The trial of Jian Ghomeshi, a former radio host for the CBC, began in Toronto, Canada last week. He is charged with, and has plead not guilty to, four counts of sexual assault and one count of overcome resistance by choking.
In this trial there are three complainants, only one of whom has opted out of the publication ban on her identity; she is Lucy DeCoutere of the Canadian TV series Trailer Park Boys.
This first week has produced witness testimony from two of the three women, the second of whom was Lucy. On Twitter, supporters tweeted their support for her in this so-called ‘he said, she said’ case by using the hashtag #IBelieveLucy. The problem is, she doesn’t seem to have told the whole truth (we wonder why) and the evidence that is coming out makes a pretty strong case for Ghomeshi’s defence.
We would like to take this opportunity to illustrate exactly how and why a knowledge and understanding gap about female sexuality leads to exactly the kind of behaviour we do believe these women engaged in, as well as the ‘re-traumatization’ of victims during sexual assault court cases that social activists decry as being unfair.
Shaming and Blaming Sex Assault Victims in Court: A Broken System?
On January 28, just before the February 1 start of Ghomeshi’s trial, Maclean’s Magazine published an article titled claiming that this trial will “put klieg lights on the most common sexual-assault allegation scenario, and the most difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. It involves an accused who’s known to the complainant— in contrast to a “stranger in the bushes”; all three complainants in this case socialized with Ghomeshi before and after the alleged assaults, which date back to 2002 and 2003.”
The article continues, in the very next paragraph, to commit logical fallacy by using the argument: “No one asks the victim of a mugging why they handed over their wallet, or what they were doing in that neighbourhood, or question whether the crime even took place”, as support for the argument that complainants of sexual assault are treated unfairly, blamed and shamed, during court cases.
The article states that there is hope that this trial will “expose the try-the-accuser [style of] prosecution of sexual assault, an area of criminal law in need of radical overhaul, according to those who work within it.”
The fallacy of the argument however, is due to the fact that the women in this case, as in many others, were not ‘strangers in the bushes’ and therefore their behaviour is relevant. They are not innocent victims taken by surprise, they were active participants in a relationship and if they behaved illogically or irrationally, say, by continuing to have social, or even romantic, contact after the alleged incident, then that calls into question the issue of consent as well as their motivation.
The Maclean’s article goes on to explain how “a “because it’s 2016” belief in female sexual agency can be used against complainants. That women freely go out at night, dress as they want, and enjoy sex outside of marriage has made it plausible to suggest a woman would consent to sex [in situations where consent seem unlikely or illogical.] At the same time, the courts often uphold a Victorian model of prim womanhood in which women would experience such violation and shame after a consensual sexual encounter that they would fabricate a claim or seek revenge.”
Women need not be ‘Victorian prim’ however maybe these women feel so ashamed because they know their behaviour was confused and misleading, that in some way they did, in fact, consent to being ‘assaulted’.
A broken legal system? In this case, we don’t think so. We think there is more of a broken ability to understand the true motivation behind these ladies’ behaviour. It all comes down to human sexuality and consciousness.
Consent, Motivation, and Reasonable Doubt
The question then becomes, why did they behave the way they did? If they claim the allegedly abusive behaviour was non-consensual, what motivated them to accept and condone the actions initially and then, apparently, return for more. Did love make them blind? Did fear paralyze them? Did shame and guilt immobilize them? Did money and fame tempt them? We don’t think so.
The answer is likely quite simple although not at all obvious. We think they were sexually desperate, that they believed that this man could satisfy their sexual needs in a way they could not (because they did not know how to) do for themselves.
Another article in Maclean’s, this one titled , stated that Lucy DeCoutere admitted in court, under oath, that her behaviour was ‘illogical’ and ‘ludicrous’. She described the day of the assault and the days that followed by saying, “”I didn’t want to be rude”… [I] listened to Ghomeshi play the guitar, sat with him on his couch, and then kissed him good night.”
The article continues by reporting that DeCoutere and Ghomeshi “socialized several times over the next few days, going to brunch, a barbecue and an art show. After she returned to Halifax, she sent flowers as a “thank-you”.”
That wasn’t the only thing she sent him. She also sent that finished with the sentence “I love your hands”. This was just days after the alleged assault incident where she claims he choked and slapped her. The letter was introduced by Ghomeshi’s defence rather than the Crown prosecutor and Lucy stated that, until Henein presented it to her in court, she did not remember writing it.
Rather than money or fame, we believe these women really did have hope for sexual gratification – so much hope, in fact, that they were willing to overlook violent physical abuse in order to get it. Perhaps this is what DeCoutere was referring to when she said that she ‘loved his hands’. It makes us wonder what he knows how to do with his hands… Actually, we’re pretty sure we know. To find out for yourself and start to understand the bigger picture of how this world really works, .
The other complainant, a woman whose identity is secret due to the automatic publication ban that she did not opt out of, also behaved seemingly illogically after her allegedly abusive interactions with the accused. Inspiring the name of the above-mentioned Maclean’s article, she even sent Ghomeshi an email with a photo attachment of herself in a red string bikini.
“She testified she met the former Q host in December 2002 at a CBC Christmas party she was catering. After a flirtatious exchange at the event, he invited her to come to a taping of Play, the show he was hosting at the time. She agreed and said his eyes “lit up” when he saw her there.”
She described Ghomeshi as “a perfect gentleman” because he opened the door for her and offered her a ride from the pub where they were drinking [after the taping] back to her car. “Once in the vehicle, she said Ghomeshi asked her to undo a couple of her blouse buttons. She refused but they started kissing.”
Then comes the first incident of alleged abuse. “”When he’s kissing me, he reaches around behind my head and he grabs my hair really, really hard,” she said.” Using logic and reason, it seems this would have been the end of their relationship if the accuser considered the hair-pulling to be violence and abuse, but it wasn’t.
We wonder what else, besides kissing, happened in the car to make her want to come back for more? We wonder, even though she didn’t undo her blouse, if she was wearing a skirt that afforded Ghomeshi better access to a different erogenous zone and we wonder if he used that access to make her feel like it would be more to her pleasure than her pain to come back for more in the future.
The woman “told the court Ghomeshi “switched back to the nice guy” and she agreed to see him again. The third time she saw him, at another taping of Play, the witness said she took a friend with her. The three of them went to a pub afterward, and Ghomeshi allegedly invited the women back to his Riverdale home. The witness told the court her friend had to go home so they dropped her off at the subway station before driving to his place. Once inside, Ghomeshi and the witness allegedly started making out” (kissing) and then he, allegedly, pulled her hair again, “really hard, harder than the first time.””
Again?!?! Shocking!! (Not)
This women was clearly worried enough to bring her friend along on the second date but after a few drinks at a pub (when her judgment was clearly at its best, right?) she decided that it would be alright to stay with Ghomeshi alone – not in public but at his home. The issue is not that she went back to his place on the second date, it’s that she did so against all reason and logic. She felt danger and fear (enough to bring a friend along on the date) but she ignored her instinct. Why? Hope? Craving? Desire?
“She said Ghomeshi brought her to her knees and began punching her in the side of the head. …The witness said she began crying and she said Ghomeshi told her she should leave and called her a cab. “He threw me out like trash.””
We wonder, was she hoping he would take her in his arms and ‘make it all better’?
Sexuality is the foundation of human psychology and motivation. If someone’s sexuality is very oppressed, or distorted, so is their basic human response.
When the “Crown asked why, after being hit in the head, she didn’t call out Ghomeshi or run outside instead of waiting for a cab at his home,” she replied, “”When someone’s pounded you in the head, it’s hard to say, ‘Oh, by the way, what was that?'” she responded. “I was frozen in fear and sadness.””
“”I wanted to go home, curl up in a corner and cry” she said, adding she didn’t think anyone would believe her. When she hinted that the stigma facing sex assault victims was a deterrent for her, Henein objected that that’s not relevant.”
The Social Stigma of Reporting Sexual Abuse vs Peace
The social stigma facing sex assault victims who report is not relevant because when one feels justified and confident, that is, they feel no shame, they do not care about others’ approval for their actions. If the complainant truly felt that she was abused, she would have felt no confusion over coming forward at the time.
If, however, she felt some shame and even guilt over the incident because she believed that she somehow deserved, provoked, consented to, or condoned the abuse, that is another matter entirely and it is precisely that reason why sex assault victims who fear coming forward are scrutinized. They don’t fear that their sexuality will be analyzed, rather their rational and critical thinking.
But we understand, it’s very hard to think straight when you are eternally sexually frustrated and it seems like you might have a chance at release – or, how was it that DeCoutere put it in her hand-written love letter? Oh yes, ‘having peace’.
Like we said, #IBelieveLucy and the other woman did behave this way; unfortunately this kind of behaviour is not uncommon because very few women, and nearly as few men, understand very much about the female sexual cycle – not the reproductive one, the orgasmic one.
As long as this ignorance remains (ignorance is not bliss, it’s weakness.), girls will continue to behave in seemingly irrational ways in romantic situations. At some point their ability for clear and rational thought is hindered due to their sexual frustration and desperation for a natural feeling of pleasure and release that they don’t understand how to give themselves. And as long as only a few men do understand how to give it to them, they will be able to manipulate any situation to their advantage.
It’s time to end the knowledge and understanding gap about the ‘secret’ of the female orgasm because this really is about so much more than sex. It’s time for change and we CAN change this world but we have to do it together, but ! 😉 #LoveIsTheAnswer
As always, much love,