It all comes out, which is painful but supposed to lead to healing, and I hope it will for everyone

30 Oct

I’m going to skip over working finishing up a post in the works to share a few thoughts about what happened at CBC this week. When I tuned in yesterday I couldn’t tell what happened, only that Jian Ghomeshi, the superstar host of Q, had been fired. I listened to this weird  conversation about it between the interim/replacement Piya Chattopadhyay and some fellow that was commenting on Twitter comments made about it, analyzing why so many people felt the need to “weigh in” on this issue. The two of them were talking in such meta-meta concepts, without mentioning what had actually happened, that no information was transferred to my brain. All I could tell was that he must have done something bad. Later I did a web search and found out that eight women had accused Jian of various offenses, but mainly assault in the context of sexual domination games. And that he was suing CBC, saying it was his own private life, it was all consensual, and so what if his preferences were really weird to most people? So what?

Before this paragraph I tried to do some sort of ethical commentary, pull in the Clinton scandal, how one’s private life speaks to one’s personal integrity or lack thereof, etc. but I can’t do a good job of that, so I deleted it. This is the first time (can you believe it?) than someone I appreciated, sort of counted on, who had become a habitual part of most of my days, turned out to be a two faced creep. I feel grief about it. My tears came when today I switched on the radio in the car today, the usual Q music came on, and Jian’s rich “Happy Wednesday” and dramatic monologue was not forthcoming. Piya’s quiet voice spoke into the pause after the musical intro, and she began the show with a some kind of simple interview–I can’t even remember what it was about. I heard pain in her voice. She played more music than usual, paused more, thanked the back room Q team, choked back tears, and switched to a beautifully mournful, piping song that suited the mood. And I thought, what must it be like to either find out about the big hero’s dark secrets, or to finally know they don’t have to put up with the menace of him being around any more and keep silent. And the pain of it all, and maybe (like me) wondering, what are other men, who otherwise seem kind, intelligent, wise, gifted, carrying around in their thoughts toward me, toward the women around them, and what if no one is what they seem? This passed through my mind as I walked through the local home improvement store today, where it’s mostly men, and I have to admit, I sometimes have enjoyed an awareness of attention as one of the few unaccompanied women not shopping exclusively in the home dec section. That distrust, that anger I used to feel at that sort of attention, based on nothing but being biologically female, resurfaced, and I just wanted to get away. Then I just felt sad again, and tender toward the men in my life who I do trust. I know they’re not perfect, and maybe there are secrets I’d rather not know, but I can trust them.

I hope Jian gets some help to understand and manage his urges, realizes they aren’t healthy. Seems he has some control, but has become convinced that certain types of hurting just for fun is okay, as long as the other person is willing to be hurt, or seems to be okay with it at the time. I say, go play rugby with someone your own size.


Posted by on October 30, 2014 in Culture & Society


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5 responses to “It all comes out, which is painful but supposed to lead to healing, and I hope it will for everyone

  1. jdawgsrunningblog

    October 31, 2014 at 5:45 am

    Powerful piece—where you took it–how you got there.

  2. LeRoy Pick

    October 31, 2014 at 9:17 am

    Since I don’t waste any of my time listening to CBC radio (the frequent inaccuracy of the information reported as truth is downright scary for a supposedly “national” broadcast network) I had never even heard of this guy until he made the front page of the paper. Why we insist on expending so much time and energy on the lives of any of our supposed celebrities – our “betters” in their own minds, I’m sure – continues to escape me.

    My wife and I were discussing this topic around the breakfast table this AM (you can’t escape it – it’s at or near the top of every newscast on the half hour). It’s not that either of us give a flying fig about this guy, it’s more a matter of the larger issues that surface from his situation. My wife can’t make up her mind which is worse: that the stories are true and he has extended his deviant attentions outside the consensual or that the victims are of the “jilted lover” sort who are getting back in a way that women can. Either position smacks of a level of power over others that each group can exercise that other groups may not. (I’ll admit that I, as a male, was automatically more worried about the possibility of false accusation; it’s hard to completely escape ones gender biases.)

    For example, Jian, because of his celebrity within the CBC, can (probably) get away with behaviours that your average joe-on-the-street couldn’t because people both within and without the organization wouldn’t want to get on his bad side. Effectively the power of control over other peoples careers such that they may have felt obligated to accept any behaviours he wanted to exercise, and hence the possible relief that “they don’t have to put up with the menace of him being around any more”.

    On the opposite side, a FEMALE “jilted lover”, as Jian labels his accusers, can utterly destroy their male opponent such that, by the time a false accusation is finally revealed or admitted, it’s too late and the damage has been done. Let’s face it, even if it is determined that these accusations of non-consensual behaviour are disproven, will anyone ever look at or listen to Jian the same way again? Certainly I’ll bet there’s a raft of his former listeners, and you may be one of them, who would find this “rough sex” topic either uncomfortable or distasteful to the point where they can’t possibly give Jian the same level of respect they accorded him before all of this was revealed.

    In each case, it demonstrates a level of power that people that fit into one group have over another. “Celebrities” and those who hold societal power over others – CEO’s, President’s, even actors and directors – are permitted freedoms the rest of society isn’t granted as their victims hope that some of that power and/or weatlh and attention will be reflected on them and they can then use some of that power themselves. If and when it doesn’t happen, then they can lash out like spiteful children at their parents.

    In the majority of instances, MALE jilted lovers don’t have nearly the firepower that FEMALE ones do. It’s a classic example of how society can over-rotate on things, although I’m sure there are some who would fail to see it as an over rotation. For most of history, the notion of a man abusing a woman was all but unfathomable because it was effectively an accepted notion in most cultures that women naturally needed to be under a mans power and control and any womans purpose was to service men’s needs and desires. With the modern society recognizing this as unacceptable, it has evolved to the point where women are universally assumed to be victims and therefore if every accusation isn’t pursued with the utmost vigor, then it’s a just a sign of further male dominance. Where, perhaps a century ago, a woman complaining of an abusive husband would likely be told by the (male) authorities to go back home and take better care of him so that he won’t have to be abusive, today a man complaining of the same or similar behaviour on the part of his wife would likely be told that it’s his fault because he is failing to properly address her issues. As evidence, I submit police procedure. One of my wife’s friends is the wife of a police officer. On “domestic incidents” it’s policy that “somebody” is leaving the household, where “somebody” WILL be the male, regardless of who is making the accusation or made the call to police. The policy is to always assume that the male is either the problem or is better suited to deal with being ejected from the household.

    (As an aside, have you ever delved into the true meaning behind the ceremony of a typical Christian wedding? The bride is effectively sold to the groom. “Who GIVES this woman to wed/marry this man?” Father says “I do”. At that moment, the father has given the bride to the church – as if she can’t be allowed or entrusted to make decisions on her own future. The father sits down, as he no longer has any place in the ceremony, having given the bride away. As for the church, they don’t really have a use for the bride other than the spinoffs they obtain – money. Therefore, in a pre-arranged accomodation, the groom has either already paid or agreed to pay the churchman conducting the ceremony a fee to have the bride given to him. It’s also an interesting point that, if the groom were to drop dead in that brief period of time between when the father gives the bride to the church and the minister, as the church’s lawful representative, “gives” the bride to the groom, she’d be sent to a convent or some such to spend her days. The same result would happen if the woman were to exercise the one and only bit of power she has and say “I don’t” instead of “I do”; she’s been given to the chuch, so they “own” her now, she can’t return to her family.

    As a result, I somewhat jokingly refer to my wife as having been “bought and paid for”, but you can argue that even supposedly joking about it carries an undercurrent of implied threat.)

    (As a different aside, have you ever noticed how virtually every cult in history involves some supposedly evangelical representative of the supreme being (trying to be politicallly correct here) who exercises power and control over his followers, with that control frequently being of a sexual nature? I’d say it’s amazing how many of these jokers treat their many “wives” – they’re almost universally “polygamous” – and even worse, offspring, as their sexual playthings, it being the natural order of things in their interpretation of the supreme beings plans, except that it’s a clear and established rule-of-thumb that one bozo after another can somehow play up.)

    Living in a household effectively populated by women – 3 teenaged daughters plus wife – women’s issues and the different male/female perspectives on things are a frequent topic of conversation. We can get into some interesting exchanges.

    My biggest contribution to my childrens “streetproofing” is perhaps the most obvious thing of all: I’ve taught them how the male mind, particular the teenage male mind, thinks. I oughtta know – I was one and, in some ways, I still am. There’s an alarming amount of truth to that old saw that men are just little boys with more expensive toys. “Forewarned is fore-armed” as the saying goes. I can’t be there to defend my children in everything they do, so the best I can do is arm them with the knowledge and then turn’em loose. Can I say with certainty that the way my mind works is representative of the whole? Not a chance, but I can say I’ve encountered a representative subset of my gender to validate my understanding of the whole if not necessarily any given individual.

    Okay, getting back on topic, your last paragraph is well stated but also comical in a way. “Jian gets some help”? I get the impression from his statements in this issue that he would not in any way think that he needs any help. Jian is bemoaining the unreasonable loss of his job due to false accusations as opposed to considering that there might be anything incorrect about his actions. Clearly, so long as any behaviours are consensual, everything should be considered golden and the rest of society shouldn’t have an opinion. I guess providing ‘safe words’ are the sexual equivalent of parking illegally and then activating the hazard lights on your car. “Well, this would normally be wrong or illegal, but, now that I’ve put my hazard lights on, it’s okay for ME to do this.” Personally I’d say beating on someone is wrong regardless of whether you have tacit permission or not. Can the safe word prevent the line from being crossed, or is it more likely to be the escape route after the line has been crossed?

    I’m a firm believer in limiting societies influence and controls over the actions of “consenting adults”, but it is not and can never be a proverbial blank cheque, carte blanche to excuse or accept any behaviour. There has to be a line there somewhere, I’m just not sure I know where it is. It’s obviously not the same for everyone – the simple existence of this behaviour is proof of that – but where is the level that is acceptable to society as a whole as opposed to the extremes at either end?

    Overall, I don’t have much sympathy for either camp in this sordid story. Jian is a fool for thinking that he could carry on this “double life” without it eventually being revealed and destroying him. Keeping it a secret is a clear acknowlegement that he knows deep down that it is wrong, or at least suspect, which speaks to his moral character. Similarly, for the “abused” women, if it wasn’t important enough to go to the authorities before, why is it so important to jump on the bandwagon now? If it truly was abusive, then the “victims” should have halted a predator at the earliest opportunity; failing to do so could only be described as irresponsible.

    I know I’m rambling and going off on all kinds of barely related tangents, but this is a very thought provoking entry.

    • toesinthedirt

      October 31, 2014 at 3:08 pm

      I don’t really care that he is a celebrity, except that he became one through some very fine shows. He was good at what he did, managed to gain access to some really interesting guests I enjoyed hearing from. That’s why I listened to Q. But I also enjoy “The Current” with Anna Maria Tremonti, “Spark,” with Nora Young, “Ideas” with Paul Kennedy, and of course “This is That,” “The Irrelevant Show” and “The Debaters.”

      Don’t you see why celebrities get more press when they do something controversial? Who is a celebrity to you? Someone you and many others have admired, appreciated for knowledge, wisdom, skills, intelligence, drive, whatever? Now imagine you and all those admirers shocked to discover some apparent ugly anomaly (whatever that might be in your eyes), some shocking inconsistency? The community has to process, which includes drawing out ramifications for the broader community, because part of this is about human nature, in you and me.

      As for the “jilted lover,” though there might be an element of that, it’s a slam against someone who by coming out with the accusations knows full well that her character will be criticized (for lack of discernment? For sleeping with the star for job favors, for showing too little restraint herself? For not going to the police instead of the press?), her reputation harmed, and possibly her career negatively impacted.

      By the way, where do you get your news? To me here in the U.S., CBC seems like a pretty good deal, when all around me are folks who subscribe to the Fox News version of reality. Though I also check other sources.

      • LeRoy Pick

        November 3, 2014 at 10:48 am

        Lotsa questions here.

        “Celebrity” to me is almost a dirty word, because it implies someone who is famous as much for being famous as they are for having accomplished “something”. I’d rather my celebrities were people who had accomplished something for the betterment of mankind, and didn’t use necessarily milk that celebrity status to obtain wealth and power, than for the act of being visible. The vast majority of celebrities that readily come to mind are folks from the entertainment industry – movies, TV and radio, sports – who, to my way of defining it, are effectively parasites on society, having contributed very little to the betterment of the planet or society and often are not worthy of adulation let alone emulation. (Anything with the name “Kardashian” in it would fit this description nicely.)

        Where do I get my news? All over. I do watch the different national news programs – CBC and CTV – from time to time, maybe a handful of times a month. City TV is poorly dressed up Toronto news sold to Canada as “national”, which is another crime of which the Globe and Mail is frequently guilty. I subscribe to the local newspaper, which is on the leftist side of the political spectrum. On radio, I tend towards the local talk radio (definitely leans right) to get news as I find they attempt to get all sides of a story even if their personal biases are right out there to be seen. I find CBC radio fails miserably in that area as they give a lot of airplay to their side of the story and don’t give the same support to opposing viewpoints. With any “call-in” type program, though, you’re bound to have the calls significantly reflect those of the commentator so that’s somewhat outside of their control and affects most programs regardless of perspective.

        “Fox news” (an oxymoron if ever there was one) and CBC? I’d describe the two as “same s**t, different stink”. They’re as opposite as you can get, but each is egregiously attached to their view of reality. I’ve only rarely tuned in to anything Fox had to say, usually to shake my head at the shameless shilling for the radical right wing agenda. (Actually, the only American “news” I watch with any regularity is “The Daily Show”, and they freely admit they are a comedy show with false news reporting. It’s more a matter of shining a light on the errors distortions there are to be found in the reporting world.)

        Regardless of the news source, the scariest part of the whole industry is that I fall into the same trap as your average lemming in having a natural tendency to automatically believe what is written and/or reported as verified fact. However, in those relatively few instances where I’m fully aware of the details behind a reported story, almost universally the reports range anywhere from inaccurate to flagrant lies. It raises the question that, if the few things I do know about are reported inaccurately, what is the likelihood that the other news I accept as factual or correct are similarly inaccurate? It makes it difficult to know who you can turn to for accurate information; literally everything I hear and read must be passed through me personal “sniff test” filter, and whose to know if that’s a reliable fallacy detector? I’ve proven to be pretty gullible in my life, having made many, many mistakes of trusting folks who weren’t worthy of that trust. Once bitten, twice shy?

        As for cross referencing, that’s hard. Many news reports draw on the same source material and therefore either reprint or reword what was already (mis)reported. The news industry itself is infected with the same need as the rest of the entertainment industry, namely the need to attract viewers and advertising revenue. The truth doesn’t always sell as nicely as a carefully crafted falsehood.

        I can understand you listening to CBC radio. It’s one of the few Canadian Services with a worldwide access capability and a lean towards issues of national interest. Most any other Canadian programming you can find is almost certainly going to be of a local interest to the market served by that station or service, much of which would have limited applicablity to someone in your situation.

        You’re right that “jilted lover” is a slam, but it’s certainly been known to happen that somebody decides to get back at a former romantic partner in this way, be they male of female. You can almost bet that the existence of this phenomenon would contribute to why that’s almost always the first line of defence for celebrities when their reputations are put under a microscope; it’s an easy (cowardly?) way to downplay or even discount negative reports or accusations. At the same time, it makes it all the more difficult for victims to come forward with accusations because, as you point out, the accuser is almost universally going to be put under a microscope and any little activity from their past may be dragged out as evidence of malfeasance or untrustworthiness. The vast majority, and I’d probably fall in that category, will just wash themselves of the whole incident, chalk it up as a life lesson, and move on, which may well prove to have been the case for some of Jian’s “victims”, assuming that’s an accurate statement for them.

      • toesinthedirt

        November 3, 2014 at 9:22 pm

        I hear you about the “famous for being famous,” an expression I’ve often used. My daughter just told us about a department store employee who’s been catapulted to that status for no reason than a young woman who thought he was handsome took a photo and posted it on Twitter. The photo went viral and next thing he knows he finds out he’s famous. An extreme example of how sometimes celebrity can be out of one’s control, so how much more must it be difficult to keep a normal, humble place in society even if a worthy leader, artist, philanthropist, etc., wants to. Unless he/she isn’t good looking enough and/or panders to no one.

        What I said to my daughters was how interesting it was that probably very few of their generation (or others) would pity the guy, because in Western culture there’s an assumption that “to be famous” is desirable. A whole raft of pop songs push that “ideal.” And I think I can safely say that those of us who sneer at celebrities might harbor some jealousy of the sour grapes variety. Though I hate to admit it.


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