I’ve been resisting following the Ghomeshi trial. Partly, I’m enabled by circumstance–a temporary fragility of anatomy with accompanying pain & analgesics have occupied me for the last few days– but also because I have been fearing being too disappointed: by the process, the inevitable vilification of the complainants and belittling of the assaults, by the eventual explications and attempts to reconcile vile actions with alternative sexualities, by the exegesis, the circus, the spectacle, yadda yadda. And to be honest, I have been avoiding reinvigorating my sense of breached trust on the part of my beloved CBC radio, whose senior administration and production teams long turned a blind eye to rumors of Ghomeshi’s actions.
But really, how can I not pay attention? As a woman, as a Canadian concerned with human rights, as a feminist who has been employed to combat gender-based violence, as an academic who has researched and lectured about women’s lives, as an activist who has consistently fought misogyny, objectification, patriarchy, as a survivor of sexual assault, and perhaps most compellingly, as a friend of several women (several!) who have survived sexual assaults, how can I not pay attention?
So, I will pay attention, and it is from those feminist friends, those fellow survivors of patriarchy, sexism, objectification and/or sexual assault that I will draw hope. Let me flag one for now: a woman whose endurance and fortitude through 6+ years of trials and appeals ended with a sexual offender being convicted, and more importantly, with the law being changed such that “similar facts” are now admissible in court and can help convict a perpetrator. As this inspirational friend-heroine wrote to me today:
” …Listened to The Current and the Ghomeshi case. I was attacked in 2002. Can’t believe that it has been that long. The worst part of the case was that it ran on for six+ years because of appeals. But because of my case the law was changed on similar fact conviction. It will [now] be easier to convict him” [Ghomeshi].
It may be that Ghomeshi will not be convicted of charges laid against him. He is innocent until proven guilty, and facts may be revealed during the trial that clear him, notwithstanding the violent actions which he has described publicly as mutually agreed-to and sexually exciting. Or the Crown may simply fail to prove their case. But I need not avoid the trial coverage out of fear of disappointment in the system. I have at least one example of how enduring something as murky and risky as a sexual assault trial, despite the tendency to demean the witnesses and complainants, can result in a tangible sense of optimism.
And that’s just one example. Thank you, my sisters.
Some helpful reads:
Farrah Khan’s advice on supporting sexual violence supporters: http://www.chatelaine.com/living/5-ways-to-support-sexual-violence-survivors-during-the-ghomeshi-trial/
FEMIFESTO’s “Use the Right Words” guide for reporting on sexual violence: http://www.femifesto.ca/