Ghome­shi es­say draws back­lash

The Prince George Citizen - - A & E - Vic­to­ria AHEARN, Ad­ina BRESGE

Dis­graced for­mer CBC Ra­dio host Jian Ghome­shi penned a per­sonal es­say in The New York Re­view of Books that drew swift back­lash on Fri­day, with many so­cial me­dia users ques­tion­ing why he was given such a pres­ti­gious plat­form to de­tail his life post-trial. Ghome­shi was ac­quit­ted in March 2016 of four counts of sex­ual as­sault and one count of chok­ing in­volv­ing three com­plainants. In May 2016, he apol­o­gized to a fourth com­plainant and signed a peace bond that saw an­other count of sex­ual as­sault with­drawn.

In the piece, ti­tled Re­flec­tions from a Hash­tag and pub­lished online Fri­day, Ghome­shi re­veals that he had sui­ci­dal thoughts in the af­ter­math of the al­le­ga­tions and re­flects on his tra­jec­tory from a high-pro­file Cana­dian per­son­al­ity to a self-de­scribed “out­cast.”

He also ex­presses “deep re­morse” for the way he treated some peo­ple, ad­mit­ting he was “de­mand­ing on dates” and “emo­tion­ally thought­less.”

“I’ve be­come a hash­tag. One of my fe­male friends quips that I should get some kind of pub­lic recog­ni­tion as a #MeToo pi­o­neer,” he writes. “There are lots of guys more hated than me now. But I was the guy ev­ery­one hated first.”

Far­rah Khan, man­ager of Ry­er­son Univer­sity’s Con­sent Comes First of­fice, won­dered why the semi­monthly mag­a­zine gave an op­por­tu­nity to such a con­tro­ver­sial fig­ure when many peo­ple af­fected by sex­ual vi­o­lence are not given such an op­por­tu­nity.

“Why was he given this plat­form? Why now?” Khan said, also ques­tion­ing if the mag­a­zine fact-checked the piece.

Ghome­shi writes in the es­say that he can­not con­fess to ac­cu­sa­tions he main­tains are “in­ac­cu­rate,” but ad­mits he should have been more “re­spect­ful and re­spon­sive” with the women in his life.

“It’s in­ter­est­ing, who gets to have that plat­form. Pub­li­ca­tions of­ten­times are in­vested in giv­ing space to peo­ple like Ghome­shi to boost their sales, to cre­ate this hyped con­ver­sa­tion about it.”

Ghome­shi came off as “ar­ro­gant” for sug­gest­ing he’s part of a decades-long fight for the rights of sur­vivors of sex­ual vi­o­lence, she added.

“When read­ing the ar­ti­cle, one of the things that was re­ally salient to me was his speak­ing about how he was one of the #MeToo pioneers, or mak­ing a quip about it,” Khan said.

“He didn’t start the move­ment on sex­ual vi­o­lence – we did.”

In an­tic­i­pat­ing the re­ac­tion to the roughly 3,400word es­say, which marks the first time Ghome­shi has ad­dressed the trial pub­licly, he ac­knowl­edges that it focuses on his own ex­pe­ri­ence, “which may be seen as not help­ful in ren­der­ing women’s ex­pe­ri­ences more vis­i­ble.”

The cover story, billed as Jian Ghome­shi on Jian Ghome­shi, is set to ap­pear in the mag­a­zine’s Oc­to­ber is­sue on The Fall of Men.

A rep­re­sen­ta­tive for the New York Re­view of Books said the pub­li­ca­tion had no com­ment on the mat­ter.

The Ghome­shi trial and rul­ing trig­gered an emo­tional pub­lic de­bate about how abuse com­plainants are treated by the jus­tice sys­tem, which some con­sider to be a pre­cur­sor to the #MeToo move­ment that emerged last fall.

Ghome­shi writes in the es­say that he can­not con­fess to ac­cu­sa­tions he main­tains are “in­ac­cu­rate,” but ad­mits he should have been more “re­spect­ful and re­spon­sive” with the women in his life.

“What I do con­fess is that I was emo­tion­ally thought­less in the way I treated those I dated and tried to date,” he writes. “I lever­aged my in­flu­ence and sta­tus to try to en­tice women and lead them on when they were in­ter­ested.”

Ghome­shi said he strug­gled with sui­ci­dal thoughts in the weeks af­ter the al­le­ga­tions sur­faced in 2014, which co­in­cided with him mourn­ing his fa­ther’s death. “It was as though the end of my life as I knew it was some­how con­joined with the ac­tual end of his.”

As his pro­fes­sional and per­sonal sup­port sys­tems col­lapsed, Ghome­shi said he faced “fi­nan­cial calamity” be­tween his fir­ing from CBC and le­gal fees.

He also fumed over what he char­ac­ter­ized as “in­ac­cu­rate” de­pic­tions of him on so­cial me­dia, and said he fielded a bar­rage of racist re­marks over his Ira­nian her­itage.

In mulling over whether men fac­ing sex­ual mis­con­duct al­le­ga­tions should apol­o­gize, Ghome­shi said his own ex­pe­ri­ence makes him “dis­trust” pub­lic dec­la­ra­tions of re­morse in the im­me­di­ate fall­out of a scan­dal.


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