Listening to the right voices

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October 30, 2014

I am a big fan of CBC Radio. In our house, it takes the place of the TV, and it plays almost non-stop in our small kitchen, providing me with comforting background noise. On desperate days, it connects me to the outside world.

That said, I was troubled to hear that CBC had fired Jian Ghomeshi, host of Q, one of my favorite morning shows. At first, I was disappointed with CBC. I thought they had made a stupid and rash decision. This view was furthered when I happened upon Ghomeshi’s Facebook page, where he posted a detailed and personal explanation of his side of the story.

His response was immediate, and he held nothing back, painting himself as a victim of a jilted ex-girlfriend and a national corporation.

For those unfamiliar to this unfolding story, Ghomeshi was fired due to information the public broadcaster recently received that it says “precludes” it from continuing to employ the 47-year-old host of the popular Q radio show” (Toronto Star). He claims he was fired because of his sexual preferences for BDSM and allegations of sexual abuse from three different women.

At first, I sided with Ghomeshi. Poor guy. But then Facebook, which, (sadly, after CBC Radio) is my second source for news (don’t judge me), linked me to a slew of other media responses. I was reluctant to click on them. They appeared to be written by feminist magazines, and some of them had sexually explicit words in their names, which immediately made me discredit them—because I am a snob like that. But I read them anyway. While I may dislike their edgy titles, I couldn’t help but be pushed out of my comfort zone. Not only was I disappointed with Ghomeshi’s words and his actions, but I was also disappointed with myself and my immediate reaction.

Why would I automatically believe this celebrity’s allegations over that of three young women? Why would I allow him to cast himself as the victim, claiming harassment, abuse, and slander rather than pay attention to three women who had everything to risk and absolutely nothing to gain over these allegations? Ghomeshi’s public response, his immediate and forceful placing of blame on everyone but himself, now seems like an angry, almost violent, rant. His lawsuit filed against the CBC for $55-million seems like a desperate act of dominance.

I’m not saying he is guilty. But to say he’s innocent until proven guilty is to claim that three women are guilty of making false allegations of abuse, and I’m not okay saying that. I guess CBC isn’t either.

This story is none of my business, and yet it is everyone’s business, because of how we respond. Too often victims of sexual abuse–children, women or men–are afraid to tell their stories. We have shamed them and scared them into silence. I believe we should support all victims of sexual abuse, and that starts with listening to their stories. 

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