspect that they are true. What do you do with a friend like that? Do you drop him? Do you maintain he is your friend but acknowledge what he’s done is wrong? Do you fight for your friend, right or wrong? One of Mr. Ghomeshi’s friends addressed this in a post of his own, which is worth reading. I don’t have any answers for this one. I know what I think I would want to do; I don’t know if it’s what I would do because I’ve never had to be in this situation. What I can say is that I hope I never am in this situation.

10. To reiterate, because it’s important: I believe the women who have come forward to allege assault and harassment. It’s been noted by other people better able to testify on the subject that one of the most radical things you can do when a woman speaks up about abuse and harassment is to believe her. Which initially seems like an incredible statement to someone like me, who is almost always believed by default when he chooses to speak up about something. I have that luxury. Not everyone does. It’s a fact I strongly suspect Mr. Ghomeshi knew, and used.

196 Comments on “Jian Ghomeshi and the Women He Knew”

  1. Notes:

    1. Snarking about BDSM play not appropriate in this thread. BDSM might not be your kink, but this discussion is not the place to show you’re uncomfortable with it by trying to make cheap shots at it. As I said, I’m not entirely up on BDSM, but I’m up on it enough to know when you’re taking the piss on it.

    2. If you’re going to blunder in to try to start a discussion about false rape accusations and so on, i.e., attempting to make the discussion about them evil conniving women and how they are out to emasculate all the mens, you’ll meet the business side of my Mallet. Likewise general misogyny and victim blaming. Don’t test me on this one; I’m going to have a very itchy Malleting hand.

    3. In general, be polite and respectful to each other in this discussion, and try to keep the conversation to this particular topic without wandering too far afield. This is the sort of topic where far-fielding is common. Work on staying on track, please.

  2. Only once have I faced the question of how to deal with a friend like this. I saw him hit his wife, from a distance when I don’t think he realized anyone could see. I stewed over it for a day or so, and ended up confronting him privately. I told him I knew the standard thing was to threaten to “kick his ass,” but I wasn’t confident I could do that, and it wouldn’t really deter him anyway. Instead, I told him, if I found out that he ever hit another woman, I would call his mother, his father, his grandparents, his siblings, his boss, and all his friends, one by one, and tell every one of them what I knew. Then he could try to explain it to all of them about why he hits women.

    Not long after that, they divorced. He and I aren’t really friends any more, which is sad because we were incredibly tight. She and I are very close. As far as I know, he never hit her again.

    I don’t know how much that story is worth, but I figured I’d share it. I think I made a good decision.

  3. “It’s been noted by other people better able to testify on the subject that one of the most radical things you can do when a woman speaks up about abuse and harassment is to believe her.”

    That’s both a powerful and upsetting statement. I wish we could be more understanding of people who come forward about abuse, even if it means risking the occasional false accusors that so many conservatives are accusing them of being.

  4. I think this guy (and, unfortunately, several other folks) needs to understand that just because he gets off on non-consensually harming someone doesn’t mean that’s a kink like any other. It’d be like pedos claiming that their thing is a sexual orientation like any other, the exercise of which should be protected by law.

    Sadly, in this case I also hear echoes of some of the street-harassment apologists I’ve seen recently. I’ve seen some actually try to argue that it’s sex-negative, shaming, etc., to attempt to keep them from exercising their sexual desire on the unwilling. They’re literally arguing that it’s worse to curtail the “freedom” to harm others at will than it is to do that harm.

    To be clear, it’s perfectly OK to have whatever fantasies trips one’s trigger, and to wank to said fantasies or act them out with willing partners. What’s not OK is exercising one’s fantasies–whatever they are–on people who don’t consent to them. As with many other freedoms, the freedom to express one’s sexuality ends where the rights of others begins.

  5. I thought Dan Savage, who I usually detest, actually hit things on the head here – http://www.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2014/10/29/interviews-with-two-women-who-dated-jian-ghomeshi

    He talked to a woman who did have a consensual BDSM relationship with Ghomeshi, and Savage analyzes why her experience with him might have been different from the women who are coming forward now, and why he might be deluded enough to think what he did was how things are done in BDSM.

    And I totally believe the people coming forward, and completely understand why, for the most part, they have stayed anonymous.

  6. Concerned Canuck here. At first, when I heard the news, I was shocked. I’d been a fan from the days when he was frontman for Moxy Fruvous. It was a serious loss of innocence for me as MF was part of my formative soundtrack. I was also a fan of his work on Q. Initially, I was in denial–this can’t be true–but then I read (many of the posts you’ve mentioned) and was sickened. In sharing some of these posts on FB, I was again shocked by the emergence of #notallmen fanboys sounding off in the man’s defense (see, I can’t even write his name anymore, the sense of betrayal is that intense). So recently in the thrall of denial myself, I found myself reading these comments, and then, I became so disgusted with the whole thing, I disengaged. I couldn’t respond to people who can’t rationally understand that what this man has done is wrong. Thank you for being so articulate (and fair) on this issue. I’m so pissed off I can’t think straight about it.

  7. “What do you with a friend like that? Do you drop him? Do you maintain he is your friend but acknowledge what he’s done is wrong? Do you fight for your friend, right or wrong?”

    I ran into exactly this same problem at work a few years ago. Co-worker of 15 years was arrested for possession of child porn. Everyone knew he was arrested, it made the front page of the newspaper. But what do we do? We had met his wife and kids at parties and were friends. We assumed that he might be innocent, but he wouldn’t talk about the arrest.

    He pled guilty a year later, did 3 years and none of us would ever call him a friend or talk to him again. But in the end, we waited until the courts were done, and prepared for the worst.

    My guess is that Jian’s friends and family will do something similar. Those that “knew” something was off will move away. Those that are reserving doubt … well they are a bit screwed if this never goes to court. The stench of harassment and assault never rubs off.

  8. I am really sick and tired when people try to cover up abuse under the guise of BDSM, My biological father did that to my mother, and shamed her for not going along with it, when what he was doing was just plain abuse. To this day, she thinks BDSM is just a cover for abuse, because that’s all she’s had experience with. She’s far from the only person who is like that, and one of the reasons I left Fetlife is that I kept getting random messages from guys whose perspective on domming set off all my ‘potential abuser’ alarm bells. A lot of people really do seem to think that ‘BDSM’ means ‘I can do whatever I want and get away with it and if you disagree,you’re kink-shaming’, when it really isn’t that at all. You agree what you’re going to do beforehand, and aftercare is just as important as the act itself. Honestly, the lack of understanding of that in online kink communities is one of the reasons I’ve stopped visiting them.

  9. I read some texts on the subject and although I have never heard of the person, not that it matters, I know enough that “safe words” and consensual are not just some words in BDSM. It’s a must. To have that kind of relationship, you not only need those very important words, you need thrust and it’s obvious he didn’t have that.

    FYI John, you’re missing a “do” in #9: “What do you with a friend like that?”

  10. When I first saw Mr. Ghomeshi’s post on FB, I thought the situation was what he said it was: a vengeful ex trying to punish him for breaking up with her, using his kink against him. Now that I have heard about all the stories of him, I’m kind of leaning towards the direction of him being a sick, twisted individual, hiding behind the phrase “consensual kinkiness.”

    I have never thought that kink and BDSM was a bad thing. Yes, I thought it was weird, and wouldn’t be my thing, but I knew/know that it’s different strokes for different folks. In a way, I was kind of glad at first that Mr. Ghomeshi was “educating” the public that BDSM was not a bad thing, and that if it’s consensual, you can’t go back and claim it to be “abuse.” It was also bringing to light how women can abuse men, but in different ways.

    I kind of left it at that, and then it started snowballing with the number of women claiming he abused them. With only one woman claiming abuse, and seeing things from the point of view of Ghomeshi, I figured it WAS vengeful ex, because, why go to the media and not the police? And here I get a little bit fuzzy, because, if I were on a date with someone, and I go to his place, and he slams me against a wall and tries to choke me, why the hell WOULDN’T I call the police? I know there’s the idea of being ashamed, and fighting against someone more powerful than you, but at the very least, it would get an investigation. I just…don’t understand why no one called the police in the first place, and left his behavior to be “someone else’s” problem?”

    I guess that’s what gets me more than anything else. Yes, the guy is sick, and that’s a sad enough situations, and it’s worse when he takes out his sickness on other people, but…these women are more than happy to come out of the woodwork AFTER the fact, but don’t report it while the marks are fresh? I’m not saying they’re wrong in what they have done, it’s just…why not help yourself and/or other people when you can do it best?

  11. Glitter duster because he’s a powerful person in the industry that some of those women work in, and if their accusations don’t stick they lose their careers. They may lose their careers anyway even if their accusations do stick.

  12. Ugh. I’m really not sure where Ghomeshi and other folks who use the excuse got the idea that “but she wanted it” is anything approaching a novel defense.

    It’s been noted by other people better able to testify on the subject that one of the most radical things you can do when a woman speaks up about abuse and harassment is to believe her.

    It’s also the most logical thing to do, from a purely statistical perspective. The percentage of false rape reports is hard to tally, but most folks agree that it’s something between two and eight percent of reports (and it’s probably on the low end of that; in Baltimore, a campaign to re-train officers reduced the number of rape cases dismissed as ‘unfounded’ to less than two percent). Even if we’re calling it eight percent, though: people who choose to believe victims are still right ninety-two percent of the time. Most folks are perfectly comfortable making judgment calls with a much lower level of certainty than that.

  13. I agree with you. Well written.

    Minor point-of-fact nitpick: he’s not suing for wrongful dismissal. He’s a union employee; he can’t. He initiated a grievance process through the union to get his job back (he won’t) and simultaneously initiated a lawsuit for “breach of confidence and bad faith.” You can read his torturous logic about this on the legal statement if you have a strong stomach, it is posted online; basically it boils down to “I told them about what people were saying about me and then they fired me anyway. How dare they!”

  14. “Yes, the guy is sick, and that’s a sad enough situations, and it’s worse when he takes out his sickness on other people, but…these women are more than happy to come out of the woodwork AFTER the fact, but don’t report it while the marks are fresh? I’m not saying they’re wrong in what they have done, it’s just…why not help yourself and/or other people when you can do it best?”

    You must live a very sheltered life to not understand why people might not want to destroy their careers and reputations to report something that people like you wouldn’t believe anyway.

  15. Notsont:

    Remember in the first comment where I asked people to be polite to each other? Your comment was not how to do that. Note how Bunwat addressed the same issue without making it personal.

    Andrea McDowell:

    Updated. Thanks!

  16. I have a friend…

    Accused of rape during an alcoholic black-out. He does not recall if anything happened. He admits that it could have happened, but really does not know. As a result of the incident he is homeless.

    Would you take him in?

    My wife and I did. It was an arctic winter. He and his partner had nowhere else. Police investigation, charges and everything. There were apparent ulterior motives on the part of the complainant (legal term). It was a she said, “I don’t know” case. Very simple.

    Not guilty until proven in a court of law. My wife who wanted to help him is a child sexual abuse survivor. She also was a Victim Services worker, professionally helping the victim through her process (very small town). Terms and conditions were no drugs or alcohol. Zero tolerance. The result was no problems with him and his partner in the house.

    Did he do it? The court case died when the victim left town the day before it went to court. What do we do? Let him die in a snow-bank? No. We fed and housed him until he could get another place. We supported him. Is he guilty? Not according to the law. Not that we know of. But, he quite plausibly could be.

    This (Jian) has not yet enterred a courrt of law. Final answers are not available. I can not make any final judgement.

    Just DON’T assume innocence or guilt based on the media. If you are lucky, all you have to do is nothing, and let the system take its course.

    Is it plausible he is a viscious entitled piece of [rude word]? – YES.
    So what do YOU do? Set your limits and boundaries, and make them plain. Support or not.

    If you have to have contact, use your judgement and reserve the right (and ability) to walk away. If the contact is professional – we have laws, regulations and systems in place that should be established to protect you. Violence in the workplace is illegal. Use the systems that should be in place. If they are not in place, complain to the Ministry of Labour.

    If you have social contact, you are aware of the potential. Deal with the potential as you choose. Walking away when approached by him is perfectly understandable. Right now, any-one who socializes with him is doing so by choice.

    Is this stuff EASY? No. Who said life was going to be easy?

  17. I was a big fan of Moxy Fruvous (the band he was in) in the 90s, when I was in high school. I was also really involved in the community of Fruvous fans, who kept fansites and road-tripped to concerts. A bunch of us got back in touch just now because of this– a lot of us are distraught, because he (like the other band members) had really warm, friendly interactions with the fans after shows, and occasionally online.

    But most of us acknowledge we also had a “do you know about Jian.” We never heard any rumours of violence, but wisdom was that he liked young girls (as far as we knew, the ones he’d had sex with were 17+, though).

    And… to make the last few days feel even weirder… a lot of us remember being the young girls who *wished* Jian was into us. I mean, I thank god he wasn’t, in retrospect. But he was my #1 high school crush, I have a bunch of photos with myself and him when I was a teenager.

    And right now a lot of my best high school memories have turned bad.

  18. Thanks for posting this. I’ve been following since the FB post, which one of my friends sympathetically re-posted Sunday night. My initial reaction was that there was no way to know if he or the supposedly vengeful ex were telling the truth, but it was wildly distasteful of him to refer to himself as a soldier (in light of recent events). Then I read a bit more about it and found out he used to be in Moxy Fruvous. I was in college radio when Moxy Fruvous was big, and was warned about this guy back then, 20 years ago. (The warnings were “he’s creepy, watch out” not “he likes to rage-choke his dates.”) I find it amazing (but sadly unsurprising) that his behaviour was well-known enough that somebody so wholly unconnected to the guy could have been warned about him – but that every institution that encountered him including the supposedly progressive CBC did nothing for two decades.

    For those who are puzzled that nobody reported him at the time… read this: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/sandy-garossino/jian-ghomeshi-women-report-sex-assault_b_6059124.html It’s written by a former Crown prosecutor. Here’s a relevant quote:

    “So what kind of woman is reluctant to report sexual assault? Anyone who consumed drugs or alcohol before the incident, who was intoxicated; who flirted with, has a relationship with, knows, or has significantly lower status than the perpetrator.

    “Any woman who’s had an abortion or messy divorce. Anyone who might be in a custody battle. Anyone with a sketchy social media history. Anyone who’s sexted nude photos or has unorthodox sexual tastes.

    “…In short, the kind of woman who doesn’t report a sexual attack is almost any normal rational woman.”

  19. Echoing Melanie Marttila upthread: Jian Ghomeshi’s band, Moxy Fruvous, was really important to me and a lot of my friends in the early Nineties.

    I didn’t follow his later career — not because of him particularly, but because I don’t really listen to the radio — but I still loved those songs. They were a big part of the soundtrack of my twenties.

    Since the allegations first broke, I’ve had those songs running through my head non-stop. I’ll never feel the same way about them again. So many of them feel horribly, sickeningly ironic in retrospect. It’s sad.

    But not as sad as the suffering experienced by the women Jian Ghomeshi hurt. Not as sad as a celebrity getting away with years of harassment and abuse.

    I believe the women who’ve come forward.

  20. GlitterDuster, here you go–some insight into why the women did not come forward before:


    This morning, I read another article about both Ghomeshi and Bill Cosby and the sad fact that often it isn’t until one or more men take the problem seriously that others will believe the women:


  21. I went to a professional conference this week, where the focus is going to be about the offender in rape prosecutions here in the UK – i.e. instead of the “foolish woman” narrative, turn it on it’s head – why did the man target a drunken woman in a club full of sober women. It’s about power and opportunity – they target her because she’s vulnerable in some way. That is why believing a woman is so powerful and important, as the raper-rapee relationship is such an uneven one.

  22. @Melanie: I agree about the sense of betrayal. I hope I never hear his voice on my radio again, in any context – I went as far as to turn off the news the other night when they were reporting on his second Facebook post. He does not deserve any more of my airtime. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to listen to Moxy Fruvous again.

    I am so proud of all the women who’ve come forward so far, and also relieved that I have seen nothing but support for them among my friends – this is one of those situations that can easily lead to having to cut people out of your life.

  23. Glitterduster

    There are a wide range of reasons why people who have been attacked don’t go to the police; where the person doing the attacking is a very powerful individual in the community those reasons tend to be blindingly obvious to anyone who thinks through the likely consequences.

    Of course, if it has never happened to you then thinking through the likely consequences may not be something you have done either; ignorance may not be bliss but it obviously helps in avoiding the harsher realities of life.

    Equally, in the absence of a diagnosis from a psychiatrist who has examined Mr Ghomeshi, declaring that he is sick is not, in my view, fair to those who genuinely suffer from a mental disorder; it may be entirely unintentional on your part but claiming that someone is sick, and therefore can’t help themselves, has a long history in ‘why this guy can’t be blamed’ for just about anything…

  24. “Just DON’T assume innocence or guilt based on the media. If you are lucky, all you have to do is nothing, and let the system take its course.”

    But there is a giant difference between your example and this case.
    In your example, your friend admitted to what happened: drunk blackout, no memory, accepted that it was possible that the event might have happened exact as she accused.
    This is how adults describe things.

    But you also judged. You took this evidence on face value, it felt like the truth, you accepted that it was quite possible that it was BOTH, that a rape had happened and that it was a drunk blackout. And you did the honorable thing. With terms and conditions, which were followed. The signs of an honest person. That she left town before trial could mean many things, could go through with the trial, was scared away, or admitted that it was a lie and left. The lack of a court judgement doesn’t make something true or false.

    When compared to Jian’s media story so far, we get exactly the opposite: we get victim blaming from Jian, we get”it was just BDSM”, classic types of abuser behaviour. We also get multiple victims coming forward, outing themselves. The odds of this JUST being a smear campaign is close to zero. So is he guilty of a crime? Doesn’t really matter. The story has the taste of truth, it feels true.

    Just like your story felt true to me while I read. It had verisimilitude. A lot of it.

  25. “It’s been noted by other people better able to testify on the subject that one of the most radical things you can do when a woman speaks up about abuse and harassment is to believe her. Which initially seems like an incredible statement to someone like, who is almost always believed by default when he chooses to speak up about something. I have that luxury. Not everyone does. It’s a fact I strongly suspect Mr. Ghomeshi knew, and used.”

    Thank you for pointing this out. We can talk all we want about how it’s important for women (and for victims in general) to speak up but that often ignores the fact that “speaking up” != “believed,” that we live in a culture where some people are more likely to be believed than others simply by virtue of their gender, and it is compiling harm and trauma on victims when they do speak up and are met with suspicion and skepticism, often couched in the rhetoric of “fairness” and “impartiality.”

    As for this: “I guess that’s what gets me more than anything else. Yes, the guy is sick, and that’s a sad enough situations, and it’s worse when he takes out his sickness on other people, but…these women are more than happy to come out of the woodwork AFTER the fact, but don’t report it while the marks are fresh? I’m not saying they’re wrong in what they have done, it’s just…why not help yourself and/or other people when you can do it best?”

    Glitterduster, I would urge you to read the links posted by BW, as well as this very timely piece by Mary Robinette Kowal, which firmly and succinctly nails how the very, absolutely last person who is part of the “problem” in cases of assault, harassment or rape, is the victim. Particularly this part:

    “The problem is with a society that trains us that we aren’t allowed to object. Harassers harass because they can get away with it. They are savvy and choose their targets carefully, aiming for people that can’t fight back. You will not have been their only victim.

    So when you can fight back by reporting? Please do.

    And when you can’t, also know that staying quiet and safe doesn’t mean that you are a coward. It does mean that we have a totally screwed up society. But you, you, are not the problem.”


  26. I read the articles that John linked to in this blog, including the one titled “Do You Know About Jian?” which makes it clear there were uneasy rumors in wide circulation about this man for years, and even (there are links in the piece) blogs or articles about his behavior which described specific/weird/alarming incidents with him but didn’t name him (the author of “Do You Know ABout Jian?” says the descriptive details in those pieces ensured that lots of people knew who the man was in those anecdotes was, though he was not named).

    So this matter is similar to so many others that have emerged in recent years, where “everyone knew” but nothing was being done about it. There was just a grapevine warning people to stay away from him, not be alone with him, etc. And any woman not on that grapevine (presumably MOST OF CANADA was not on that grapevine) was unaware of the problem and therefore vulnerable.

    Also linked to in “Do You Know Jian?” is an excellent editorial about the absurd “explanations” and “theories” that people, celebrity-lovers, and the media propose, accept, create, spread, and insist on, rather than believe a celebrity behaved badly or did something criminal. In Jian Ghomeshi’s case, his explanation (and this editorial says that some celebrities, fans, and media are going along with it) is that women are generally so sociopathic that 7 other women have agreed to lie to the media and accuse him of rape just because one woman–someone they don’t know–is angry at him (for “dumping” her) and asked them to do it.

    Anyhow, if you didn’t already link to it, the editorial is well worth reading:

  27. But what do you do, Laura, if “everyone knows” but you aren’t a victim yourself? A prof in my grad department finally had to resign last year over persistent sexual harassment. There were stories going back 25+ years but he didn’t harass me, so I’m not sure what I could do other than warn others.

  28. Laura,

    “And any woman not on that grapevine (presumably MOST OF CANADA was not on that grapevine) was unaware of the problem and therefore vulnerable.”

    This has been what keeps repeating in my thoughts. Like, if there was any way to make “he likes young girls” even creepier, this was it. He was obviously choosing his targets very carefully. That they were young adults (I don’t know if anyone who came forward was over 25 at the time of their assault), that they were often uninitiated in the community, that they often had ambitions and aspirations in the fields he worked in.

    He went into “relationships” where as much of the power was stacked in his favour as possible.

  29. Astra, that’s a question the author of “Do You Know About Jian?” discusses, too. What do you do (no one really seems to know) when what you “know” are other people’s anecdotes or just the general grapevine warning to avoid this person and never ever let him get you alone somewhere.

  30. murmbeetle, if you read the article in The Star, which John linked to, which details all the allegations, another group of young women this man targeted, besides those who were entering or new to his profession, were HIS FANS. At least two (maybe three?) of the allegations detailed in the article are women he hit on when they attended his booksignings.

  31. Just as a point of order on the rules, John. You “piss on it” and “take the piss” from it.

    As in, “I’m up on it enough to know when you’re taking a piss on it.” Or alternatively, “I’m up on it enough to know when you’re taking the piss out of it.” Another example… “That bondage guy really took the piss out of that Canadian media dude…”

    “Taking the piss” is a lovely UK colloquialism, and a masterwork of the British/Irish contribution to the English language. That, along with the word “bollix,” should be incorporated into the discussion at every opportunity.

    Topically, if two people aren’t flying the same freak flag, they should fly it alone. That’s the difference between sex and assault.

  32. Peter, thanks. Trust me, there was a LOT of internal discussion about what to do. We also know that there are many reasons the woman left town. We still accept that the accusation was entirely plausible – simply not proven.

    As far as Jian and his story, yeah… I suspect he will not be dating much in the near future, as it should be. Any person who dates him (and trust me, up here that would require WILLFUL ignorance of the situation) will have to make those choices for themselves.

    Do I believe the women? I have no reason to disbelieve them, would be a better attitude.
    He Said/ She Said – problematic.
    He says creepy stuff / They report a consistent pattern – why should we not believe them.

    The system is taking him down. He has lost his job, and with information coming forward from fellow CBC staff, is not likely to get it back. His power-base is evapourating. His social network is un-ravelling – even friends seem to be going “Ewww!” He is publicly *and widely* known as a creep. An informal system of elimination is under way.

    He will never be fully ostracized, because toadies and lick-spittles (fame-chasers) will always be there, but he will no longer have influence.

    Will there be criminal investigation consequences? Possibly, but oblivion will be the worst punishment. Can it be proven in a court of Law? Possibly. Does it matter to me? Nope. He may or may not be guilty. I would not want my daughter to date him, based on admitted behaviour and reputation.

  33. I used to listen to him on CBC Radio all the time. He is a talented host.


    There really needs to be a proper investigation. Christie Blatchford says in the National Post, ‘Proving someone’s guilt is bloody difficult, and so it should be.’

    But difficult or not, there’s enough people willing to talk now, that the police should be moving forward, as should the Crown Attorney.


  34. Good post. It really sums up where my thoughts have been on this as well. This whole thing makes me really sad, because I enjoyed listening to his show (our local public radio station airs Q in the evenings when I’m driving home). He deserves a fair hearing, of course, but my inclination is to believe the allegations of victims too. The price of doing coming forward is so high that it’s quite rare for people to make this kind of thing up out of the blue just to ruin someone.

  35. I hope the authorities are actually listening to the victims and doing a proper investigation. Better late than never.

    Sadly, I’m not surprised by this any more. I only had the vaguest idea who this guy is (probably from OGH’s interview), but women have always had the “Do You Know About X?” grapevine. When the law/power structure won’t do anything, the only thing we can do is quietly warn each other (Or warn our male pals about male on male predators. Yes! We do that too!).

    One of the big sexual harassment kerfuffles in recent years in SF (Not that guy. The other guy.) was completely unsurprising to me. Because I, who had no overlap with his circles or activity, had been warned 8-10 years before in passing by a woman I’d never met before or since “Don’t leave cute girls alone with him.” Finally, he harassed someone who had enough power of her own to speak up. The men were shocked, even people much SMOFier than I. The women thought “what took so long?”

    If even a fraction of these allegations are true, this guy is a serial predator, who’s been assaulting women for years. He’s been doing this and getting away with it due to his position of power. Plus giving kinksters a bad name.

  36. I am amused how some of the comments I’ve seen elsewhere have broken down:

    People who were Moxy Fruvous fans: “Rock star is sexually destructive? Yawn.”
    People who were not: “Public radio host is sexually destructive? Yikes!”

  37. I suspect that the fact that Mr Ghomeshi claiming $55,000,000 in his lawsuit against his former employer is unlikely to do much to refurbish his reputation either; the reports I have read suggest that the maximum sum Canadian judges will award in the very worst cases of employer malfeasance is $1,000,000.

    Claiming 55 times that amount suggests that it’s intended merely as a gesture, presumably to demonstrate how hurt he is by his employer’s lack of faith in him, and how hurt he is that they could possibly believe that he was involved in anything other than safe, sane, consensual BDSM.

    That being the case, I must confess that I am somewhat puzzled as to why Mr Ghomeshi has apparently felt it necessary to keep his kinks to himself all these years; it’s not as if Canada is the last redoubt of sexual bigotry where anyone with anything other than heterosexual vanilla tastes would be shunned. I’ve seen a number of people questioning why the women involved didn’t come forward sooner, but no-one seems to be asking Mr Ghomeshi why he didn’t come forward sooner….

  38. Does it make me a prude that i shuddered when John wrote that he knows lots of people into bdsm?

    How does that conversation start? This something that comes up at PTA meetings?

  39. 1) Because he is a union employee in Canada, his lawsuit against the CBC has no chance of going anywhere, and apparently their decision to fire him was based on photos he brought them of what he claimed was consensual S&M and which were clearly not. The lawsuit was essentially a PR move to try to deal with the months long investigation of him by the Star that he got wind of.

    2) In consensual S&M, the submissive controls the encounter and nothing is done to the submissive that is not agreed to and okay for the submissive. That’s what safe words etc. are about. In the encounters so far presented, the guy simply attacked women without discussion.

    3) The women are coming forward now because they believe there is a possibility that they will be believed without having their lives ruined, because there are multiple women coming forward officially and reporters who have investigated the case. There was no point in coming forward before that because they would not be believed, even though his history of assault seems to have been widely known in the entertainment community (the missing stair.) Women making claims of assault are assumed guilty of lying until proven innocent. When they make claims, their private lives are investigated by the police and journalists, their characters are put on trial, they receive rape and death threats, they lose partners and friends, they can lose their jobs and careers, they often have to move, whether or not the man is ever charged or convicted. When the man is a celebrity, it’s even more dangerous, because the woman is assumed to be lying and trying to get money until proven innocent.

    So most women don’t come forward, because, as one of the higher profile victims said, it wasn’t worth her life. Nine times out of ten no charges get prosecuted, even when there are evidence and witnesses — hell, even when there’s video tape of it — and most trials for sexual assault, when they have them, don’t end in conviction. So there’s not much incentive to ever come forward, especially if it’s a man you know, because you are then simply destroying your life for nothing. And then the guy can come after you or others will. It’s very easy for many to claim that sexual assault rates are very low, even when confidential studies show that they aren’t, because silence is enforced with the threat of considerable punishment and threat to life.

    4) Concordia University and Carleton University have internship programs with the CBC and it’s looking like he went after at least one college student. Both universities are now having to investigate their entire programs. The missing stair approach means the most vulnerable women, starting their adult lives, are at risk.

  40. Guess:

    Dude, I’m in science fiction. We’ve got all sorts of kinks up in here, and at conventions, conversations go all over the place.

    Also, you know what? Those people I know into BDSM? Genuinely lovely people I am super glad to know. Not my thing, but football’s not my thing, either, and I can still get along really well with people who dig that.

    With that said, a reminder that I don’t want BDSM as BDSM to be the topic of conversation here.

  41. Nah, not a prude, Guess (at least, I don’t think so). You didn’t say you found the whole idea disgusting or even repulsive or abnormal; just that you were shaken trying to imagine how the conversation would start between people into BDSM and people not into BDSM. So . . . maybe a little less widely traveled than some folks? But that doesn’t equal prudishness, in my understanding of the word.

    And yeah, backing up John here–sf cons are good places to have all sorts of conversations!

  42. Thank you for posting this. He had done a marvelous interview with my sister, and I had followed him and listened to some of his stuff. I initially believed him, but, as more came out… I am glad this conversation is happening, and that more women are coming out as victims of this man. I am also glad that there is starting to be more awareness and conversation about this kind of behavior. Hopefully this will lead to better environments for women in the long run.

  43. People outside Canada wondering “why didn’t they come forward before” may not realize how powerful Ghomeshi was.

    His show was the most popular interview show on CBC radio (public media, but still the most wide-reaching media in Canada). It was *the* destination for anyone in the creative/entertainment industries. Dozens of authors, musicians, etc., “broke out” because of an interview on Q.

    Moreover, because of his hip, progressive, non-stuffy-white-male persona, he was often called the “new face” or “new direction” of the CBC as a whole.

    How much power did he have over a given 20-year-old undiscovered author or musician? A TON of power.

  44. Guess

    I doubt that many people launch into conversations about their sexual preferences at PTA meetings but I may be wrong.

    No one I know would consider me to be a prude but I do think that we all have stuff that makes us shudder; a couple of years ago I was on a cruise ship and wondered why there was a floor to ceiling mirror opposite my bed. I thought it was distinctly tacky, but dismissed it.

    It was only after I got home that I discovered that the ship was sometimes chartered to ‘swingers’ groups, at which point I did shudder, which was rather weird because I adhere strongly to Mrs Patrick Campbell’s dictum on sexuality; adults can do whatever they want as long as they don’t do it in the streets and frighten the horses.

    As for BDSM, I’m English, home of boys public schools where corporal punishment was frequently used, thus leading to some people discovering that they enjoyed it. There’s reams of scientific research as to why some people enjoy either inflicting or experiencing pain, and even more on why most people switch ie. enjoy both activities.

    The thing to understand is that in BDSM the sub – the person experiencing pain – holds the power, hence safe words and the ability to dictate the terms; it might look as if the person inflicting the pain has the power but that’s a typical fallacy which only people who know little or nothing about BDSM believe.

    It remains a fallacy which Mr Ghomeshi is desperately trying to pretend is true, because anyone with any knowledge of the way it works in reality is going to call bullshit…

  45. Guess

    Incidentally, I should have added that I spent my childhood and teens being thumped for at least 40 minutes twice a day; physiotherapists call it percussive therapy, which sounds better than ‘beat up patient’ therapy, but whatever the label it still meant thumped.

    Nowadays the thumping varies, depending on whether I’m in hospital or not, but, looking back on all the years of pain, I can confidently say that BDSM is not for me. Indeed, I’ve moaned, from time to time, that I’m deeply pissed off for not being a masochist; at least that way I would enjoy it…

  46. That any woman wouldn’t want to get involved with the police after having an encounter of any type that went badly (just trying to speak a bit delicately), has always been based on three things. One, men have been allowed, and even encouraged to use social power to shut women up, using all manner of pressure, so that they ad other men can continue to keep women quiet, and two, women have quite often gone along with this to protect their individual reputations and persons from retaliation by men. By that I mean that women will often not defend another woman, even if they know first-hand that a man has harmed the other woman (women), because they, themselves, try to distance themselves – the “If she hadn’t acted like/done that/dressed like that, she wouldn’t have been harmed – I would never act like/done that/dressed like that” and therefore that woman deserved what happened to her.

    However, there is a third reason, which is that many men and women do know someone who, upon finding out that the person they are involved with, no longer wants to be involved with them, does not accept that and makes unwanted efforts, from small to horrendous, to force the other person to stay in the relationship. I am not saying that, in this case, any of the women didn’t report problems because of the first two reasons. I am saying that, if, when one person in a relationship wants to end that relationship, it depends entirely on the other person’s emotional well-being as to whether or not the transition out of the relationship will go smoothly, or if bad behavior, from vandalism to stalking with homicidal intent, occurs. It is because of these very real occurrences that the “he said, she said” labeling happens. I was just speaking to an ex recently, and I recall the stupid things I did after he ended things, and he mentioned another girl who he subsequently dumped, who went much farther in her unwanted behavior, to the point of having to have a restraining order placed on her. While Fatal Attraction was *just* a movie, the danger of a pissed off lover can be huge, to one’s possessions, one’s livelihood, and even one’s life. When these things happen, sometimes it IS harder to automatically accept the word of the ‘spurned’ party.

  47. “And any woman not on that grapevine (presumably MOST OF CANADA was not on that grapevine) was unaware of the problem and therefore vulnerable.”

    Yeah, that’s one of the problems with keeping things to grapevines. But going public about the grapevine can be extremely risky as well.

    There’s another situation in Canada right now, in fact, where this is playing out. Apparently there’s been a grapevine among many conference-going librarians warning folks about a particular American speaker who’d been on the circuit for a few years. I don’t know details– as a middle-aged white dude, I tend not to be on those grapevines– and if it’s like the grapevines described in some of the articles linked in this comment thread, I suspect a number of folks on the grapevine didn’t know much in the way of exact details either. (But I’ve seen conversations on other forums indicating that a number of folks I’ve met have gotten a creepy feeling from him.)

    Recently, a Canadian librarian– apparently not one who’d herself experienced or personally witnessed harassment from this person, but had heard about it from others– decided to go public with the grapevine. She called him a sexual predator on a public blog post, and said conferences should not book him. An American librarian who’d heard similar things joined in.

    The American speaker then filed a defamation lawsuit against them both, for more than $1 million, in a Canadian court, where it’s considerably harder than in American courts to defend against libel. (For one thing, defendants have to prove their claims to the court’s satisfaction; even for public figures, it’s not enough to establish absence of malice like in the US.)

    I don’t know how the suit is going to turn out. They’ve put out a call for witnesses to contact their defense team, and one of those witnesses outed herself the other day, but details still aren’t public. (Which given Canadian libel law, is quite understandable; the public might not know any more details before things go to trial.) I’d think that most folks wouldn’t make the allegation the two librarians did in public without being sure of their facts, but I’ve never met any of the people involved in the suit, and as I said, I’m not in the grapevine they’re hooked into. They’re not going to win in a trial, though, unless members of the grapevine turn out to back them up in court convincingly as they expect. And even if they’re fully vindicated, they’re undergoing a lot of stress, criticism, and expense now while the suit’s in progress. (The plaintiff, of course, is also getting a fair bit of criticism, and I’d guess is under a fair bit of stress too.)

    So yes, grapevines have their problems, but it can be a challenge to go further. (Folks wanting more details on this case can find an article with lots of comments, including statements from the plaintiff and defendants, on Library Journal: http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2014/10/litigation/librarians-embroiled-in-lawsuit-alleging-sexual-harassment/ )

  48. I read all the links and 70% of the comments. I found it odd that not one person brought up the differences in the comments of the male/female authors. It seemed that the male authors who supported the accusers had more favorable comments to and about the accusers.

    This seems to be part of the problem.

    Thank you, John, for being one of those that don’t dismiss this kind of pervasive excrement!

  49. I realize that I’ve gotten some backlash from what I said about “why don’t people go to the police,” and I would like to point out I am not as naïve or “sheltered” as I used to be. Since dropping my religion and therefore my limited way of thinking, I am trying my best to learn how the world really works.

    There are corrupt police. There are corrupt pecking-orders in the workplace. People tend to victim blame or not believe victims. I realize that. There are also other sick people out there (and I will defend my use of the word “sick,” because they ARE unwell in the head, one way or another, controlled actions or not, to get their kicks from hurting others) that will spew out threats of death and rape to shut the victims up because…well, I can’t even wrap my head around why, to be honest. I just can’t.

    I know everything is so much more complicated than what I made it sounds like. I guess to sum up the argument I was trying to make with the “Why not go to the police?” questions is…

    “Die on your feet or live on your knees.”

    I would rather go down knowing I at least tried to find justice, than sit and wait for some other person to get hurt, be silent, and have the vicious cycle continue.

    All this being said, I do not mind my world view being challenged.

  50. @GlitterDuster: Consider the other side of your question. Why WOULD these women rush right off to the police?

    You seem to assume that doing so would produce optimal results: that the police would have taken them seriously, would have launched an investigation and the abuse would have come out sooner. That is, to put it mildly, an awful lot of assumptions, and the women in question really had no reason to share your confidence that their actions would have resulted in a very powerful man being held responsible for engaging in violence in a dating relationship. And let’s not forget the harassment and public condemnation they would face even if the legal system got involved – not to mention the risk of staring down the barrel of an expensive defamation lawsuit.

    Apropos of “why rape victims don’t go to the police”:


  51. http://yesmeansyesblog.wordpress.com/2014/10/30/ghomeshi-the-developing-story-and-predator-theory-observations/

    The man who wrote this is someone who firstly, practices consensual BDSM (and has written a multi-part series on YesMeansYes blog about the problems within the BDSM community at large), and secondly is actually a lawyer. When he speaks about the whole “innocent until proven guilty” thing, he’s talking from a position of formal knowledge and lived experience. He’s also speaking from a position of lived experience with regards to BDSM.

    From what people are saying in this thread, it seems like Jian Ghomeshi was what can be referred to as a “missing stair” (the concept was formalised by Cliff Pervocracy, and is linked to in the YesMeanYes blog article above) – a known problem nobody’s currently willing to fix because it hasn’t got big enough to be perceived as actual damage. What happens instead is word of the problem is passed around in back channels and workarounds are put in place.

    Why don’t these things get reported straight away? Well, as other people have brought up, the dominant culture of the Western world is largely pro-rape. It’s pro-rape in that it’s very difficult to get reports of rape taken seriously, it’s very difficult to get rape prosecuted, and it’s very difficult to get rape convictions recorded. The ideal rape victim is a sober, blue-eyed, blonde-haired, white, upper-middle-class, virgin girl (aged about sixteen) who is conventionally pretty, wearing modest clothing, violently raped by a complete stranger (preferably black, preferably still attempting to dislodge the strait-jacket and leg shackles) in full view of a uniformed police officer and several monitored surveillance cameras, on her way home from church on a Sunday. She fights back, but not too hard, she’s taken straight to hospital, she’s traumatised by her assault (but never to the point where she can’t handle the necessary medical and legal procedures), she gives a very accurate account of what happened to her, she is able to pick her assailant out of a lineup, and she’s never had any reason to distrust the police, the legal system, or the medical establishment.

    The further you deviate from that ideal scenario, the less likely you are to get a charge of rape successfully registered, much less a case made, a prosecution granted, or a conviction actually recorded in court. The further your rapist differs from the ideal case (black, male, working class, mental illness, prior criminal record, complete stranger to you prior to the rape) the harder it is to get a charge registered, a case made, a prosecution granted, and a conviction recorded. Let’s not even speak about jail time – that’s the hardest thing to get of them all.

  52. Stevie: I’m not Mel, but I can try to expand what I think that comment was about — and if I’m right about my interpretation, I fully agree with it.

    Basically: a man writing something supporting the women claiming assault gets more comments also supporting the women. A woman writing something supporting the women claiming assault gets fewer comments also supporting the women.

    This is directly related to the way women can say something until they’re blue in the face and be ignored, but as soon as a man says it, everyone is all surprised, as if they’ve never encountered the idea before. It’s also directly related to the way a woman is typically assumed to be lying when contradicting a man. This is a systemic problem.

  53. The story of Ghomeshi gets even weirder: According to the Toronto Star, he attempted to show his bosses at CBC that he was kinky rather than criminal by SHOWING THEM VIDEOS OF HIS SEXUAL ACTIVITIES. Sorry to shout there but that’s just too stunning to say in a normal tone of voice. Surely subjecting his boss to a viewing of his home-made sex tapes is sufficient grounds for firing!


  54. Lurkertype: That was an attempt at black humor, by making a reference to gamergate. That link goes to a long, but well-written, article about it, if you want to know more.

    (For those who aren’t familiar with it, in a nutshell, gamergate is a virulently mysoginistic reaction by a subset of video gamers to what they see as the encroachment of women onto their traditional turf. They’ve reacted by posting death threats, rape threats, harassment, and worse, aimed at women, mostly on social media. Scalzi’s been posting about it. The threats made have been so bad that some of those targeted have had to temporarily leave their homes in fear of their safety.)

    How women are treated in society seems to be very much in the news now, what with gamerhate (as I call it) and the recently released hollaback video.

    Ghomeshi’s show, Q, has a daily spot on my public radio station, and I love my public radio station. He always seemed smarmy, though, so not all that interesting. But I never would have guessed that he was so high in the Canadian entertainment food chain — or that he assaulted women.

  55. Nutella, the accounts of the women who’ve come forward certainly make him sound like a very strange person, as well as a dangerous one, so I guess the weirdness of =showing his homemade sex videos to his employers= may in keeping with his generally strange behavior…

    But I’m tempted to wonder if he was setting up his lawsuit with that stunt. He’s claiming he was fired because they disapprove of his “BDSM” practices, and now he can claim, I guess, that the sequence of events was: He revealed his “BDSM practices” to his employers, and then he got sacked.

    (BDSM in quotes, because assaulting women in a non-consensual manner is clearly what’s in play with this guy, not practicing unconventional sex with consenting partners.)

  56. I dunno @Laura Resnick. I would think that showing your bosses sex tapes, even of the most conventional plain-vanilla sex ever, would be enough to get anyone fired. But Ghomeshi could be thinking it was good idea since he obviously has some very strange ideas.

  57. Navigator is the PR firm Ghomeshi hired to handle this crisis. They are the same outfit that former Attorney General Michael Bryant hired – before even calling a lawyer – when he ran over and killed a cyclist after an altercation in Toronto. All PR firms are filled to the brim with weasels (objective fact), and Navigator is worse than most (personal opinion). Recently, Navigator announced they will no longer be working with Ghomeshi. (“he lied to the firm” according to a source within Navigator http://metronews.ca/news/canada/1199702/jian-ghomeshi-dumped-by-pr-firm-over-lies-sources-say/ )

    You know you’re truly toxic when even the scum-de-la-scum won’t touch you with a ten foot pole.

  58. Nothing says you understand sexual harassment and hostile workplace quite like unasked for showing of obscene material to your boss; and nothing says you grasp consent like showing private intimate video of your partner to strangers without permission. I think I need to look up more colourful vocabulary for this whole new level of can’t make this kind of reality challenged shit up.

  59. Thoughts, probably not with any particular coherency:

    1) When I read Jian’s post I didn’t know anything about him but it seemed authentic and passionate, and I was inclined to believe his story. I don’t now. But I have a lot of thinking to do about why I had that first reaction.

    2) It seems that inevitably. there are MANY people with similar stories about a person like this, but that either consciously or through luck, the perpetrator never gives them the opportunity to meet and/or share their stories.

    3) It seems like the fear of being the only one to speak up is one of the biggest inhibitors from victims.

    4) How could we make it easier for people to share that something wrong happened to them and find if there were other people who were also just waiting to see if someone else had had similar experiences? Is there a Glassdoor for people?

  60. One of the things that is strange, and fucked up, about Canadian law is that you can’t consent to violence. This makes BDSM play in Canada a very risky thing legally speaking. The dom can have any amount of evidence, written, video, or whatever, in which the sub consents and it will be ignored should the legal system become involved.

    We know for a fact that the victims of sexual assault who go public, especially about a famous figure, are going to be treated horribly. How horribly can be seen by the fact that no one before now was willing to press charges despite the fact that they are almost certainly going to win.

  61. I found out about this because Mr. Ghomeshi was the manager for Lights Poxleitner, a Singer/electronic-artist that I’ve been a huge fan of for a long time, who is also a pretty wonderful person. (Lights pretty much walks on water, as far as I’m concerned.)

    A few days ago when this story broke she posted a passionate defense of Jian, listing how much of a gentlemen and kind, supporting friend he had always been to her, and that the man she knew couldn’t possibly be capable of anything like this.

    Yesterday, she deleted that post, then apologized for having offended anyone, and then announced that she was now parting ways with him as manager.

    I found it kind of heartbreaking. But it also reminded me that a person can be two completely different people. Somehow the guy was this straight-laced, kind and supportive man of flawless character to some, and an terrible abuser and sadist to others. Are human beings really capable of that level of compartmentalization? I guess they are.

    I guess it just makes me wonder if people I’ve known for decades who I think the world of are, secretly, monsters to someone else.

  62. @GlitterDuster I think for many women in this position you have “Die on your feet or live on your knees.” inverted. If reporting your attacker leads to public humiliation, attack, etc at very little chance of success then walking away from it doesn’t put you on your knees it lets you get on with your life. Two of the women who have come forward publicly, Reva Seth and Lucy Decoutere have definitely not been living on their knees. Seth is a lawyer and author, Decoutere is a former actor and now a Captain in the Air Force.

  63. I’ve been in the situation of ‘what to do with a friend who has done something bad.’

    Someone I’ve known off and on since I was in high school (I’m in my mid-forties) was arrested for raping his (then thirteen-year-old) stepdaughter. When the cops checked his computer, his hard drive was full of kiddy porn.

    The charges of rape were dropped, perhaps (speculation on my part) in return for him pleading guilty to the posession of child porn. He served at least part of a three year sentance and is out now.

    From what I hear, his wife (the mother of the daughter he was charged with raping) has chosen to stand by her man, cutting her own daughter loose.

    I haven’t met him since I heard of the charges. If I did happen to run into him, I’d pretend not to see him. If he approached me, my response would be: “Sir, I do not know you.” Anybody who is found guilty of doing things like that is no friend of mine.

  64. “Die on your feet or live on your knees.” I’m… I’m not even sure I get this. What is wrong with choosing to live? Especially when your “death” won’t do anything anyway?

    Statistically, it turns out most people make the choice to live. Most people who are enslaved do not rise against their overseers. Most people held at gunpoint do not rush the gunman. Perfectly normal thing to do. I can’t help but wonder if a lot of people who think they would choose to die don’t actually have the slightest idea what they would do, because they’ve never faced a similar situation–where not just their attacker, but society itself was ranged against them.

    If you can report safely, report. But it’s okay to choose to keep your life. It is okay to refrain from throwing away your job, your social circle, your reputation, your ability to move through the world without death and rape threats from the man’s supporters.

    And frankly, suggesting it’s not okay looks a lot like blaming the victim and I’m very tired of that.

  65. It’s extremely easy to suggest that women who don’t report are somehow in the wrong. It’s especially easy to suggest this when you are not of the gender to which this sort of thing regularly happens. (Interestingly, on those rare occasions when people actually talk about the men who are raped, i have never heard it suggestd that a man who chose not to report was somehow morally culpable.)

    It’s also easy to suggest that reporting is a higher calling than survival if you happen to be of a sex/gender/race/sexuality/religion/ethnicity/ability which generally experiences the police and other authorities as fair and helpful. If you happen to be privileged on all those axes, you may not realize what the cost of reporting can be. That’s why it’s useful to listen to people who have chosen not to report tell you why. That’s why it’s useful to read the link where a Crown Prosecutor explains why it’s often rational not to report.

    And suggesting that women who choose not to report are somehow not living up to a duty they have to take the very real,risk of wrecking*their* lives in pursuit of *your* principles, and doing so in the face of personal reports about why women don’t report as often as you think they should, and in the face of links explaining why reporting is more rare than you wish it was, well, doing all that looks to me like it’s either willful arrogance and ignorance or an opportunity to blame the victims. Neither choice makes you look like a person who wants to understand. It makes you look like a person who wants to distance yourself from the realities that cause lots of victims to rationally choose not to report.

  66. It seems to me that when most people say “why didn’t she go to the police,” they really mean “I want life to be fair and bad people to be punished.” It’s a noble thing to want. Most of us want it.

    But conviction rates for sexual violence would be a sick joke if anything about them were remotely funny. Reporting often re-traumatizes victims, and it usually doesn’t even lead to an arrest, let alone a conviction. It can also open victims up to further attack. Their attackers can sue them for defamation, and even if the cases are complete BS, they can bleed their victims in legal fees. In cases where rape results in pregnancy, many jurisdictions allow the rapist to sue for custody of the child.

    That reality can be hard to take, but we have a choice with what we do with anger about that injustice. We can aim it at the system of structural misogyny that backs it, or we can aim it at women who refuse to sacrifice their names, finances, careers, and safety to the fantasy that life is fair.

    Telling women that it’s “better to die on their feet than live on their knees” is choosing the latter.

  67. Fossilfishie

    Canadian law is complex, but it does not entirely exclude ‘violence’ between consenting parties; it does exclude violence which results in bodily harm.

    There are huge difficulties with applying the entire concept of consent to an act like choking; for consent to be meaningful you have to be able to withdraw it, which is hard, if not impossible, to do when the oxygen supply to your brain is greatly restricted.

    Restricting the oxygen supply to the brain can and does result in permanent brain damage; it is also incredibly easy to kill someone by mistake when choking them. I have no doubt that there are people who mistakenly believe they can do it safely but they would have a very hard time finding doctors to agree with them.

    That is why the sort of people John encounters at SF conventions don’t do the sort of things Ghomeshi is reported to have done…

  68. GlitterDuster, rather than backlash, it might help to think of the responses to you as information, and I hope you have read the links people have posted. Everything *is* much more complicated than you made it sound, and I thought you might never have thought through the complexities of some of the matters in question.

    I think until/unless it happens to you (and I hope fervently that it never does), you truly do not know what you will do. Some women do come forward. Others do not. The women who were assaulted by Ghomeshi had a few strikes against them that would make many young women decide that coming forward would be too harmful to themselves, who had already been harmed. They were much younger, mostly unknown, women who had been his fans or taken with his charismatic personality, who would have been put in the position of saying that a man of power was lying. It would have been their word against his, and he would have defended himself by saying it was consensual rough sex, and the evidence to the contrary would have been very hard to come by. If they had been drinking, that would have come back to haunt the women, as someone upthread noted (or maybe it was in one of the many articles linked here). If they had gone to his house willingly, that would have played into the depiction in court, whether it should or not.

    I was once on a jury in a trial in which the defendant was accused of raping his ex-girlfriend. I believed that he had done it. Unfortunately, I also found that the state had not proved its case, and I had to go by the evidence and not my personal opinion. It was eye-opening to listen to the personal opinions of my fellow jurors. There were men who understood why the defendant had at first denied that he and the ex-girlfriend had had sex on the occasion in question–he was sneaking around on his current girlfriend, snigger, snigger, the dog, so of course he lied! So in their view, that didn’t make his story less credible and therefore point to his guilt. There were women who felt that the sex must have been consensual because the ex-girlfriend (a very young adult, somewhat sheltered and naive) had tried to be friends with him after they broke up and “They had broken up, so why would she want anything to do with him, but she wanted to show him her pictures from her summer job abroad?” So in their opinion, the sex was most likely consensual. There was a woman who dismissed the bruises and rug burns because “it could have just been rough [consensual] sex” and the ex-girlfriend cried rape when her parents found out that he had come to the house. The state’s attorney’s office had barely bothered to investigate the case until the young woman and her family pressed them, and the state did (in my opinion) such a half-assed job that they had collected little evidence and put on the most pro forma of prosecutions, while the defendant had a very good lawyer. It was an unnerving experience to be on that jury, and one I will probably second-guess for the rest of my life. But there would have been no way to make my intuition and my understanding of a young woman in her circumstances (it would take too long to explain the background) into an argument that would have turned the other jurors’ opinions around–because that’s all we had to go by: our different opinions, the different stories given by the defendant and the victim, and limited, poorly handled evidence. I hope the experience made that young woman stronger, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it embittered her instead.

    Would it have helped if one or more of Ghomeshi’s victims had come forward before? We will never know. It is somewhat heartening that there seems to be more public support for the victims in this case than has been true in other cases involving celebrities accused of sexual assault. But I can’t help wondering whether it’s the squicky nature of Ghomeshi’s proclivities and his open admittance of them that is making the difference on that. Would he be getting more of a pass if it didn’t involve kink? We’ll never know that either, but I have my opinions about it.

    It’s not really a black-and-white “Die on your feet or live on your knees” situation, as far as I can see. There are other options, such as:”Be a lot more careful who you let yourself be alone with” and “Spread the word as best you can.” Grapevines, as described in one of the articles, spring up for a reason: So that people with less power use what power they do have to try to help others, even if in a limited fashion. I doubt that Ghomeshi’s victims consider themselves to have been living on their knees since the assaults. More likely, they feel that they have done what they could in the circumstances. Circumstances now have changed, and more of them feel safe coming forward.

  69. I agree that Glitterduster might do well to consider the responses received not as a backlash but as information. Information suggesting that maybe he or she (I’m not sure I know GD’s gender, is displaying some ignorance.

    I would also like to point out that at least two of the accusers say they did report inappropriate behavior to superiors or a union rep at their workplace.

  70. “Backlash” strikes me as a rather odd term to use in the circumstances, since it’s apparently referring to “people disagreeing with an opinion I put forth in the context of an ongoing discussion”. Likewise, a disclaimer that one is open to having one’s opinions challenged; that would be the default assumption, I hope, and not that the commenter is presenting their opinions with the expectation that nobody will contradict them?

    It also strikes me as very strange to use a quotation about fighting an oppressive political regime, in order to scold assault victims for not having promptly reported the assault to law enforcement even if they believed such reporting would be futile, or worse.That doesn’t look like victim-blaming; it is victim-blaming; it’s insisting that victims should have made a futile gesture, regardless of the cost, in the service of some abstract moral stand. As annalee notes, the point of this kind of victim-blaming is not really about the victims; it’s about making ourselves feel less anxious (the world is a good and fair place) and self-confident (in a tough situation, I would of course do the right thing).

    Let alone the waste of time and mental energy that goes into dissecting what the victim should have done, rather than what Ghomeshi should have done. If he enjoyed certain kinds of BDSM, why didn’t he negotiate them ahead of time? If he found that his partner never wanted to speak to him again, why didn’t he think about why that might be, and whether perhaps he crossed a line? As someone else said, even if you think you’re engaging in consensual BDSM, when multiple people say they felt assaulted by you, you’re doing it wrong.

    Re why people rushed to excuse Ghomeshi, there’s a belief that we “know” famous people based on their public personas; that they couldn’t have done thus-and-such, because in the context in which we encounter them, such actions are inconsistent with that person. We don’t, of course, actually know them.

  71. As someone who would directly benefit from more reporting and prosecution I absolutely do NOT think its the responsibility of other women to report in order to keep me safe. The first job of any assault victim is to try to survive, get to safety, and to take care of themselves and their own recovery. How they go about doing that, what steps they feel able or not able to take, what their timeline of recovery looks like, all of that is absolutely NOT my call.

    The idea that I have the right to demand that assault victims to throw themselves on the altar of some sort of quixotic quest to make the world safe for the rest of us – or to open themselves up to more abuse in order to stop the… uh. No.

  72. @Glitterduster: I have the same reflexive reaction you summed up as “die on your feet or live on your knees”, when hearing about something like this. I want to believe that in a similar situation, I would be the one to report, to defend others, to go down fighting rather than submit. That rush of “how DARE they” rage can feel overwhelming and empowering; I want to believe that I could do heroic things caught up in that rage, and that other people can too.

    Reality is of course so much more complicated. If I’m second-guessing and judging what person X did in an abuse/assault situation, that generally turns out to mean I am missing information or not successfully seeing it through their eyes, not that they were “wrong”.

    Something I learned in a self-defense course helped me change my mindset about this a lot: “Giving up” and “waiting for your moment” are completely different things. The women who are now coming forward to speak about Ghomeshi have been waiting for their moment to effectively strike back against an attacker much more powerful than them. The librarians referenced in an earlier comment are in a similar battle, and chose their moment differently. We should respect and cheer them on equally even if we kibbitz about their tactical choices from the sidelines.

  73. Glitterduster:

    I would rather go down knowing I at least tried to find justice, than sit and wait for some other person to get hurt, be silent, and have the vicious cycle continue.

    And you did that when you broke away from a background that was narrow and crippling into a wider understanding of the world. Now you have to keep doing it, which isn’t an easy thing to do. Here’s the main thing: speaking out doesn’t get justice most of the time and doesn’t stop the vicious cycle from continuing. That’s the large problem.

    This guy was actually being investigated by his employer because of workplace concerns that kept increasing. He would give women in the office backrubs and touches that were unwanted. And they let him do it because he was the talent. He would be harshly critical of young women in the office and get them tossed (presumably when they weren’t sexually available,) and they let him do it because he was the talent. It was, in the words of one of his producers, crazy but crazy was normal.

    So if you die on the hill? Nothing happens to him. Because the system is already supporting him being able to do the assaults and harassment, publicly, as part of his job perks. It’s not until it becomes too embarrassing, too public and too legally problematic that anything is going to occur. Even when the CBC fired him and the news story broke, the cops were saying they would not probably investigate. Even if somebody does file charges, it doesn’t mean anything is going to happen much. And certainly with workplace complaints, it doesn’t.

    So women do tend to live by another saying: “Better to retreat and live to fight another day.” That’s how women mainly fight. They do the grapevine. They teach their daughters about their experiences. They are vocal about making changes in the system towards sexual assault victims so others don’t go through what they did as much and have more options. They share their stories, but not the identity of the assaulters, which puts that discussion in the culture, even as they are mocked and threatened. They fight like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V7dw9i9iQ4Y

    And if, if, there seems a possibility that they could be believed — because a woman who has witnesses speaks out, or more than one woman comes forward, or journalists investigate and find evidence (that they almost still didn’t run,) etc. — then they come forward to fight that other day. And they die on the hill — because they didn’t stand like Joan of Arc, like in a movie, and denounce the man at the time it happened — often years ago when the situation was legally even worse than it is now.

    Which makes them bad women, who secretly must have wanted it. Which means that they can now be threatened with rape and death by guys on the Internet — and one or two stalking them in real life. Even with all the stories that then come out about the guy, about how he was allowed to do harassment in the workplace, in public, about how people knew but gave him a break, the women are still the bad folk. Because they’ve committed the crime of forcing people to think about how these things happen right next to them, which terrifies everybody. They are forcing people to look at their own behavior and assumptions.

    It’s hard to die on a hill if people don’t regard it as dying, but you instead being the one who is ruining society with your words.

  74. In a follow-up article that someone above already linked to, as of yesterday:

    – a 9th woman has come forward with allegations about being sexually assaulted by Ghomeshi

    – a second woman (it’s not clear in the article of it’s that same woman) has revealed her name

    – the crisis-management firm he hired for this situation, Navigator (described by the previous poster as regularly taking on prominent scumbags as clients), has dropped him–so apparently even they don’t want to touch this mess

    – the promo company he hired 2 years ago has dropped him

    – both of the Candian speakers bureaus that handled bookings for him have just dropped him

    – he has been dropped as presenter of a Nov 10 awards ceremony

    So clearly he’s not getting out of these allegations with a shrug and a smirk. He’s experiencing real consequences.

  75. It may be helpful to look at another powerful media figure in another public broadcasting company; Jimmy Saville and the BBC here in Britain. He was an immensely popular figure who abused his position to assault people over many years, and the BBC, along with other organisations including hospitals, refused to countenance the idea that their media star might possibly be doing things which were utterly repugnant to anyone other than a sociopath.

    Indeed, they refused to believe it to the extent of suppressing the results of investigations by their own journalists. In the end the sheer weight of the evidence was such that at least some part of the truth is known; the rest went with Saville to his grave.

    The link is to the BBC’s own round up page:


  76. I am confused why these women are coming out now when Ghomeshi is at the heights of his career and more famous. A lawyer and an actress, women of power, are so afraid of reporting rape. My understanding is if the women rescinded consent by words or actions, ghomeshi asked them to leave and was polite and not aggressive which allows the women to leave without any fear. This is their account of the incident and not ghomeshi. If there was no threat or fear, what stopped them from reporting.

  77. in BDSM the sub – the person experiencing pain

    I would just like to note that domination/submission are different from sadism/masochism, and also different from bondage/discipline. Any of these may occur at the same time and they may not. Many people who enjoy, say, spanking or being tied up have no interest in submitting at all, they’re just interested in the sensation, and don’t consider it any more inherently submissive than receiving oral sex is. Others really, really want to be submissive or dominant but don’t enjoy receiving or giving pain. Others still might use pain as part of humiliation play, but not because it’s their direct kink. That’s just one of the many reasons why actual BDSM requires communication — you have to know whether your set of kinks is compatible with the other person’s.

  78. Irene

    I was directing my observations towards the reports of Ghomeshi’s behaviour rather than talking about BDSM in general which would, of necessity, be both extremely lengthy and contrary to John’s request at the beginning of the thread.

    It is, I think, important for people with no knowledge of it to understand that, say, the person wielding the whip is not the person in charge. It’s obvious to you, but it’s so counter-intuitive that it has to be spelled out to people who don’t have that knowledge.

    I was also making it clear that punching and throttling people is not safe, sane and consensual BDSM…

  79. Stevie — I wasn’t disagreeing with you, except on the nitpicky point. I only meant to provide a footnote, as it were. And what John requested was that people not snark about BDSM.

  80. Stevie: Just followed your link to the Jimmy Savile articles. I was completely ignorant, probably because I’m an almost stereotypically uninformed-about-other-countries’-scandals American. But talk about a Missing Stair! More like an entire missing staircase, that people had been politely ignoring for decades . . . dear God.

  81. Irene, I appreciate your comment. I know a few people in the BDSM community, and I learned several years ago that the sub does have the power. It *was* counterintuitive to me at first, until a friend in the community explained it to me, then it made perfect sense. And on some level, I was aware of the distinctions you made, but I think it is helpful to have them spelled out. One of the good things coming out of this hideous mess is that it is providing opportunities to learn, which includes being sensitive to using terminology correctly, as people have been learning to do in other areas of sexuality that were unfamiliar. Thank you.

  82. I think -part- of the answer to “why are they coming forward NOW?” is that Toronto News (I might not have the name quite right–the news bureau that broke the story) chose to pursue this story now.

    According to one of the articles I’ve read today (I forget which one), Toronto News was working on the story in summer and informed CBC of it (which, I’m supposing, is why Ghomeshi decided to show homemade sex videos to his employers–his employer, having been warned the story was underway, said something to Ghomeshi like, “What’s going on?”)

    However or wherever the story first germinated with that bureau or team (a source told them something, or an incident or piece of information must caught the attention of a reporter or editor who decided to pull the thread and see what unraveled), once they had one woman on record and decided to look for others, and after they found FOUR women, they knew they had a big story. (Now there are 9 women.)

    And once they had four women, perhaps it was less frightening for the other women to come forward–the team could say to them, “We’ve already got X number of victims on record and ar protecting everyone’s identities,” rather than saying, “You’ll be out there on your own, twisting in the wind, exposed to this guy;s vengeance.”

    CBC knew the story was in play, according to that article, bceause they were warned. Ghomeshi prsumably knew it was in play, since he suddenly decided to share a homemade sex video with CBC to “explain” his sex life, and he hired Navigator for damage control (if I understand that timing correctly, he hired them BEFORE the story actually went public).

    I don’t know how they found the first woman or the first 4 women, but I get the impression from the articles that they were working on this for a few months. It’s not as if his victims suddenly all popped into view at once. There was research involved–and maybe some women they spoke to who declined to come forward?

  83. Mythago

    I entirely agree: my hope is that, in making people aware of the events in the Jimmy Saville case, they will realise that the vast imbalance of power, not to mention the hugely important influence of the desire to keep milking the cash cow, is precisely why the milkers will do just about anything to deny that there is anything wrong with the cow.

    As I recall you are a lawyer, and thus exceedingly accustomed to reading judgements; not everyone has my kink for them. Putting it briefly, the sentence decision in our Court of Criminal Appeals worked well…


  84. <>
    I hope that any article/investigation into this also outs those who knew and/or covered-it-up. At the very very least that producer should have had to balls to take him aside and tell him “we have a problem here” and to knock it off. What’s he gonna do–take his ball and go home? Then you just make sure that word gets around that he’s “a problem”. It always pisses me off in these situations that it goes on until somebody finally gets the backbone to say –“no more”.
    But then, I’ve never traveled in rarefied circles where money/power/fame is an end-all

  85. Mythago, that’s kind of what I meant by “an entire missing staircase,” I think, but didn’t spell out. (Should have. The “politely ignoring” was misleading, in context.) I hadn’t read the Ellis article, but it was plain from what I did read that there was a great deal more going on that people just being willing to take on a celebrity . . .

  86. Oh, damn. I meant, “people being unwilling to take on a celebrity.” And Stevie, I think your efforts at signal-boost are absolutely spot-on. At this point, spreading the story may be the best thing that can happen–well, I assume there are other people to be punished, of course, but still.

  87. For those who would like more information on how the story about him was broken by the journalist of Canadaland: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/10/27/jesse-brown-jian-ghomeshi-canadaland-patreon_n_6052444.html

    There were some workplace complaints lodged against him earlier. The CBC has hired an independent investigator to deal with the situation on their own turf. Two of the women have now officially filed abuse charges so the police are investigating and the video(s) and photos he showed to the CBC is part of that investigation. Having video evidence is very likely why many of the women are coming forward.

    An article on why women were slow coming forward: http://www.salon.com/chromeo/article/why_it_took_so_long_for_ghomeshis_accusers_to_come_forward/

    An article on him and the CBC work environment: http://news.nationalpost.com/2014/10/31/jian-ghomeshis-journey-from-immigrants-son-to-cultural-icon-to-pariah/

  88. Glitter: “Die on your feet or live on your knees.”

    If you are serious about having your worldview challenged about this, I believe the phrase you want to google is “moral theory of war”. Many people over a long long time have struggled with the issue and have come up with several requirements, several moral requirements, that must be met before you can morally go to war (and die on your feet).

    One key requirement is that there be some reasonable chance of winning and achieving your actual goal. If there is no such chance for victory, then any “dying on your feet” is futile, and demanding others die on their feet in such a situation is immoral.

    Just as an aside, most wars fail the moral litmus test.

    Its not exactly the same: moral war versus reporting rape, but the moral theory of war is a lense that can be applied for a different worldview.

    I believe the worldview you are describing, die on your feet or live on your knees, is essentially a black/white version of morality, and anything bad/immoral must be attacked-until-one-side-or-the-other-is-annhilated regardless of the cost. It places such a high premium on the ideal of possible perfection if we but destroy this evil that any individual cost is viewed as irrelevent. Certainly rape is evil and the world would be far better without it. But that doesnt mean everyone must sacrifice their careers, their families, their futures, their very lives, for even the remotest of possibilities that it would cause harm to a rapist. But that is the black/white worldview contained in “Die on your feet or live on your knees”.

  89. Well.

    I was pretty upset when I heard this, both because I thought Ghomeshi was terrific as a radio host, and because he was bringing BDSM into disrepute (or, I guess, into FURTHER disrepute). While there are people who actually do like to be choked (and subjected to “breath control,” which doesn’t involve cutting off blood supply, only air), those things are too extreme for me, because they’re dangerous.

    It seems clear (not “beyond reasonable doubt,” but clear enough for ordinary purposes) that Ghomeshi did not ASK these women for their consent before subjecting them to extreme practices. That makes them assault, not kink. So much for that.


    I’ve long been aware that I have a bit of a kink for figuring out what my partner likes and then doing it a lot. Being TOLD spoils it a little. I also like to be in control at all times (except for, ahem, the last few seconds). At least in control of myself, and preferably in control of the whole encounter. I like my partner to be out of control, but generally because I’m overwhelming him with pleasure.

    It took me a long time to realize that these tendencies mean I’m a dom. In fact, it took falling in love with a sub.

    I’m an extrovert with extremely well-developed mirror neurons. My partner’s pleasure becomes mine; my partner being frightened or disgusted or angry pretty much shuts me down, erotically speaking (kind of the opposite of a Highton Aristo, for fans of Asaro).

    Why am I saying all this? First, because when something is being defamed, it’s time to speak up as one of the people defamed (and make no mistake, part of what Ghomeshi is doing is defaming the BDSM community). Second, because I don’t think I’m an unusual dom, and Ghomeshi is the very opposite of me. He’s more like that Highton Aristo, who only gets off on non-con encounters, and who is a criminal in any civilized society.

  90. Andrew, I know. I was trying to be clever, but found another failure mode thereof.

    BW, the fact that you still wrestle with your jury decision says many good things about you as a person.

    Mythago, I’d hire you to do my lawyerin’ any day.

    Nutella, the caps need not be apologized for. That info could have had bold and italics and still not have been overdone (But not blink, for that is evil).

  91. “So clearly he’s not getting out of these allegations with a shrug and a smirk. He’s experiencing real consequences.”

    Note the word ‘allegations’. A man’s career is destroyed, virtually, on the basis of allegations not only unproven but in fact uncharged, even, in a court of law.

    As I said earlier, God help us all.

  92. Egil, welcome to the world of women whose lives are destroyed by allegations from men every fucking minute of the day. Goose, gander, shoes on feet, taste of medicine….

  93. TW,

    yeah, that’s why society invented a little thing called ‘the law’ before which all members of said society are in theory equal, and the first tenet of which is that a person is innocent until proven guilty.

  94. “Innocent until proven guilty” is not a moral tenet, Egil. In nations that apply that presumption, means that if the State accuses a person of committing a crime, the accused person is presumed innocent of that crime until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

    Here are things it *doesn’t* mean:

    -nobody is allowed to say a person has done a bad thing unless the bad thing is a crime, and the person has been convicted of that crime.

    -if A says B did something bad to them, we must assume A is lying (or, at best, that we cannot believe A over B) unless and until B has been convicted of criminal conduct towards A. Even if A’s story is corroborated by similar accounts from persons C through H.

    -an employer is not allowed to take action against an employee for their conduct unless the employee’s conduct resulted in a criminal conviction.

    Most importantly, what it doesn’t mean is that we must conduct all of our personal and business affairs by the rigid standards of the government’s burden of proof in civil cases.

  95. Egil

    John covered the presumption of innocence bit in his opening post; I think it would be helpful if you actually read what he wrote…

  96. I provided a link above for another case in which a highly popular media personality sexually assaulted young girls over a number of years; Stuart Hall made this statement to the media on the steps of the magistrates’ Court:

    “May I say these allegations are pernicious – callous, cruel and, above all, spurious. May I just say I am not guilty and will be defending these allegations. Like a lot of other people in this country today, I am wondering why it has taken 30 or 40 years for these allegations to surface. The last two months of my life have been a living nightmare. I’ve never gone through so much stress in my life, and I am finding it difficult to sustain. Fortunately, I have a very loving family and they are very supportive, and I think but for their love I might have been constrained to take my own life. They have encouraged me to fight on, to fight the charges and regain my reputation and good name and whatever I have represented to this country down the years. With that, I would like to thank everybody who has supported me for their goodwill which has sustained me through this absolutely horrific ordeal.”

    I think people will see the resonance with the statement made by Ghomeshi on his Facebook page.

    When the case went to trial Stuart Hall accepted that he had indeed committed the offences and pleaded guilty. His statement to the media had been a deliberate lie, made in the hope of deterring the witnesses from giving evidence against him. The only person being pernicious, callous, cruel and spurious was Stuart Hall himself, as he had been over many years…

  97. Egil, the CBC fired Ghomeshi *before* all this came out in public. At the time, even the Toronto Star had not published the story, and there was some question as to whether they would. The CBC fired Ghomeshi apparently (i.e., going by what has been made public) because there had been complaints about him from other employees, CBC management were questioning him, and the material that he himself provided persuaded them that they did not want him in their employ. Ghomeshi himself then posted a Facebook self-justification that made public things about him that nobody else had yet made public, and it went from there.

  98. It’s not clear that there were any complaints from fellow workers to CBS up until CBS fired Gomeshi; that doesn’t surprise me since ordinary workers tend to be terrified of offending the talent, and convinced that management will always take the side of the cash cow. That was certainly the case in the high profile media stars in Britain who have ended up in jail, or managed to get away with it long enough to die of old age, as did Jimmy Saville.

    CBS has put out a general statement to its staff:


    which suggests that, though they knew the press was investigating, they just carried on believing Ghomeshi when he denied any wrongdoing, right up to the point when he provided ‘graphic’ evidence showing that he had, in fact, physically injured someone in a way which was incompatible with the claim that it was ‘rough sex’ of a consensual kind.

    Even then, they didn’t disclose what they had seen to either the staff of CBS or the public; as BW has noted, it was Ghomeshi himself who wrote a long screed on Facebook. CBS had fired him, but it was Ghomeshi who turned to the social media to start his campaign…

  99. TW: “Egil, welcome to the world of women whose lives are destroyed by allegations from men every fucking minute of the day. Goose, gander, shoes on feet, taste of medicine….”

    Look, i strongly believe that the allegations against Jian are true. But this is you being an ass. Men doing shitty things to women is not solved by doing shitty things to men and saying “suck it”. Thats not the higher principle of equality being applied, its petty, vindictive, vengeance, and advocating for that makes you just as bad as the asshole men who do shitty thing to women.

  100. Reminder to everyone that I prefer you being polite to each other. Greg, you in particular have been told before to reel it in. You could have found another way to get your thought across, with rather less spittle.

  101. For further information on why women (and men) don’t report sexual assault, check out #beenrapedneverreported, a hashtag that started as an answer to the “why didn’t they go to the cops” question that has pervaded social media and water cooler conversations since this story broke, and has become a safe space for people to share their stories, often for the first time publicly. From what I’ve read about the stats, there have been somewhere around 13,000 uses of the hashtag since the movement began. These are the voices of the 90% of sexual assault victims who do not report their assaults.

  102. I think several good things have come out of this. #rapedneverreported was important. Women going to the Toronto police and talking to them, coming out as having been abused, is a good thing. The article one of his exes wrote about how she felt he was grooming her, in retrospect, is IMPORTANT. You don’t always recognize grooming until afterwards, unfortunately. (I had an abusive relationship, recently found some old papers/notes, and just went WOW). While, yes, they are still allegations against Mr Ghomeshi, I think it is important to see how many people, not just women, have been standing up and saying “this is wrong, it is NOT BDSM”.

  103. And for further insight into how high profile media personalities may operate when they are detected, taken from the judgement cited above:

    ‘The offender was an expert in the ways of the media. He was fully alert to the possible advantages of manipulating the media. At that date he was hoping to escape justice and he was, as we see it, attempting to use the media for the purpose of possibly influencing potential jurors. He was traducing thirteen adult women who had been sexually assaulted by him in different ways 20 to 30 years ago.’

    This was the man who, having claimed that it was all a pack of malicious lies, went on to plead guilty to multiple charges of sexual assaults on children…

  104. Egil, if you’re still reading (and good on you if you are, considering how little support your views are getting here), I don’t know whether you have read all the links in the original post and the comments–there were a lot of them. If you haven’t, this one has some bearing on the point you made:


    Aside from pointing out why drawing our own conclusions is very different from legal judgments of guilt or innocence, Ms. Harding makes some good points about how often we are asked to believe unreasonable explanations over reasonable ones when it comes to famous men who are accused of sexual assault.

    In particular, Ms Harding says: “I do not know for sure whether Ghomeshi is an abuser or the victim of an elaborate revenge campaign. But here’s what I do know for sure: He is asking us to believe that multiple former sex partners have chosen to accuse him of sexual violence—not the fun kind—in solidarity with one particularly bitter ex.”

    To accept Mr. Ghomeshi’s version: “It’s not just that one woman is so angry about being rejected by him that she falsely accused him of criminal behavior. It’s that she rounded up a bunch of other women, who all agreed they would lie to reporters in an effort to smear an innocent man. He has done nothing wrong, nothing non-consensual, yet all of these women hated him enough to conspire to get him fired and publicly humiliate him. They ‘colluded’ to establish a false ‘pattern of [nonconsensual, potentially life-threatening] behavior.’ Because one of them was rilly, rilly mad.

    “Can we take a moment to think about how incredibly unlikely that is? That doesn’t necessarily mean it can’t be the truth—sometimes, as they say, that’s stranger than fiction. But goddamn, it’s unlikely.

    “Can we acknowledge this for once, instead of mindlessly furthering the myth that women are so capricious and fundamentally terrible, we’ll gladly ruin an innocent man’s life, working together or separately? Can we pause to consider the deeply offensive implication that such behavior sounds more like something the average woman might do than something a desperate man would dream up to deflect attention from himself?”

    Short version: Mr. Ghomeshi’s explanation may be true, but it is less likely than the explanation that he abused several women over a long period of time. You are not required to believe the more likely version, Egil. Nobody is. We are also not required to believe the less likely version.

  105. I really appreciate people’s input on my comments. Unfortunately, I was being serious, but now I’m starting to understand that a hard-ass view of reality (i.e. black and white) doesn’t work. I won’t call it backlash from now on. There is a difference between that and simply having a different opinion/view on something, and expressing it.

    I’m honestly trying not to be an asshat here. I guess I’m trying to force my views on reality that don’t jive with it. I find that sad and disgusting that things rarely work out for victims of rape, and I thought that by trying to enforce a hard-ass view on things, maybe the situation would change (how that train of thought worked, I fail to understand now).

    I’m honestly not that much of a hard-ass in reality, but I wasn’t trying to hide behind anonymity as an excuse to be such. If I were to be completely honest here, I have been heavily influenced by my boyfriend, who has ideas and…I’ll call them moral standings, that seem to make a bunch of sense to me when it’s all spoken of hypothetically, but WOULD receive TRUE backlash of all kinds of any of his ideas were implemented in reality. I got the “Die on your feet or live on your knees” motto from him, and I thought it would fit here, but looking back, the context my boyfriend used it in was very similar to the way I used it, and I didn’t’/didn’t think the motto was appropriate there, either.

    I’m a person who can be very easily swayed on a lot of issues, if the arguments make sense if only hypothetically…my boyfriend makes some very convincing arguments, but…he has a very different view on the world than I do, and indeed, a very different view on the world from what a lot of people have. And his is one of the only views I have heard on many issues, being a very sheltered person growing up. I need to break out of only having my view on things, or only his view, or even a mix of the two.

    If you want to hear solely MY view on things, no matter how limited in scope they are? Assuming the justice system doesn’t **** up with either corruption or red tape, I think a convicted rapist should be shot in the head and disposed of. Same with murderers who killed in a pre-meditated matter or in cold blood. These people can’t be “rehabilitated,” they’re either highly functioning psychopaths who don’t care about the suffering they cause and only seek their own pleasure and power-trips, or they truly are animals who cannot control their actions and should be treated as any rabid animal: put down. But that’s a view a lot of people can agree on. It’s hardly a controversial view, from what I understand (and yes, I know people believe that rapists can be “saved,” or that the death penalty makes us just as bad as they are, but with the repeat offence statistics on these messed up individuals? Hardly something to be contended. And why keep around someone who does such grievous harm to society?)

    As for the victims, I know each person varies in their strength and what they can cope with, so I am not in reality gonna push them to “die on their feet” if they can’t handle it, especially if it is in vain. Nor am I gonna call it “living on their knees” if they decide to move on with their life as best they can considering the circumstances. That’s just a stupid thing to say to them, quite frankly (remember, these are MY views; they’re no longer being filtered through what my boyfriend believes). As someone who has a friend that has been raped, I know that not all rapes are tooth-and-nail fighting during the act, and that evidence can point towards the act being “consensual” thought it really wasn’t. Rape is unwanted sex, period, and it doesn’t have to be a scene to be traumatic, either.
    And you’re right, I have never been raped, so I don’t know how I would react, despite my worst-case-scenario thoughts. So if I don’t know my own thought-process/reactions to a rape if it were to happen to me, how dare I speak for someone else?

    As for the justice system being ****ed up? I don’t know what to do about that. And society’s general stance of victim blaming/innocence until proven guilty, no matter the crime? I don’t know what to do about that either. That’s why I gravitate towards my sweetheart for the answers, there, because he puts things in a way I can understand: black and white. Even he knows such a thing doesn’t exist, but a hard-ass view tends to make the “black and white” construct a thing, whether he likes it or not. And my Christianity makes me tend to like black and white more than all the shades of grey that are made apparent in this comment section.

    And for those of you who have guessed my boyfriend is an asshole from what I have said of his views, I will give it to you straight: Yes, he is. He’s abrasive, he’s arrogant, has a bit of a superiority complex due to his life experiences, and on top of all that he has a good heart. He only wants the best for the world, and not all of his ideas/views are so harsh as “Die on your feet or live on your knees.” However, some are. He is good to his friends, his family, and he is good to me. However, the less he knows someone, the more he looks at them and their problems “objectively,” (i.e. How HE would handle things if could assume their bodies and keep his personality), and that is something I do not appreciate in him, as that is impossible and a somewhat stupid thing to thing. That being said, he has never hurt anyone, doesn’t like hurting people, and would never hurt anyone unless they hurt someone he loved. I am not defending him or his actions, I am simply stating that there is no reason for anyone now to post that his views are “red flags” to my relationship with him.

    There. I think I have said what I wanted now.

    Thank you for reading and understanding. =)

  106. Well, my story is not unique, but here it is.
    Forty years ago, when I was 13, a boy I “liked” plied me with massive amounts of gin and pot at a house party. Typical of 1973, the party was quite out of control. The boy, 16, took me into a back bedroom and sexually assaulted me. He didn’t penetrate me, he did everything but that. I’d never even kissed a boy at this point.
    For a couple of weeks I was under the naive assumption that I now had a boyfriend. The next time I saw him, at yet another crazy house party, he ignored me completely. I locked the humiliation away and never spoke about it, ever. We moved in the same circles for another 2 or 3 years.
    Fast forward 25 years, to a school reunion. Ten women decided to go out for dinner prior to the school part of the event, we got to catching up.
    One of the women at dinner was the sister of my attacker. She told us of the years of abuse she had gone through at the hands of her brother, rape, as well as being “sold” to his friends, for joints or 10 bucks. This was an affluent crowd, all our parents were frequently away, left alone or with “household help”.
    When my friend decided she’d had enough and went to her parents, they didn’t believe her, they sided with the golden son. She was shunned, cut out of the family. She moved out of Toronto and her family has not spoken to her for over 30 years.
    As the conversation progressed, we went around the table and told our stories. It was the first time I had ever told anyone what had happened to me. It was traumatic, yet freeing. Seven out of 10 women recounted experiences that were without a doubt, non-consensual sexual assaults. Seven out of 10.
    Later that night, when I got home, I recounted the conversation to my “enlightened” husband (now ex-husband), who to this day considers himself a feminist. He did not believe me, he assumed we had whipped each other up into a frenzy and had all exaggerated our experiences. Oh yes, really. I felt so supported…….
    This has been a trying week. Every woman I know is having this conversation, so important to us all, men and women. My life was certainly not ruined because of the assault, I am a well-adjusted, productive member of the community.
    I did find my voice this week, which is a good thing. I will no longer be such a passive bystander as I have been, I will speak up & out. If you don’t believe me, watch out.
    I have a 20 year old daughter and we are talking about this. A lot.

  107. Glitterduster — thanks for being willing to listen. The world is a complicated thing. And even guys with good hearts can think that they can solve the world’s problems with their manly wisdom. :)

    The urge to shoot people in the head, while a visceral reaction, is one that is simply final and violent, and thus, prone to corruption, political power and mistakes. It becomes about shooting people in the head, as if they are the bad guys over there, the outliers, and it’s a philosophy that can be just as applied to shooting women as shooting men. It is currently applied to shooting more black people than white people, with the death penalty, street shootings by cops, etc. It becomes the license to shoot your neighbors, whoever you feel like, if you decide, in your personal view, that they are a waste of space. And the people who are usually decided to be a waste of space the most are oddly enough those with little money, the wrong color skin, the wrong religion, the wrong gender, etc.

    The justice bar has to be high when it comes to court charges of those accused of sexual assault, as it has to be for all crimes. But the problem is, as Megpie so deftly explained in talking about the ideal victim of rape and how chances of anything being done by cops decreases the further away from that idealized version of a woman victim we get, our society doesn’t really want to deal with the issue at all. Because we want to pretend that rape and other sexual assaults are rare, done by a few bad guys to women who act like sanctified virgins, bad guys who strike without warning, who we can just murder and they’ll go away. We pretend that the rest of the women who don’t fit the ideal scenario are lying or were mistaken, weren’t really raped or assaulted. It’s way less scary that way.

    But the people who decide to do repetitive assaults of partners or others they know are people we know, friends, co-workers, lovers sometimes. They don’t lurk in the shadows. They are part of our society, and that society accommodates and helps them assault, so that people in society won’t have to think about it, or how women are viewed in the society. That’s why the “ideal victim” for it to be rape or sexual assault exists — she’s our attempt to deflect having to deal with reality, as is the sentiment that society will rescue the women against the “deviant” AFTER he’s assaulted her, by shooting him in the head.

    So a predator goes after women who are drunk, or who they drugged, or women they’ve managed to get alone or who have to work with them, because then society will say the assault isn’t true and was the woman’s fault in any case. They go for backrubs and unwanted touching and kissing, grinding on crowded subways and catcalls on the street, threats that are labelled as jokes. And the people around them shrug and accept it. And snarl at women who bring up that it isn’t okay, because they’re bringing up reality. They treat the predator as a missing stair, forcing women to use grapevines about the missing stair, because the society would like any victim of sexual harassment and assault to shut the hell up. That’s the culture we live in. That’s why we call it rape culture. Not because all the men are rapists, but because the culture itself supports covering up for rape and sexual assault, diminishing it, dismissing it, so it doesn’t have to deal with it and how much it is a part of our views of sexual rights and our societal experience.

    The culture keeps itself unsafe for women, claiming men are hairy beasts and that women and others they may target just have to accept that jungle and take steps to minimize their being potential targets, ignoring the fact that no matter what victims do, they are still in the jungle. The jungle is society. The jungle is your workplace. The jungle is a well-lighted street in a suburban neighborhood. The jungle is your bedroom.

    And it doesn’t have to be a jungle. We can change it, not by shooting men in the head, but by changing how we view women in it, by not trying to silence victims, by looking at our and others’ behavior and not just shrugging. We can change it with laws and with the police. It won’t eliminate sexual assault, because sexual assault is about anger and power, but it will make it a lot harder for assaulters to operate freely, and it will make it easier for women to speak. Forty years ago, women were openly felt up at SFF conventions, including by prominent authors and entertainers, and were expected to like it, pretend it was a joke. So women were a lot less likely to go to conventions. But they spoke up, they went against the culture and it changed. But there were still issues, and so began the work of trying to get conventions to adopt effective harassment policies and to catch up with changes in the law.

    This makes a lot of people nervous, that change in culture. It makes them worry their behavior will be under too much scrutiny. They’re sure that women will be out to get them with lies, or be hysterically over-reactive (if they aren’t forced to be silent and put up with stuff others want to do to them,) that all men will be proclaimed evil and women will gain power to ruin conventions, video games, etc. A change of the culture means that they will have to deal with the problem being right there, close and huge and in their backyard, and not easily dispatched with a few shrugs or shots to the head of someone who finally did enough damage to have to be dealt with.

    We have fought to change the culture — sometimes with a lot of deaths, literally, on the hill, and the culture is actually less violent than it used to be because of it. But some violence, the thorny ones, the ones where your black neighbors live in fear for their lives every day and you pretend they don’t, the ones where your daughter has to be very careful about how she drinks a glass of water and we pretend that’s just her job, remains and is shushed under the rug or vigorously disputed as existing, or attempted to be very controlled in discussion of it, to make sure other people in society don’t have to feel bad about it.

    There’s going to be collective amnesia after this case, no matter what happens to him. After all, he’s Canadian, so U.S. people will forget soon. And celebrities are a dime a dozen (if radio guys can be considered celebrities anyway.) And he’s a one-off, of course, with his S&M and multiple complaints. He’s the bad guy over there who deserves to be shot. He’s not even white. Not one of us. Except that, of course, he was one of us, and everybody who worked with him let him harass, hit on young things, be abusive — complaints to his boss from co-workers were ignored. Because it was normal, because it’s our society, because we pretend it’s not an issue until something really bad happens to preferably multiple women. Or until the culture and the law change.

    So, keep talking, Foundmyvoice. It’s a terribly hard thing you are doing, but you’re changing the jungle for your kid, and there are a lot of people walking with you.

  108. Thanks. It is actually surprisingly not that hard. I’ve been a bit obsessed with this story for the last few days, but I feel done with it, with the pain. I was never again assaulted, all my subsequent sexual relationships have been warm and loving. I was one of the lucky ones, I didn’t go down a destructive path. At least not a sexually abusive one:)
    Nevertheless, I will raise my voice when I read crazy shit.

  109. Foundmyvoice

    I too have a daughter, though we’re not talking about this at the moment because she’s a doctor, working very long night shifts, and the hours she has off are needed for sleep.

    We will talk about it because the culture Kat describes is pretty much the same in Britain, and we have had a horrendous series of cases of media celebrities who used their power and influence to provide themselves with targets to abuse, secure in the knowledge that the targets, and the targets families, had no real recourse.

    But change does happen, which is why we have at least some of those people behind bars for assaults perpetrated many years ago. Change happens because you had the courage to talk about it, and recognise that your then husband was prepared to dismiss women’s voices telling him things he didn’t want to hear, because it was so much easier for him to conclude that obviously you were all making things up.

    And, thanks to Ghomeshi’s $55,000,000 lawsuit, it is going to be much more difficult for collective amnesia to set in; CBC can’t slide it out of sight and hope that people will forget about it because people get distinctly miffed at the prospect of a publicly funded organisation paying out vast sums of the public’s money to someone who feels entitled to it because they hurt his feelings.

    So, one way or another, they are going to have to face up to it, and that means the whole issue of violent sexual assault can’t be sidelined; sooner or later they will have to be publicly accountable for tolerating a culture which fostered the belief that the talent could do more or less what he wanted because he had a really popular show.

    On this side of the Atlantic we are waiting for the report on the BBC’s corporate behaviour, and the extent to which they enabled predators; I am sure that the CBC is only too well aware of that…

  110. TW, apologies for letting my anger get the better of me. Seeing someone delight in an injustice the way you did angered me but that doesn”t mean I should have let my anger drive my reply to you. I apologize for the name calling.

    GlitterDuster: “being a very sheltered person growing up. I need to break out of only having my view on things, or only his view”

    I’m going to assume you’re on the younger end of the spectrum for poeple on this thread. No one can fault you for growing up “sheltered” because we all are born as blank slates and some evolutionary responses put in firmware. The only question is whether you can learn, whether you can challenge your worldviews and change them, drop the ones that don’t work and adopt new ones that do, in response to new information… OR whether you seek out that which only confirms what you already believe.

    Based on what you’ve said on this thread, you may be young, but you can apply the skills.

    “Assuming the justice system doesn’t **** up with either corruption or red tape”

    Well, that’s the thing, though. If you have perfect people, pretty much any system of government you design will be fine. A tyrant would be nothing but benevolent. A capitalist society would also be caring. The trick is dealing with the fact that we not perfect, none of us, we’re human, we screw up, and what sort of system would we design to deal with the fact that those very same imperfect humans will be the ones in charge of the system.

    ” he puts things in a way I can understand: black and white”

    This I don’t believe. You understood the shades of grey in this thread just fine. I think the issue is that a gray universe doesn’t come with easy answers. Men and women have been struggling with questions like what is justice and what is the best system of government for thousands of years and still haven’t figured it out. And some days, that can be a little depressing.

    black and white answers may be a bit easier than shades of grey reality, but the draw of black and white I believe is that they’re comforting: if we just do this, it’ll all work out. A constitutional democracy says if we do this, it might work out, but we still have to keep an eye on things forever. Shades of grey answers are work. Black adn white answers invariably come packed with the promise of some form of heaven somewhere along the line.

  111. I should also add that I never made a police report or had to deal with our inadequate, still horribly biased judicial system. Knowing what I do about this, I choose not go down that road.
    Those that do go there have an entirely different row to hoe. My row is a cake walk in comparison.
    I will speak my piece though, I believe this is a better choice than filing a complaint 40 years after the fact.
    My power comes from joining the dialogue. Well, I was always part of the dialogue, but this week I decided to join it more forcefully. I’m done with this shit.

  112. foundmyvoice:

    I noticed you commented here with two different names and changed the other name to reflect the first under which you commented. If you’re comfortable being identified with the second one, let me know.

  113. So, keep talking, Foundmyvoice. It’s a terribly hard thing you are doing, but you’re changing the jungle for your kid, and there are a lot of people walking with you.

    So much this. Thank you for speaking up when it was the right time and place for you to feel safe doing so.

  114. I was just trying to figure how this happened. I did not sign out, back in. Obviously was not paying close enough attention. Not happy, not sure what I did.

  115. I haven’t seen anyone else say exactly this, so I thought I’d put it out there: sometimes, going to the police or the press or even your friends also is something that doesn’t happen because that makes it feel real for the first time, or clear that it was an assault.

    I almost don’t feel like I have the right to say that, but here’s why I am saying it: an ex-boyfriend of mine gagged me during sex. He was more experienced in BDSM than I was, and there was a vague understanding that I wanted to test the waters whenever we engaged in sex, but he didn’t ask me first about this kind of play. I pulled back, thinking it was just a weird slip or…something. He did it again. I then verbally told him I didn’t like it and asked him not to do that again; he agreed and never did it again.

    It was one of those cases in which my boundaries were violated but then things stopped and life moved on; I don’t think it was an assault. I was still so weirded out, though, that I was ashamed to say anything to even my closest friends (or my therapist at the time), and let myself feel like it was just me being a n00b/bad at BDSM. It would have made it too real to say that he’d done something to me without asking first that had caused me fear and physical discomfort; it would have been a case of something that I “never would have let happen to me” having happened to me. In the aftermath of my breakup with him, I did talk about it with friends, and found out that it wasn’t okay for him to just try BDSM things with me without any discussion, let alone my consent, per community standards; I wasn’t making it up that it shouldn’t have happened that way. I’m still embarrassed, to this day, even as I write this, though, and ashamed.

    So, yeah, I can easily understand how others who have been assaulted, especially by someone they initially found attractve or admirable (let alone powerful), might not want to come forward. I suspect that’s why one of my dear friends called me crying in the middle of the night, seeking comfort, when she had been raped by someone she was just starting to date, and never went to the police or his employer. I won’t pretend to know anything more than the words some of Mr. Ghomeshi’s accusers have told us in public about the situation under discussion and whether they felt this way, but for those trying to gain insight, it’s another possible piece.

  116. Stevie:

    And, thanks to Ghomeshi’s $55,000,000 lawsuit, it is going to be much more difficult for collective amnesia to set in; CBC can’t slide it out of sight

    Actually, that’s not the big factor, again, because as a union employee, his lawsuit doesn’t have a hope of going anywhere in the courts. It was mainly a PR move. CBC isn’t going to be paying any tax money to him (though of course there are those legal fees.) The bigger factors are first that at least one employee lodged a complaint against him earlier for verbal abuse, and nothing was done and the complaint went missing, you know, as they do. They have hired an independent investigator to figure out what they did, and it is likely the culture at the CBC radio will improve. But the CBC isn’t the BBC — it’s not necessarily going to have a larger impact in Canadian radio and t.v. It might, but it’s definitely not going to have that much of a ripple effect anywhere beyond Canada.

    Second, the CBC has/was shown the video evidence, kind of like the NFL situation. Now that two women have filed formal claims, the police are investigating and that video or videos are prime priority. So the CBC will definitely do all it can to cooperate, which will further dump the lawsuit. If there is a trial, there will be plenty of media play of it, but on the lasting side, we know that even when there’s a video, that doesn’t necessarily cut it. And he’s Iranian-British-Canadian, so yeah, Canada isn’t free at all of that sort of prejudice, even if they don’t have a U.S. South. It will be dismissed as a sick person, an outlier, not one of us.

    And it’s not necessarily going to kill his career. He’s fled to L.A., talk radio and the Web is generally welcoming of those in his situation. When a missing stair finally gets tackled, it doesn’t mean he gets replaced. Or that people suddenly believe that there are more missing stairs and they need to be at least confronted. R. Kelly still has a career, Chris Brown, Mike Tyson, Charlie Sheen, Roman Polanski, etc. The charge is that these allegations will destroy his life. What he did to cause the allegations might destroy his career, maybe his life, but the odds are in his favor. After the scandal is enjoyed, we will forget about him as soon as possible, because we don’t, collectively as a society, want to think about him too hard.

  117. Kat,

    That’s why I’m really glad criminal charges have been laid. Not because I think he’ll do jail time (although it would be nice if those videos he thought were exonerating are actually incriminating), but because I hope the criminal case will make it harder to effect a “comeback” in five years.

    With the courts involved, I think it’ll be less likely to be brushed off as a “sex scandal” (which can be spun as harmless or even glamourous).

  118. Kat

    He isn’t claiming wrongful dismissal; that, as you say, is precluded by his membership of the union. His claim is primarily based on libel law, and libel law in Canada is a great deal closer to English law than US law. In England stating that someone has committed an act of violence could land you with a libel suit which you would lose unless you could prove it, and what he appears to be doing is trying to muddy the waters to the point where proving it is extremely hard.

    I bow to your superior knowledge of the sort of people who can make a career in the US, notwithstanding their actions, but the people you have cited were famous in the US before they became notorious; it may be trickier for someone starting from scratch.

    In any event, a change in the culture at CBC seems to me to be a worthwhile goal; Jimmy Savile carried on sexually molesting children and adults into his eighties, which gives you some idea of just how much damage can be done by privileging an individual seen as the talent.

    Jian isn’t Jimmy, and it may not be a giant step forward, but at least in future women will have information which may help to keep them safer; I’ll take that over the alternative anyday…

  119. Bunwat

    I share the view of you and others of ‘Found my Voice’; it’s a hugely difficult thing to do, and society does its very best to prevent it ever happening. Kudos indeed!

  120. Lurkertype: In your last comment you gave a nice compliment to me, but I am not the person who deserves it. You were probably thinking of BW’s comment. Credit where credit is due.

    There are some very thoughtful comments in this thread. Compare/contrast to some of the comments on an article posted on Salon.com about Ghomeshi….yeesh.

    It’s amazing how the issue of men being misogynists and worse is piling up in the news these days — from old allegations of sexual assault against Bill Cosby, to gamergate, to Sen. Lindsay Graham’s “jokes” in a recent speech, to this Ghomeshi situation. It seems like it’s everywhere.

  121. Murmbeetle:

    Criminal charges haven’t been laid yet. Formal complaints to the police have been made and the police are investigating whether to lay charges or not. And all the celebrity men I mentioned did have criminal charges laid against them and it didn’t stop a comeback. Tyson actually did serve jail time for rape, so he did at least pay his debt. And he had a further career. Given the circumstances, criminal charges may not ever be laid against him, or he may be acquitted if so, or he may cut a deal that does not include jail time. And initially, police couldn’t investigate at all because no formal charge had been laid by the women.


    He’s claiming breach of confidence and defamation. But because he’s part of the union, he doesn’t have legal standing because he’s supposed to work through grievance procedures first on claims related to his employer. And the defamation claim has got no merit:


    The combined assessment of legal folk in Ontario is that it’s a PR move. However, at this point, given that many women have come forward, it’s one that won’t work for him.

  122. Kat

    Thank you, but I’d already read it; both the article and I have pointed out that the burden of proof is on the CBC in a defamation suit, hence my observation.

    And since I have devoted hefty chunks of this thread to not only commenting on the way in which media celebrities manipulate the media on their own behalf, but also quoting from the Stuart Hall judgement thereon, it’s not exactly news to me that this is what Ghomeshi is doing. You seem to have overlooked that, so let me repeat it:

    ‘The offender was an expert in the ways of the media. He was fully alert to the possible advantages of manipulating the media. At that date he was hoping to escape justice and he was, as we see it, attempting to use the media for the purpose of possibly influencing potential jurors. He was traducing thirteen adult women who had been sexually assaulted by him in different ways 20 to 30 years ago.’

    I don’t know whether the Canadian police have 13 women prepared to give evidence against Ghomeshi in court as yet, but I doubt it.

    Incidentally, top dollar law firms do not allow themselves to be used solely for someone else’s purposes; they are only too well aware that their own reputations have monetary value, and being perceived as launching nuisance suits damages that reputation.

    And whilst I entirely agree that there are a number of lawyers claiming that it will fail, every single civil case that goes to the courts here has lawyers who think it will succeed and lawyers who think it will fail; that’s what an adversarial legal system is about.

    And in every single case one set of lawyers will be wrong, which is probably why I tend to regard the views of lawyers commenting in the media with rather less confidence than you do.

    Without knowledge of precisely what happened between CBC and Ghomeshi during his tenure there in general, and the months leading up to the split in particular, we simply can’t make that judgement. The internal memo from CBC to its employees says, inter alia:

    ‘In early summer of this year, a Q employee received a letter from a reporter, asking about Jian’s behaviour and suggesting that his behaviour may have ‘crossed over’ into the workplace. As a result of that information, and with the assistance of our human resources team, we conducted an investigation that included a number of direct interviews with CBC employees and management. That investigation determined that there were no complaints of this nature about Jian’s behaviour in the workplace.’

    The most obvious omission is that it is totally silent about former employees, or people such as interns, but that final sentence is beautifully crafted; they don’t define what they mean by complaints and they don’t define what they mean by ‘of this nature’. The result is that it is essentially meaningless, whilst looking specific.

    CBC was not apparently worried about ‘rough sex’; the internal memo suggests that it was the non-consensual aspect which was of concern to them, from spring onwards when Ghomeshi first approached them.

    It seems probable that his lawyers will lean hard on the fact that it was Ghomeshi who approached his employer, and was apparently believed, that the employer subsequently conducted an investigation which exonerated him, and that he continued to try to resolve the issue to the point of showing them what he thought was evidence of the consensual nature of his activities, at which point CBC clutched its pearls and fired him.

    That story is very obviously a story, but it’s the sort of story which can work in court, particularly since the Canadian media is now knee deep in people saying that everybody knew about Jian; CBC is going to have some difficulty in explaining why everybody didn’t include the management of CBC…

  123. I am not disparaging or judging anyone’s reasons for not reporting in cases like these. However, there is some misinformation floating around that I believe feeds into a cyclical trend of non-reporting.

    (I’m using US statistics here because I couldn’t find similarly detailed ones for Canada. http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/fdluc09.pdf)

    The total conviction rate in cases of rape is 68%. That is higher than that of any other crime except murder. Of those convictions, the incarceration rate is 89%. Again, higher than any other crime except murder. Now granted only something like 1 in 4 reports lead to an arrest, the number one reason these cases are dropped is victims recanting their accusations.

    So unless I’m egregiously misreading the stats, it would seem that reporting rape is in many cases far from futile and that the justice system is not a “sick joke” (as an earlier commenter portrayed it) in this regard. I think that in a rush to support and respect victims (a laudable aim), this misinformation gets repeated in the dialogue, discouraging more victims from reporting.

  124. the number one reason these cases are dropped is victims recanting their accusations.

    It’s standard for victims to be pressured to drop charges. That’s part of the problem.

  125. @ethan: Just a few things to think about. In my area – the only one I’ve done this much research for – roughly two thirds of the rape cases that make it to formal charges involve minor victims, meaning it literally could not have been consensual in the eyes of the legal system. Most end in a plea bargain, not in an outright conviction, even given that.

    Rape is also one of the only crimes in the U.S. judicial system where the sworn testimony of the victim is insufficient to establish an essential element of a crime, meaning that those cases are drawn from reports where there is some extra evidence of a lack of consent, usually some evidence of violence. The specificity required for evidence often bars cases where the victim was unconscious at any point.

    So by the time a case makes it to the courts, it’s already part of a somewhat select crop of cases clearing a series of hurdles that rule out most common rape scenarios. So it seems like a fair assumption those stats are not representative of the outcome of your average rape report.

  126. Stevie:

    Pals in Canada who study unions, law and Canada, say that he is going to have a very hard time getting anywhere, especially if the union isn’t backing him, which they don’t seem to be doing. CBC can easily disprove the defamation charge — in large part because Ghomeishi came to them with video evidence. As for the breach of confidence charge, the CBC didn’t do a breach. The Toronto Star and Canadaland.com were already investigating him and didn’t get any info from the CBC or even approach them apparently, and it was Ghomeishi himself who came out with the information to the media. The CBC only announced simply that they were parting ways. They didn’t leak anything, and they did not put forth anything that they can’t back up as the truth as they knew it.

    I’m sure there are lawyers who think they can get a settlement out of the CBC, especially as it looks like the CBC dropped/missed an earlier complaint of workplace abuse. But settlements are more likely to go to that employee and possibly to the universities who are now at legal risk for having endangered their interns. (And the stories coming out from the academic community on that are getting worse and worse.) Ghomeishi doesn’t really have a leg to stand on, plus the union complication, which is why he didn’t try to go for a wrongful dismissal suit instead.

    And now that Ghomeishi is facing possible criminal charges, even though I don’t think it may come to charges, he may have to be making a bargain there with the cops. Which isn’t going to support his lawsuit either. Basically, he filed the lawsuit when he thought he was dealing with one, maybe two women, so it was a viable strategy and standard practice. Now there are at least nine and more stuff coming out about him every day. Even if all the women won’t testify in court, it’s making it much easier for CBC to get the suit dismissed. But they’ll have the legal issues of having let this guy operate as an abusive, harassing employer on their watch.

  127. I wonder if anyone else (in addition to me) would like to explore a different question? This discussion, like many others, has spent a lot of time on what the victims could, should, might be able, were prevented or not from doing. And I must say, explored the question in a much more civilized fashion than a lot of other places on the web, so kudos!

    But going back to something mythago said up there a ways;

    “Let alone the waste of time and mental energy that goes into dissecting what the victim should have done, rather than what Ghomeshi should have done. If he enjoyed certain kinds of BDSM, why didn’t he negotiate them ahead of time? If he found that his partner never wanted to speak to him again, why didn’t he think about why that might be, and whether perhaps he crossed a line? As someone else said, even if you think you’re engaging in consensual BDSM, when multiple people say they felt assaulted by you, you’re doing it wrong.”

    Can we explore that more? What could Gomeshi have done differently? What could people around him who enabled or ignored his problematic behavior have done differently? Because as this all unravels it becomes clear that there were a lot of red flags for a very long time. Just because those red flags didn’t add up to a perfect slam dunk of a prosecutorial dream case, does that mean the answer is to do nothing until there a pattern of provable criminal offenses?

    Can we not as a society start developing some social pressure to stop these things before they go on for decades and traumatize multiple people?

  128. Ethan

    Having plodded my way through all 40 pages of the statistical analysis of the 75 largest urban centres in the USA, I must confess to being completely baffled by the numbers you cite.

    If you look at Figure 16 on page 24, which analyses convictions by the most serious arrest charge, the bar chart shows that rape convictions are a great deal lower than murder, indeed, they are lower than every offence other than assault. I think you may be getting confused by the fact that people are tried on multiple charges, and the bar chart helpfully distinguishes them.

    The report states at page 26 that 100% of murder convictions resulted in incarceration, but 89% of both rape and robbery convictions resulted in incarceration, which contradicts your comment.

    And finally, I haven’t a clue where you get the stuff about people retracting complaints from; perhaps you could point me to the page?

  129. @ERose – “Rape is also one of the only crimes in the U.S. judicial system where the sworn testimony of the victim is insufficient to establish an essential element of a crime, meaning that those cases are drawn from reports where there is some extra evidence of a lack of consent, usually some evidence of violence. The specificity required for evidence often bars cases where the victim was unconscious at any point.”

    This is not true.

    First, sworn testimony is sufficient to establish the crime. (It is rarely sufficient to lead to a conviction, but a defendant convicted on sworn testimony alone could have their conviction upheld).

    Second, lack of consent is the element of the crime most likely to be supported by sworn testimony alone. The fact is lack of consent is often proved by the victim simply swearing to it (because, absent chemical incapacitation or a struggle, and thank god that we no longer require victims to prove that they tried to physically resist, the only proof will be the victim’s testimony that that they said no).

    Third, cases where the victim was unconscious at some point are absolutely prosecutable with sworn testimony alone. In fact, they are some of the easier convictions to get with testimony alone, because the victims unconsciousness is going to explain to the jury why there isn’t other physical evidence (e.g. why there is no sign of a struggle, which many juries will want to see even if there is no longer any requirement that there be one).

    Finally, in most cases from most crimes that have a victim a conviction requires some additional proof beyond a sworn statement from the victim. That is, you can, in theory, convict with a sworn statement alone, but in practice you need extra evidence to convince a jury and overcome a competent defense. For example, if I want to send Adam to jail for stealing my car, my sworn testimony that I saw him get in my car and drive off without my permission is legally sufficient but a conviction is going to require showing things like proof that I owned the car, finding the car in his possession, etc. Likewise, if I want to send Bob to jail for assault and battery, I better have proof of my injuries. (And if I want him convicted of doing so with a deadly weapon, prospectors will need to find that weapon and/or show I had physical injuries consistent with that weapon.) If I want to send Caleb to jail for arson, I am going to have to show some physical evidence of a fire my testimony that I saw him burn down my house will not be enough on its own. And so on.

    My point is, that yes the legal system is, in far too many ways, hostile to victims of sexual assault and rape, but it is not nearly as hostile as it is often made out to be. Exaggerating or misinforming people of the level of hostility, in the end, does no one any good – it discredits legitimate concerns, it increases distrust, and it may encourage people who would otherwise be helped by coming forward to press charges from doing so.

  130. Kat

    I am happy to note that we actually agree on just about every issue of principle; I think my response was driven by much the same thoughts which are on Bunwat’s mind. Your series of posts seemed to be implying that it was all inevitable and Mr Ghomeshi could make a glittering career and everything would carry on as before, and I find that thought deeply depressing.


    Much of this comes down to a toxic environment in which managers would do almost anything to prevent anyone upsetting the person generating the high audience numbers. I think that, from what we have seen so far, CBC seems to have behaved in much the same way that the BBC did; equally, the ability to ignore uncomfortable thoughts is not confined to managers in media organisations.

    John has commented before on the way in which people who have read his books, or Whatever, may think that they actually know him as a person, when self-evidently they, and indeed we, don’t. The vast majority of the people who rushed to defend Ghomeshi on Facebook didn’t know him, but they thought they did; that is perhaps an inevitable result of celebrity culture, and I think it is also linked to the way in which technology has changed the ways in which we interact with each other.

    One of the mea culpas I came across was from a lawyer who works on behalf of disadvanted people; she has had to confront why she doubted the original reports and changed her mind when two middle class and successful women, one of them a lawyer, said the same things. The reason was her unconscious biases, in which archaic terms like ‘jilted’ seem perfectly reasonable and natural, and of course such a woman would set out to destroy someone, and enlist other women to help.

    I’m not sure that Ghomeshi wanted to do things differently; if you enjoy inflicting terror, and being choked is pretty terrifying, there isn’t much in the way of alternatives. That leaves it to the rest of us; we can start by recognising that power corrupts and set up systems which recognise that fact. It is, of course, much harder to do than to say…

  131. Bunwat: What you’re talking about is culture change and corporate change. When employees don’t feel safe ratting on star talent, when complaints get ignored, you’re going to have the situation that you had at the CBC with him. That climate is now likely to change, and it does serve to alert other Canadian media to potential legal problems which may make changes there. Likewise, there is a ripple effect in the universities and their intern programs likely to occur from this.

    Laws that protect workers from discrimination and harassment help. It depends on who is running the government on whether those laws get passed or whether employers can fire anybody for any reason laws get passed. Conversations about the case can help, in the same way that the NFL conversations helped, mostly by making people understand that this is not an outlier case, that this is very normal and common. That’s why so many groups in so many areas would like to stop those conversations from happening and women and other sexual assault victims from talking about it, or from what they are saying as being legitimate. Court reform is obviously an on-going process; it’s a lot better than it used to be, but there are still a lot of problems.

    And then there’s the Internet — that’s not country specific. And as women do better in some countries, each advance means that many see them as threats, as people who need to be shut up, hurt and humiliated, and that’s where we get fun things like GamerGate. The Internet is global — if you have money and equipment, you can get on the network and get at anyone else who is on the network, to one extent or another. But if the culture of various countries change, that does marginalize those attempts and legal adjustments are developing. Companies like Twitter, Facebook, etc. are going to have to do a better job of handling criminal attacks.

    But for predators, it’s mainly a tolerance issue. The more people around the person tolerate the behavior as normal and okay, the better they can operate. The more people refuse to address women’s very real daily problems with sexual harassment, and try to shut down women from talking about those problems, the better they can operate.

    Stevie: I wouldn’t say it will be a glittering career from this point in, but yes, he will have a career. Even if he goes to jail for a time — which is unlikely — he will likely have a career afterwards. That career will probably be in the U.S., though. Canadian media is a small industry — a lot of bridges got burned there.

  132. bunwat: What could Gomeshi have done differently?

    He could stop being a (redacted)

    big doodie head, for starters.

    Not sure what the question is looking for. Are you asking how could someone interested in BDSM find someone interested in playing in that area? If that’s the gist of the question, then he could start by not being such a big doodie head, and then he could do what normal people do when they’re on the relationship scene: talk. negotiate. respect the answers you get. and so on.

    Apparently consensual BDSM might fall afoul of the law in Canada, so in that case, he might want to move to a different country too.

    But honestly, I don’t see a BDSM conversation with a potential partner as much different than a “use a condom” conversation. It’s important that you talk about it up front, get educated, and know what you’re doing, because NOT doing that can get you killed.

    Even a purely physical relationship can be mutually beneficial and have respect for both parties. Nothing in any of the… eh… “encounters” with Jian that I’ve read so far indicate he was interested in a relationship of any kind. They occur more along the lines of “Hi” and then slamming someone’s head against something.

    The thing about role playing is that you have to know that its role playing. You can role play tying someone up or being tied up, but cheese and fried rice, you have to know that it really is just role playing. (And there’s some safety things specific to that sort of role playing, google will help there)

    Jian’s encounters don’t occur as roleplaying. It’s not like “I’ll pretend this and you’ll pretend that, and if anything goes wrong, shout SAFEWORD, and we’ll stop”. They read, as described by the people reporting him, as assault, battery, and rape. which makes him a doodie head, and he needs to stop.

    Thing is, there’s a whole world of people out there who enjoy roleplaying in the areas of bondage, domination, sadoism, and masochism. They like it. And if you like it, or at least think you want to try it to see if you like it, you would do pretty much the same thing you would as having the condom conversation. Talk, listen, respect, and practice safe sex. The caveat is, again, that there are extra safety issues for some BDSM stuff because even though you might, for example, roleplay tying someone up against their will, the “against their will” is roleplay, but the “tie them up” isn’t, so you have to be careful with the ropes, make sure the person tied up can still breath and say the safeword, that the ropes can be easily/quickly untied, and maybe have a good pair of EMT sheers handy. There’s also the issue of trusting the person you’re roleplaying with that they would respect the safeword, and so on.

    It’s like, if you’re goign to have sex, you need to have condoms, get yourself tested, and so on. If you’re going to play in BDSM, “safe sex” is that plus a bunch more. But even knowing everything you need to know and having all the right equipment, it still comes down to Talk. Communicate. Listen. Respect.

    Pretty much the opposite of everthing Jian did, which might be why I’m having a hard time answering the question “what would he have done differently?” Well, pretty much everything.

  133. Well one of the things I think I’m getting at is the “tolerance for predators” matter that Kat just talked about. it seems clear to me from the things I’m reading that there was a lot of testing going on. He was pushing a lot to see what he could get away with, see how far he could go. To see what would be tolerated.

    So leaving aside for the moment what he could’ve done other than not be a predator, there’s a question about what the people around him could’ve done to give him less of a target rich and tolerant environment in which to operate. Because we’ve all been in groups I think, or at least I have, where “that guy” is an open secret. That guy who stands too close, who’s too handsy, and inappropriate, who doesn’t respond to a request to back off by backing off but by pushing and making jokes. A whole host of behaviors that are clearly red flags and boundary testing. But he’s not actually doing anything criminal. At least not where we can see.

    So he’s treated with a kind of uneasy and reluctant watchfulness. We know there’s something wrong but we can’t exactly prove it. We kind of hope that we never will prove it because we don’t actually want a crime to have taken place. But if criminal behavior emerges, we aren’t that surprised.

    I feel like there’s an analogy here to the way alcoholism got treated 30 years ago. Like, “sure she always smells like booze and is asleep behind her desk at 3 o’clock in the afternoon and looks sick every morning but she hasn’t actually crashed her car into a bus so what can we do?”

  134. Just want to point out the Blogger who wrote the posting said after Jian got fired, all the other women came forward. This part was wrong…they came forward with Kevin Donovan’s investigation MONTHS before! That’s why they are to be believed….they all didn’t know what each other was saying, and it each of their accounts were very similar!! That’s how we know it’s true. People coming out after may or may not be a little suspect ( perhaps ) but these initial 4 women had not heard of the firing yet. Kevin approached CBC with his findings, they called Jian in on it and said “you’re on leave while we look into this ” and Jian brought ina video of himself with an actual consensual partner, trying to convince them – ” see? it was consensual “. That’s because CBC read the reports of the victims, one after another, all about the same. The video just added to the horrific nature of it all. After the first 4, more women then spoke up as well, I think to be believed, as Kevin does his due diligence checking information out. Then the all important identity of the actress. God bless her. Now it truly took on a total reality.

  135. bunwat: there’s a question about what the people around him could’ve done

    Ah, yes, different question. Also a lot harder. systems design to deal with irresponsible people is a WHOLE lot harder than how you as an individual can act responsible.

    On an individual level, it sounded like there wasn’t much a bystander could do because most of what happened in public was really subjective. Dealing with a friend trying to drive home drunk is fairly straightforward. He’s clearly smashed. Demand the keys. If he gets beligerent and resists, depending on how important a friend he is to you, you might resort to physically tackling him to the ground to keep him from getting into the car if he won’t listen to reason. The cultural change that drunk driving is actually bad helps, cause you can just refer to the cultural conversation around that now whereas decades ago, the cultural response to drunk driving was “One for the road” and nonsense like that. I drove a friend home back when “one for the road” was the norm. My friend was crazy drunk. A couple friends including myself talked him into not driving, he resisted for a while, but eventually he gave me his keys, I drove his car, some other friends followed me, to give me a ride back, and everyone got home safe.

    One problem with individual intervention is inviduals get it wrong. They think there’s a problem when there isn’t. Another problem with individual intervention is that every individual has different weighting to their moral calculus. The runaway trolley problem presents the problem clearly, there is a run away trolley barreling down a track. If it continues on its course it will hit 5 people. If you throw a switch, the trolley will go onto a side track and hit 1 person. What do you do? Simple game theory, with all information clearly revealed and no possible misinterpretations would say throw the switch and minimize the possible injuries and deaths. And yet, not everyone will do that, even in the perfect situation of perfect knowledge.

    Then put it into a real world scenario with limited information and possible misinterpretations, and you get even fewer people doing the “mathematically correct” thing. Why? Because several valid reasons, such as maybe there’s something I don’t know that makes the 5 people safe, but the one person would certainly die. Maybe there’s a brake switch on the 5 person track I dont’ see, but the 1 person/spur track wouldn’t stop and would kill the guy. And then I’ll kill this guy and it’ll be my fault.

    You know what you can count on when a life and death decision like that happens to people? People freeze. The number of variables in their mind explodes, there’s too many different possibilities that could be happening, they might make a choice that could make things ten times worse than reality, so they freeze.

    The solution to this in professional settings like police, firemen, military, pilots, and anyone whose job it is to make life and death decisions: train, train, train. The non-professional equivalent to that is changing the cultural conversation, such as changing “one for the road” to “designated driver”. Public service announcements can sometimes be cheesy and ham handed, but they can also present a situation that looks exactly like the situation you are in right now, and in the PSA they explain why this behavior is wrong and what you should do, and you can do the equivalent of reverting to training. Seeing a PSA where a guy is so drunk he cant put his keys in the car and his buddy picks the keys up and says, “no, I’m driving you home” can make a huge difference in overcoming the tendancy to freeze.

    Right now, studies show that presented with the runaway trolley scenario, a chunk of people freeze. But if you have PSA’s on TV that show that exact scenario, explain the decision process, and explain what you should do, and why, then I’d assert that any study conducted after those PSA’s hit the air, they’d find more people would do the correct thing and fewer would freeze. (assuming you lived in a world where runaway trolleys were a common problem and needed PSA’s to help the public deal with it).

  136. (crap, hit post, not review, sorry)

    From a systemic level, you can deal with things at the employment level. What Jian was doing should have landed within the realm of potential harrassment, but a victim would have to complain to his employer and I think they would have to be somehow work related personell (another employee, a customer, someone who works with him through the company, etc) for normal anti-harassment procedures to start (though I’m not sure how wide that can go).

    honestly, if it was within the company realm, I don’t understand how this is a thing anymore. For the last umpteen decades, every company I work at has mandatory anti-harassment training, on a yearly basis. The cultural conversation seems to be present to make it clear don’t harass, but it seems that there is individual incentive of companies to try and bury it rather than deal with it. So it seems there may need to be some repurcussions for companies who choose to do the wrong thing. lawsuits, bad press, boycotts, etc.

    At the systemic level above that, you’re pretty much looking at law enforcment, and they’ve got even bigger checks and balances to deal with because they don’t just fire you, they can do a lot more to someone convicted. How do you deal with innocent poeple being convicted. And there’s also issues in enforcement not doing their job and the only levers people have to feedback problems is to vote for politicans who generally only have indirect control over law enforcement.

    But this is why systems design is not only complicated but extremely important to do well, and sometimes the best thing to do is change the cultural conversations with those sometimes cheesy PSA’s so that the individual who happens to be there the moment something bad happens can step in and effect a change.

  137. Bunwat:

    there’s a question about what the people around him could’ve done to give him less of a target rich and tolerant environment in which to operate.

    Well that’s basically what the CBC is dealing with now, and why they hired an independent investigator. They do clearly have policies in place, and a woman employee filed a complaint for verbal abuse and it didn’t make it up the ladder. So they have to look at why that happened, and why it happened with the interns, who were young, inexperienced and had no power at all. And the difficulty for those working with him is that they were working for him, and he was the Talent who had gotten them young demographics and made the money. Clearly the climate was that they didn’t feel safe raising complaints and may have shrugged off a lot of stuff that occurred.

    We have a society that re-enforces silence on these issues, that wants to pretend it’s not a big problem. Because big problems have to be dealt with; little ones can be ignored or passed off as other people’s problems. There is significant risk for speaking up and a strong possibility of punishment. You’re called a rabble rouser if you do — hysterical, over-sensitive, lying, exaggerating, conspiring, trying to hurt people and call everyone an awful person.

    And part of that is, that if you bring it up, if you object, raise it as a problem, you aren’t only raising the issue of the person you’re concerned about. You’re raising the fact that the bosses, organizers, etc., didn’t catch and deal with the problem, that they let it go on, which makes them look liable and incompetent. You’re raising the fact that friends ignored the problem and let it go on, which makes them look like bad people who associate with bad people. You’re raising the issue, if it’s a man, that a man did something bad and therefore, they think that implicates all men as bad or potentially bad, especially if they don’t see the behavior as quite as bad (not all men.) You’re raising the issue that the society treats women as prey and is sucky at preventing this from happening, which they declare means you’re saying society is all bad.

    And if you’re a woman doing that, or a non-white in the white rule countries, or in a disadvantaged group, doing that means you stepped out of your place. And that makes you seem to be less competent to bring these issues up, more hysterical, etc. As someone noted, the comments offer more support when it’s a man writing about this case than when it’s a woman writing about it. That’s a social bias that is institutionalized about who best should speak about and understand these issues. And the bias that women are supposed to be silent, compliant, and submissive in the society, and it’s a problem if they aren’t, because it challenges the comfortable ideas about how society works.

    And that’s why they will try to do amnesia as soon as feasibly possible. They will try to disassociate as much as possible. They will say it was other people’s fault and that it was a rare, strange case. There will be a lot of NotAllMenning. There will be a lot of screaming that it is all the fault of S&M and degenerates from liberal society. They will point out that Ghomeishi claimed to be a feminist, as if that means that it is really all feminism’s fault and if those stupid women weren’t promiscuous or working at jobs, it wouldn’t have happened, etc.

    It takes a lot of talking, protesting, law-raising, etc. to change the needle on the culture. But it does change. Thirty years ago, no women would come forward and the Star would have buried anything they found. They almost didn’t run it now. The police said they could do nothing until someone wanted to press charges. But thirty years ago, nothing would have been said or done unless say a woman got killed.

  138. Kat: You’re raising the issue, if it’s a man, that a man did something bad and therefore, they think that implicates all men as bad or potentially bad, especially if they don’t see the behavior as quite as bad (not all men.)

    If you report a specific violation that was committed by one man, and dismiss the fact that not all men commit that sort of violation, then, yeah people will tend to think you’re implicating all men as bad. I’m not sure how that’s a misunderstanding on their part rather than a direct effect of the language you’re using.

    For example in this thread, we’re talking about Jian and the specific accusations being made by the women who’ve come forward. And you’re making blanket statements like “You’re raising the fact that friends ignored the problem and let it go on, which makes them look like bad people “ asserting them as FACT no less, when they’re anything BUT fact. You’re casting this into the same black/white “die on your feet or live on your knees” that glitter did earlier. You’ve taken a subjective assessment about people and cast it as a fact, trying to make it sound indisputable by presenting it as a black/white moral decision about all people as a class.

    Actually, no, if there is a problem with a particular person, that does NOT automatically make it a “fact” that friends ignored the problem. If you have ever dealt with someone close to you who was self-destructive, suicidal, and no amount of help will pull them off that path, like I have, you might just be offended by such a blanket statement. If you’ve ever dealt with an alcoholic and tried to get them help, rehab, hide the booze, and anything else to just get them to stop drinking, but none of it works, then you might just be offended by such a blanket statement as the one you just made. You have no idea if friends ignored the problem. Maybe they tried to put a stop to the person’s shitty behavior, but failed. Maybe the offender is really good hiding the booze or hiding signs of trouble from their friends. Maybe nothing short of police intervention and court mandated treatment will actually stop the problem.

    But no, not all men, not all friends, not all managers/bosses, and not all society are actively contributing to the problem or passively allowing it to happen.

  139. Greg: if you’ve been reading the media reports of the last few days, it goes considerably farther than just one guy who hid his tracks really well. Journalist intern program administrators at two Canadian universities knew enough about the rumours to warn interns away from Ghomeshi’s show. A number of fan club members were in the know sufficiently to make sure they were never alone with him. His public interactions with women he attended CBC events with were enough to set off a lot of people’s weird-o-meters in an uncomfortable way. The signs were there – an intervention by someone close to him in a non-threatening manner might have let him know he couldn’t expect to get away with this kind of thing.

    But silence has the effect of convincing certain people that they can get away with anything because they’re too big to fail. He was definitely a big deal at the CBC which does not have much in the way of star power to appeal to the public. He was almost bigger than the broadcaster and he knew it.

    To say that this pattern keeps appearing in cases like this is not an indictment of “all men” as you keep saying, but rather a clear indication that some things can be predicted and hopefully headed off before problems turn really toxic. Guys who think they’re all that and a side of chips might think twice if they got a firm “Hey, buddy, definitely NOT cool and please knock that sh*t off right now” block from someone they have to respect.

  140. Magda, thats a lot of words to avoid 4 letters. Do know what word is missing from Kats post? “Some” Given how easy it would be to say “some” when it would be accurate to do so, and given how many words you just expended so someone can avoid typing 4 letters, i would conclude that “some” isnt missing for simple expediency’s sake.

    Long ago, i got training to do CPR. In the decades since, do you know how many people I”ve seen have a heart attack and need cpr? Zero. Kat is more interested in playing the blame game and making everything a black and white issue. She sees the number of people who die from heart attacks and says its a fact that friends ignored the problem and let it go on, which makes them look like bad people. Well, even if everyone in the world got trained to be emergency room cardiac surgeons, people could still die of heart attacks.

    Its an attempt to turn a really comlex and grey issue into simple black and white. Kat doesnt use the word “some” because it would mean acknowledging those complexities and those shades of grey when she very much wants to point the finger and say this is all your fault. 4 letters from Kat who i have never seen post less than a thousand words in a post, thats all it woulf take. It would be easy to type, but it would take away her easy answers if she did. Even if everyone else acted perfectly, you can still have one asshole do something like Jian did. even if everyone knows cpr, you will still have people die of heart attacks.

  141. Magda: “Guys who think they’re all that and a side of chips might think twice if they got a firm… knock that sh*t off right now”

    Magda, i just want to point out that you just demonstrated how easy it is to use qualifiers and acknowledge the shades of grey complexity of the problem. You said “guys who think this way” rather than saying “guys” and you said they MIGHT change their behavior if someone told them to cut the shit.

    Thats was all thats needed and you did it just fine.

    Can you find a single qualifier in Kats last post? A phrase that qualifies some particular subset of men are offenders or that some friends or some managers didnt intervene? I didnt see a single one. Not a “some”, not a “many”, not a “most”. She made blanket statements the entire post.

    And did you see a word in her post that would indicate that doing the right thing MIGHT improve the outcome, but might not? If so, i missed it. I read a rather large number of statements of causation that hedge no bets.

    There are no “some”s and there are no “maybe”s. It asserts a black and white view with a morality of absolute certainty.

  142. Greg:

    Snarking about someone else making long posts is dangerous territory for you.

    Likewise, your last post boils down to you wanting a “not all men” disclaimer in a forum (this one) where at this point it is utterly unnecessary. Neither I nor anyone else here, I expect, is under the impression that Kat’s lack of the word “some” thereby of necessity implies “all.”

    In effect you are using one word as a wedge to gripe unrelatedly about your apparent personal complaint with Kat. If you have a personal problem with her, take it into email, please. Otherwise, let’s move on.

  143. Scalzi:

    Unfortunately, this post is necessary.

    AS YOU KNOW, and as the person himself knows because I told him quite clearly long ago, in public here, before numerous witnesses, I DO NOT READ that person’s comment posts here and have not for years. I do not communicate with that person and have not for years. I will not answer any emails from that person and would regard any sent to me as harassing spam. So if there are any questions about that, let this post serve to be very clear where I stand on that particular issue. So please do not make such a suggestion again, thanks. I’m in fact hoping that the topic never comes up again.

    As for any confusion others had about my post, it was talking about reactions people protesting and discussing sexual harassment, sexism and workplace discrimination quite often receive, that their words are twisted to mean that they are attacking large groups of people when they talk about systemic social problems and incidents of harassment. In particular, we saw these reactions regarding SFF convention sexual harassment policies — from convention organizers as well as general fans. We’ve seen them from the folks at GamerGate and elsewhere. We’ve seen them whenever the issue of street harassment comes up. And we’ve seen them in this Ghomeishi case. If anyone else has confusion over what I meant, they are welcome to ask me questions, although I do not want to derail conversation from the Ghomeishi case itself.

    If anything about the above is not clear, oh great host JS, you can email me about it.

  144. Neither I nor anyone else here, I expect, is under the impression that Kat’s lack of the word “some” thereby of necessity implies “all.”

    OK, then I’m missing something here. If she meant “some”, why is it a “wedge” to point out its nowhere in her post? Why not just say “yeah, I meant some” and move on? Why not use the word “some” once in a while to make that clear?

    In my last post I explicitly state several quantifiers and limitations to what I was saying to avoid black and white statements that all people are one way: “every individual has different weighting”, “limited information and possible misinterpretations”, “a chunk of people freeze”, “more people would do the correct thing and fewer would freeze”, and so on. I didn’t say “some”, but I have quantifiers and qualifiers on my statements. i.e. avoid saying “all” people are one way, or all people in some category are one way.

    And in that same post, I did say an absolute statement about all people, when I said: “People freeze.” and if someone replied “not everyone freezes, I’m a cop, I don’t freeze” or whatever, I would have simply acknowledged I missed a qualifier and said the officer was correct. And moved on. But I try to use qualifiers in my statements when they’re appropriate. And if I miss one and someone points it out, I’d just acknowledge its missing and move on.

    So, why not just be explicit in the choice of words? I try to use qualifiers explicitly. It doesn’t seem that big of a deal. If you’re saying the explicit version is exactly in line with Kat’s intended communication, then why not just be explicit?

  145. Honestly Greg, I haven’t even been here that long and I already tune you out when you start talking about Kat’s posts. Because if she said the sun rises in the morning, you’d feel it necessary to point out that actually the earth turns and the sun doesn’t move at all, and anyway the sun isn’t visible on cloudy days.

    I liked what Magda said about patterns and signs. I think she’s right to say that there are patterns to this, like there are patterns to other kinds of dysfunction. Maybe if we got better at recognizing the patterns we could intervene earlier to try to change the trajectory. Maybe if we understood the patterns better we could figure out how to interrupt them.

  146. Bunwhat

    Thank you for your observations. I’d spent ages trying to formulate my thoughts along those lines; unfortunately they ran to several pages.

    So thank you!

  147. Leah Bobet made a good point on Twitter, retweeted by Scalzi earlier today:


    Instead of asking what people around Jian Ghomeshi could have done, which is about the past as well as keeping it comfortably distant, how about asking ourselves what we can do about people we know? My own social circle is so limited right now, for various reasons, that I can’t think of anyone I consider a “missing stair.” I’m going to give it more thought, as well as considering what *I* did or didn’t do in the past when I did know some missing stairs. I think that might be more fruitful than considering what anyone in Ghomeshi’s social and professional circles could have done differently.

  148. When I asked what the people around him could have done differently, there was definitely for me at least, an implicit “could my social circles do that different thing too?” But I’m totally content to make that explicit and ask the question that way.

    In light of this case, in light of other cases what can we do differently? In all our various social circles.

  149. First thing, you keep your eyes open. Are you really seeing the person in front of you or are you seeing your buddy since high school? Are you cutting slack about comments that you’d find off-putting if they were said by anyone else?

    Bunwat referred to alcohol abuse further upthread. It’s very hard to tell a friend at the end of a party: “Give me the keys, you’ve had too much, I’m driving you home and you can pick the car up tomorrow.” But after decades of PSA’s pointing out the dangers involved for the friend and for those he might hit with his car, it’s a lot easier today. And no one questions the sincerity of the friend who looks out for his buddy.

    Once we get used to having bad behavior called out on the spot before it escalates into outright abuse, we’ll be better at getting a handle on this kind of thing. But it won’t be easy for the friend doing the calling-out.

  150. With alcohol abuse, it’s a little easier since there’s no presumption of malice involved. It would be a lot harder to try to get the keys away from someone who you thought might WANT to hurt someone else with their car.

  151. Magda: But after decades of PSA’s pointing out the dangers involved for the friend and for those he might hit with his car, it’s a lot easier today.


    Every company I’ve worked at for the last couple decades has had mandatory company-wide anti-harrassment training, so it feels like old hat to me, but maybe we need some kind of anti-harrassment PSA on TV.

  152. But there was once a presumption of,
    maybe not malice, but certainly very negative characterizations for people who needed to have their keys taken. I’m old enough to remember some of it. A man who couldn’t drive himself home from a bar was weak or not a real man. A woman who had too much to drink was morally suspect and probably promiscuous. That’s why people got so insulted. Because there was a real social stigma attached to not being able to handle your liquor and part of changing the culture had to be lessening that stigma

  153. HelenS: I doubt if anyone curbed their drinking habits based on the anti-drunk-driving PSA’s. What they did was make it socially acceptable – in fact, admirable – for people to take a strong stand against inebriated friends getting behind the wheel. And perhaps the humiliation of knowing your buddy had to physically get your keys away from you did have an impact on someone’s drinking habits.

    I think a lot of men who engage in Ghomeshi’s behavior continue to do it because they know they can get away with it. A few short, sharp shocks – “Hey, I said knock that stuff off and I meant it! Amy is an important part of this office and your colleague and it’s damned unprofessional for you to talk about her that way. I don’t appreciate it and I know senior management won’t either. Now grow up.” – administered AT THE MOMENT IT HAPPENS will do more for getting the message across than office seminars about gender respect.

    I’ve had guys tell me they demonstrate their disapproval by walking away from their buddy and when I asked if they verbalize their disapproval, they looked at anything except me and said that guys don’t talk to each other that way. It’s a bro-thing or something.

    I said – then it’s damned well about time.

  154. Magda: I doubt if anyone curbed their drinking habits based on the anti-drunk-driving PSA’s.

    I wouldn’t underestimate the power of a cultural conversation to have a “revert to training” effect on some who might have otherwise driven drunk. Obviously PSA’s won’t cure everything. Bank robbers will still rob banks no matter how many PSA’s you have. But at least non-violent harassment is likely something that a good cultural shift could potentially do much to curb harassers themselves in addition to instructing the admirable intervene-ers.

    I think trying to take the keys from a drunk friend was a lot harder a couple decades ago than it was today, and I’d attribute that to the shift in the cultural conversation making a shift in the drunk person’s own self assessment of whether its ok to drive drunk. Course it could just be because the people I’m dealing with are generally a couple decades older now than they were then, and they’ve mellowed out. But it feels like at least part of the lessening resistance is an acknowledgment on some level that, they realize they shouldn’t drive. Like bunwat said, a lot of the positive cultural conversation about holding your own liquor and driving yourself home seems to have been replaced by negative cultural conversation that driving drunk is unacceptable. So the drunk actually self-regulates to some extent or acquiesces more easily to someone stopping him.

  155. Dear Kat,

    Please don’t change a blessed thing!

    I say that with a certain amount of selfishness, because more often than not I am dissuaded from writing a comment because I read something you wrote, and it says what I was going to say… but so much better.

    So, y’see, you save me a lot of time and effort.

    (because it’s all about us men, right? [vbg])

    Speaking of which, I am trying to emulate you, but not entirely as successfully. Tediously-repeated bleatings about “not all men…” and “male equality” do help, as they remind me why I want to emulate you. Aversive conditioning is a powerful learning tool.

    Seriously, you are a Hero Of The Revolution. Do not stop revolving, ever.

    pax / Ctein

  156. It seems to me that for years he tried to position himself as something of a dom, but now he may have an opportunity to try the position of a sub….life is full of learning opportunities

  157. John, if that was meant to be one of those (tired old) jokes about prison, do keep in mind that in BDSM, the sub is in the power position. Also keep in mind that being a sub is not equivalent to being raped. If that wasn’t what you meant, I’m not sure what you were trying to say, so if I got it wrong, maybe you could clarify.

  158. The Toronto Chief of Police, Bill Blair, has said:

    “I will tell you that I have been somewhat surprised by the number of men who have written to us or come forward to suggest that we should force people to come forward.… Quite frankly, that attitude is shocking to me in the 21st century.”

    He goes on to say:

    “It is up to victims themselves to decide whether they want to come forward. As they go forward in the criminal justice system or not, it is their choice.”

    We have seen this play out across the Internet; the head of the Toronto police may be shocked and surprised, but it isn’t terribly surprising to those of us who come across this in day to day life.

    The desire to compel women to do things is pretty standard; it’s interesting that he is not receiving droves of demands from men to force the guys who have written articles explicitly stating that they knew ‘about Jian’ to go to the police…

  159. Not about prison…more about what goes around coming around…going from thinking/feeling you have power to finding yourself without.

    But, if you think it is a failure mode of clever, that’s ok to.

  160. Other than signing on the dotted line, would Jian not think that these women consented, if he hit them, yet they stayed to service him sexually and even returned to see him again..and again?
    Finally, why is it that we must hear about this? Should this not be between employer and employee? What has happened that we must now draw conclusions about someone’s sex life whose only interest for me to this point was as a great interviewer? Am I the only one who thinks that we should not be informed? I do not want to know!

  161. K. Millard: If you don’t want to know the details, don’t read about them–no one is forcing you personally to pay attention. But this is the sort of story that needs publishing. It involves a public figure who has been abusing his fame; if it were kept private, it could–likely would–be swept under the rug. Note that until a major Canadian newspaper seemed to be about to publish the story, that is pretty much what happened. To pull a quote completely out of context, “Attention must be paid” to this sort of thing by the world at large, or it will keep on happening.

    Well. To be fair, in my opinion, at least.

  162. A third woman has filed a formal complaint with police and apparently a man has come forward, saying Ghomeishi assaulted him at university long ago. He’s hired a criminal lawyer, although there’s no certainty that there will be any criminal charges against him yet.

    More change out of this than previously expected may be occurring, because of the Twitter hashtag (and Facebook page,) #BeenRapedNotReported creating a widely spreading conversation on the Net.

  163. @Stevie:

    “It is up to victims themselves to decide whether they want to come forward. As they go forward in the criminal justice system or not, it is their choice.”

    I totally agree with the sentiment, and we’ve all got to stop auditing women who don’t go to the Police when they’ve been abused when it’s not really hard to find evidence why a lot of abused women who have just end up being re-traumatized over and over again.

    But I really hope Chief Blair remembers that in January 2011 a Constable in his force went to a safety forum at Osgoode Hall Law School and said, “I’ve been told I’m not supposed to say this – however, women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimised.” If that’s indicative of how the Toronto Police Service views women who’ve been physically or sexually assaulted, why the hell would anyone come forward at all?

  164. @K. Millard.

    Finally, why is it that we must hear about this?

    You answered your own question with the truly vile first paragraph of your comment — because for someone who doesn’t want to know, you sure seem able to trot out the slut-shaming and victim-blaming with great confidence. And that’s exactly how the predators who think its OK to harass and abuse whoever they want, whenever and wherever they want, like it. They thrive in silence and denial, and in circles of enablers who will reliably shout their victims down if they forget their place.

  165. @cranapia

    I’m pretty sure he does; the uproar certainly included a fair number of newspaper articles etc. and the officer in question issued a comprehensive apology.

    My iPad has decided to sulk about copying and pasting things so forgive me if I don’t link; I am, however, startled that anyone could be idiotic enough to say this to trainee lawyers…

  166. Was that the guy who inspired the slut walks? The big issue isn’t of course whether he apologized or not — he already knew what he was saying would likely get him in trouble. The problem is that he believed what he said, and probably still does, despite reams of statistical evidence available to police that it’s a false belief. He believed it because he’d been taught it all his life likely, and because he probably dealt more often with young women who had been at clubs or at university events.

    The other women who were attacked — joggers in full sweats, older women in support hose, etc. — were just dismissed as outliers, who don’t have the trigger he decided was the main trigger. Because after all, if the cop himself finds young women wearing shorter skirts or halter tops attractive, he assumes that this is the attackers’ driving force. (What he thinks of about men getting assaulted and their clothing, who knows.)

    But statistics, studies, and countless women’s (and men’s, etc.) experiences show that sexiness and sex appeal have got little to nothing to do with rape and assault. Younger women are often picked because they’re more vulnerable, easier to isolate, less likely to talk, and can be easily blamed for anything that occurs, since the general culture views any young woman as punishable and needing to be controlled, especially with regards to sexuality.

    The driving force of the assaults is to punish, control and humiliate the women; doing it with a sexual overcast is just extra and usually the most culturally acceptable method. (And in war and terrorist campaigns, to do so also in terrorizing entire communities through the rapes.) Punishing, controlling and humiliating the woman (or for that matter, the man,) is often culturally taught as a worthy goal of both sex and masculinity. Which is why many sexual assaults involve not the guy forcing intercourse, but the guy using objects to penetrate the woman or man. Which is why a lot of assaults involve choking and such, as we’re hearing from the Ghomeishi allegations. Which is why we get the fondling, shoulder massages and catcallings that get increasingly violent to make the women feel fear, rather than there being any real hope of getting sex out of it.

    That cop, he was trained about all this, about the reality of assaults. He just didn’t believe it because the culture has taught him a powerful myth that goes across many cultures — that women lure men into terrorizing and attacking them. And that’s exactly why the idea that women need to be punished and controlled, etc., is a major cultural force. (Why dress codes are mainly aimed at female students, not males, and so forth.)

    So instead of doing his training, he spat out the cultural myth. Instead of acknowledging that 70-86% of women are raped by a man they know and their clothing had nothing to do with it, he spat out the cultural myth. Instead of teaching women to spot signs of controlling and punishing behavior in men they know who may later rape them, he told them it had to do with the hemline of their skirts. Instead of talking about educating men to see women not as objects to control and punish, he told women it’s their job to avoid all attacks, because they cause the problem with their bodies.

    Sexual assault and sex are two different things, and cops are now trained to understand that. It’s rather critical to understand it, for instance, in tracking down the men who do rape strangers. And yet, that cop threw it out and went for the cultural myth. The first thing that happens to a woman who comes forward about assault is that her behavior is judged, because of the myth that her behavior must have caused the attack, rather than that a man decided he wanted to humiliate and hurt her. That actually makes it harder to weed out the minority cases where there may be lying, because the alleged victim (woman, man, etc.) is being judged on a set of morality boxes, not the facts of the situation.

    Ghomeishi was verbally abusive in the office and especially berated young women. He gave back rubs and other creepy behavior towards employees he was unlikely to have sex with. It was bad enough that at least one university internship program refused to place interns at his show. Women in tech offices, for instance, who have to put up with harassment, nude pictures, guys talking about sex, etc. — that’s not because their male co-workers hope to have sex with them. It’s about humiliating and controlling the woman for being in what they see as their space, and trying to drive her out of it.

    Women (and for that matter, gay men, etc.) who come forward with complaints are challenging the notion of power and control, of both the harasser or assaulter, and of the culture at large. Which is why they are put under threat and humiliation. Until people unpack terrorizing and assault from their own notions about sex (and often women as sexual objects,) it’s very hard to get anywhere with improving the situation.

%d bloggers like this: