Rants For Thought

Jian Ghomeshi Is Fired Because He Says A Woman Lied About Him: An Example of Rape Culture?

Canadian radio generally isn’t a big thing in other parts of the world, but here in Toronto, former CBC radio host Jian Ghomeshi is kind of a big deal. He’s well known and well liked, for his views, for his interviews, and for his personality. Today, a decision came down from CBC firing Ghomeshi after he had tweeted that he was going to take some personal time off. The decision appeared to come out of nowhere, and I for one was a bit shocked. As many people on Twitter put it, Ghomeshi was a media darling, and he definitely is probably CBC’s most popular radio host. Why were they canning him suddenly?

Jian Ghomeshi, from Twitter

Ghomeshi answered the question himself later Sunday afternoon – they were firing him because a woman Ghomeshi had been dating and having a “rough, yet consensual, BDSM sex relationship with” had come forward after he dumped her with, according to Ghomeshi, a smear campaign set to get him fired. According to Ghomeshi, the woman accused him of sexually abusing her. CBC apparently fired him for this. Here’s his statement:

While we’ve heard from Ghomeshi, we have not yet heard, at the time of this writing, from the “jilted ex” that he said has ruined his career. I’m not going to sit here and speculate on why CBC fired him or why, at the time of this writing, Ghomeshi is suing CBC and not the woman he says ruined his career. That’s for the courts to decide, and while Ghomeshi has been accused of sexual harassment before, albeit under a pseudonym, he’s not on trial, yet. He is innocent until proven guilty – and so is the woman he is accusing.

What I want to talk about is the reactions that I’ve been seeing to his statement. A lot of people have been giving Ghomeshi the benefit of the doubt while full-on accusing the woman of ruining his career. Without knowing anything but what Ghomeshi has told us, people on Twitter and Facebook have been gleefully maligning her without taking into account that maybe there’s more to the story, here. As well, maybe we’re all overlooking the fact that Ghomeshi isn’t the first to accuse someone of ruining his life over a sexual abuse accusation. He’s also not the first to totally malign a woman in order to explain something bad happening to him.

Women everywhere are sexually assaulted by men in power. Many don’t bother to speak up because of reactions and consequences like this: Ghomeshi is a man in power and he is also well liked and well known. Chances are, he will be almost universally believed, while she will be accused of lying to get something from him. And while there is an extremely small percentage of women who do accuse men of sexual abuse in order to get something from them, the majority of women don’t. The majority of women speak up because they want justice. And right now, we don’t know what the real story is – but as someone who never spoke up when a man in power put me through hell, for a variety of reasons – I believe her until further notice.

I believe her because so many women are sexually abused and it’s reasons like this why we stay silent. Because this is rape culture, and rape culture never, ever supports the woman. Because he can ruin our lives far worse than we can ruin his. Because we’ll always be known as the woman who accused so-and-so of sexual abuse, especially if the courts rule on his side. Because we live with the scars, physical and mental, of our ordeal. And while I am not accusing Ghomeshi of sexually abusing this woman, I am pointing out that due to the fact that we have not heard her side of the story, she doesn’t have a voice in this yet. She is simply represented by Ghomeshi – and he wants everyone to know that she is the villain in this piece.

The story will come out. If Ghomeshi was unfairly fired for his personal life, I hope he receives justice. But the fact that he’s using this woman to build a case against CBC doesn’t sit well with me. I look forward to seeing the truth come out as the days go by. I’m saddened this has happened in my city, with a media outlet that I enjoy and respect, and with a media personality that I was always willing to give the benefit of the doubt to.

Willing to give the benefit of the doubt, that is, until he threw a woman under the bus to set the ball rolling on his lawsuit. Not cool, Jian. Not cool.

Edit: It has been brought to my attention that the Toronto Star just released an article detailing more allegations against Ghomeshi. Three women allege that he has sexually abused them. That, on top of the articles and statements linked here, make five women that we know of accusing Ghomeshi of sexual abuse.


38 thoughts on “Jian Ghomeshi Is Fired Because He Says A Woman Lied About Him: An Example of Rape Culture?

  1. “But the fact that he’s using this woman to build a case against CBC doesn’t sit well with me. ”

    I don’t know. If we’re truly giving him the benefit of the doubt, I would hardly call stating that the woman maligned him (if it is indeed true) to be a pretty logical step. If I were in the situation and had been maligned and fired from my job based on untruths, I think I would do what I could to get the word out.

    I have no idea what happened, obviously. I hope justice is served, whatever that means.

  2. Thanks for putting this out there, I find it disturbing that people are willing to give him the benefit of the doubt so easily. I ask myself, would a major media outlet have fired him just for having unconventional sex? And as you pointed out, who really has more to loose in this situation? Consent is something that can be withdrawn, and I hope that people start to examine the power dichotomy that is likely an underlying factor in this issue.

  3. “I believe her until further notice”…. believe who? believe what? You are willing to believe someone who has not spoken publicly, but, apparently worked in the background to malign someone else? that is a pretty big leap of faith based on no evidence, just your distrust of men in general.

    1. 4 women have now come forward. The Star has been following this for a year now & the CBC has been aware of this the whole time.
      Let’s do some math: 2 to 6% of all reported rape cases are false. Less than 50% of all rapes are EVER reported. The chances of ONE woman coming forward, who’s lying? Slim, but possible.
      FOUR false accusations? You got better odds at the lottery.

  4. obviously he is suing the CBC for wrongful dismissal… That is where he has been getting paid, and now not being paid. He could win millions of dollars from the CBC… undoubtably the woman involved would not have that sort of money. I have no idea if he is ‘innocent’ or not, but the writer not being able to figure out this simple point does not make me more likely to seriously weigh their point of view.

  5. 4 women have now come forward. The Star has been following this for a year now & the CBC has been aware of this the whole time.
    Let’s do some math: 2 to 6% of all reported rape cases are false. Less than 50% of all rapes are EVER reported. The chances of ONE woman coming forward, who’s lying? Slim, but possible.
    FOUR false accusations? You got better odds at the lottery.

    1. ”4 women have now come forward. ‘ Actually no one has “come forward”. Three have been interviewed by the Star. A 4th complained of harassment at work. This may get uglier and Jian might be guilty of something. But let’s not get ahead of the facts so far, which are pretty thin.

  6. I just have one question. WHY is CBC firing him TODAY? What happened?

    Is it to take our attention away from the repressive laws Harper is about to bulldoze through?

    Mind you, I am not saying this is a charade or that the accusations are untrue. Five women taking the chance to go after a big machine makes me think they have to be taken seriously and listened to.

    I was told that if CBC loses, it could be their end. Anyone has an opinion on that?

    1. I have a few thoughts on all of this, first being that most women don’t accuse men to get something, and they don’t accuse to get justice, they simply do not speak up at all, and that is a huge problem.

      Second, relating to your comments fem_progress, I thought the same thing. The star is a bit of a greasy publication to say the least, and they love to stir up tabloid headlines. The CBC has been quietly being attacked and de-funded by the Harper government. Jian is basically the face of CBC radio. This is a huge scandal, and while the CBC and Jian are looked at as having made the first steps here, everything they have done was a reaction to pressure from the Star. And I don’t trust the Star. I’m not saying Jian is innocent, by any means, I just feel like the Star might have ulterior motives(be it the timing, or how the story is framed).

      The timing of this smells fishy as hell. First, we have a big tragic event, that gets sensationalized and turned into a terrorist act, instead of a mental health issue, then we have a bunch of legislation that takes away the freedoms of Canadians, increases government snooping powers and police/military budgets, and then immediately following that, a massive sex scandal that has crossover appeal with the best-selling book Gomeshi mentioned in his facebook note, with the movie adaptation coming out this valentines day(in less than 4 months). I know he was the one to first bring it up, but you can’t honestly say that this story wouldn’t have been compared to 50 shades of grey at every turn without his mentioning it. I mean, it could all be a big coincidence, and I could just be a little paranoid…But I have reason to be. I am afraid that the CBC will get taken down, and that this will be used to turn public opinion against the public broadcaster justifying more cuts and another nail in it’s coffin. I am afraid that this story is already being used as a sort of smoke-and-mirrors parlour trick to distract Canadians from the hacking away at their civil rights, and the very fabric of democracy in our country.

      Now, in terms of the story itself, the content is quite damming…but really, this should not be taking place in the court of public opinion. It should be happening in a court of law. If we live in a country where women who are violently abused feel that they cannot bring themselves to press charges, then I am ashamed to be a Canadian. If the only way these women can find some justice is by going to the Star and getting allegations published anonymously, then I am ashamed to be a Canadian. If a widely known and popular public persona is being setup and taken down publicly to help fulfill a political agenda, then I am ashamed to be a Canadian. If this event is being used to put Canadians back to sleep, to forget that their rights are being stripped away, to give them a juicy story to talk about around the water cooler, then I am ashamed to be a Canadian. If this story is being used to smear the CBC, justifying another round of budget cuts, leading to it’s eventual demise, then I am ashamed to be a Canadian. And if, when the dust settles, we learn nothing and we change less, then I will assuredly be ashamed to be Canadian.

      On the surface, I’d have to say that he seems guilty, but when I look at the larger picture and the larger implications, I am a little less convinced. Currently the story is just a he said/she said, which is just two sides pointing fingers. One side is anonymous with the backing of one the most influential and widely read newspapers in the country. One side is a man who happens to be BROWN. His employer has turned their backs on him. And the PR firm he has hired to me seems a little less suspicious considering the circumstances. I really must stress I am not taking a position in this at all until more evidence presents itself.

      If he is guilty, I hope he gets everything that is coming to him. If he isn’t, I hope he walks without too much damage to his public persona. And I hope when it is over, we find ourselves in a climate where people feel secure speaking out about violence and rape. Where victims don’t feel threatened by coming forward. But really, considering the kind of stuff I was reading in my facebook feed, I am disgusted. Everyone is jumping to conclusions and taking sides, before enough evidence has been provided.

      In any case, whether any of my fears are true, whether Gomeshi is guilty or innocent, we really have a long way to go, Canada.

  7. The fact that he is suing the CBC does make me lose respect for him. He knows how little wiggle room the CBC budget has. That feels more vindictive than a number of people coming out knowing they will be maligned because rape culture treats survivors like shit.

  8. To be clear, Ghomeshi hasn’t actually sued anyone. His lawyers have simply announced his intention to sue. No paperwork has been filed. Also, a lawsuit on his part would probably fail (http://business.financialpost.com/2014/10/27/jian-ghomeshis-cbc-lawsuit-is-hopeless-even-if-hes-telling-the-truth/). Really, this should be seen as a PR move on his part, and an attempt to direct the public discussion around his case. It also is likely to have a chilling effect on any woman considering coming forward.

  9. I think that there are some real problems here–problems that are pointing to vindictiveness on the part of the woman who started the ball rolling. 1) How did she know how to contact Ghomeshi’s exes when he is known to be extremely private? Ghomeshi says she went through his phone, which sounds plausible. 2) The Toronto Star and Kevin Donovan aren’t above distorting stories for salacious purposes. I heard from a very reliable source that they planted an informant in Rob Ford’s rehab. That is violating Ford’s privacy. It sounds to me like Ghomeshi’s privacy has been violated here too. 3) The woman was with Ghomeshi for two years in a dating relationship. She wasn’t stuck in an unhappy marriage with children to support–she was free to walk away at any time. She didn’t walk, but she did contact four of his his exes after she and Ghomeshi broke up.

    This doesn’t sound like genuine self-protective behaviour to me and it’s time we feminists stopped infantilizing ourselves and others with various watered-down versions of the battered woman syndrome. If a man is hitting you and you are not living with him or being supported by him and there are no children involved, then why aren’t you leaving? If we reject the reasoning that says some men “can’t help themselves” when they hit women, I think we should also reject it when a woman who is free to walk says she “can’t help herself” either. I’m sorry, but there are some really dastardly things happening to women out there in the world and unhealthy relationships like these — where both parties are mutually implicated — need to be examined honestly. They don’t really belong on a feminist agenda; they belong on mental health one instead.

    Women who make these accusations for money are rare, as many people have stated. Saying that, the woman who made an accusation against Ghomeshi presumably had female friends or relatives she could have confided in while the alleged abuse was happening. In other words, she could have told her story then for completely sane and reasonable reasons, as in “hey, he’s doing some violent things to me and I think I need to get some support here.”

    Addressing that possibility is important because confiding in others would quite likely have given her the support she needed to leave. (I don’t know many women who would knowingly and intentionally exhort a woman to stay in an abusive relationship, at least not in Canada.) My question is, did she confide in any of her women friends during the time the abuse was happening? And if so, can any of them vouch for this and did any of them try to help her to leave? It’s one thing for a woman to claim she didn’t come forward publicly because she felt embarrassed or afraid — that sounds plausible — but most women *will* tell a friend or relative who is safely on their side. In cases where ongoing abuse is alleged, as is the case here, these are hard questions that need to be asked. False accusations of sexual assault are harmful too.

    1. So, your whole argument, boiled clean of its bullshit is “It’s her fault.” Right. Got it. Did you even read the article: YOU KNOW NOTHING ABOUT THIS WOMAN EXCEPT WHAT GHOMESHI HIMSELF HAS TOLD YOU. YOU ARE LISTENING TO AN ATTACKERS VERSION OF WHAT HIS VICTIMS ARE DOING.

      *MY* question is, when are you going to start thinking for yourself and stop implicitly blaming the victim? God, it’s like left wing Ford Nation.

      And you are not a feminist. You’re a rape culture apologist.

      1. If the victim isn’t forthcoming about the attack, how is anyone supposed to know? Ghomeshi was forced out by the nature of the accusations and had to defend himself. The women doing the accusing on the other hand haven’t been forced out to respond to what he’s said about them. She can only listen to the attackers version because that is all there is to go by.

  10. I don’t know what happened with to or near Mr. Ghomeshi, but I’m rather appalled with the writer of this article. As an educated woman raised by tried and true feminists, I believe I have both knowledge and experience when it comes to women’s issues. The tone and content of this post offends me. On a few levels.
    As an intelligent woman, my first issue follows some of what has already been said. The alleged ex girlfriend hasn’t publicly said a word. Soooo…who exactly are you supporting here?

    My second issue is this: This is a story about a successful man trying to save the vestiges of a career. For whatever reason, he has lost a really lucrative job. And I don’t know why that is. He’s accused the CBC of wrongful dismissal and gotten on top of what will be a really messy situatuon. He’s done it smart to boot. I’ve worked with women who have done worse things to maintain their professional lives. It’s not about rape culture. It’s about making a living.

    That this inflammatory post hit the Huff Post makes me kind of disgusted.

    1. Really? “you don’t know why that is”? Well since I read papers and clear you don’t, let me help you out. Ghomeshi is accused of beating up on women. Women, PLURAL.

      Sorry to tell you this but your post puts to rest the myth that you’re intelligent. You demonstrably do NOT have any sort of knowledge or experience with these matters.

      Oh and YOUR tone and post offend me. Go and educate yourself. You are an embarrassment to the feminists who raised you.

  11. You start by saying “I’m not going to sit here and speculate on why … Ghomeshi is suing CBC and not the woman he says ruined his career”, and then state that “he threw a woman under the bus to set the ball rolling on his lawsuit”. This woman who, y’know, he hasn’t named and isn’t suing.

      1. Accused of assaulting women. The thing is until a proper detailed investigation turns up, we can never know who is lying or telling the truth. Were the women who accused him friends or were they complete strangers? We don’t know, but I think it’s important to wait until we launch into accusations about either party.

  12. If these were sexual assaults, why wouldn’t the alleged victims go to the police instead of the press? If he were charged with a crime, the CBC would be justified, but dismissing him based on allegations is unlawful. The fact that the allegations were only revealed after the threat of a wrongful dismissal lawsuit means it’s pretty likely an attempt by the CBC to blackmail him into leaving quietly, likely for unrelated reasons

  13. My concern is that the news source in question has stated that there is absolutely no fact based evidence to back up this story. That these women do not want police involvement, one has already retracted her claim & the Star felt the story was “explosive” & good for public interest. When the guy writing the article says there is nothing to substantiate, that’s a red flag.

    As someone who has been sexually assaulted, my heart always goes out to victims. If Mr. Ghomeshi did something wrong, then by all rights, he deserved to be fired. But, in this instance, all evidence points to something else entirely. This woman wants no police involvement, but she contacted a reporter. The news source says there is literally nothing to substantiate the allegations & the stories weren’t consistent. But, they ran it because it’s explosive. The CBC confirmed there is nothing to back up her claims, but he’s fired.

    If something changes; I’ll be happy to change my opinion. But as it stands, with no factual evidence of any kind, nothing to corroborate the story from the side of the news source & confirmation that the allegations are unfounded; it sounds like wrongful termination.

      1. The standard for evidence that I tend to use is the same one that courts use. That’s a standard that’s been developed/refined/evolved over decades to achieve the optimal balance between too many erroneous convictions and too many people getting away with wrongdoing. I trust this system over my own “gut” instinct of who’s guilty and who’s not, and I recommend others do the same.

        If there’s evidence enough for a court to convict the Jian, then I’m willing to accept he’s guilty.

        Testimony alone likely isn’t enough to convict, and for good reasons. That doesn’t mean he didn’t do it, but it means we don’t yet know, and we might never know and we shouldn’t go talking about him like he did until a court decides that we DO know.

        Assuming guilt based on some news reports and blog posts is unbecoming of a modern society that’s supposedly better educated and better equipped to think critically than our medieval and brutish ancestors who would stone people merely based on allegations of wrongdoing.

    1. But MaryHelenc, that is almost certainly why these women haven’t gone to the police: they likely realized that there was little chance of factually proving that they were assaulted — because it would still be a he-said/she-said situation with little chance of a conviction (which they might not want for Jian anyway) and so much to lose. But that doesn’t mean a felony didn’t take place; it means we can’t reasonably try and condemn Jian in a court of law without such proof, because the burden of proof is on the accuser, and for a legal conviction you need a truckload of it. THat’s why so few sexual assaults yield convictions. It’s a necessary evil, I guess, of living under the rule of law. But the news source did NOT say there is “literally nothing to substantiate”; they did repeated interviews that held up to scrutiny in terms of being credible and logistically tenable; and I don’t recall reading anywhere that anyone’s stories weren’t consistent. (except the Carla Ciccone blog, which is rather trivial in comparison and which isn’t a part of these complaints.) The CBC did NOT confirm that there is nothing to back up her claims. The CBC has been extremely taciturn for legal reasons. Nor is there any evidence that the first woman has retracted her allegation; that is what Jian said in his posting, which contains at least one overt falsehood: that the newspaper didn’t print the story because it presumed the allegations to be fabricated. (That was a dumb chess move by Jian and his PR whiz-kids, as it likely provoked the Star into running their explosive counter-charge.) Bottom line: let’s keep an open mind, but read other articles and postings besides Jian’s. Dan Savage has a particularly insightful post: log.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2014/10/27/prominent-cbc-radio-host-claims-he-was-fired-for-consensual-bdsm-sex

      1. I have read many articles, including the original news source that says there is no fact based evidence. There is also the woman’s statement that she filed an HR complaint at work, which the CBC has confirmed they read in the Star & have no record of. No complaint is on file. But the woman says there is. Do we blindly believe her even though the workplace says differently?

        If these women are telling the truth, then my stance will change, but as it stands, there is no fact based evidence, nor is there record of the HR complaint, which means there is already a lie. I struggle to believe anyone who goes to the media & not the police. Ive been in their shoes & i went to the police. It wasn’t easy, but I wanted justice. This doesn’t feel that way.

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