On Ghomeshi, Sexism and Rape Culture - and why Women need Others to Step Up

March 25, 2016

 Hi all, 

 

It's been forever since I've written, and for that I am sorry. Prepare yourself for some real talk, because I have to lay it on you and I am not going to mince my words or take prisoners.

 

Ghomeshi was acquitted. Of all charges. 23 women came forward, and he walked free. Which is in itself perhaps not that surprising, but the fact that the judge spent nearly an hour on the differences of the survivors' stories - as if all stories are the same - and said the women were lying when studies show again and again that assault victims tend to blot out their memories is just wrong. I think we can all agree on that. Survivors were let down yesterday by the Canadian courts. This is sexism and preferential treatment of men by others (including Marie Heinen) at its peak.

 

The message that this case sent was clear: be a PERFECT witness and you have a shot. If you tell your story as you remember it, not a chance in hell, sweetie. If I had a daughter tomorrow, I would not want this to be her world. I would fight to change it. We have to fight to change it. But only minority groups cannot do so alone. The police do not respect us. Laws do not listen to us. Even when we present perfectly, we can only win over so much of a given population, and so often that does not include men.

 

We need to teach our boys to be better. We need to teach our boys about consent. We need to teach our boys to not be entitled, but to listen to and respect women and women's stories. We seem to be stuck in some kind of stasis, where we are too scared to go outside and fight. But fight we must.

 

However, and I cannot stress this enough, we need people who the Canadian courts will listen to to be allies with us. Flagrant disrespect is all we will get if we continue down this path. We need others, not just minorities or marginalized populations, but influential people, to stand up and join with us in saying that this is not right. We need as many people on board with equality as possible, because all it takes for the shitty people of Toronto to win is diffusion of responsibility among the great and the good. When that happens - when we don't believe survivors - we are knowingly abetting a culture of toxic masculinity and entitlement of which Jian Ghomeshi is very much a symbol. 

 

I know we can do this. This can be a watershed moment.I hope the Ghomeshi verdict fills you with rage. Maybe rage is exactly what everyone needs right here.

 

Xoxo,

 

Olivia

 

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