I Want To Believe Victims, But The Court Needs To Believe The Facts
Over the past couple of days I have been reading not only responses to my own article but comments about the Ghomeshi case and verdict in general. I have also read through Lucy DeCoutere’s post verdict interviews and much criticism about the tactics used by Ghomeshi’s lawyer in court. So I’m still talking about this because the conversation is clearly not over.
In this case, and unfortunately in most cases of sexual assault where the accused is known to the complainant, the only evidence used in the prosecution is the witness’s accounts of the incident. Therefore, I think it is unfortunately absolutely appropriate for the defense to go after said testimony and attempt to discredit the witnesses. How else is she supposed to defend the case? Like it or not, we are supposed to have a system of innocent until proven guilty, and all defendants have a right to refute the charges and have a defense team argue their case for them.
We also cannot change the system to one where we automatically believe victims and assume guilt at all costs, because that would lead to victims on the other side; people being falsely accused by scorned men and women screaming rape when they are actually after revenge.
In this case in particular, how can we honestly believe that a woman doesn’t recall sending flowers and writing notes to a man who supposedly assaulted her? And yes, it has been over 10 years and I’m not sure I would remember every single email I sent to someone either, but something like a handwritten note with flowers is out of the ordinary enough that it would stand out in one’s mind.
And let’s be real. These women did not have relationships with Ghomeshi that went past a couple of dates. They had no reason to ever see or speak to him again. But they did. They didn’t go to work the nest day and have to see him and convince themselves that whatever happened was a misunderstanding. They, in my interpretation, actively pursued the man who supposedly assaulted them. By sending provocative emails. By sending suggestive notes that said “I love your hands“. By sending blunt emails that said “I want to fuck your brains out.”
Unfortunately, no matter how they or anybody else try to justify that, if I am interpreting their behaviour as desire and pursuit, how is a man supposed to interpret that? Women can’t say one thing and mean another and then assume a man can read her mind….because then no doesn’t mean no either. It’s a total double standard.
We have been trying to promote “No means NO”. (And it should) . We also accept that if a person is in a position where they are incapable of saying no ( for example being a child, intellectually disabled, drunk, drugged, unconscious) that it also means consent is not given and an assault has occurred.
And if those things are true ( which they SHOULD be), then when does “I want to fuck your brains out” translate to ” You hurt me and I don’t like what you did and never touch me again”
I am sorry that these women feel shame. I want to believe them and any other woman who has been hurt. Unfortunately I don’t know what actually happened behind closed doors. He could be a total psycho for all we know. But it is also possible that he is just a kinky guy who liked to fuck around with a lot of women with no strings attached. It’s also possible that they pursued him a lot harder than he pursued them and then they got pissed off.
And like I said originally, women need to empower themselves. Not wait for an imperfect system to rescue them. Especially when “No means no” and “I want to fuck your brains out” seems to also means “no”.
That’s not blame. That’s not shame. It’s learning how to protect yourself better in a system that clearly is not able to protect you.
All I can really say is that telling women to mean what they say and say what they mean is NOT victim blaming. It’s telling us to send clear messages. It’s telling us to stop putting ourselves in situations where we get hurt repeatedly. It’s telling us that it’s 2016, and your best chance of catching your assailant is to get help immediately. Press charges, find your support system and don’t take any crap. Don’t wait ten years when your memory is foggy and you know that any decent defense lawyer is going to punch your testimony wide open. No one can blame a victim for being victimized, but you can learn to take your power back.
I don’t know if Ghomeshi is guilty or not. But I do know that regardless of whether it is politically correct for me to say it or not, the women’s behaviour after the alleged incidents, and their lies and omissions in court made me it really hard for me to believe them. Like it or not, their behaviour does matter, because if you are going to accuse a person of a terrible crime, you better have your facts straight.
I’m all for believing victims, but the court has an obligation to believe the facts.