It’s not often that I get riled up over things that happen in the news, especially in Canada. Yes, we have some outrageous things happening here, but for the most part, Canadian society is reasonably civilized.
However, a story that’s currently unfolding has me feeling a little sick. It is the story of Jian Ghomeshi, a popular radio show host who has just been fired amid a storm of allegations.
The short version of the story is this: Ghomeshi likes to engage in a form of sexual activity known as BDSM, which involves things like bondage, slapping and choking. If it’s not done with extreme care, a great deal of prior discussion, and constant monitoring of safety and comfort levels, it can be extremely dangerous. People can die from it. It’s not my cup of tea, but as long as there is complete consent and due safety, I really don’t care what other people do in the bedroom.
Ghomeshi’s sexual tastes became big news last week, when three women alleged that he had punched and choked them during these encounters, without their consent. He wrote an impassioned defense on Facebook, in which he claimed that he was a victim of a smear campaign initiated by a jilted ex-lover out for revenge. He admitted that some of his bedroom activities are controversial and offensive to some, but he insists that it has always been consensual. He states, in fact, that he can provide proof of consent.
Since the story first broke, more women have come forward, and there are now eight claiming that Ghomeshi has assaulted them. He is standing by his contention that he is being victimized, and he has launched a massive lawsuit against the public broadcaster that fired him.
Reactions to the story are predictably mixed, but what troubles me the most are comments being made by the staunch Ghomeshi supporters.
But he can prove that it was consensual…
If these women were really assaulted, they should have gone to the police and not the media…
They couldn’t have been victims, because they went back for more…
I know that there have been times when women have accused men of rape to be malicious, and that is despicable behaviour. If Ghomeshi is indeed telling the truth, he absolutely has the right to defend himself.
But what are these comments teaching today’s generation of young girls? That they are to blame if they become victims of ongoing sexual assault? Are we teaching our boys that they have license to do whatever they like under the umbrella of “kinky sex”?
I don’t have any daughters of my own, but I do have sons, and I want them to grow up with the following messages:
- If a woman gives consent, she is giving consent for what is happening in that moment. She can withdraw consent at any time, and you, my sons, have to completely respect that, no matter what is going on.
- The way a woman dresses or behaves does not grant you any entitlements. I don’t care if she’s walking around naked. You don’t engage in any sexual activity with her unless you are absolutely sure that it’s what she wants.
- If she’s drunk or under the influence of drugs, she is not capable of consent. Period.
- If you get involved with a woman who has been abused in the past, know that she is vulnerable. Just because she might have stayed with the guy for a period of time, that doesn’t mean she was OK with it.
- If you lose control of yourself and sexually assault a woman, don’t try to say it was her fault. It wasn’t. It was yours.
- If you rape a woman and she does not report it, that doesn’t mean she liked it. It is more likely to mean that she is afraid.
- Being involved in a relationship with someone does not give you license to do whatever you like with them. Your girlfriend/fiancée/wife is not obligated to have sex with you just because you feel like it. I don’t care if she’s been with you for ten years. If she says no, she means no. If you respect that, she is highly likely to say yes next time round.
- A woman’s prior sexual history has no bearing at all on whether or not she consents to sex. Whether she’s a virgin or someone who has had multiple sexual partners, no means no.
What messages would you want to give to your sons and daughters about sex?
By Kirsten Doyle. Photo credit: Brenda Lee. This picture has a creative commons attribution license.
Originally published on World Moms Blog on 7 November, 2014.