Right on the heels of a cheerful column, I have to discuss something really disappointing.
I'm going to put a large content warning on this post. If you're easily triggered, get out now. I won't be discussing anything gory, but I'd hate to know that someone had a panic attack as a result of this post.
Two personalities that a lot of people respected and admired have been outed as sex offenders. I didn't have much of an attachment to Bill Cosby--to be completely honest, I never watched him as a kid and always found him slightly off and creepy--but I did listen to Q on CBC Radio pretty often. In my first year of university, I would marathon old podcast episodes of the show while I studied.
At the time of writing this--Oct 27th; I sometimes write blog posts well before they're released--several articles have come out today.
The first thing I saw was this. Then Ghomeshi responded here. And then, after a day of carefully-worded contemplations and discussion with friends, I saw this.
This was really upsetting. It's been a while since I was a regular listener, but I had a good opinion of Q--it's a fun show, the interviews were thoughtful, and the music was quite good. What the experience did show me, though, is that there's a reason people defend sex offenders.
It feels like a real betrayal to know that someone you like and respect hurt someone else. Multiple people? It's even worse. Discovering that they aren't the person you thought they were is hard to handle, especially at first. Surely not, I thought. This has to be a misunderstanding. It's much easier to blame victims because they seem like faceless antagonists. Everyone's familiar with the idea of a woman vengefully ruining a man's career our of jealousy or spite. The truth, though, is that few assaults are reported to police.
These stats are absolutely horrible. I don't know any women who haven't been, at a minimum, catcalled, verbally harassed, or groped inappropriately--myself included--and while I won't disclose the number of friends I have who are survivors, the number is much, much too high.
Ultimately, no matter how much I'd like to support Ghomeshi, my personal feelings have to come second. That's really hard to do when you're fond of a celebrity, but avoiding the truth only feeds rape culture. And it's rape culture that makes it so easy to push things aside, to chalk the incidents up to a "crazy" woman or a few "crazy" women. It's easy to do this, but if we want those statistics to go down, we can't. We have to listen to the voices that cut deeply, that strip our illusions away. The price of not doing so is letting others get hurt for the sake of a dream.
But at the end of the day, the people we set on pedestals are still human beings. And human beings haven't learned to stop doing terrible, terrible things.