R v Ghomeshi - Considering Gendered Perspectives

by ambell on March 17, 2017 - 6:56pm

There are a few gendered perspectives that can be considered while looking at the R v Ghomeshi case. This case originally came to mind because all charges were dropped, making me think of the difficulty for victims to come forward and not being believed versus a man being considered guilty as soon as there is an accusation. Sexual assault is a serious crime, so not being believed and being considered guilty upon accusation are both a problem.

Ghomeshi was the host of a CBC show and fired a bit before the time of the charges. According to Ghomeshi, he was fired simply for his enjoyment of rougher sex. This became a bit of a scandal, as stated by the case. There were three individuals that came forward with sexual assault allegations, one of which including sexual assault and choking, all of which involving some violent behaviour during some sort of sexual contact. The court was wary of applying stereotypes of expected conduct of victims in their consideration, but did not specify (R v Ghomeshi, para 135). The case outlines the testimony of the individuals and highlights that there were some inconsistencies in the stories. The credibility of the individuals was brought into question because their stories would change as time passed and between what they told the media and the police. The court stated that it could not consider the testimony of a witness as truthful if that witness had been shown to be manipulative or deceptive (R v Ghomeshi, para. 139). Ghomeshi was found not guilty of all charges, and they were dismissed (R v Ghomeshi, para 142).

The first gender perspective that can be considered with this case is male violence. The fact that even Ghomeshi mentioned his own enjoyment of “rougher sex” may lead some to make the connection to violence. For some, men are thought to be violent naturally. An early thought is that men turn to violence as a result of not succeeding, because they have a lot of pressure to succeed (Britton, 36). Britton continues that masculinity and violence towards women have some connection, for example a survey showing that men would commit sexual assault if they would not be caught (Britton, 36). The so called “scandal” of him being fired for what he enjoyed sexually may have occurred as a result of society thinking that men are more violent naturally. The fact that he seemed to enjoy some violence and that the stories included some violent actions meant that the sexual assault allegations should and would be taken seriously and heard by a court.

Another gender perspective that can be considered with this case is the idea of “ideal victims” and women not being taken seriously in their allegations. The fact that Ghomeshi was a well-known personality added to the possibility that the women that came forward would not be taken seriously in their allegations, or that Ghomeshi would immediately be considered guilty in the minds of some individuals. As Randall states, if women do not demonstrate that they resist their sexual assault, they do not fit into the definition of a “real” or “ideal” victim (Randall, 398). The problem with this is that the stories of women who are not ideal victims may not be taken seriously or will be questioned. While the court did not want to allow stereotypes to influence decisions, they did question the stories of the women that came forward. It becomes difficult to know if the stories are being questioned because of the stereotype of the “ideal” victim, or as a result of the stories not being trustworthy.

            In the consideration of Ghomeshi as an offender, gender perspectives may have played a role in the scandal that occurred after he was fired. In the case, the court made it clear that he was a well-known name, and that the women did not come forward until that scandal occurred. This could have happened for very different reasons. A feeling of comfort for the victims to come forward at that time, or a chance to talk to the media. Beth Robertson brings forth the fact that this case highlights that women are disbelieved when they tell their sexual assault stories. The court may or may not have been influenced by the “ideal” victim in their decision about Ghomeshi. The “scandal” exemplifies that society may or may not have been influenced by the idea that men are naturally violent.

 

Bibliography

Britton, Dana. The Gender of Crime. “The Invisible Man—Masculinities and Crime.” Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2011. 35-42

R. v. Ghomeshi, [2016] ONCJ

Randall, Melanie. "Sexual assault law, credibility, and “ideal victims”: Consent, Resistance, and Victim blaming." Canadian Journal of Women and the Law 22, no. 2 (2010): 397-433.

 

Robertson, Beth A. “The Gender of Lying: Jian Ghomeshi and the Historical Construction of Truth”

Comments

Great argument and explanation of what is an “ideal victim” and how this was demonstrated in the Ghomeshi sexual assault case. With that being said, I feel that taking into account the term “rape culture” would further enhance your whole essay. Rape culture is trivializing and normalizing the act of rape and sexual assault by blaming the victim, pitying the assaulter and celebrating sexual violence against women. In your essay, you mentioned how Ghomeshi was viewed as “well-known figure” and how some looked at him as a man with great reputation. This can fall into the category of pitying the perpetrator because instead of looking at Ghomeshi as being a man accused of sexual assault, society (some) views him as a highly-profiled man who simply enjoys “rough sex”. This is truly problematic considering how we are not taking the victims seriously, which brings me to my next point being the victim blaming issue. You mention how the victims were not taking as seriously because of how they changed their stories on multiple occasions, how they waited for the scandal to occur before they came forward and how they did not fit the “ideal victim”. All of this is proof of rape culture that is present in our society. Some argue that if not all men are rapists, then rape culture does not exist. However, I would have to disagree with that argument considering how the victims were blamed and discredited during the trial and how some pitied the man being accused of sexual assault. There is actually an article that defines rape culture and then proceeds to give 25 examples of rape culture in our society: http://everydayfeminism.com/2014/03/examples-of-rape-culture/.