It's a scary time to be a guy


Let me first start out by saying that I'm completely confident in the future that faces us as a species. Despite the apocalyptic bent of the daily news cycle (don't forget, "if it bleeds, it leads"), we are heading towards incredibly transformative awakenings and technological breakthroughs. People are seeing all the faults in our society and while some are fighting tooth and nail to preserve them, alot more of us are fighting to tear them down.

One of the things we have to deal with is gender roles. In the U.S, Americans are dealing with Bill Cosby and his slate of accusers. Here in Canada, we have Jian Ghomeshi, celebrity CBC host of the Q and former rock star who has just recently been acquitted in one sexual assault trial and had a second one today, that was resolved without a trial.

"No reasonable chance for conviction" per the Crown attorney.

To some, this shows our system worked. But to many, it shows just how broken our system is.

For everyone that thinks "poor guy, his name has been ruined" there are many more that think (rightfully) that he didn't get what he had coming to him. Over 20 women came forward to say this man assaulted them. That what he did to them and how he did it was not OK. These women were found "not reliable" witnesses because of their erratic behaviour after the alleged assaults.

Not withstanding the fact that traumatized brains do weird things, women have also been conditioned to be nice in the face of abuse. Our court system doesn't always take these things into account. Our court system, particularly in the way it handles sexual assault allegations is a mess. On the one hand, as a guy, you worry that you're "guilty until proven innocent" in the court of public opinion...on the other as a woman, you worry that you will be torn apart and your motivations questioned in a court of law.

Ghomeshi suffered from the former, but benefitted from the latter. He clearly violated a woman he worked with and his only "punishment" is to publicly apologize, sign a peace bond and stay out of trouble for the next year. The apology his lawyer wrote for him reads decently:

Until you hear exactly what it was he was apologizing for from the victims own mouth:

"Up until recently, I didn’t even internalize that what he was doing to my body was sexual assault." Because when I went to the CBC for help, what I received in return was a directive that yes, he could do this, and yes, it was my job to let him. The relentless message to me, from my celebrity boss and from the national institution we worked for were that his whims were more important than my humanity or my dignity. So I came to accept this. I came to believe it was his right.

In a perfect world, people who commit sexual assault would be convicted for their crimes. Jian Ghomeshi is guilty of having done the things that I’ve outlined today. So when it was presented to me that the defence would be offering us an apology, I was prepared to forego the trial. It seemed like the clearest path to the truth. A trial would have maintained his lie, and would have further subjected me to the very same pattern of abuse that I am currently trying to stop."

Ghomeshi benefitted from "good lawyering". A working of the system by a brilliant lawyer, who knew just exactly what to do in this case, from choosing not to go to jury trial, to going on the attack of the credibility of the witnesses, to not having Ghomeshi take the stand in his own defence.

Ghomeshi wasn't the first and he won't be the last. This is a system that regularly finds people guilty who are innocent and the axis that usually spins on is how much money the accused have and who they know.

READ: Poor people don't stand a chance in court

The fallout from this case will see people questioning if our system as it's currently aligned works on the side of justice (it doesn't). The fallout from this case will see abusive men feel justified and emboldened. The fallout from this case will see women questioning themselves, falling silently into themselves and putting up with behaviour from men that they shouldn't. The fallout from this case will continue to see institutions and entire industries (mine included) continue to turn a blind eye and tolerate the actions of abusive men as long as it continues to benefit someone's wallet.

In short, as scary as it is to be a guy nowadays with such an intense lens focused on what is and isn't sexual assault...it's always been alot scarier to be a woman and we're just gonna have to ride this one out, fellas. Think of it as a market correction. The "bubble" we thrived in was one of unexamined male privilege and it's coming down around our ears and it can't happen soon enough.

KB

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