Jian Ghomeshi is one charismatic guy.
He's been revered as attractive, popular, successful, a ladies' man -- until now. Now we see that this man, nearly 50 years of age, may have been thinking and acting like a spoiled child who totally believes the world revolves around him -- and that he may feel completely entitled to have all of his needs met, sexual and otherwise.
Now, he is a man reviled. But I have to wonder why we, as a society, are shocked by his alleged behaviour. Personally, I am more surprised that we are so surprised!
This morning I read an article by renowned author and psychiatrist Gabor Mate, discussing the element of male narcissism and how it plays out as rage against women. I agree with much of what he explained, especially about how women are generally our primary caregivers when we are babies -- catering to every need we have -- until we begin to grow up and find that we, and our needs, are not the centre of the universe. I believe it's true that children of all genders develop rage against parents who don't continue to dote on them -- and that it's our parents' responsibility to teach us how to deal with that normal frustration and disappointment in healthy ways.
Unfortunately, since there is so very little affordable training available for most parents these days, that job very often goes un-done. In most cases, little boys (and little girls too) get mad at their mommies but somehow understand that rape and other forms of sexual abuse against women will not be tolerated when they grow up.
Or will it?
Sexual assault takes many forms in our society. When I watch TV these days and see all the young women sexually strutting their stuff in videos, on stage, and in commercials, I'm aware that this is done merely for the bottom line -- the money that this behaviour rakes in for the performers, their entourage, and most significantly for the advertisers and TV execs, most of whom are males in powerful business positions. I recently read that Beyoncé is the most highly paid singer in the biz. How can she not be, when sex sells so completely? And Miley Cyrus continues to be the wrecking ball she has created herself to be--making piles of money doing it.
One of my favourite TV shows over the years has been Dancing with the Stars. I've particularly enjoyed watching the back-stories each week, seeing how the celebs have overcome both physical and emotional challenges to be able to give us their wonderful performances. But this season, I've been more aware than usual of the skimpiness of the costumes, as well as the dances that seem like orgasmic writhing more than anything else. When I watch this kind of thing, I can't help but think that the women involved are selling themselves short and giving in to the male-dominated sexual culture that we have all allowed to be created.
If women want to be on TV, this is the price a great many of them seem to have to pay, while the men behind all of this nonsense rake in all the cash. It's crazy! And it's hurting our children, who are all -- without exception -- growing up in this sexually drenched idiocy that can so easily lead to confusion about how boys and girls should be with each other. They are sexting at very early ages now. Where do we think this comes from?
And let's not forget all the hoopla that "50 Shades of Grey" and its many sequels caused. How could a man like Ghomeshi, who appeared to be twisted in his views about women, not feel totally validated? How could he possibly think that there was anything wrong with his alleged behaviour, when that series of books was so wildly successful?
I'm hoping the movie won't do as well.
I've worked as an addictions therapist for 25 years -- and I know that many men watch porn on the Internet, frequently to the detriment of their significant relationships. I hear about this from clients, both male and female, all too often. Do we really believe that the women who perform in these videos do it because they love male-dominated, often violent sex '"games"? How naïve are we, that we can't understand how resentful most women really feel, having to debase themselves in this way to earn the almighty buck from the very men who salivate -- and more -- while watching them perform?
As a woman, I'm concerned with the direction that all of this nastiness has taken us. I'm glad that Ghomeshi's behaviour has been pounced upon as the news-story-flavour-of-the-month. I hope it sparks a lot of very meaningful and necessary conversations, and that more and more women who have been sexually assaulted will come forward -- and be treated respectfully when they do -- so that this horror can stop.
But what I'm most concerned about is this: What happens once the men who pay the women to degrade themselves lose interest in this story? Will it just fade back into the woodwork, just like "addiction and mental health" did merely weeks after Robin Williams' suicide?
I believe that the women of our society must keep this issue alive, if any real and lasting change is going to happen. Let's make sure that Justin Trudeau and other male political leaders like him continue to fire men who sexually and emotionally harass women. Let's make sure this isn't a one-time occurrence, happening so that he and others like him can look good for a day and get some votes.
What if we stopped buying into the culture that makes Beyoncé the most highly paid performer because she knows how to sexually writhe so convincingly on stage? What if we, as women, truly take back our own power and actually are the role models for all those who are looking to us to guide them?
If not now, when?
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