02/12/2016 10:53 EST | Updated 02/12/2017 05:12 EST

Society Still Guilts Sexual Assault Victims For Defending Themselves


In the years and days before the Jian Ghomeshi story broke out, I never heard one person state anything but praise for the CBC Radio superstar.

"He's sexy!"

"Jian's great!"

Oh, one person did whisper to me during his appearance in London that he "seems to dress to impress."

No crime in that.

Days after Jian himself was the national story, I was at a birthday party and some women who described themselves as feminist said of Ghomeshi:

"Always thought he was creepy."


"Never liked the guy."

"Poppycock," I said. "There seems to be a rewriting of history here. 'Hot journalist' is all I've ever heard."

This odd intro to the Jian Story seemed a little too ominous for my comfort. A portent of things to come?

Months later, sigh. That old shiver runs down the length of my spine and the knots reform in the pit of my stomach yet again, for here we go again. Brave women came forward convinced that their story would be believed if they come forward in numbers.

I can't even muster my old refrain: "Increasing public awareness is always a good thing, no?"

When I heard even women laughing this week about the evidence as reported, my old knots burst into frayed ropes.

I just don't want to see one more guilt trip dumped on women who had the guts to come forward feeling they've been smacked against a wall, again.

Of course, the guilt trips are usually accomplished in subtle ways. OK, this time, not-so-subtle. (Read ANY report on the women's testimony and you'll see what I mean.)

I grew up with men and women of faith telling me that a woman who does not physically fight off a rapist is guilty of fornication, yet she must not fight off a physical attack because violence is a sin. Yes, I know, that's right there on the same level as former Indiana Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock's 2012 statement that pregnancies resulting from rape "is something God intended to happen."

Methinks only the accused comes out of these scenarios without blame. Am I right?

I can remember as clear as yesterday my mother delivering the message that she was taught: if a woman doesn't fight, she is a sinner. Even though I was uneducated on the subject, there I was, a child, arguing "That just does not make sense. What if a woman is afraid for her life? What if she freezes in shock?"

But what did I know? A lot, apparently.

Well, it seems the more things change the more they stay the same. I'm still arguing my points decades later.

I've heard of a male prosecutor who suggested that victims "should fight back and not submit," adding, "physical injuries heal a lot faster than the emotional scars."


I suggest the psychological mantle of victimhood will be helped more by demonstrations of understanding and empathy, and less by people who judge a woman's choice to do "nothing" when a perpetrator is doing "something."

Are we still asking "Did she stop it?" instead of "Why did he do it?"

Apparently so.

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