A few years ago when a very intelligent sensible friend of mine leaned in close and whispered, “You know Galen Weston has a sex room? Like a room of pain?”
I laughed. I couldn’t help it. This was a rumour coming from someone that does not know, and has never known anyone in Mr. Weston’s circle. Why did she feel compelled to tell me this? What is it about human nature that we are so titillated by the idea that someone else is a sex freak? Why is this any of our business, whether or not it’s true? We both giggled about it, she admitted this was just something she had “just heard” and we moved on to joke about what President’s Choice products would be suitable for said—alleged—sex room (Szechwan sauce? Licorice whips?).
I joke, obviously.
In no uncertain terms am I suggesting that this is true. But did it intrigue you? What about these kinds of rumours do we love so much? Why does it seem more interesting when it’s a celebrity as opposed to say, Bob down the street?
I was going to write something this week about Halloween costumes and the right everyone has wear whatever the fuck they want (stop slut shaming, goddamn it) but when the story broke out last Sunday about Jian Ghomeshi and his termination at the CBC, it’s all I can talk about.
I first heard about the story when checking my Facebook (duh, I’m a Millennial ‘tis where I get my news) and his statement starting with “Dear Everyone,” (hey, that includes me!) he claims to have been fired because his sexual preferences including BDSM, “a campaign of false allegations pursued by a jilted ex girlfriend and a freelance writer.” That anything you hear about him in subsequent weeks will be “lies” and that he was being persecuted for these practices.
Shit, I thought. To be fired just for a kink? There didn’t appear to be any legal allegations against him, and I thought back to my friend and her comments about Mr. Weston, if this sex room was actually true would it in some way damage the brand of PC? It was something we were talking about with absolutely no evidence. It’s conceivable, maybe there would be those who would sneer in disgust towards a public figure who had a kink. Maybe this is what happened to Jian? Perhaps the CBC was so squicked out by his practices in the boudoir that they felt compelled to give him the boot.
But something didn’t seem right.
I read the Facebook statement again.
I tried to imagine myself engaging in sex with someone, completely convinced any rough or BDSM-like acts were mutually pleasurable and agreed upon, only to one day have this used against me. I try to think about how I would be truly taken aback and hurt and angry if I lost my job because of it. What would I do?
I read it again.
I tried to imagine what it would feel like to have a sexual relationship with a high profile personality and what I would do if that person crossed the line. Made me feel uncomfortable. Even hurt me. What would I do?
I read it one more time. This fucker is well-written. An emotionally charged defense of his actions that brings you over to his side, lists his credentials as a professional, a job he lost, “based on a campaign of vengeance.” He brings up his dead father and references himself as a solider (too soon though, right?).
Something started to bother me.
Almost like a well crafted magic trick, the statement had me looking the other way: at the narrative that he was a maligned pervert who had done nothing wrong, as a member of the BSDM community (which I would argue is not completely represented and understood), he was being martyred in some way. His call to “Everyone” was framed in the idea that BDSM should not be discounted, misunderstood, or stigmatized (which it should not). HOWEVER, by suggesting that this woman’s untrue accusation is simply a product of her anger and maliciousness and had, “found some sympathetic ears by painting herself as a victim and turned this into a campaign” it asks us to totally buy into a likelihood that a jilted ex girlfriend in her early twenties would totally just go out of her way to drag his name through “the mud”, because, you know: bitches be crazy.
He relies on the believability she’s one of those crazy-making girls who fabricates lies and slanders anyone, even someone in the public realm, because like, he broke up with her. His call is to sympathize with him, pat him on the back and sigh, Jian, I’m so sorry you had to interact with the insane lady. To believe that a woman would go so far to destroy the life and livelihood of this man simply because he was denying her a relationship is, the more I thought about it, offensive.
I honestly felt that we were never going to get more information about what happened and that, with this first, very strong media statement by Jian, if this woman really was attacked or abused the consensus would be that she was anonymous, therefore, her legitimacy would be fiercely doubted. From this statement alone, what we knew about her is that she was young, her feelings were hurt, and she was a liar. It would simply be that she was insane and vengeful. Perhaps a person like this could exist outside of a Telenovela, and if it ended up being the story, how would this effect the next high profile star accused of violence? How would we start to view women involved in these kinds of cases?
But then the other very large and disturbing shoe dropped.
As of today nine women have come forward with accounts that they were beat, choked, and abused by Jian Ghomeshi. Without consent. Without warning. Without any sense of the “adventurous” Jian wants us to believe.
Nine women swept up with their “jilted” emotions?
Nine females unable to help themselves but take up the victim stance?
Nine ladies all working in conspiracy to defame a Canadian radio host?
Let’s say that all of these women are just nuts. Like Winona Ryder in The Crucible crazy. Let’s say it’s a conspiracy constructed by vengeful lovers who decided one day, while filing their nails distressed with boredom and heartbreak that they would set out to destroy the reputation of an honest, hardworking, kinky man…
Or, let’s say that’s bullshit.
“I want to thank you for your support and assure you that I intend to meet these allegations directly. I don’t intend to discuss this matter any further with the media.”
Oh, wait, NOW you don’t want to talk to the media. Before you WERE the media and you had control over the situation and now that it’s not in your favour, you don’t have anything to say. Before you were crying us a river—let’s say painting yourself as a victim to find a sympathetic ear, shall we?
There have been a number of articles and discussions covering a many number of issues when looking at this situation including: thoughts about the difference between abuse and BDSM, consent, consent, lack of consent, why so many incidents of rape and abuse go unreported, the apparent “open secret” that Jian was weird and creepy with women, the court of public opinion, the existence of a graphic video, the strategy of his $55 million dollar lawsuit, why many women fear revealing their identities, and the fucking teddy bear.
I am not a journalist, and I am not trying to report these allegations of proof of his actions. For all intents and purposes of this post I am specifically discussing his strategy when it comes to the “crazy ex” narrative. We can never really know the full story.
Maybe there are women who he had sex with who were into the BDSM scene who he had consensual rough sex with. Perhaps he found some individuals who were into his particular kink. Sure, I can see that, and that would be something that’s not anyone’s business. But there are obviously some who did not feel that way. There are women who felt like they were assaulted. For these women who have stepped forward with this sentiment: I believe them.
From last Sunday to this, obviously public opinion about Jian has shifted dramatically. There was initial support for him. I even had a friend’s post on Facebook how upset they were about his firing (funnily enough, after the last week there’s now a whole lot of RADIO FUCKING SILENCE from these folks). But as more information is released, instead of heeding his warning about the angry, contemptuous women who are out to get him, it appears that more than one person is asking the glaring and obvious question:
WHY WOULD THESE WOMEN LIE?
“Because they’re mad at me.” Is not a suitable answer.
“Because this freelance journalist isn’t a fan of mine.” Is shit I will not buy.
“Because they were suddenly rejected and abandoned and are retaliating against me.” Is really fucking unlikely.
I consider these women who have stepped forward to be brave. I can only imagine what it would be like to so publicly discuss violence they’ve experienced.
I’m glad to see that, as opposed to what Jian would have us believe, their stories are being taken seriously and that they are not being dismissed under the idea that they just can’t handle their emotions and want to see an innocent man’s reputation be destroyed. Luckily, they aren’t being viewed solely through the lens he would have us see this first woman. Hopefully, those who have experienced violence and trauma can start to heal and possibly, we can hold someone accountable for any harm they’ve caused.
But hey, call me crazy.