Jian Ghomeshi is on trial for sexual assault and so far two women have testified about their experiences with the former CBC host of Q. The witnesses are trying to remember events from 2002 and 2003. The behavior they allege is disturbing. No one should be choked or "cold-cocked" with a fist when they think they are engaged in an enthusiastic exchange of lust. We have not, and may not hear from Ghomeshi himself. He has stated on
his famous Facebook post that he likes rough sex. Sexual behavior between consenting adults, consenting being the operative word, can be rough, perhaps weird to more conventional people. That is totally the consenting adults' business. However, what is disturbing in this trial is the contradictory evidence.
The first unidentified woman has testified that Ghomeshi choked her and held her against a wall. Problems arise when she talks about the bright yellow Volkswagen bug she remembers Ghomeshi driving. At the time of the alleged assault, that wasn't his vehicle. The woman claimed that it made her feel safe with Jian.
Equally difficult to explain is the evidence which shows Lucy Decutere, the second woman, in pictures with Ghomeshi after the alleged assault. There are emails (flirtatious and suggestive, even crude) and letters that Decutere sent Ghomeshi after their meeting. She didn't leave for an hour after he allegedly punched her several times in the head.
Inconsistency after inconsistency arises as the trial continues. My issue with the whole circus is that Ghomeshi is a celebrity. In our society where you can be famous for being famous, someone who has their own successful media career can seem very attractive. Let us not fool ourselves, Ghomeshi is a youthful 48 year-old and not hard on the eyes. It seems he can be extremely charming. High on himself, impressed by himself, yes. But these aren't crimes.
The women didn't come forward when the alleged incidents happened. We know how difficult having your life under scrutiny can be. We live in a society where sex is in your face all the time. It is acceptable and common for women to wear revealing clothing- the kind of thing where nipples peaking out are considered very attractive. Leggings pass for pants. Women are expected to struggle along in 5 inch heels. Wardrobe "malfunctions" are big news. Almost everything is sold by sexualization. Women are expected to be "sexy". It's a grand compliment to be considered "sexy", something to strive for at the expense of real skills and talent. The sixties saw a sexual revolution, so they say. Yet every woman who comes forward and claims sexual assault has her life examined, criticized and dissected for the very behaviours our society pretends to encourage. We aren't really so far from the days when "loose" women were sluts and men who behave the same way were studly.
The trial is disturbing because Jian Ghomeshi may or may not have assaulted these women. Their behaviour after the alleged attacks doesn't mesh with our expectations. Why would any woman ever look at, talk to, never mind reach out to someone who had assaulted them? How is it that the defense can find the incriminating and indiscreet emails, pictures and letters and the crown can't? What explanation can there be? Is there a perversion of the Stockholm syndrome that caused their odd behaviour? Or are they so blinded by attention from a relatively minor celebrity they were willing to put up with his deviant sexuality for a chance at some reflected glory. I have thought about these things a lot and am still confused. I don't think the trial is going to prove or disprove anything. Perhaps the truth will emerge as more women and witnesses are called. I truly hope so. My gut feeling is that Jian Ghomeshi is guilty of assault. There were too many women coming forward, there was too much smoke for there not to be fire and yet so far, the trial has done nothing to reveal the truth.
I've been writing on and off for years and this is where my more serious pieces will be.