It is has been a week since Jian Ghomeshi posted his statement about his dismissal from CBC and his anticipation of accusations of sexual assault. I have watch all week as more and more women (9 now) have come forward with similar stories of violent encounters with this man.
A powerful man who was somehow able to continue assaulting women [allegedly], unchecked, for years.
And, it seems, a lot of people knew it was going on.
I have been listening to his show for years and I too found it surprising that the same man who wrote all those great essays was the same person accused of these crimes. But, it seems he is not that man, he did not write those essays, he is not a feminist, which should have been evident after the debacle that was the CBC Q debate on rape culture.
I have watched as these women have been asked to explain why they did not come forward sooner, or press charges. And it saddens me that these women are being traumatized again by having to recount their stories of abuse. The police are now investigating.
I applaud these women for braving the onslaught of public judgement and victim blaming that is sure to follow. I have to say though, these voice of blame and judgement seem a bit quieter this time. Maybe this time we are starting to see the role that power and influence have in creating sexual predators and keeping women quiet.
This quietness is alarming, but not new. This quietness comes from many places and culminates in the rape culture that we live within. There has not been a lot of nuanced discussion surrounding what exactly it means that we live in a rape culture and many would like to think that that is not the case.
Rape culture primarily refers to the phenomenon that we live in a society where it is normal for women to be sexually assaulted and harassed, to expect to be sexually assaulted and harassed, and those who commit sexually assaults and harassment are not prosecuted. It is part of the everyday sexism that plagues females in our country.
In a recent study, Heather Hlavka interviewed 100 female participants in North America, between the ages of 3 and 17 over a period of 9 years, about abuse. What she finds is a disturbing trend of everyday violence, where rape is qualified as “real rapes” or “little rapes,” or victims who do not report rape because they didn’t want to make a “big deal”.
Little rapes, only raped a little bit…
Somehow, I feel hopeful though. Out of all of this has come the hashtag #BeenRapedNeverReported, where what seems to be hundreds of women are sharing their stores via Twitter. Stories where they were sexually assaulted and did not feel they were able to say anything because no one would believe them, that no one would care, that it didn’t matter.
It does matter…
This is our culture.
This is rape culture.
And, it needs to stop.