It all feels uncomfortably reminiscent of Sleeping with the Enemy.
A charming, articulate media personality, beloved by women across the country, unmasqued as a sexual predator.
I have been a Q fan and a listener of Jian Ghomeshi since the Billy Bob days. Whenever something of note happened in the country, or around the world, I would tune in for Jian’s essay, confident that he would bring context, insight, compassion and a balanced perspective to whatever issue was at hand. I attended his live show. I invited him into my car and my kitchen. His warm, sincere voice made me feel good. Safe.
Like the CBC, I am breaking up with Jian.
As happens when any long-term relationship comes to an abrupt and unpleasant end, I cycled through a disorienting and distressing range of emotions. Disbelief. Denial. Anger. Betrayal. Hurt. Sadness.
Regardless of whether the allegations against him are true or trumped up; regardless if his sexual activities were ‘consensual’ or not ( and for a discussion on the murky issue of consent as it relates to BDSM, see Brenda Crossman’s excellent article) Jian Ghomeshi has broken faith with his audience. And he has done so by his own admission, in his own words. Here is why:
Jian Ghomeshi is a brand. That brand has always been about trust. Trust that he will bring open, respectful and fair dialogue with a view to upholding human rights, equality and dignity. He has been a vocal proponent of feminism and of gender equality. By admitting that he actively engages in BDSM (Bondage, Dominance, Sadism, Masochism), Jian Ghomesi is acknowledging that he fantasizes about inflicting pain, injury and humiliation upon women. His sexual desire is fueled by a need to dominate and hurt women. (If there is another definition of BDSM, please enlighten me.) And he doesn’t just fantasize about it. He does it. I do not know—nor do I care—to what degree or to what lengths he pursues these acts of sexual violence and degradation.
The end result is the same. A relationship has been dismantled. How are we—his target audience comprised largely of women—to trust him? To feel safe around him? How are women to sit across from him in his interview chair as guests and not feel that he is potentially regarding them as an object he’d like to hurt? As prey? How are we, as women, to sit in his live audience or in our kitchens and cars and not feel similarly reduced, by our gender, to a potential victim? How are we to give any weight to anything he says about social injustice? Or gender equality? About the oppressed and the vulnerable? About human dignity and respect? Is it possible to sexually humiliate and hurt women within the parameters of BDSM and still respect them...and to expect their respect in return? That is a Q debate for another day.