Monday, 1 February 2016

Thoughts on the Ghomeshi Trial

Several women in Toronto are currently on trial for having been assaulted by a National Treasure.....

Oh, wait. Start again.

Canadian pop star turned CBC radio interviewer Jian Ghomeshi is on trial in Toronto, facing accusations of sexual assault and choking.  Women who read the newspaper reports of the Paul Bernardo trial, terrified that such things might happen to them or their friends, are now following the Ghomeshi trial via Twitter, grimly remembering things that did happen to them or their friends.

Funny how you start off thinking your generation will be different from any other.

The Twitter reports of the first cross-examination are torture because it feels as if all battered women in Ontario are on trial, not just this woman, not Jian Ghomeshi.  Because sometimes women do stupid things that seem absolutely necessary at the time and how on earth are we supposed to explain our stupid thought processes?

JUSTICE SYSTEM: If he did THAT, why did you go back?

WOMANKIND (muttering): Because I thought it would make it better.

JUSTICE SYSTEM: I beg your pardon?

WOMANKIND: Because I thought it would make it better.

JUSTICE SYSTEM: You thought seeing him again would make it better?

WOMANKIND: Yes, because if I saw him again, and he behaved sweetly and was just like the man I thought he was and hoped he was and knew he could be, then everything would be okay.

JUSTICE SYSTEM: After he did THAT, you thought everything would be okay as long as he didn't do it again?


JUSTICE SYSTEM: I don't understand your reasoning.

WOMANKIND: Because, um, if he were the man I thought he was, and hoped he was, and knew he could be, that would be a dream come true for me. Because, um, this is really embarrassing, but ever since I was a little girl, I wanted a man to be that man, the man who would always be there for me and love me and help keep me safe from--I don't know--dire poverty, loneliness, disrespect, want.

JUSTICE SYSTEM: And even though this guy did THAT, you thought he could be that guy.

WOMANKIND: Well, I thought maybe it was a one-off, or it was just some kind of crazy but explicable misunderstanding, or... or...I don't know how to explain it. Anyway, I thought if I saw him again, and he redeemed himself, it would just  ... wipe away what happened.

JUSTICE SYSTEM: It sounds to me like you weren't rooted in reality.

WOMANKIND (ashamed): Well, no, I guess not.

JUSTICE SYSTEM: In which case, how can I take you seriously as a witness of what you allege? As you admit that you were not rooted in reality, you have no credibility. I sentence you to a lawsuit hat will completely ruin you financially. I sentence you to a media coverage that will ruin your reputation and make men throughout the land despise you and hurl online abuse at you. You will reap all that you fear most--dire poverty, loneliness, disrespect and want.

WOMANKIND (in abject panic): Maybe I was foolish, but  I'm not a liar! He did THAT! He did!

JUSTICE SYSTEM:  Prisoner at the bar, I apologize for the machinations of this hysteric. Court dismissed.

Something to think about the next time a man gets your attention with a "neg"-- or if you wonder why so few women report acquaintance rape or physical assault in a dating relationship. Women don't think we will believed, and women don't want to relive the trauma in court, and women fear what the repercussions will be.

Update: Ugh. Now she's been grilled on why she didn't tell her media interviewer--a man, by the way--she was kissing Ghomeshi before he pulled her hair.


  1. I've been actively trying to avoid coverage of the case today. To me, it's just so lurid. You've certainly highlighted the irrational thought processes we sometimes have. I guess the problem is the association of irrational with untrustworthy.

  2. This is a huge problem. Reality diverges so much from what we expect, dream of and hope for that it gives rise to a question: "What leads us to be so wedded to our hopes that they blind us to reality?"

    I can easily imagine the thought processes of any Canadian woman who got involved with Ghomeshi, especially if they had hopes of a career in the arts, which naturally would be used against them in court. But if you were a Single woman in Toronto in the 1990s and 00s, the prospect of a CBC princeling as a boyfriend--a highbrow young celebrity who chatted with Margaret Atwood and Canadian rock bands alike--who was sweet and funny and feminist (a York U minor in Women's Studies!), Iranian and wrongly rumoured to be gay--well, wow-ee!

    Sad rather than lurid--and a useful morality tale. Total respect for Lucy DeCoutere for waiving her right to anonymity.

    1. *Iranian-exotic, I meant to say. In actual fact Ghomeshi grew up in 1980s Thornhill and comes across as Canadian as maple syrup as any Ontario kid who grows up in an intact family and with food on the table can (if he chooses) do. There are pundits that want to turn this into he-was-an-Iranian-Muslim thing, but unless we find out his late father talked smack against "Canadian" girls day in and day out, that seems highly unlikely.