A Young Woman’s Take on the Jian Ghomeshi Scandal
About three years ago, a friend of mine and I were discussing a mutual friend’s brief relationship with Jian Ghomeshi while waiting in line for a hot yoga class. We talked about his odd behaviour and terrible ego but never once mentioned his name or the details of his profession. “Excuse me?” said a fellow yogi, eavesdropping on our conversation. “Are you talking about Jian Ghomeshi? Your story sounds the exact same as my friend’s experience with him 10 years ago. Tell your friend to stay away from him.”
So when Ghomeshi was fired from the CBC last week, it didn’t take long for me to begin drawing conclusions. And when he shared his letter on Facebook it seemed obvious that he was leading the narrative, positioning himself as a victim of a scorned ex-girlfriend while also grieving the loss of his father. As I read sentences like “fired in my prime,” I thought to myself, “Isn’t this textbook narcissism?” But Ghomeshi’s letter did its job of convincing fans that he was wronged, with many referencing the famous Pierre Trudeau quote, “There’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation.” As I read through comment sections, a majority of readers supported Ghomeshi and dismissed that there could be a substantial reason why the CBC felt obligated to fire its biggest star.
These women were in their mid- to late-20s and wanted a career in media. How could they possibly get anywhere by outing one of the CBC’s biggest names?
As a 26-year-old woman at the beginning of my career, I am disappointed in how the dialogue surrounding this story initially played out.
Many could not understand why the women did not come forward sooner and why they remained anonymous. Blogger of Nothing in Winnipeg worded it perfectly: “No, I wouldn’t make my name public, and I wouldn’t go to police. I would never want to watch those prying eyes turn on me, inventing for themselves a fiction of the “jilted,” vindictive woman that Jian Ghomeshi pre-emptively declared at least three of his ex-partners to be.” The initial response from the public proved why a woman with comparably less money and power would not report the CBC superstar.
A victim of Ghomeshi’s abuse gave an interview anonymously to the hosts of As It Happens Wednesday night and explained why she waited until now to say anything. “I thought, maybe someone will listen to me now. Because I don’t think if I had said anything back then, that anyone would care.”
Two women have named themselves in the midst of the scandal, both established professionals in their 40s.
Actress Lucy DeCoutere, 44, came forward Wednesday and gave an interview to CBC’s Anna Maria Tremonti. She told Tremonti that even though the events took place 12 years ago, she felt the need to say something now after reading Ghomeshi’s statement and watching the story unravel. She figures that she has nothing to lose at this point and nothing to gain.
More than a decade ago when the incident took place, DeCoutere chose to “wash over them” and even went out with him after he slapped her and choked her. A year later, she appeared on his radio show. She admitted to Tremonti that she didn’t want to alienate one of media’s most established journalists while trying to pursue her acting career.
Thursday night, lawyer and author Reva Seth shared her experience in a blog for the Huffington Post. Seth wrote, “I distinctly remember the jarring sense of suddenly being abruptly shaken out of my reverie. I remember thinking “What the f*** is going on here? What’s wrong with him?” Jian had his hands around my throat, had pulled down my pants and was aggressively and violently penetrating me with his fingers.” The Mom Shift author admitted that it was DeCoutere’s interview with Tremonti that encouraged her to come forward with her story 11 years later.
DeCoutere’s story can be read along with seven others in a Toronto Star article, and the allegations do not align with Ghomeshi’s statement that he only engages in consensual BDSM play. In fact, the statements sound more like violence and physical abuse than consensual kinky sex. So back to Trudeau’s quote, “There’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation” Well, actually, if someone is being physically abused in said bedroom, it concerns the state.
This story has many angles because supporters are saying that Ghomeshi is kind, sweet and gentle. In an interview with Dan Savage, one 27-year-old former sexual partner has come to his defence, claiming that their BDSM was consensual and she enjoyed it. But what I think should be clear is that it’s not one or the other.
In the nine statements recently shared, a contradictory picture is painted than of the former 27-year-old partner of the former Q host. One woman claims, “He put his full body weight on her face during fellatio, to the point where she gagged, couldn’t breathe, and felt she would vomit. A subsequent encounter, she alleges, left her with deep bruising on her body.” While another told the Toronto Star, “he grabbed her hair and pulled her down to the floor. Then, she alleges, he delivered three sharp punches to the side of her head while she lay on the floor.”
And still after these very graphic accusations, I am reading comments from fans that are questioning these women. It seems nothing is taken seriously until people can see the trauma with their very own eyes (thanks, TMZ). Last month, when Ray Rice was suspended from the Ravens after the release of a video of him beating his then-fianceé in an elevator, I wrote, “It was only when footage of the actual assault was released via many media sites that people really started to care, and the Ravens decided to act.”
Unfortunately, I feel the same applies here. These three women’s stories were not enough for people. Now the list has grown to nine, and something tells me many still doubt their allegations. But for those of you still seeking proof, there are reports of a Twitter account started in early April with 13 disturbing tweets accusing Ghomeshi of abuse. One of the tweets states there could be photos and video.
— Sidnie Georgina (@bigearsteddy) April 10, 2014
Personally, I feel the graphic tales of three – let alone nine– women is enough.