Jian Gomeshi is finally the household name he already fancied himself to be, but for all the wrong reasons. As I write this, nine women have come forward relating their nightmares of being choked and punched by the man while on a date. He pled his case to his employer, the CBC, by producing graphic videos, resulting in his firing with a side of WTF. They were reportedly long aware of his penchant for sexual harassing women, and did nothing.
Statistics Canada reports only 6% of sexual assaults are ever reported. Why? Women know they won’t be believed, they’ll spend years having to publicly relive it, and they probably knew their attacker. It’s not the dark alleys we should be afraid of; it’s the guy beside us in the car or on the couch. How can we still think abusers can’t be charming and smart and attractive?
Unless we emerge bloody and beaten, we must have deserved it. In the process of an assault, women are playing a chess game with the goal of getting out alive. Don’t think if we stop fighting it’s because we’ve changed our mind. Sexual assault is violent, and to report it is to risk it happening again. Women are torn apart in courtrooms and when a man has already stolen one part of your life, you’re loathe to let him have the rest of it. False reports can destroy a man’s life, but only 2-4% reports are unfounded, meaning 96-98% are telling the truth.
“Date rape” is a watered down term. It downplays rape, so women believe they’re at fault and men believe it’s a form of courtship. Stop telling women to not drink, to not be alone with a man and to not wear provocative clothing. We don’t tell men that. How about men shouldn’t rape, period? Tell your daughters to be vigilant and smart, but tell your sons consent should be verbal and enthusiastic. Remind them consent tonight doesn’t mean consent next week, or next year.
32 years ago I was raped on a date; I later learned I wasn’t the first. I’d run from his house when I finally could, lost and in shock; it was a cab driver who drove me home though I had no money. All I could think was that my parents would kill me. Why was my humiliation stronger than a rapist’s fear of being caught? I blamed myself for what he did. This is what women do.
We teach our girls to be polite. We should instead teach them to trust their instincts. Leaving a bar alone months later I saw the bastard again. There’s the chess game – if I run, he might chase me. Instead, as I tried to leave I was slapped in the head and pushed into his car. Terrified, as he slowed in a construction zone I jumped out. I hid behind trees as he drove along yelling for me. I knocked at a house with a light on, and like that cabbie, the man who answered got me home. There are many good men out there. In five decades, this was the Bad One, the Dangerous One.
I should have reported him but even at 18, I knew my life would be derailed and nothing would happen to him. There are abusive men who hate women. I don’t give a damn whether their mother loved them too much or too little or if they were dropped on their head at birth. What I do care about are the women who are forever changed while these bastards move blithely forward safe in the knowledge that they will get away with it.