There’s no map to human behaviour — Bjork
A week has passed since the allegations against Jian Ghomeshi came out with nine women stating he had sexually abused them.
I really didn’t want to dive into this again until this situation came to some sort of satisfactory conclusion. But given the initial reactions I heard when Canadian actor Lucy DeCouture stepped forward to tell her story of being victim to Ghomeshi’s abuse to the media last Wednesday, I feel the need to get something off my chest.
Yes, the details were disturbing and troublesome. But what I found more troublesome were the reactions from people around me once they heard and read the allegations. The reaction? Disbelief to DeCouture’s details of her abuse… followed by jokes and laughter regarding to the details of the attack.
Disbelief. I can handle that. Laughing and making poor jokes at some of the details of the alleged attack? Seriously? What the hell is so damn funny about the details? I get that some the details might be considered unbelievable. But here’s the thing… we really have no idea how dark and dangerous human behaviour can be. Just because, as individuals, we personally haven’t witnessed such behaviour or have been pushed to the point of conducting such behaviour, it doesn’t mean we should make fun of something we don’t know or understand.
Sure, making light of something awful is a reflex some people choose to exercise. But I really don’t think making jokes stemming of someone’s pain is all that funny, especially when the topic is sexual violence and when the jokes drag on for most of the evening.
Yeah, I should have said something, but quite honestly, my two cents wouldn’t have mattered much. I would have been told to lighten up. I think the saying goes ‘if you can’t laugh at it, you might as well cry.’ I know humour is used as a coping mechanism. I get that. But what is being forgotten, especially when the joking is being made in the workplace, is there might be a co-worker who has had his/her own personal experience with sexual violence and hasn’t voiced it to anyone or voiced it to any of his/her colleagues. That becomes uncomfortable for the silent co-worker. Making fun of the details of another person’s account of their experience with sexual violence, doesn’t really give that co-worker a sense of safety in the workplace. It’s insensitive, period.
Sure, jokes are just jokes. But the kinds of jokes a person tend to make shines a light into the person’s sensibilities. It’s OK to be jaded. I couldn’t give a shit if you’re jaded. Just don’t use it as an excuse to be an insensitive fuck.
Making jokes or guffawing at DeCouture’s account of her assault (even though it’s considered an allegation at this point) was tasteless and demeaning. Even before these allegations surfaced, Ghomeshi was a polarizing figure. It was either you loved the guy or you hated him. The problem with such lurid details coming to the forefront is making fun of some the details isn’t just about making fun of him. DeCouture and the other alleged victims are being made fun of, as well.
It also strikes me that those who were insensitive to the initial details of DeCouture’s account, were also insensitive to the BDSM community. Before DeCouture came forward with her story, the odd joke — of the 50 Shades of Grey variety — about handcuffs and whips had already been bandied about. Again, making fun of something you don’t understand. A show of ignorance and lack of respect. What BDSM is, is not summed up in 50 Shades of Grey. Far from it. But because of the success of that book, it’s too easy to use it as an example to describe a person’s sexual tastes.
How about doing a little reading on the subject before ridiculing it? Doesn’t take much to do some online research and figure out which sites are serious about BDSM. If staring at a computer screen is a bit much, there is no shortage of books. Playing Well with Others: Your Field Guide to Discovering, Exploring and Navigating the Kink, Leather and BDSM Communities by Lee Harrington and Mollena Williams, and The Ultimate Guide to Kink: BDSM, Role Play and the Erotic Edge by Tristan Taormino are good books to start with.
Considering how this week went, I can honestly say, I’ve had enough of this ongoing story even though there is a lot more that needs to be said about Ghomeshi, how CBC did or didn’t handle the issue of workplace harassment, and sexual violence against women. I’m all for having those discussions. But what I don’t want to hear is the insensitivity to the issues. There is no room for ignorance and ridicule in these discussions. But I know it will happen. Some people can’t help themselves.
Make fun of something that is incomprehensible.
I should just shake my head, walk away and not look at this again until it’s all said and done.