It’s Day 3 of the Jian Ghomeshi trial, the first witness has been discredited already and we’ve now moved right along on to number 2.
During the time the story broke that he was being fired from the CBC as sexual assault accusations came to light, every woman I spoke to about it was deeply disturbed. Deeply disturbed. Every woman. No matter her age, level of Q fandom, political leanings and/or lifestyle, this story, of all news stories, had knocked the wind out of her. She couldn’t get it out of her head. Couldn’t stop thinking. Things were coming back to her. Feelings, and questions, about interactions she’d buried in the subterranean sludge of her mind for years. Interactions that were flooding her now. She couldn’t breathe.
I’ve been degraded, I’ve been humiliated, I’ve been coerced, I’ve been pressured, I’ve been guilt-tripped, I’ve been taken advantage of, I’ve had my humanity neglected, I’ve been made to feel worthless, and vulnerable. I’ve had this happen a lot. As in, more often than not. We all have. #YES #ALL #WOMEN.
And the most shocking part, that I think is what absolutely gutted so many of us with a painful visceral blow as the Ghomeshi scandal broke, is that we accept it as normal. We don’t want to offend. We don’t want to hurt feelings. We’re probably overthinking it. We’re definitely too repressed. We’re just not enough fun. Are we being crazy? We’re not sure what’s going on here. We should be enjoying this. He seems to be enjoying it. Let’s be honest – it really doesn’t matter if we’re enjoying this, so just get it over with so we can get out of there. But don’t upset him on your way out. Does he like me?
The woman, discredited witness #1, wrote him flirty emails a year later, attaching a shot of her in a red bikini. Does that mean Jian Ghomeshi didn’t assault her?… Nope. It means we live in a society where women are so devalued that the deeply engrained desire for male approval supersedes our own intuition constantly. We don’t even know how to recognize our intuition, let alone respect and heed it, because we grow up speaking less, being listened to less and being recognized as complex and intelligent, worthwhile individuals much less. We are raised on sexualized imagery of subservient females in every space at all times. Any natural authourity over our bodies we might assume is corroded into a smear of fine toxic dust by the highly paternalistic family, school, medical and legal structures that govern women’s bodies and self expression everywhere, always, from birth until the day we die.
We all know about dangerous men. We know to be afraid of rape and violence. We know to look out for the “creeps” and how to maximize our chances of getting home safe. But the big secret, that Jian Ghomeshi blew wide open last year, is that there is a sickness in our culture. A sickness that allows nice guys, educated guys, guys with culture and thoughtful analysis – gentle guys – to feel entitled to treat women as less than human. And we accept it as normal, because it’s the air we breathe. And it causes us a great deal of inner pain that we tuck away and continue to shine light through, until one day a beloved radio host is just another regular asshole and we can’t take it anymore because we are really well and truly fucked, and so. damn. angry.
[Painting by Elizabeth Blaylock: Girl in Red Swimsuit at the Water’s Edge]