What is the takeaway from an article that both chastises and laments young girls who have had their futures stolen and sold into the eternal strife of gender struggle because they didn’t work ‘vigorously’ enough and therefore Hillary Clinton lost?
Are women the victims, or are they part of the problem?
Oh, and the article is written by a supposedly-feminist female lawyer who recently won a set of very high-profile sexual assault cases earning herself a reputation among other feminists as the devil incarnate.
It’s difficult to discern the message and implications of the article because it is difficult to understand the woman who wrote it and her motivations. Her image, self-described role, and actions cause cognitive dissonance; they do not align logically – or do they?
Let’s take a look at both sides of the debate.
Marie Henein was the lawyer for Jian Ghomeshi who was acquitted of six criminal – sexual assault and choking – charges in Canada in 2016.
What started out as a not-so-shocking-scandal involving some kind of a celebrity in Canada, quickly devolved into a he-said, she-said trial by social media involving dozens of people from the past who each had a story to tell about Ghomeshi’s budding appetite for sexual violence.
Ghomeshi started out very vocally, defending himself and his actions and accusing his accusers of being jilted and seeking fame and revenge.
It didn’t help her that one of his accusers, who chose to go public and waive the publication ban protecting her identity, was also some kind of a celebrity in Canada. Public opinion was sympathetic but skeptical.
Feminists heralded this case as the one to change the way the judicial system treated victims of sexual abuse. Ghomeshi bought high-profile help, including the legal services of Ms. Henein. He seemed scared, but skeptics were soon vindicated as the facts of the case came out in court.
There was the picture of one of the accusers in a red string-bikini that was sent to Ghomeshi by his accuser after the alleged assault.
Then there were the flowers sent after another encounter had apparently gone so badly.
And then there was the six-page, handwritten letter where one ‘victim’ described that there was nothing better than lying with Ghomeshi, ‘having peace’. She finished her letter with a single solitary line, below the other words she had so lovingly written to him by hand. She wrote, ‘I love your hands.’
This was years before the accusations of choking and slapping, although it was after the supposed crime occurred. We don’t think she was referring to that though…
With feminist heroes like that, it’s difficult to say Ms. Henein wasn’t being loyal to the cause! We would have to agree with her decision to expose the truth about these particular (so-called) feminists because we imagine the feminist movement would be better off distancing themselves from women like that and if Ms. Henein is the feminist that she purports to be, we imagine she thinks so too.
We wrote an article covering the subtext of the published Ghomeshi trial. Understanding the key facts of the case requires understanding a little-known fact about human behaviour as well as understanding the broader implications of the fact that the fact is little-known. To learn the little-known fact, watch this video. To start to understand the broader societal implications of this ‘secret’, read our analysis of the Ghomeshi case here and here.
So, what can we learn from Ms. Henein about feminism?
Being a Feminist Lawyer Is a Tough Job but Somebody Has To Do It
In her article, Ms. Henein wrote that she regretted that “women – particularly young girls who stayed up to watch the historic moment that never was” would likely feel demoralized.
She argued that the reaction that women had to Ms. Clinton’s image was: “there [was] something not quite right about that “nasty woman.” She was not to be trusted.” Ms. Henein wrote that she ‘was shook to her core’ because she felt that the reaction was the result of a specific message that had been sent to, in particular, female viewers.
We wonder how Ms. Henein feels about the reaction women have had to the media surrounding her image, we wonder how much she cares about how much women trust her. Of course, she doesn’t have to get elected; she only has to get hired, and by only men if she so chooses.
Obviously with a strategy in mind, Ms. Henein began her argument with her observation: “It is the reaction to Ms. Clinton that shook me to my core.” She finished that same paragraph with: “That is what shook me to my core. This is the message that was sent over and over again. To women.”
Which was it that disturbed her so deeply? The reaction or the message? Or was it the fact that women were not able to see through the marketing and decide upon the truth of the matter for themselves.
The grammar and structure of her written argument made it difficult to understand the true meaning of her words. To some, it may have seemed as though she was trying to express that she was shaken by some kind of malicious PR stunt that aimed to discredit Ms. Clinton by forcing her to “struggle to be “relatable.” To be cuddly. To assure the world that she was a good mom and grandma. To twist and contort herself out of shape. Her clothing; her hair; her temperament; her stamina.”
In reality though, Ms. Henein’s words expressed that she was shaken that the reaction to this campaign seemed to be as was intended. She was shaken that women either did not or could not see past the manufactured facade to who Hillary really is and what she truly represented during the election campaign, although Ms. Henein did not elaborate on what she imagines the reality of those topics are.
That women are not able to critically analyze the messages they are sent in the media seems like a problem worthy of further discussion. To Ms. Henein however, it was not as important as the core message of her article: keep fighting!
Ms. Clinton’s supporters, Ms. Henein wrote, obligingly followed her and her media as “they went high – into the clouds, where no one heard them.”
Ms. Henein started off her article by patiently explaining that “Going high when they go low means you speak only to people who were listening in the first place. It’s like bringing thank-you cards to a knife fight. You’re going to get hurt or worse, lose.” Going low though, requires an understanding of what goes on down below. Euphemism intended, read on to find out why.
She scolded that we shouldn’t have needed “to go to a “fact checker” to know that Mexicans don’t rape and kill; that black lives matter; that Hillary Clinton didn’t start a war, or the birther movement.”
Well, actually, some Mexicans do rape and kill but so do others from other countries; ALL lives matter; Hillary Clinton certainly did not single-handedly start a war, but her involvement in the escalation of diplomatic and military operations are indeed relevant and worthy of research; and the ‘birther movement’ is a label that should not connote a shameful, conspiratorial indulgence but rather a responsible democratic inquiry being made by official representatives of the state into the validity of the official document that the US government provided as proof of Obama’s place of birth – and mainstream media has reported the result of that investigation indicates that the document is a fraud.
If she had given arguments that weak in court, she wouldn’t have the reputation she does. Different audience, or pay grade, we guess.
So what’s her angle? How do we get past her idealistic, if not patronizing, language to the message underneath? How do we decode her marketing to get to the truth of her message?
I doubt that increasing the polarization of the audience by using inflammatory misinformation or misleading phrasing at the very start of an article is accidental when done by an incredibly successful, high-profile criminal lawyer. It is likely strategic; divide and conquer.
Ms. Henein did not forget to address her readers from the other side of the political aisle. She incriminated those that did not support Hillary Clinton, making them guilty by association to their flawed political choices and those like them: “Donald Trump isn’t the first demagogue to be carried to power – and carried he was. He was treated as legitimate by many who should have known better.”
She went on to warn: “Suffering fools quietly means that they can become president. Or prime minister.”
Is the implication there that political supporters of Trudeau opponents were also not vocal enough? Or perhaps the comparison is restricted solely to the populist nature and intellectual prowess of both Trudeau and Trump rather than also acting as a comment on their supporters’ capacity for critical reasoning.
To Ms. Henein, we say that this article is our effort to not suffer foolishness quietly. In these desperate times, those with a platform and the authority to opine on justice should perhaps consider not only the personal stakes of calling for retrenchment and war.
To those that supported Hillary, Ms. Henein issued a battle cry accompanying her reprimand: “retreat is not an option”.
As a feminist, she expounded that “even a progressive society has difficulty embracing women in positions of power. That women decision makers and power brokers continue to be viewed with inherent suspicion. You can hold office, just not the highest one. You can succeed, just not too much. I’m going to say it; she lost because she is a woman. If she was a man, she would be president-elect today. Plain and simple.”
As a successful female lawyer who knows how to win high-profile sexual assault cases she instructed: “engagement on every front is the only answer. It means that young women must participate. I do not care where. I do not care what view you take. I do not care what your political stripes are. I do not care whether I agree with you or not. What I care about is that you are seen. In every boardroom. In every school. In every C-suite. In every political party. Engineer. Artist. Judge. Politician. Doctor. Until you cannot be overlooked. Until seeing you in the highest office anywhere is as normal as breathing.”
Yet she does not mentor, she does not coach, she does not lead. She does not mention the fact that participation does not equal admission to the highest offices of the ‘Old Boys’ Club’ from which she draws her moneyed clients, to where she has been invited.
She says it herself, she does not care what kind of women develop and she does not care if she shares their views, as long as there are women joining the battle.
Because the battle is Ms. Henein’s bread and butter.
How can you call for unification of a group while simultaneously encouraging the members of that group to retain their competing views? Perhaps some women hold the view that a woman’s place is at home, not in the oval office – how could she argue that in a boardroom?
In perhaps more relevant terms, how are women who do not wish to engage in the current system of selling out and cashing in supposed to get to a place of authority (much less the top) in that system, to be visible enough to have their voices heard? Is the only way to win the fight to join the battle? It seems to be the only sure way not to end the war.
How should women participate in the kind of society that promotes men like Mr. Ghomeshi to positions of power? How should women defend and maintain their integrity during their battle to the top, through the glass ceiling that Ms. Clinton so publicly reminded us still exists, so as not to be torn down and discredited by women like Ms. Henein, or men like Mr. Ghomeshi or Mr. Trump, once they reach the top?
It seems that Ms. Henein’s insight on the topic would be extremely valuable, her experience and status indicate that she has indeed discovered answers to those questions. Yet her article left an unsatisfied craving for something solid to go on; it left us ‘high and dry’ – primed for action and let down by anti-climactic substance. It left us wanting more.
For Ms. Henein though, it is better to leave those subjects untouched, it gives her space to take advantage of future opportunities she has created for herself. We can take conclusion from her work though, and from the work of the participants in other legal cases such as the victim of convicted sexual criminal, Brock Allen Turner, the ‘Stanford Rapist’.
Humanity United – #HeAndShe
The battle of the sexes is age-old. Sexuality is the foundation of humanity and understanding the physiological and social aspects of this taboo subject is the key to success for professionals that deal with the administration, regulation, and prosecution of people because it enables their predictive capability. Understanding the foundational principles of the theory of human motivation allows for the application of practical methods of utility and control.
Humanity united – the idea that an understanding of the specific mechanisms that breed conflict, division, aggression, desire for domination, violence (whether of the sexual kind or not), and war will lead to the development of coping mechanisms that allow us to rise above our differences to a place of global peace – is a threat to those that profit off of the current system of disharmony, mistrust, and impaired communication. And unfortunately, Ms. Henein is one of those people.
Her work on the Ghomeshi case should not be judged as just or unjust, nor should she herself be judged as being a good person or a bad person. We must avoid the trap of divisive polarization, especially along moral lines, and instead try to understand the information we are presented with – from all sides.
The motivations for human behaviour transcend race, religion, nationality, and economic status. These are artificial divisions.
The true divide in humanity exists between the genders. This is not a fringe topic that concerns a few radicalized activists and their exclusive causes, such as feminists; it is the foundation of understanding the way to humanity united.
Gender, as with race, is not a god-given justification for separation but rather the means through which we were meant to learn about unity, about how to work together, about mutual satisfaction, respect, and justice; about synergy, harmony, and unlocking human potential. Two heads are better than one.
It’s true, we all must continue to try to discover and voice our truths but it does matter how and why we voice them, and what we say, because our audience is not our enemy, not a target to dominate. We must learn to identify sources of division (or example racism, feminism, or patriarchy) that, unlike gender paired with sexuality, offer no mechanism to entice the disparate parties to join forces in love, in peace.
It is time for new leadership, fresh ideas, and a better direction for humanity but desperate times do not call for desperate measures, they demand peaceful ones. If we hope to avoid being conquered by those who seek to keep us divided, we must learn the true meaning of the word individual.
Q: Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
A: It’s a moot point – they are part of an individual concept. The existance of one necessarily dictates the potential for the existance of the other within the singularity that is female.
The vision that we should all agree to work towards is one that we should all create together, men and women – in peace, not through conflict – but the starting point has to be a level playing field. What we should seek is equal information for all because knowledge is power and, as Ms. Henein and Mr. Ghomeshi so graciously demonstrated, ignorance is neither a defence in the eyes of the law nor is it bliss; it is weakness.
Perhaps it is true that predators, like Ghomeshi, abuse women in exchange for sexual gratification, attention, or something the women describe as love, but it is also definitely true that many women agree to suffer that abuse quietly (for a few years anyways) because they have access to something they want, need, and can’t get anywhere else at a lower cost.
We must not ignore the facts of those women’s truth simply because we don’t understand their behaviour; indeed, we must struggle to understand their behaviour all the more vigorously.
The key piece of information that women who are unable to decode mixed messages, to think critically and behave rationally, are missing is related to their sexuality, the medium by which one develops and fine-tunes their understanding of self and others. Without it, the development of confidence, relationships, interests, passions, motivation, imagination, dreams, and spirituality are all all vulnerable to attack or hijacking. As long as this key piece of information remains suppressed, and it and its secrecy’s implications remain unexplored and not discussed, the playing field will remain forever askew in favour of those who hold this valuable trump card in their hand.
You are not stuck with only the cards you are dealt in life, you can draw a card – take in something new. Consider the possibilities after picking up a new critical piece of information on how to play the game of life – an instruction manual or cheat code, as you prefer.
We seek not to proselytize or request you take us on faith, this piece of information is something you can experiment with yourself, no purchase necessary.
Rising above the polarizing forces of gender politics requires the bravery to shatter not the glass ceiling, but the taboo surrounding the topic of human sexuality. Do you want to know a secret?
The truth shall set us free.
Thanks for reading. Much love,