One of CBC Radio’s most popular hosts, Jian Ghomeshi, has been fired over allegations of sexual abuse.
The 47-year-old Canadian journalist, whose two-hour arts program Q has welcomed the likes of Neil Young, Sharon Van Etten, Robert Plant, Jenny Lewis, and Chris Rock, was let go on Sunday, the news announced via a short statement from CBC. Although the public radio station did not offer reasons for the severance, Ghomeshi himself took to Facebook later that evening to give his side of the story.
According to Ghomeshi, he was dismissed for engaging in violent forms of BDSM, or what he calls a “mild form of Fifty Shades of Grey.” He added, “I’ve been fired from the CBC because of the risk of my private sex life being made public as a result of a campaign of false allegations pursued by a jilted ex girlfriend and a freelance writer.”
While he did admit to participating in such behavior in the lengthy post, Ghomeshi steadfastly maintained that all sexual acts were done with his partners’ consent, explaining, “We talked about using safe words and regularly checked in with each other about our comfort levels.”
However, a new report by The Toronto Star paints a completely different story. The article claims three women have come forward, claiming that Ghomeshi was “physically violent to them without their consent during sexual encounters or in the lead-up to sexual encounters.” The newspaper also notes that the public radio host had “struck them with a closed fist or open hand; bit them; choked them until they almost passed out; covered their nose and mouth so that they had difficulty breathing; and that they were verbally abused during and after sex.”
As The New York Times reports, Ghomeshi has since filed a lawsuit against CBC for “breach of confidence, bad faith, and defamation” and is seeking $49 million in damages. However, some law experts have said the suit is more a “PR move” than a legitimate legal action.
For the most part, friends and past Q guests have chosen to stay out of the matter. One artist who has voiced his opinions, though, is Canadian musician and Arcade Fire affiliate Owen Pallett. In his own Facebook post, the multi-instrumentalist says that, despite being longtime friends with Ghomeshi, there is no excusing his behavior.
“At no point here will I ever give my friend Jian’s version of the truth more creedence than the version of the truth offered up by three women,” claims Pallett. “Anonymity does not mean these women do not exist.”
He continued, “To hear that anybody has been abusing the BDSM power relationship for the purpose of engaging in non-consensual violence-against-women is horrifying.” Pallett closed his message, saying, “How our friendship will continue remains to be seen.”
Read Pallett’s full post below.
I was challenged by a friend to say something about the recent allegations against Jian Ghomeshi.
Jian is my friend. I have appeared twice on Q. But there is no grey area here. Three women have been beaten by Jian Ghomeshi.
I have sat with Jian over drinks and discussed our respective anxiety disorders. We have been photographed hugging on camera.
Just ten days ago, I helped him find musicians for his father’s funeral. Three women have said that Jian beat them without their consent.
“We will never really know what happened.” Yes we do. Jian beat, at the very least, three women. Three women said so. “They were jilted exes.” Maybe so. They were beaten by Jian.
“They were freelance writers looking to get ahead.” Three women were beaten by Jian Ghomeshi.
At no point here will I ever give my friend Jian’s version of the truth more creedence than the version of the truth offered up by three women. Anonymity does not mean these women do not exist.
“They were engaged in BDSM role-play.” This: this is something I need to talk about.
The beauty of BDSM relationships is that the power is always in the hands of the sub. BDSM and choke play is a subversion of male violence.
To hear that anybody has been abusing the BDSM power relationship for the purpose of engaging in non-consensual violence-against-women is horrifying.
That is not the point of BDSM. BDSM is in fact about the exact opposite thing. It is about repurposing acts of violence into creating a power dynamic of fucking EQUALITY.
As for the rest. I have seen my Facebook feed littered with comments about how “for years we’ve known Jian to be a shady character.”
I too have heard endless rumours that he’s been a bad date, and have heard stories of shadiness and strange behaviour.
I have heard about his ridiculous pick-up lines and have (to my shame) tittered about them with my friends. But I have never heard, until today, that Jian Ghomeshi beats women.
I am skeptical of arts reporting. I am skeptical of Canadian journalism. I am sensitive toward shaming of people who are so-called sexual deviants.
But let’s be clear. Whether the court decides that predatory men are punished or exonerated does not silence the voices of the victims. It does not make victims liars.
Whether our culture continues to celebrate the works of predatory men is another issue. It does not silence the voices of the victims.
Jian Ghomeshi is my friend, and Jian Ghomeshi beats women. How our friendship will continue remains to be seen.