Ghomeshi must not be absolved

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Graphic by Joshua Awolade
Graphic by Joshua Awolade

On Oct. 26, Jian Ghomeshi, a Canadian broadcaster known as the face of the well-received radio show Q, was fired from the CBC.

Following his termination, he immediately took to his personal Facebook account to provide a long, seemingly detailed explanation of the events resulting in his dismissal. He wrote, “I’ve been fired from the CBC because of the risk of my private sex life being made public as a result of a campaign of false allegations pursued by a jilted ex-girlfriend and a freelance writer.”

Following his lengthy account, the Toronto Star published these allegations and, suddenly, the Ghomeshi scandal became very mainstream. As the story is still unfolding, the truth has yet to be determined. However, so far, a total of nine women and one man have come forward accusing Ghomeshi of sexual assault.

None of the alleged victims have admitted to consenting to Ghomeshi’s private preferences; therefore, evidence of aggression is considered sexual abuse.

Though legal definitiveness is yet to be confirmed, there is enough to be strung together by the court of public opinion.

The CBC was made aware of Ghomeshi’s “unique” sexual approach earlier this year; he claimed that, while promiscuous, his sexual relations were simply eccentric. The CBC believed him.

Detailed information regarding the environment at CBC prior to Jian’s dismissal is surfacing and several accounts of sexual harassment in the workplace and an ego-driven Ghomeshi are subjects of intense discussion. In fact, it has become quite clear through multiple accounts that his style of interacting with people was inherently aggressive outside of the bedroom, too.

The first alleged victim of abuse was providing information to Jesse Brown, an investigative journalist and creator of the Canadaland blog and podcast. The story was rapidly expanding and Brown feared a release of the story would be met with a libel lawsuit. To protect himself, Brown took the story to the Toronto Star.

This he-said-she-said battle is not the first case of public figures and people with notoriety.

Woody Allen’s retort in the New York Times regarding allegations of abusing his daughter — who shared her supposed experience in Vanity Fair — was made complicated by Allen’s “jilted ex-wife” who had an agenda to publically ruin her ex husband’s reputation.

The case, in both instances, is not at all transparent and the media should refrain from shaming or reporting with a gender specific bias until factual information has wholly replaced hearsay.

If evidence of harm exists, there are extremes that society itself cannot necessarily condone — causing bodily harm to several women extends far beyond the tidy boundaries of rough sex and takes the form of blatant abuse.

The message that should be taken from this unfolding crisis is evident. I am in full agreement with Ghomeshi’s CBC Radio 2 co-worker George Stroumboulopoulos’s opinion that, “There is no grey area when it comes to violence, and there is no grey area when it comes to sexual consent.

And further to that, I hope we’ve all learned the value of creating a safer space for victims, so they don’t have to hide or fear backlash. Men need to talk about this with each other, it’s important.

If you’ve experienced domestic violence or sexual harassment at work, there are people who can help.”

The CBC is the face of Canadian broadcasting; they were right to dismiss Ghomeshi and, ultimately, remove him as the prominent public figure he had grown to be.

 


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