What’s more shocking than this week’s breaking news about Jian Ghomeshi’s dismissal from CBC is the reality that, allegedly, upwards of 4 women are afraid to go on the record against him for fear of being shunned and attacked by Ghomeshi and Q fanatics.
Maybe he did it, maybe he didn’t, but a fear of being shunned by the public should never be a woman’s reason not to speak up, and the fact that thousands of people are already calling these women horrible people — before we know the facts — only reinforces the sentiment among many assaulted women that they should stay quiet to avoid public persecution, especially in high profile cases.
^ This reality for women is what we should all be talking about this week. Why do we do this to women? Besides, who are we to speak before the judge cracks their gavel? You’re going to feel awfully horrible about the hateful words you’re spewing to these women if (and it seems, when) Ghomeshi was indeed guilty.
Time will tell if Jian was “smeared,” so let’s wait and see. But, just, stop. Notice this: time has already shown us why so many women keep quiet about cases just like this one.
Recently, a friend confided in me that she found herself in a similar position. Initially, things were consensual, until the man became violent and did things against her will. She chose not to go public or to the police. Initially, hurt and outraged on her behalf, I regretfully told her what I thought she should do, as if I had any right to tell her how to deal with this.
“That’s why I didn’t want to tell you, or anyone,” she said. “I don’t want the general public commenting on how I should deal with my emotional duress, and the decisions I made, and whether lines were or were not crossed.”
Until we definitively know whether Jian is a creep or not, his guilt isn’t the bigger story here. The bigger story is that the 4 women making the allegations will not go on the record, because we the public already have the audacity to tell them how to feel about what’s happened to them, and even worse, what their actions did to a man who might indeed have assaulted them.
To be clear, since the comments below are getting out of hand, as are the hateful emails, this article is not a stance on Jian’s guilt or innocence. That seemed obvious. It’s a piece on victim silence, and how women are seeing the consequence of speaking out about assault. It’s a piece about what we can do to lessen victim silence, and if Jian is the stand-up guy you want to believe he is, he would agree with this sentiment. This article, if you read it how it was intended to read, isn’t even about Jian.