(T/W for discussion of sexual assault)
Tired of all things Ghomeshi. Tired of my cynicsm, tired of the excuses, tired of it all. Unfortunately, I will probably say the following over and over again, not just in regards to Ghomeshi, but in any discussion of our society and how we treat women:
There is something to the idea that people really do think that at some level a man expressing sexual interest in a woman is flattery…that the “only” problem is if she doesn’t like it. He’s the hapless victim, she’s the one who overreacted…and hey, she probably led him on. Hey, she probably secretly liked it…there’s always a reason the man isn’t responsible. “All” she had to do is say no…and if she did and he ignored her then she gave him a signal.
Men are presented as continually sexual creatures whose only mode is “on”. There’s even a myth to support that: the idea that men think about sex every thirty seconds in an average day. Women are the controllers of men’s sexuality: it is the woman’s place to say “no” if she’s not interested. What this suggests is that a woman’s consent is the default position: there is never a question that boys and men should be taught that they have to ask and have a woman’s consent. Nope, they can do as they wish: it is up to the woman to say no. (This is one reason why people feel that dress codes for girls are reasonable: after all, those girls don’t know any better…they have to be taught to say no, to refuse men and boys. Since they are perpetually available sexually to anyone male they have to dress in a way that will visually signal “no” to any male onlookers.)
This by the way is why there have been several cases in the US where judges have ruled that women were not sexually assaulted or raped despite actual physical evidence, recordings and witnesses: the “victim” was unconscious, therefore, argued the judges, they did not say no. An absense of “no” means the man had every reason to believe he could do as he wished. Consider that when you argue that it IS only up to the woman to say no.
I’ve written elsewhere about rape threats–that there are trolls who think the absolute worst thing they can say to a woman is that she is too ugly/fat/old/etc to rape…because in their brains, they genuinely really truly think that rape is about sex and sexual interest and desire. Whereas the reality is that rape, sexual harassment, sexual assault are about control and domination.
Ghomeshi didn’t behave like this because he’s playful and he just looooooves women so darned much: he did it to let everyone know that he’s the one in charge. He’s the one who was superior to the women he worked with, to the women he invited over to his home (different than the few women who were long-term girlfriends who were not assaulted). He’s the king.
And when you explain how it was the fault of anyone but Ghomeshi you allow him and other men carte blanche to repeat this behaviour. After all: it’s not their fault. The women should have said no.