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Jian Ghomeshi – sexual violence – and my own $0.02…

November 2, 2014

I have no sympathy for Jian Ghomeshi save that I hope he has the balls to at least apologize for the trauma he has caused and that he gets some serious help.

As someone who has many years experience working with and counselling sex workers, I can tell you that there are a lot more Jian Ghomeshi’s out there than we care to fully appreciate. It’s far easier for us to keep that shit at the back of the collective closet, and try instead to focus only on what’s at the front of the rack.

If you were a long-time listener of CBC Radio’s “Q”, and if you gave it two seconds thought, you knew that “Ghomesh” was a creeper narcissist – but you never suspected that he was a potential sociopath as well. Like my partner remarked when the Jian shit hit the fan, “wow, I always assumed he was a submissive.”

Jian hid his anger well. He tricked all of us with his crooning over feminist causes, his soft “I want to give you a blowjob” voice, and his oh-so-obvious inferiority complex.

I scoffed at his inferiority complex in the same way I scoff at all celebrity inferiority complexes. I assumed that it was just part of the mindset that makes and drives celebrity-desiring personalities. I assumed it came from his self-realization that he was only ever marginally talented as a musician and insecure about the people he interviewed who were wildly more famous than he ever was.

Ghomeshi came from a modestly talented and marginally popular Toronto band called Moxy Frovous. Celebrity-wise they had a brief moment of twilight – like a firefly, they were here and then gone. At the time I never understood what had made them likable, or even marginally popular, because Moxy Fruvous seemed to me to be mostly irritating. But then I never understood at the time who made bands like Harliquin and Loverboy popular either (and they were 100 times larger than Moxy Fruvous).

But on Q, you’d think Gomesh had been in a true rock and roll band. He loved to get on with the musicians he interviewed – like he totally understood what it meant to be a Bono, or a James Helfield. His recent interview with Joni Mitchell, where he clucked over her like he was sucking at the celebrity teat, now makes me want to shower.

~~~~~

That we live in a culture that make 97% of women reluctant to come forward when they have been physically and/or sexually assaulted is perhaps the greatest sin in this story. Too many alpha males still run the show when it comes to Law and Order, the media, and creating public opinion in our culture, and too many of them protect their own. We pay women less, we expect them to do more work than us, be full-time working SuperMoms who will have an anxiety attack if her dishwasher leaves water spots, or if her kids are not getting their daily required doses of probiotics; we rip them off as consumers, expect them to obsess about fashion, their skin, their hair, and their nails; always be sexually available – and still we hit them, beat them, rape them, and murder them at alarming rates – and then, to top it off, blame them and call them out as liars (and feminist lesbians) should she complain, or demand retribution.

Despite Jian’s limitations – intellectually and emotionally – we listened to Q every morning at 10am because it was still the best thing on the air. The guests were wide-ranging and generally interesting to listen to. It was far-and-away CBC’s most popular show. (CBC being the most listened to radio station in Canada.)

How smug we were when Jian interviewed those women in Ohio who talked about the most recent American woman who was being ostracized in her home town for charging some loved local athletic hero for sexual assault. How smug we were – as Canadians – to think that that sort of thing never happens here.

~~~~~

One woman comes out against Jian and we don’t believe her. “Show your face!” we scream at her. And then a second tentatively steps out of the shadows. “State your name!” we demand of her. And then a 3rd, and a 4th, and our disbelieve turns to horror, and then to outrage.

Now we are at 9 women – and we want a public lynching.

~~~~~

Yet for all our new found public outrage, I doubt that anything will change. Stephen Harper will not stand up in Parliament – like he did after the Parliament Hill shooting – and demand new laws for the protection of women. Women will continue to be sexually assaulted at the rate of one every 45 seconds in Canada (approximately 700,000 a year). A woman will continue to be physically assaulted every 15 seconds…and only 3% of them will ever come forward and attempt to press charges.

Yet, when a homeless gunman with mental health problems tries to take down Parliament Hill with a single shot 30-30 and 6 bullets in his clip, Harper immediately pounced, promising tougher laws against terrorists, more police surveillance of the people, and the incarceration of people without charges.

I have no solutions for dealing with the physically and sexually abusive males who live amongst us. Evolutionary speaking, abusive males belong in a cul-de-sac of History. Left to their own devices society quickly deteriorates into anarchy and violence. They are worse than Hyenas. In my line of work I do know that early childhood intervention, functional families, and community supports, work best. Sadly however, as parents, we still too often nurture their violent tendencies by rewarding aggressive attitudes, competitive egos, and too many of us still hit and emotionally isolate our boys.

Maybe Jian will eventually be charged for the crimes he committed. Maybe he’ll even do some jail time. But that will be small justice for the women and the traumas they now carry.

I doubt that there will be much that changes from this. Talking heads will chatter for a while – but I see no real changes coming. The problem is too fundamental to our society. The elephant in the room too large to lift.

But here’s hoping History proves me wrong.

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