I would like you to know that my thoughts have changed as this story has developed and I have left all of those thoughts below. As details and personal truths have come out this week, my opinions have evolved as new facts have surfaced. I think Charles Adler captured one thing perfectly in his piece on Jian Ghomeshi:
You know what they say about assumptions. They make an ass out of you. When the stuff hit the fan over the weekend and the CBC threw him down the stairs and he posted his confessions about his personal life on Facebook and I read them, my assumptions were making an ass out of me and my anger was getting the best of me. When I read that he was suing for 50 million and then for 55 million, I felt that this had to be one of biggest PR snow jobs in history. I felt that whatever sympathy he had was based on his reputation, which was well earned, hell, he earned mine in twenty minutes. But I am not in my twenties and I’m not a female, and I am not at risk of being charmed out of my underwear by the charming, story-telling, intellectually seductive, radio host.
I really encourage you to listen to this personal take on the Jian Ghomeshi story which Adler so perfectly expressed. His thoughts & mine were much the same but I had trouble getting the words out.
You can read the text of his piece here >> http://bit.ly/1xSG4y7
As a graduate of Broadcast Journalism at UWO/Fanshawe and a current employee of a rock radio station that often aims to entertain…I’ve spent the last week on the fence with this Jian Ghomeshi story. One foot stuck in journalism; one foot stuck in entertainment. I’ve finally gathered my thoughts and here they are.
Was I torn when I read that he was taking a leave from CBC? Absolutely. Was I interested when I read his public statement on Facebook Sunday night? Absolutely. He’s a huge part of Canadian broadcasting. I have always loved his interview style. He’s interviewed people that will never know that I exist. He has asked questions that I wish I thought of first. Did I know anything else about him before this? No. Not even his favourite band. Did I listen to his show or keep track of him online regularly? No. The only things I knew I read on the Q page from time-to-time on the CBC website, or heard on his show.
Do I believe that he has been violent towards women? Yes. Do I believe that there are women out there that will continue to come forward as this story develops? Yes. I’ll ask one question here before going any further –do you or I know the motives of ANYONE involved? No, we don’t. There’s a reason that some of these women have chosen to speak with a reporter before a police officer. Going to “the press” before seeking help through other outlets really makes me wonder. If one of the women involved were to say they were too ‘afraid’ to go to the police, should that same fear not exist when going to a reporter at a major news outlet? If it’s Jian’s word against any of these women…the same fear should exist in both places which is why I question the motives of the first few women involved who wouldn’t release their names.
There is no doubt that we begin to see a pattern after hearing the honest words of Lucy DeCoutere & Reva Seth this week, who so bravely came forward in their positions, with their full names and stories and, “with nothing to lose.” Both of these women brought tears to my eyes. With Lucy; she asked her ‘former’ self the question, “Why didn’t I think that was a big deal?” The reason that sparked tears for me is I too have asked myself that question under different conditions. Sometimes, women don’t give themselves enough credit and we don’t value ourselves enough to allow those thoughts the proper head-space that they deserve. Although I’ve never been sexually assaulted and I’ve never had a man be violent towards me; I too have thought, “Why didn’t I think that was a big deal?
Lucy spoke on CBC’s The Current with Anna Maria Tremonti:
Reva Seth also bravely shared her Jian Ghomeshi story in a first-person account written for the Huffington Post. I encourage you to click through and read her piece, but I will quote her directly here:
Yesterday I went into the CBC building and for the first time in the six years that I’ve been back in Canada, I didn’t feel the pang of stress at the thought of running into Jian. Or see the giant image of his smiling face looming above me.
I debated all week whether or not to write this for all the same reasons that most women don’t publicly or even privately share similar experiences: judgment, online trolls, the questioning of all your other choices, the accusation that it wasn’t that bad, that it was so long ago, and the fact that I don’t have the time and ultimately, is there any value in adding my voice or story in a public domain?
The reason I ultimately decided to share this is two-fold: The first is that it shows a pattern that has certainly escalated since I knew him.
Additionally, I feel that while it is exceedingly difficult to publicly put your name forward and open yourself up to all of the accompanying criticism, if you are in the position that you can do so without fearing the ramifications in terms of your family, marriage, personal or professional trauma, then you should do it. Having this conversation can help build a public understanding of the complexity around these issues.
It is impossible to ignore the power of what these two women started. Hashtags #ibelieveher #ibelievelucy #ibelievereva were trending on twitter by night fall on Wednesday and that’s not because of backlash, that’s because of an overwhelming amount of support, and from total strangers.
A very powerful & public conversation began under the hashtag #BeenRapedNeverReported as women began sharing their experiences and further educating the ‘ignorant’ public about why women won’t go to the police to report sexual assault.
It’s easy to take Jian Ghomeshi’s side because of his charisma and fabulous broadcast skills…but like musician Lights, she too has now seen the truth, as stated on her Facebook page:
I posted comments about Jian Ghomeshi the day after he was dismissed by the CBC where I rushed to defend my manager of 12 years. I am now aware that my comments appear insensitive to those impacted and for that I am deeply sorry.
This is to confirm that as of now I will be parting ways with Jian Ghomeshi as my manager.
I hope everyone can heal from this.
For someone like me, who fortunately, has not experienced any violence from men in my life, and who rushed to sympathize with the elements of one’s public vs. private life… I must express how quickly my sympathies have changed. The fear of wondering how my career could be affected by decisions made in my private life is much smaller than the fear the women involved in this case have been living with.
In a very insightful twitter conversation with @BeingUncosmo my eyes have been opened even further. After my initial blog post on this subject, she said to me in a private message, “You’ve chosen to side with Jian, I’ve chosen to side with these four women.”
I immediately knew my blog needed an update, because although I set out to write a piece about journalism without taking a side, someone who advocates for women’s rights quickly helped me see that I was taking a side.
She also asked the question, “When will media standards change when it comes to the law and violence against women?” I’m not educated enough on what’s going on with those women to comment further but the point is… it’s not just exposing someone’s personal life if it is violent and NOT consenting.
My point? My sympathies are now with the women involved, and that number keeps growing day by day.
Another woman was brave enough to speak on CBC’s As it Happens with Carol Off and Jeff Douglas:
Now, Toronto Police are also involved and I’m glad that they are working directly with some of the people involved to find out more about Jian behind closed doors.