Some news stories are like burrs that won’t let go. In 2014, CBC radio host, Jian Ghomeshi, took a precipitous nosedive from media star into notorious pariah when his penchant for rough/violent sex was revealed. Voracious national conversations and debates ensued, including those around sexual violence, rape and the shortcomings of Canada’s judicial system.
At first I supported Ghomeshi. If you read his Facebook post explanation it sounded sane and rational, it led you to the conclusion that he was the victim of a vindictive ex-girlfriend who was twisting the truth of their kinky sex life. Then days later he was fired from his high profile job at CBC as beloved host of the morning program “Q”. I thought, no doubt it’s because of staid, prissy mores, which is a relatively easy conclusion to make in Canada; sexual permissiveness is more about theory than practice and plenty of repression still hunkers down at the margins. But soon more women came forward with accusations and shocking details and the full story began to emerge: Ghomeshi is no self-aware, safe-practicing kinkster who always had his partner’s consent, he’s a manipulative predator and serial abuser, a narcissist who needs violence in order to get off. And like many others who followed and watched this gong show, I sat in muddled amazement and horror and asked myself, why wasn’t this guy outed sooner?
This is a lingering, unanswered question even after reading Kevin Donovan’s 2016 book called Secret Life, The Jian Ghomeshi Investigation. As I read Donovan’s well-researched book I kept wondering, how is it possible—within cultural milieus saturated with savvy feminists and urbane humanistas—for a guy like this to carry on undetected for so long? Because until 2014 nobody came forward. Apparently Ghomeshi’s violent behavior goes back to the 1980s and by his own estimate he’s had 1500 women. He bashed many about the head, knocked them into unconsciousness and strangled them. It’s a compelling read, especially since it gradually makes a strong case for Ghomeshi’s mental illness.
In truth it wasn’t that Ghomeshi was simply kinky, as he so ardently claimed in his Facebook post, he’s a violent predator who cloaked himself in kink language and kink ideas but didn’t practice kink the way one must if you’re interested in being sane and responsible.
This is where we’re at right now: for years there’s been a massive sexual revolution going on basically underground. All sorts of sexploration is happening right now and right under our noses. And I know this because I’ve been there, gone out to dungeon parties, played the role of dominant and submissive, and many other experiences of no relevance here. Suffice to say, I’m glad I was older and had plenty of self-esteem and confidence when I ventured away from the ordinary. My experiences were for the most part positive and thrilling. I sought out credible, experienced people who safely and sanely practice the dark sexual arts and learned everything I could. And I can say that unless you take part in public forums and other kink gatherings you can easily fall prey to the skeezy lurkers who know how to con the horny and inexperienced.
As close as we’ve come to raising consciousness was the dreadful 50 Shades of Grey. This silence and avoidance has to stop. A lack of public discussion means we shouldn’t be shocked when this happens again. Why the hell are young, smart women allowing men like Ghomeshi to bash them about the head and threaten their very existence? People, especially the young, need to be provided with the resources, knowledge and skills to safely navigate their sexual journey in this wild new world.