Less than twenty four hours after I wrote a blog post about not taking sides, I’m going to take sides. I re-read my post and realized, with a small amount of horror, that some might view it as holding as possibility that I would side with an abuser. And that is so far from the truth. It was more of an attempt to get the people who were blindly siding with Jian Ghomeshi to stop, take a breather, and think for a second. But it didn’t totally come across that way and I apologize.
I am fully, truly, and with confidence taking the side of the women. I have eaten this story up, read articles, Twitter feeds, and blogs galore, trying to wrap my mind around where everyone’s opinion is at. I have always been interested in stories like this, regardless of who’s involved, more for the reaction of society than for the original actions of the accused. While the seriousness of allegations in cases like this cannot, and should not, be ignored – it is how the rest of us deem the situation that is nearly as equal to them in importance. This becomes even more true when one of the parties involved is well-known, much loved, and has built themselves on a persona completely opposite from what they have been accused of.
There were two posts that made me realize that I had to amend my post from yesterday: here and here. What they, and I, want to make clear is that what we believe we know about a person must be obliterated from our minds to objectively look at what is actually happening. In this case, Ghomeshi has been accused by not one but three women for physical and sexual abuse. I, along with many, had a hard time reconciling these accusations with the man I heard on the radio, the man who wrote the enjoyable 1982, the man who I assumed I knew despite not knowing him at all. But I cannot go on supporting someone or even remotely thinking he is innocent in this situation.
I referenced it briefly yesterday but I want to make something very clear: consent is not a one time deal. Consent is something that continues throughout your interaction, that can change at any time. If I say yes to something and then later said no, it not only should be, but must be, the latter statement that is respected. Especially in relations that are involving BDSM or any sort of rough sexual play this is crucial to understand. This is precisely why safe words, prior negotiation, and full understanding of your partner’s limits is of utmost importance.
And from the sounds of it, these three women agreed to these acts via text or email but reneged on that when things were rougher or not as desirable as they expected. This means there was no longer consent. This means that assault occurred.
Basically this is an apology and a final taking of sides. What Ghomeshi once was in my mind, he can never be again. And I hope, for once, that society will restore a little faith and not perpetuate the victim-blaming rape culture that has become all too prevalent especially in cases where celebrities are involved. We need to think about things rationally and understand that there are three women who have been violated, three women who were subjected to things they did not ask for, and that is what matters more than anything.