I was supposed to do work tonight but I can’t. I can’t work because I’m mad. I’m mad because of that Jian Ghomeshi essay. I’m mad because I’m just tired of men abusing their power… and then thinking that they deserve pity when shit goes sideways. I don’t care for empty public apologies or expressions of remorse. Do these men really need to take up any more space with their words? With their selves?
I don’t think so.
I don’t know why the New York Review of Books decided to publish that essay, but I can hazard a guess that it has something to do with their bottom line. There’s that saying: there’s no such thing as bad publicity. It seems to hold more true today than ever. The only reason I heard about the essay was because my Twitter feed was full of it. Not praising it–denouncing it. But still, it was there.
It had been a while since I thought about Ghomeshi–like, really thought about him. It’s been two years since he was acquitted and fell out of the spotlight, and I’ve been busy. His is a name that has come up since then in wake of other disclosures, but it wasn’t until I saw the tweets about him that I wondered what the heck he’d even been up to. I was unpleasantly surprised to learn that he had written a 3400 word essay about, well, himself. One that was to be published in an American magazine (online today and in print next month).
Ghomeshi was a man with significant clout. He had social standing and a successful media career. And although he may no longer have that standing or that career, his name is just as recognizable. His name has a different kind of weight now, one that might make it more distinct.
This has been said before by others, but I think it fits here too. What are the names of any women who have disclosed abuse from men? Women don’t bring their stories forward because it will gain them recognition. In fact, it does the opposite.
There are a variety of reasons why we may not know these names, not the least of which is that the survivors don’t want their information made public. But I wonder what would happen if we gave power to those names instead? What if we offered a cover story to those names? What if those were the names that would sell magazines? What then? I would much rather live in a world like that.
I haven’t read the essay. I read an article about the essay. I started to read the essay. But I stopped. I stopped for a few reasons: it was boring, it was bullshit, and it just didn’t seem important.
Ghomeshi’s side of the story isn’t important to me. His side of the story isn’t news to me. His side of the story is one that has already been told, over and over and over again. His story is a story that all women already know: the story of I didn’t mean it that way. I’m sorry you feel that way. It’s a misunderstanding. It’s the story of you’re taking this out of context. You’re blowing this way out of proportion. It’s the story of you can’t prove what happened enough for allegations to be true and therefore you are a liar.
I don’t want to give Ghomeshi the space to talk himself out of it. I don’t want to hear his side, especially when his side seems like the only side. That essay isn’t about remorse. It’s not an apology (why would he apologize when he doesn’t think he’s done anything wrong?). It’s a 3400-word pity party held under the ruse of regret.
If he were truly remorseful, he wouldn’t have written the essay in the first place. But instead of taking the opportunity to repent, he took the opportunity to make things about himself. Because that’s what abusers do. They trick you into thinking it’s about you, when really it will always be about them. Ghomeshi doesn’t regret what he did. He regrets getting caught. He regrets losing what he lost. And he thinks he deserves to get it back.